“Two barrels. Four bodies. And the decades-long mystery that led to a serial killer. Bear Brook is a podcast about a cold case that’s changing how murders will be investigated forever.”
The story begins in the mid-80s with a startling discovery. Two unidentified bodies, stuffed inside of barrels in the woods of a small town in New Hampshire. Not far off in the woods, known as Bear Brook State Park, another disturbing discovery is made fifteen years later. Two more unidentified bodies in a barrel. By 2017, advances in DNA testing together with genetic genealogy bring a serial killer and a number of victims into view.
Produced by New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), award-winning Bear Brook tells the story of how the serial killer known as “The Chameleon” and his victims were identified via new forensic techniques. Hosted by investigative reporter Jason Moon, the podcast explores the application of DNA testing in criminal investigations. The podcast also examines the ramifications of DNA testing on identity, privacy and the criminal justice system.
In this episode of MetaPod, Jason Moon talks to us about the unique characteristics of the case. He also discusses how the NHPR team avoided the pitfalls of the “true crime” genre and the original music that he composed for the podcast. We also touch on the importance of local and long-form journalism in the changing landscape of media and public radio.
Show notes for Bear Brook
- Podcast Explores How N.H. Cold Case Will Forever Change Murder Investigations
- “Three Bear Brook Murder Victims Identified; Citizen Sleuth, Genetic Genealogy Provide Key Clues”
- “Serial killer Terry Rasmussen’s victims, known and unknown”
- State of New Hampshire’s website for Bear Brook State Park
About Jason Moon
Jason Moon began reporting on the Bear Brook murders back in 2015, when it was announced that new forensic techniques were being used to try to identify four bodies that were discovered in two barrels in the woods of Allenstown, New Hampshire.
In early 2017, authorities revealed a break in the case that made it clear this story was bigger – and had more significance – than previously thought. That’s when Jason and New Hampshire Public Radio‘s editorial team began work on what would become the Bear Brook podcast.
Before coming to NHPR, Jason honed his reporting chops with a variety of public radio teams including StoryCorps, Transom.org, and WBHM in his home state of Alabama.