“Maria James was stabbed 28 times in her home. For 37 years, police have failed to solve her murder. Her two sons – and one former top cop – have never given up hope.”
This reads the blurb of TRACE, the new true-crime podcast that is sitting at number one on the iTunes charts.
The podcast has made headlines recently, one: for its brilliant storytelling by ABC journalist and host, Rachael Brown. And two: for its utterly fascinating subject matter.
On the morning of her murder in 1980, Maria James made her sons Mark and Adam, then 13 and 11, their favourite breakfast: scrambled eggs.
Now 50, Mark remembers his mum turning to him from the stove and saying: “if anything happens to me, make sure that Adam is looked after.”
Four hours later, in her used book-store on High Street Thornbury, Maria James was found dead. The killer has never been caught.
TRACE explores the lead-up, murder and subsequent investigation of Maria James, featuring scorned ex-lovers, a dizzying number of leads and ties to the Catholic church.
Speaking on The Project last night, Rachael Brown addressed what first intrigued her about the case:
“For me personally, a couple of years ago I learnt a piece of information” she began “and I thought, why hasn’t this been followed up?”
It was then the characters that kept her digging “You have this mother, Maria James, who was fiercely protective of her boys. And that protectiveness, I think might have got her killed.”
But ultimately, the bigger issues at hand were what kept her around: “I found that this case will have serious implications for a couple of institutions.”
Like the true-crime podcasts before it, TRACE already has a loyal fan-base, enthusiastic and engaged to the happenings of the story.
Brown encourages this participation; encouraging listeners to discuss and uncover their own truths.
“That’s the positive side of it. Perhaps the whole of Australia will be listening and emailing in with information.”
For now, however, the first two episodes of TRACE can be found here.