Who is ‘The Real Killer’? Podcast uncovers new theories on 1982 murder of Missouri mom

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A new true-crime podcast was recently launched that reinvestigates a deadly attack on a mother and her two young daughters in their St. Louis home almost 40 years ago.

Rodney Lincoln was charged with murdering JoAnn Tate in her St. Louis apartment back in 1982 and attacking her two daughters with a knife.

Police did not find evidence of forced entry and it was suggested that Tate knew the attacker. One month after the incident, Melissa identified Rodney Lincoln, her mother’s ex-boyfriend, as the suspect. After two trials, he was convicted and sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years in prison.

Lincoln remained in prison despite key pieces of his conviction falling apart. A hair found at the scene that was previously thought to be his was proven not to be, and Melissa recanted her accusation after the case was featured on a TV show.

After serving more than 30 years, Lincoln was released from prison. Then Gov. Eric Greitens commuted his sentence on his last day in office.

The actual killer remains unknown.

“The Real Killer” podcast dives deep into this true crime, which unveils revelations, shines a light on injustices with the criminal justice system, and offers theories on who the actual killer could be.

Leah Rothman

Host Leah Rothman is no stranger to true crime as she has been a producer, writer, and director on true crime television shows, documentaries, and has worked for home entertainment networks and studios, including A&E, ABC, Audible, Bravo, CBS, FOX, History Channel, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MSNBC, OWN, Paramount Pictures, TLC, Travel Channel, Tyler Perry Studios, and Universal Pictures.

She has been nominated for three Daytime Emmy Awards where two were for her work on a syndicated true-crime show called “Crime Watch Daily,” which featured unsolved murders, mysteries, undercover investigations, and “shocking crimes caught on camera.”

That show was where Rothman first learned about the 1982 deadly attack in St. Louis.

“I was just sort of blown away the story. I mean I’ve told a lot of stories … but there was something about this story that was different,” Rothman said.

“In television, you can only tell so much in a one-hour and 43-minute program, and I’ve just not been able to walk away from this story. I knew that I needed to go back. I needed to sort of forget everything that I thought I knew and go deeper. So, that’s why I wanted to make this podcast.”

Over the course of 11 episodes, Rothman speaks with Melissa and her family, Lincoln and his family, as well as the defense attorney, the lead investigator, among many others at the core of the story, including a possible murder suspect.

“We actually talked to somebody in prison who many believe may be the real killer and that’s an exclusive interview. I’m excited for people to hear,” she said.

Putting what she already knew about the story aside when reinvestigating, Rothman said she made many new discoveries.

“That comes up in the podcast. You’ll hear how there are people I had never of before,” she said. “There are a lot of revelations that come up, not just the audience listening, but for me who was doing the reinvestigation.”

The podcast also shines a light on the bigger picture, which is problems in the criminal justice system across the country.

“It seems like, it’s not always, but it seems like it’s sometimes easier to arrest and convict than to prove innocence, and we take a look at that. I have quite a lot of questions about the criminal justice system and how cases like this can happen,” Rothman said.

“I learned so much about the criminal justice system that it is made up of humans, and we’re wonderful and we’re also flawed and we make mistakes, and we also have great triumphs. But, the whole system deserves more attention and this case is a microcosm of the criminal justice system, and for me, that’s what this podcast was about. It’s about Melissa and Rodney’s story, but it’s about the bigger picture of the criminal justice system.”

Since there is not a conclusion on who the actual killer is, Rothman said she wants listeners to make their own decision based on the facts outlined in the podcast.

“The Real Killer” podcast is distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network and it’s executive produced by Rothman and Aliza Rosen.

New episodes are released every Thursday and you can listen wherever you get your podcasts.

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