Sunday, March 19, 2023

A Live True-Crime Experience by Sarah E. Burr

Anyone who has watched an episode of The Bookish Hour knows I am fascinated by true crime podcasts. I’ve even blogged about my favorite shows on Writers Who Kill. So, imagine my excitement when I got a text message from the incredible Ashley Flowers (podcast host extraordinaire) inviting me to attend her show, The Deck Investigates.

Okay, so I don’t know Ashley personally, and I have to assume she texted this news to all her Crime Junkies, but I digress.

Ashley is the founder of the award-winning media production company audiochuck, and the host of one of my favorite podcasts, Crime Junkie. She’s a huge genealogy DNA testing advocate and an all-around fantastic role model for young people. Two years ago, Ashley began investigating a case she thought she would feature on her cold-case podcast, The Deck. However, the 1984 murder of Darlene Hulse in Argos, Indiana, would send her down a wild and twisted. After reading the details of Darlene’s case, Ashley and her reporter, Emily, embarked on a journey to discover the truth behind Darlene’s death, a journey they are still on to this day.

As they explored the aspects of this crime, Ashley realized Darlene’s murder was much bigger than a single podcast episode. It was even bigger than an entire podcast. She wanted to share Darlene’s story with as many people as possible, so she launched The Deck Investigates, billed as a live true-crime documentary that unfolds right before its audience.

When I got tickets for The Deck Investigates tour, I wasn’t sure what I was signing up for other than a train ride into New York City in the middle of winter. The show took place at the Beacon Theatre, a gorgeous, intimate space, and I had pretty amazing seats. I honestly felt like I was getting ready to see a musical.

The feeling continued when Ashley walked out on stage. She was met with uproarious applause and cheers, and I must admit, it was pretty cool to see the woman I listen to every week sitting so close to me on a cute, cozy couch. Behind her, a giant projection screen shared an image of Ashley standing in a cornfield like a ‘90s grunge album cover. However, once Ashley began speaking, the excitement and fun that had saturated the room just moments before evaporated. We were all gathered here to learn the haunting details of a truly shocking crime. This wasn’t a Broadway show. This wasn’t an evening of fun and frivolity. This was a wake-up call that justice needed to be served.

Ashley laid out the case for her audience. She used her projector and three whiteboards stationed around the stage. She went through maps, schedules, mugshots, and crime scene photos. The details of the case were baffling. The evidence was jaw-dropping. Evidence that was both collected by the police and completely ignored by them.

As a cozy mystery writer, I try to avoid making law enforcement look incompetent in my books; my amateur sleuths are often involved in the mystery for personal reasons and take investigative avenues that the police cannot due to procedure. However, it is na├»ve to believe this happens in real life all the time. Darlene’s case will make you mad. This case will rattle your belief in our justice system. Darlene’s killer is getting away with murder because law enforcement members are not doing their job.

I left this live true-crime documentary feeling angry but also highly motivated. Why? Because even though law enforcement is not taking this case seriously, we have the power to hold them accountable. Ashley’s goal in sharing Darlene’s story was to raise audience awareness about how we can help move this case forward. And since she knew everyone couldn’t make her tour, she released The Deck Investigates, a fifteen-episode podcast, last week.

In the podcast, which I’ve since devoured, Ashley outlines the information she shared with her live audience but also reveals new information, witnesses, and suspects she and Emily have uncovered in recent months. Information and evidence they have tried sharing with Indiana law enforcement, but for whatever reason, action is not being taken. Evidence such as the killer’s DNA. Like, seriously, what?!

So, my post this month is to raise awareness about Darlene Hulse. Darlene was twenty-eight years old and a mother of three when she was murdered. Her three young girls witnessed their mother’s gruesome attack before thankfully managing to evade her assailant. I highly encourage you to check out The Deck Investigates and listen to their story.

If you’re not a podcast fan and just want to help, please visit and sign the petition to help pressure the Marshall County Prosecutor’s office to do its job and give this woman the justice she deserves.

Again, the website for the petition is Thank you.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Sarah. It is important to shine a light where those in power prefer darkness. In this case, it appears the police are not doing everything they can to solve a crime. The Innocence Project gets involved when police and the court system came to the wrong solution. Both important spotlights on a flawed system.

  2. This is terrifying. I’m looking forward (is that the wrong phrasing?) to listening to the entire podcast.

  3. Thanks for reading, Jim. I follow a lot of the work the Innocence Project does, and what they've accomplished is really amazing.

    Kait, I feel this so much. I love listening to true crime, but the horrors of the reality behind it are often so tragic.

  4. Thank you for spotlighting this terrible miscarriage of justice. I fear it happens much more often than we are led to believe. I'll be following this, too.