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What attracts so many women to true crime stories? We put these detectives on the case

What attracts so many women to true crime stories? We put these detectives on the case.


A 2010 study published by Social Psychological and Personality Science found that women are much bigger fans of true crime than men.

The Investigation Discovery (ID) channel shows documentary-style true crime shows mostly of a violent nature 24/7, and it's the third most-watched TV network among women 25-54 years old.

On iTunes, true crime consistently dominates the top 50 podcasts. Even though 56 percent of total podcast listeners are men, women make up more than 70 percent of the true crime podcast audience.

To find out why women are so drawn to stories of rape, murder and serial killers, we went to "Death Becomes Us," a true crime festival in Washington.

Calling In The Pros

In April, the notorious California serial killer and rapist known as the Golden State Killer was finally arrested nearly 50 years after his crime spree began.

Contra Costa County cold case investigator Paul Holes spent 24 years investigating the case.

During one of the first news conferences about the case, California law enforcement officials credited Holes with cracking the case using the the killer's genetic profile.

That day, the internet crowned Holes as the sexiest man in true crime. The hashtag #HotForHoles started trending before the news conference was over.

Former detective Paul Holes, who helped solve the Golden State Killer case, chats with a fan at the Death Becomes Us festival.

A conversation with Holes was the festival's marquee event. He made fan appearances throughout the weekend, including an autograph signing for his new book, Evil Has A Name. On a Friday at 2 p.m., hundreds of women waited in line for hours to meet Holes, some of them getting back in line multiple times.

I met Holes at the Watergate Hotel the night before his event to get his perspective on his newfound fame. (Fixing this)

"I had no clue it was such a popular thing today," Holes said about the true crime genre. "And in particular, that the demographic is so geared over toward the female audience. That to me is a mystery. I don’t understand that."

True crime shows make up a substantial part of the top 50 podcasts on iTunes.

Homicide Hunter Joe Kenda solved 92 percent of the 387 cases he worked throughout his career. I figured if anyone would be able to crack the case as to why women are so drawn to stories of murder, rape and serial killers, it would be him.

When I talked to him backstage after his event. It seemed like my instincts were right.

“If you think about that, it’s kind of sensible," he said. "Who buys mystery novels? Women do. Who bought the police gazette back in the '20s? Women did. The advertising in the police gazette was directed at women because they were the buyers of the magazine. It’s always been true generationally that women have been interested in violent behavior."

He took a breath as I sat on the edge of my seat trying not to knock over the camera in anticipation.

"As to why that’s true, I have no idea."

Going straight to the source: Women who love true crime on why they love it

Every day, 2-3 women in the U.S. are murdered by their partner or an ex. Their stories make up a significant portion of the true crime genre. So, what does it all mean? In part two of our women and true crime series, we dive into the psychology behind the fascination.

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