Without a motive for murder, the media labeled Jacob Wideman a 'bad seed.' But is he?

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(Diego Mallo for The Marshall Project)
(Diego Mallo for The Marshall Project)

Was Jake Wideman a “bad seed”?

The question emerged not long after Jacob Wideman murdered his summer camp roommate, Eric Kane, in 1986 seemingly with no motive.

Reporters clung onto the phrase — which was plucked straight from perhaps the most famous book written by Jake’s own father, acclaimed author John Edgar Wideman, about his family’s experience with violence, trauma and incarceration.

In this latest episode of “Violation,” a podcast series from The Marshall Project and WBUR, the author tells the story of his brother Robby, who received a life sentence for his role in a robbery where a man died, and how Jacob Wideman related to his uncle.

Listen to new episodes each Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts.

Find the full episode, more information and photos here.

This segment aired on March 30, 2023.


Headshot of Beth Schwartzapfel

Beth Schwartzapfel Host and Reporter
Beth Schwartzapfel is the host and reporter of Violation, a podcast from WBUR and The Marshall Project.



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