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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.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
Phoebe Judge is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on a numerous national radio programs. She regularly conducts interviews and anchors WUNC's broadcast of Here & Now. Previously, Phoebe served as producer, reporter and guest host for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. Earlier in her career, Phoebe reported from the gulf coast of Mississippi. She covered the BP oil spill and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Phoebe's work has won multiple Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Phoebe was born and raised in Chicago and is graduate of Bennington College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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