We’re just four episodes into Kromatic Media’s six-part true crime podcast about the infamous 1970 murders of two WVU students—which gives you time to catch up.
January 18, 1970: Two female WVU undergraduates take a trip to the Metropolitan Theatre to catch a movie, but they never return. Eighty-eight days later, their headless bodies are found in the woods about 15 miles south of Morgantown in a makeshift grave. Those two students are the unfortunate Mared Malerik and Karen Ferrell.
Whether you’re familiar with the story or not—I assume most Morgantown natives are—it’s much more than your standard hitchhiking-gone-wrong. That’s where Mared & Karen: The WVU Coed Murders podcast comes into play.
Forty-seven years and a confession later, this six-part true crime podcast, created and produced locally by Kromatic Media, delves into the untold and unsettling aspects of Mared and Karen’s peculiar murders. But with more time comes more evidence, and with more evidence come unnerving discoveries, made by the podcast’s hosts—J. Kendall Perkinson, Geoff Fuller, and Sarah Gibbons.
Being a Morgantown native, WVU student, and avid lover of all things creepy, I immediately binge-listened to this podcast. Going into it, I thought I knew the entire story. Two female WVU students go out, they try to hitchhike back to their dorm (like every other WVU student in the ’70s), they go missing, their bodies are found, and some time later the killer confesses. I was dead wrong—no pun intended. The hosts tracked down an impressive number of people who were involved in one way or another with the investigation, and their story goes much deeper than the lives and deaths of its stars, Mared and Karen. It’s about the police, illegal gambling, unsolved murders, mysticism, attempted assassinations, and much more that I had no idea happened in 1970s Morgantown.
And now, here I am, four episodes down and waiting for the release of the final two episodes. But being my impatient self (and not seeing a release date online) I rang up the producer, Kendall Perkinson, a little too early this morning, based on the grogginess of his voice. We spoke briefly about the final two episodes, which he hopes will be released in a couple of weeks.
He also mentioned—wait for it—the potential of two extra episodes where the hosts would reveal the person they believe to be the killer. But Perkinson says the final revelation episodes only come if listener interest keeps up.
That’s where you, the people reading this, come in. Share this podcast with your family, your friends from Morgantown, your friends not from Morgantown, people you’re friends with on Facebook, people you’d like to unfriend on Facebook, literally anyone and everyone, and tell them to listen. If it helps, mention to them that the music played throughout the series comes from Morgantown artists (some of which you may know personally), and at the end of each episode, Perkinson gives each artist a shout-out and plays a preview of their music. Even the podcast’s bloodcurdling theme music was created for the show by John Smithers, Nicholas Larson, Annie Stroud, and Nathan Snyder.
So before you disregard this as a story you think you know all about, think again. Then, set up your speakers, tune in, and let these storytellers take you back to 1970s Morgantown to unravel the tragic and perturbing story of Mared and Karen: The WVU Coed Murders.
Warning: Explicit content might not be suitable for young or sensitive listeners.
“Mared and Karen” wherever you get your podcasts; kromatic.media for supplemental photos and music tracks.