Kristi Lee is the host and primary writer of Canadian True Crime 💠 She’s originally from Brisbane, Australia, but has lived in the Greater Toronto Area since 2009, and is now a proud Canadian citizen. Kristi is an avid true crime enthusiast and podcast listener. Towards the end of 2016, she noticed there was a shortage of podcasts dedicated solely to true crime in Canada, and that sparked an idea in her head. The rest is history! Kristi is married (to another Australian) and together they have two little Canadians. She works full-time in downtown Toronto, and still records the podcast from her walk-in closet—in her spare time.
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Hi Kristi, thanks so much for joining us. I’m really interested to know if there was a particular case that initially drew you into the true crime genre?
Hi Tom! I always say there were three:
Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka (Canada) – husband and wife rapists and murderes of teenage girls
Anita Cobby (Australia) – female who was walking home from the train station at night and was attacked, raped and murdered by a car full of criminals. (See Casefile case 56)
James Bulger (UK) – a toddler who was lured away from a shopping centre with two young teenage boys, and brutally tortured and murdered. (I can’t think who has covered this but I couldn’t listen to it anyway)
Each completely heinous but in different ways.
How do you decide which cases to cover?
I try and choose different case types – serial killers, domestic homicides, young offenders, not criminally responsible cases, older cases, newer cases etc. And I try and choose them from different provinces in Canada. I say “try” because I have featured Ontario more heavily than other provinces! That’s mainly a reflection of the fact that most of the cases that have been suggested to me are from Ontario (in fact, more than half). No one has really complained as of yet, but I don’t want to leave any provinces out. 🙂
If left to your own devices, no husband, kids or dog, how would you spend a day off? Money is no object (for this question only. It is for literally everything else).
Hi Melissa! God, this question is almost too exciting to think about. Haha
Luckily I’m easy to please… I would just sleep in ALL morning until I woke up naturally (ie not because of an alarm clock or my kids!). Then I would spend all afternoon lying on the couch, watching all the shows I’ve been hearing about on Netflix that I have no time to watch (Seven Seconds would be next up).
I would surround myself with Ben & Jerry’s icecream, a block of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (from Australia! Not Canada) and a packet of Allen’s Party Mix (also from Australia!). Now I’m gonna cry because there will never be a time when this will happen. ha ha!
Hi Kristi, as a fellow Aussie I’m curious as to whether you will one day branch out and cover any of our many and varied Australian crimes? I’m really enjoying the podcast and the way you tell the stories.
Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for the kind words!
You know, when I first started, the thought did occur to me for a split second to do an Australian true crime podcast… just because I thought my accent on a Canadian podcast would be weird. But truth is, back then, we had several podcasts dedicated to Australian true crime (Felon comes to mind as one of my favourites – and of course Casefile who cover a lot of Australian cases too). It would be weird to have an Aussie covering an Aussie case on a Canadian True Crime podcast but hey, never say never. It could be a special occasion thing! 🙂
My question was going to be where’s your accent from? But I just read you’re an Aussie! <3 I'll ask it anyway because maybe someone else was wondering too… Love from a fellow Torontonian (I immigrated in 2009, too!) <3
Haha. Hi Cami! You’ll have to message me and let me know where you came from! And this is a weird little piece of info – I was actually born in Christchurch, New Zealand. I lived there until I was 13, then we immigrated to England for 18 months, then moved to Brisbane, Australia. I was 14 and lived there until I was 30 when I moved to Canada with my husband. So technically I’m a kiwi… but my accent is Australian, and I consider myself Australian (and Canadian now that I’m a citizen!). I’m a very complicated person 😉
After all of the cases you have covered, do you still believe in the jury system?
Hmm this is a very good question. Overall yes. I believe in the Canadian court system and I believe in the jury system. It has flaws though, like everything. It is frustrating seeing a person who is clearly guilty getting off on a technicality or because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But I don’t know what the alternative is. These checks and balances are here for a reason. It is what it is, I guess.
Are there any cases that you can name that you want to cover but haven’t been in the right place to cover them yet? Perhaps because of the emotional toll or the amount of research that will be required? I also wonder which case was the most difficult for you so far.
