Jun 27, 2023 - News

"Stephenville" podcast breaks ground on an old murder

A man in a grey suit has his hands on his thighs

Bryan Burrough knows how to tell a story. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

A new Texas Monthly podcast hosted by author Bryan Burrough explores a decades-old murder in Stephenville.

Driving the news: The first two episodes of "Stephenville" dropped last week.

Details: Susan Woods, a quiet 30-year-old, was murdered in July 1987, not long after she separated from her husband.

  • Her estranged husband was the first suspect, but two decades later, Joseph Scott Hatley of Round Rock pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Zoom in: Episode 1 begins with the case's longtime investigator getting a call from someone who bought Hatley's old trailer and discovered some documents.

  • "One thing I know about small Texas towns — having grown up in one myself — is that little is ever quite what it seems. Small towns don't like to play up their unpleasant news, which means a lot of them have secrets," Burrough says early in the series.

Background: Burrough, a longtime Vanity Fair writer, wrote "Barbarians at the Gate" (1989) and "Public Enemies" (2004), both of which were adapted into celebrated films.

What they're saying: "I'd been looking for something like this for a while," Burrough tells Axios.

  • "I was fascinated how small towns rally behind their favorite sons to often horrible consequences. The Stephenville story obsessed me for a solid year. In almost every way, it hit very close to home for me."

What's next: The rest of the series will roll out over the next few weeks.


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