A murder mystery podcast is not your typical grade school teaching resource, but Paul Strueby said he has seldom seen students engage so quickly with material. 

His Grade 8 class at St. Augustine School in Humboldt, Sask., has been following the CBC podcast Missing & Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams.

The podcast investigates the 1989 unsolved case of a 24-year-old Indigenous woman who was found dead along the Highway of Tears near Prince Rupert, B.C. A tip to CBC about the case sparked the project.

"We listened to the first episode and students were so engaged and so interested in it that I just kept running with it," Strueby told CBC Radio's Morning Edition. "My class is disappointed when the bell rings at the end of the day." 

Alberta Williams on notebooks

Alberta Williams was 24 years old when she was found dead in B.C. (CBC)

One of those students is Tanner Hall, who was struck by how many women had gone missing along the stretch of Highway 16 known as the Highway of Tears.  

The students keep journals documenting what they think is important from each podcast episode, developing their own ideas as to who is responsible for the crime. 

The podcast also sparks other conversations. Hall said he was amazed by how residential schools affected students that went, for instance.

In his time within the Saskatchewan school system, Strueby said the focus on residential schools has shifted from the basics to looking at their long-term effects.

Alberta Williams hypnotist illustration

This illustration shows an aspect of the Alberta Williams death investigation, in which police hypnotized one of her relatives in order to draw out more information in the case. (John Fraser/CBC)

The conversation extends out of the classroom, too. Hall's mother listens to the podcast as well and the two chat about their hypotheses.

​The final instalment of Who Killed Alberta Williams will be released tomorrow.

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition