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Arts & Culture

Criminal: How A Soccer Player Solved A Homeless Homicide Case

An image of the cover for 'Criminal'
Julienne Alexander
A new episode of 'Criminal' looks at the murder mystery of a homeless woman in Philadelphia solved by a professional soccer player.

In 2002, a professional soccer player living in Philadelphia found himself working alongside homicide police to try and solve a grisly murder.  Adam Bruckner's story is the topic of the latest episode of the Durham-based podcast, Criminalhosted by Phoebe Judge

Judge said the Philadelphia police department received a call at the time saying there were bags next to a river containing body parts. They matched what was described as a homeless woman, so authorities went to the homeless community but couldn't get any help.

"But there was this one man, Adam Bruckner, who had kind of immersed himself in the homeless community," Judge said. "He was a professional soccer player, but he was trying to help the homeless of Philadelphia, and he became the bridge between the Philadelphia cops and the homeless community. What happened is he kind of took on the investigation himself, finding himself in very odd places, pretending to be a cop and knocking on peoples’ doors."

Instead of pushing Bruckner away, the police department welcomed the help since they were swamped with other cases that summer.

"I called way, way, way too much," Bruckner said on Criminal. "I would leave information every time I got it. He’d come back in and see this stack of papers and at some point, I would page him, and he’d call me back at the pay phone I was at, and I’d just blurt out everything I’d just found."

Bruckner's efforts looking for the killer of a woman named Angie paid off. He found himself in risky situations, buying information with sandwiches or cigarette packs, but eventually, he solved the case.

To find out more, visit Also, you can hear an episode of Criminal every Sunday evening at 5:40 p.m. on WUNC.

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