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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

The Girl in the Blue Mustang

Finalist in True Crime & Documentary Podcast


Dateline’s six-episode podcast series, “The Girl in the Blue Mustang,” told the story of the murder of 18-year-old Michelle O’Keefe, who was shot to death in her brand-new blue Mustang at a Park and Ride just off a freeway in the desert not far from Los Angeles in February 2000.

Our objectives were to tell that story in rich and compelling detail, but also to investigate and shed new light on the troubling and remarkable events that followed the murder. We wanted listeners to understand how tunnel vision and confirmation bias on the part of investigators can lead directly to a miscarriage of justice. We also wanted to educate listeners about the workings of the criminal justice system, and they ways in which it can be flawed.

In addition, through respectful and sensitive interviews, we aimed to bring home to listeners the terrible impacts that crimes have on families, as well as the costs and burdens that those who are wrongfully convicted must bear.

Strategy and Execution

Our strategy was to employ a narrative and immersive approach to tell a story that spanned two decades, through in-depth interviews with key participants ranging from the victim’s family to investigators to the alleged perpetrator himself. We include as part of the narrative the new information we discovered in our own investigation, including a court document we had unsealed that revealed the names of two men who could have committed the crime.


“The Girl in the Blue Mustang” reached the top of Apple’s charts and stayed there for several weeks. To date, it has drawn millions of downloads.  

And, our series has been a change agent. After it launched, we learned that the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office had reopened the investigation into the two men we named as potential alternate suspects—an inquiry that continues at this writing.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Dateline NBC


Entry Credits