The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Burden of Guilt

Finalist in True Crime & Documentary Podcast


Burden of Guilt tells the story of Traceyraquel Berns, a woman who spent decades at the center of one of the most bizarre and disturbing criminal cases in American history. This was not an easy story to tell. Traceyraquel doesn’t like journalists. It took years to build the trust that would allow us to tell this harrowing and compelling tale:

When she was just two-years-old, her four-month-old brother Matthew died.  Any questions about what happened were met with anger or evasive answers. As a teenager she got ahold of a police report about his death. It said, “Mother says two-year-old threw baby out of crib and killed him”. She was stunned. Could she have killed her baby brother? Her grandmother backed up the story, but she felt in her heart it couldn’t be true. Years later, when her own two-year-old tried to pick up an 8-pound gallon of milk and couldn’t do it, she realized no two-year-old could have picked up a 14-pound baby never mind throw him anywhere. What followed was a decades-long investigation in pursuit of the truth. She finally got justice for her brother but not without facing some terrible truths about her family and facing the pain of her past including her mother attempting suicide by jumping off a balcony right in front of her. 

It was our goal to tell her story for the first time. We wanted people to understand the level of bravery and personal sacrifice it took to expose what really happened.

Strategy and Execution

Using current-day interviews woven together with courtroom audio from the past allowed our team to create a complex and rich audio experience for our listeners.

Some people crucial to the story, had never spoken to the media before and weren’t interviewed by law enforcement at the time of the baby’s death.

The prosecutors and detectives who took this on talked about why it was so important to reopen this cold cold case.

We take listeners through three trials where accusations were leveled at Tracey, her mother and her father. Family members would not talk to us . They were angry that Traceyraquel had the case reopened and cleared her name. So, we conducted ambush interviews with family members who now acknowledge that they did nothing to take the focus off a two-year-old.

We looked into other murders authorities felt that the perpetrator of this crime most likely committed.

Once TR agreed to tell her story, she really wanted it to happen. The toughest part was getting her through this emotionally. Reliving her childhood and the court trials  was tough.  Her ordeal has left her very ill. She suffers from Lupus which flares up when she is under stress. On top of that, COVID wiped out her immune system. So now, any illness could be fatal. She did admit all of this on the podcast. We wanted to be completely honest.


The show garnered very positive reviews, with over 3.8 million downloads during its 8-episode run. The series peaked at #6 on Apple’s overall charts and #4 on True Crime. We are turning it into a documentary series for Paramount Plus through CBS News,

Our email inbox was consistently flooded with listeners thanking us for sharing this story and saying it helped them confront their past trauma.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Glass Podcasts


Entry Credits