true crime

Unravel: Snowball – The real faces behind the gripping true crime podcast.

In 2006, Greg Wards was backpacking in London when he met Lezlie Manukian in a courtyard at a house party.

The Kiwi expat, who was in his mid-20s at the time, quickly fell head-over-heels in love with the charismatic Californian woman and before long, the pair set up a new life in New Zealand together.

What Greg didn’t know, however, is that their meeting would change his life, and his family’s lives, forever.

Watch the official trailer for Unravel: Snowball below. Post continues after video.

In the early days of their relationship, Lezlie, who was much older than Greg, often told him all about her wild life.

There was her troubled past as a refugee hailing from Armenia. Her years spent running restaurants and bars across America and Hawaii. And the million-dollar trust fund she apparently inherited from her estranged biological parents.

Over time, the details in Lezlie’s stories often changed.

But Greg never questioned it.

After a whirlwind early relationship, Greg and Lezlie opened a café in the small town of Matakana near Auckland, with Greg’s parents signing on to guarantee the $1.5 million loan.

Not long after that, the pair were married in front of 150 guests.

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Greg Wards and Lezlie Manukian on their wedding day. Image: Supplied/ABC.
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Once they were married, however, things quickly began to shift.

After just months of marriage and running the café, Lezlie disappeared from Greg's life, taking with it everything his family owned – their business, their home, and their life savings.

In season four of ABC's flagship true crime podcast Unravel, head of Triple J Ollie Wards delves into his brother's relationship with the woman who cost his family everything.

From New Zealand to Hawaii, to the UK, Brazil and the US, Ollie investigates the con artist who has been described as a female 'Dirty John' across seven episodes, as he meets other victims and even confronts Lezlie herself in a Californian supermarket car park.

Here are the real people at the centre of Unravel: Snowball.

Lezlie Manukian

Lezlie Manukian is the subject of ABC's Unravel: Snowball. 

Speaking at an event to launch hayu's new true crime content in October, host Ollie Wards shared that he recently got an update on Lezlie.

"At the end of my story, you find out that the con artist is the biggest victim themselves," Ollie shared.

"I just found out that [Lezlie's] been fired from the supermarket she was working in when I found her in America for stealing. She's the one that's constantly having to reinvent herself and move from one place to the next, but we're okay."

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Lezlie Manukian. Image: Supplied/ABC.
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Greg Wards

After meeting Lezlie Manukian at a house party, Greg Wards married the Californian con artist in 2007. After just months of marriage, however, Lezlie disappeared from Greg's life.

Speaking at an event to launch hayu's new true crime content, Unravel: Snowball host Ollie shared that Greg has since remarried.

"The thing for my own family and me being involved in the story. You lose control of the story once it's out there. For the people involved in the show... it definitely brought up old wounds for my brother," he said.

"He's remarried now, so it's been an interesting experience for his wife. But it's been an interesting process and brings so closure and we got some answers to some long-running questions that have been bubbling away for years," he added.

"As a journalist working on the story, I had to accurately and fairly portray what people had been saying or thinking, while also respecting my family and not trying to throw them under the bus."

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Lezlie Manukian and Greg Wards. Image: Supplied/ABC.

Ollie Wards

Ollie Wards is the Content Director of Triple J and the host of Unravel: Snowball.

Across the seven episode series, Ollie travelled to the UK, the US and Hawaii.

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Ollie Wards and his brother, Simon Wards. Image: Supplied/ABC.
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Simon Wards

Simon Wards is Ollie and Greg's brother. He joined Ollie for part of his investigation.

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Greg Wards and Simon Wards. Image: Supplied/ABC.

David and Julie Wards

David and Julie Wards are Greg, Ollie and Simon's parents.

After Lezlie fled, the couple lost their home and their retirement savings.

For years before Ollie began recording Unravel: Snowball, Ollie's father David investigated the case in his own spare time. He even wrote to Dr Phil regarding Lezlie.

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Ollie Wards interviews his father, David. Image: Supplied/ABC.
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Ollie Wards interviews his mother, Julie. Image: Supplied/ABC.

You can listen to Unravel Season 4: Snowball on the ABC, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


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