Carruth is the story of Rae Carruth, his girlfriend Cherica Adams, her son Chancellor Lee Adams, and her mother Saundra Adams. Cherica Adams was eight months pregnant when she was shot to death in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1999. Baby Chancellor Lee miraculously survived the shooting after being delivered while his mother lay dying. Rae Carruth was a rookie wide receiver with the Carolina Panthers at the time, and he was convicted for the role he played in Cherica’s death. He was scheduled to be released from prison in the fall of 2018, so the timing of the podcast coincided – all episodes were published on October 16, 2018. The show is produced by The Charlotte Observer and hosted by Scott Fowler, a sports journalist.
There are seven episodes in the series, and it starts with how Adams and Carruth met and Adams became pregnant. Picture a young, hot-shot Carruth as a rookie in the NFL – what a high he must have been on at the time. But Carruth allegedly didn’t want to pay child support for 18 years, so he hired a hitman to kill Adams. Carruth himself was at the crime scene when it happened and enabled the shooting by pulling his car in front of Adams’ so she would stop and the shooter, Van Brett Watkins, Sr., could kill her. But Adams called 911 from her car and stated that Carruth was there too, which implicated him in the crime.
In the next couple of episodes we hear about Adams going into a coma and Chancellor Lee being delivered, and then how Carruth is found in the trunk of a car after he runs from police. Episode three, Life and Death, was so poignant – I knew from the title that someone would die, probably Adams, but I didn’t know the story and didn’t know Chancellor Lee survived, so I was really touched hearing how he pulled through.
The rest of the episodes are about Carruth’s prosecution, Chancellor Lee’s infant will to survive, and Saundra Adams stepping in to raise him. What has stayed with me from the podcast, months later, is the way Fowler shared Saundra Adams’ story. You cannot come away from this narrative without loving Saundra. She has the biggest heart and was brutally, lovingly honest with Fowler about how challenging it has been to raise a special needs child.
There is literally nothing I would change about this podcast. Where other podcasts from last year of a similar nature (done in conjunction with a journalism outfit/newspaper) went too long (The Teacher’s Pet) or a bit too short (I would have loved to hear more from Gladiator), Carruth spanned seven episodes at about 45 minutes each and fit the story in perfectly. It was clearly written and edited from a journalist’s perspective – there’s no rambling or extraneous storyline – and it was so easy to listen to.
The epilogue episode was excellent. Scott Fowler gave the audience an update on what’s been going on with Saundra and Chancellor Lee Adams since the podcast was produced, including audio from a lovely visit to a Carolina Panthers game. I wasn’t sure if Fowler would be able to track down Rae Carruth after he left prison, or if he did, whether Carruth would be willing to talk with him. Fowler did in fact meet up with Carruth in an undisclosed locatin in Pennsylvania; Carruth remembered Fowler from the Charlotte sports scene and
It’s subtle, but I really liked that the regular episodes of the podcast ended without talking to him, and the epilogue was the piece that included a brief update from Carruth. It felt somehow more appropriate to conclude without giving an exorbitant amount of attention to the people involved in committing this violent crime.
I applaud the podcast for partnering with NO MORE, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Safe Alliance, and the Children’s Defense Fund. It is crystal clear that this story is not meant to celebrate Carruth. Saundra Adams is the hero.
The podcast will appeal to many – sports fans of a certain age will remember this story; true crime junkies will appreciate the walk through the crime, trial, and aftermath; investigative reporting aficionados will enjoy the journalism and writing. I highly recommend a binge listen to Carruth. It will leave you feeling sad about a young life extinguished and a boy whose life is very challenging, but grateful that there are fierce and forgiving women like Saundra Adams in this world.
What do you think of this podcast? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss! Also subscribe to my twice-monthly newsletter!
Audible Feast Ratings
I review all podcasts on the following eight areas. They don’t all always apply, but it helps me fairly evaluate each show.
Educational Value (4 / 5)
Pop Culture Value (5 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (5 / 5)
Flow & Production Value (5 / 5)
This podcast is like an audiobook – it’s well-written and the perfect length.
Humor (1 / 5)
Investigation (5 / 5)
Storytelling (5 / 5)
Makes Me a Better Person (5 / 5)
This category is one that I think sets Audible Feast apart from other podcast writers. For me, it’s such a beautiful bonus when a podcast actually changes the way I think or softens my heart on something. I felt such empathy for Saundra Adams, which made me think about other grandmothers who step in to take care of kids, and the additional burden she bears by caring for a child with special needs. Major heart-softener.
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (5 / 5)
Start with These Episodes:
This is a serial podcast, so you need to listen in order:
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Someone Knows Something, Missing and Murdered, Broken Harts, In the Dark, Atlanta Monster, Death in Ice Valley, Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan, Gladiator, The Teacher’s Pet