The new Arkansas-based true crime podcast Burden has just launched. The release of the podcast coincides with the start of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is in October.
Season 1 of Burden examines the suspicious death of a young mother named Billie Jean Letterman in 1991 in Texarkana, Arkansas. She was a victim of domestic violence. The first episode, “What Happened To Billie Jean Letterman?,” explores the events of the night Billie Jean was shot. New episodes will be released every Thursday. The season is based on extensive interviews with police, forensic experts, paramedics, Billie Jean’s family and friends, and others close to the case.
Co-hosts Karen Tricot Steward and Stephanie Harris have both worked as journalists in Arkansas, as well as in communications roles for the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Steward is the owner of Power of Pod, a Little Rock-based podcast production company. She is a former reporter and anchor for the NPR affiliate in Central Arkansas, KUAR 89.1, and former Public Education Coordinator for the Arkansas Supreme Court. In 2020, she launched the first season of Lady Justice: Women of the Court, a podcast hosted by four supreme court justices from different states.
“Burden is produced in the immersive NPR style of narrative storytelling,” said Steward. “It examines larger issues within our criminal justice system and society through the lens of one story every season. The case we cover in Season 1 explores violence against women and the many factors that went into failing to keep a woman, Billie Jean Letterman, safe. It examines the devastating effects of intimate partner violence and how domestic violence crosses generations.”
Harris is an attorney and has worked as Communications Counsel for the Arkansas Supreme Court. She also founded Women Lead Arkansas, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to empowering women to engage in politics, policy and leadership.
“I’ve been asked if this podcast is going to be ‘anti-law enforcement,’” said Harris. “That is definitely not our intention. But if there weren’t failures, there’d be no need for a story. The goal really is to let these families share their heartaches and frustration, while we look at it from an investigative perspective. We, of course, have the benefit of hindsight; but there are serious problems with the cases we plan to cover.”