The Serial Productions team is returning with a new true crime show like the one that put them on the map in 2014. This time it will look to shed light on a long-unsolved murder in Wyoming. In The Coldest Case in Laramie, reporter Kim Barker revisits an unsolved homicide that took place while she was in high school nearly 40 years ago.
In 1985, when Barker was a sophomore in high school, a 22 year-old college student named Shelli Wiley was murdered in Laramie. The killing was particularly horrific — Wiley was stabbed repeatedly before being dragged into her apartment, which was then set on fire. The killing left a lasting impression on Barker — the brutality of it but also the mystery: who could have done something like this? Two arrests had been made a few years after the murder but neither stuck. The case went cold.
But in January of 2021, when Barker began reporting on this story, she found many people in Laramie — including the lead detective on the case — who said they knew who killed Shelli Wiley: a former Laramie police officer who was staying two doors down from Wiley that night. His DNA was found at the scene. Under questioning, police said he all but confessed. He was arrested, eventually, in 2016. But then, confusingly, a few months after his arrest, prosecutors dropped the charges. They said it was temporary but they still haven’t refiled and it’s never been clear why.
In The Coldest Case in Laramie, Barker grapples with shaky memories and dueling narratives to find answers.
Before joining The New York Times in 2014, Barker was an investigative reporter at the online nonprofit ProPublica. She was also the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009. Her book, "The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan," published by Doubleday in 2011, became the basis for the movie "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot." Before joining the Tribune, Barker worked for The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., and The Times in northwest Indiana.
Serial Productions is the maker of the blockbuster podcasts Serial and S-Town, with more than 743 million total downloads. In July 2020, Serial Productions became part of The New York Times Company. Together they have launched several shows, including Nice White Parents, The Trojan Horse Affair, and, most recently, We Were Three.