Hi Aaron! There are two cases that were most difficult to cover, but for two completely different reasons.
The first is Canada’s most prolific serial killer, Robert Pickton (the pig farmer). It was difficult because I aim to honour victims, and he ended up being charged in the murder of 27 of them. I wanted to flesh them out as people and prove that they were more than just a faceless group of sex workers with addiction issues, which can tend to happen in coverage of this case, just because of the sheer volume. Also, this case was Canada’s biggest crime scene, and longest court case. Such a lot to cover. I frequently felt overwhelmed but I battled through it.
The other most difficult case is Tori Stafford – and this also leads to the answer to your first question about what cases I haven’t been in the right place to cover. Tori Stafford was a beautiful 8 year old girl who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a man and his girlfriend. It was my second-most requested case after Robert Pickton. I felt ill the first time I read about it, but people kept requesting it so I made a hesitant decision that Tori’s story needed to be told. Having two little kids of my own though, this case took a massive toll on me emotionally, and I decided after I’d finished it that I would need to take a long break from similar cases. It’s been seven months and I’m still not ready to cover anything involving a young child. I’m not sure that I ever will again, to be honest.
Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
Hi Jenny! No, not a major crime, thankfully!
I was scammed once when I was working as a grocery store checkout chick though! I was 19 and had just come off training, it was my first shift on my own. A guy came through and bought a bag of peaches. He was REALLY chatty, talking to me about the difference between peaches and nectarines. I was being friendly, acting interested (I don’t like fruit so really didn’t care lol) and carrying the conversation as I went through payment. He handed me a note, and I gave him his change. Then he came back a few seconds later and said he’d actually given me a $100 note and I’d only given him change for a $50. Because I was so busy chatting to him, I couldn’t really remember the specifics of the transaction, but being new, I assumed I’d made the mistake so I opened up my register and gave him a $50. Five minutes later, I realized “something is off here”. So I called my manager who counted my register. Sure enough, I was down $50. Luckily she was lovely and said this was a common scam – apparently these people wait and watch the trainees and catch them when they’re on their own. That was 20 years ago and I still have the most vivid (and sheepish) memories about it!
Sorry three questions in one but if you don’t ask you don’t get!
– What is your favourite thing about podcasting?
– What is the worst?
– Any advice to future podcasters out there?
– Favourite thing – hitting that publish button (ha ha) and the amazing podcast community!
– Worst thing – starting a new case. It takes me ages to figure out what I’m doing and what direction I’m going to take, and I procrastinate a lot.
– Advice for future podcasters – don’t do it for the money, because chances are you will be sorely disappointed. Choose a topic or niche you’re passionate about – passion gives you the will to continue when you experience that “pod fade” feeling of acute exhaustion. Also, know that it is going to be a lot of work to put out a semi-decent podcast!
Who’s your biggest uk fan ?
Well hello Pete! This is a hard one because I have SO MANY fans in the UK. I don’t know who loves me more – David Beckham or the Queen of England! 😉
Will you cover some current unsolved cases? I think being aware of the current issues might bring things to light. Much love! Keep up the amazing work! XX
Hi Stephanie – I have no plans to at the moment. There are so many podcasts that specialized in unsolved cases – The Vanished, In Sight, The Trail Went Cold, Night Time Podcast covers some, Unresolved, the list goes on. I am already overwhelmed by the number of solved cases I have on my suggestion list. Also my personal preference is to cover cases that have gone to trial, because I like to know the answers. It’s just my personality. I never say never, but I have no current plans to expand my focus to unsolved cases. Sorry 🙁
Hey Kristi! Im a huge fan of crimes and I have just started to listen to your Podcast, Canadian True Crime. Which I realized you have not covered a few murders that have happened in the Toronto area as well. If you live in Toronto then no doubt you know of the town Newmarket. In 2004 there was a 82 year old women murdered in her home. Its a fascinating case, the murder victims name is Violet Jeanne Gould. It ends with a suicide, maybe for one of your next episodes you could talk about this murder.