The fascination with true crime stories is nothing new. In fact, it has only grown in popularity. There are virtually endless amounts of true crime forums on Facebook, Reddit, and other platforms, all of which are filled with members from all around the world who are drawn to stories of true crime.
I was first drawn to true crime in my teens. The stories of survivors were particularly of interest to me as well as the psychology of those who commit crimes. With the rise of streaming services, true crime documentaries are easier than ever to watch, and let me tell you, there are a lot of options available!
Since I’ve watched so many true crime documentaries, (possibly too many), I wanted to share the best ones I’ve watched that you can too:
1. American Murder: The Family Next Door (Netflix)
This is a newer release on Netflix about the horrific murders perpetrated by Chris Watts. The documentary, while I believe a bit rushed and missing a bit of pertinent information related to the case, highlights that life isn’t always what we see on social media.
It’s a chilling look into the lives of the victims and the perpetrator leading up to the murders.
2. I Love You, Now Die (HBO)
Anybody with even basic knowledge of this case can agree that Michelle Carter is a horrible person. Her then-boyfriend, Conrad Roy, tragically committed suicide in 2014. After his death, disturbing text messages from Carter were found on his phone and they shocked everybody who read them.
3. Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story (Netflix)
This documentary has stirred up a lot of controversy regarding the case of Cyntoia Brown, a trafficked teen who killed. It seemed like a clear case of self-defense to many but that didn’t stop the teen from being convicted of murder and sentenced, quite harshly.
Brown’s story is a sad one but certainly an interesting watch.
4. Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer (Prime)
Anybody who watches true crime has likely seen a ton of docs on Ted Bundy. This one though, is a bit different, as it focuses on the notorious murderer from a strong female perspective, specifically, his girlfriend. There are also interviews with the victims’ families.
5. The Trials of Gabriel Fernández (Netflix)
I usually don’t have a difficult time watching true crime but this one…this one was difficult to watch, to say the very least. It tells the heart-crushing story of young Gabriel Fernandez whose horrific abuse was ignored at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.
While this story will rip your heart out in more ways than one, it is one that needs to be told. Social workers, family members, and those close to the innocent child all failed him, resulting in his death.
6. Abducted in Plain Sight (Netflix)
This story is so crazy, it’s hard to believe that it’s true. The Broberg family is manipulated by a neighbor who abducts their daughter, not once but TWICE! I can’t even begin to explain how insane this story is with all its twists, turns, and unbelievable interviews from those involved. It is certain to get your blood boiling but, as far as true crime docs go, is a must-see.
7. Amanda Knox (Netflix)
Amanda Knox was only 20-years old when she was found guilty of murdering her roommate, Merideth Kercher, in Italy. Later, Knox was exonerated. In this documentary, you get Knox’s side of the story along with others who were connected to the case.
8. Don’t F*ck With Cats (Netflix)
This documentary took me by complete surprise because I had never heard anything about this case prior. Some very savvy internet sleuths come together in this chilling documentary about sadistic killer Luka Magnotta.
Before turning his murderous intent on a person, he targetted kittens and if there are any actual rules online, it’s in the title: Don’t Fuck with Cats. These sick videos prompt the savvy sleuths to track the whereabouts of the guy in the videos.
This one has a lot of twists, turns, and WTF moments.
9. Audrie & Daisy (Netflix)
We see these types of cases all too often. Two teenage girls, Audrie Pott and Daisey Colemen are both raped while under the influence in two different towns but their stories mirror each other. The boys who commit the rapes are protected while the two girls are bullied online and constantly harassed.
Because of the constant virtual bullying and harassment, one of the girls tragically takes her own life. This documentary shows these two mirrored cases and leaves us wondering – why does this happen at all? Let alone more than once? In this powerful documentary, you will see all the flaws of the justice system in regards to cases like this one.
10. Mommy Dead And Dearest (HBO & Prime Video)
This true crime documentary focuses on the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Her mother, Dee Dee, a woman who almost certainly had Munchausen by proxy syndrome, convinced everybody who would listen that her daughter Gypsy had a range of illnesses.
Gypsy, knowing she wasn’t ill and sick of being under her mother’s control took action. This doc is very comprehensive in its information about the case and, in my opinion, is one of the least bias docs I’ve seen in a long time.
11. The Staircase (Netflix)
Without giving too much away, this documentary really makes you question who these defense lawyers are and whether or not they should have been fiction writers instead! I’ve heard some far-out defenses before but one of them presented in this trial is BEYOND out there!
Anybody who watches or follows true crime stories knows that when a spouse dies, it’s usually their partner who did it. When Michael Peterson’s wife is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, all eyes are on him. Was it an accident or murder? Draw your own conclusion after watching this highly interesting doc!
12. Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (HBO)
I knew a little bit about this from a John Douglas book I’d read but I didn’t realize how many children were actually killed. I also didn’t realize how many gaps there were. Between racial division and spotty police work, there wasn’t justice for many of Atlanta’s missing and murdered children.
13. Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (Netflix)
Want to watch something completely far out that plays like fiction but actually went down? This one is for you! This one was of particular interest to me because I live so close to Erie, PA.
I’ll just say that this story involves a homemade bomb, a series of letters, and a “mastermind” you wouldn’t have expected.
14. Beware The Slenderman (HBO)
I had never heard of Slenderman until I watched this highly disturbing documentary. Basically, Slenderman was an internet-created Urban Legend that circulated with faked pictures, comics, and staged videos. Two girls took the legend to the next level, (in the worst possible way).
If you have kids, you may want to start monitoring what they’re watching on YouTube. It’s a startling documentary that proves that evil can be any age.
15. Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix)
Since this was one of my favorite shows growing up, I was thrilled to see it was back! I think I binged all the episodes in a matter of days. They’re all very intriguing mysteries.
16. The Innocence Files (Netflix)
If you have ever heard of “The Innocence Project” and support what they do, this docuseries is something you should definitely check out! Will it piss you off? Most likely. It certainly did me.
It’s stories of those who have been wrongly accused.
17. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (HBO)
This six-part docuseries is based on the book by the same name, written by Michelle McNamara. Her fascination with “The Golden State Killer” led her down a dark path. Unfortunately, she passed away before the killer was apprehended. It’s an emotional documentary that focuses not just on the monster who committed horrendous acts of violence in the ’70s and ’80s but also about normal people becoming consumed with true crime.
You can buy the book here.
18. The Confession Killer (Netflix)
Henry Lee Lucas was a talker. His confessions seemed to be endless, as he ended up confessing to hundreds of murders after being convicted of 11. The cops bought all of it but was he just “confessing” to gain preferential treatment? Watch to find out!
19. Tales of The Grim Sleeper (Prime)
The Grim Sleeper is about serial Lonnie David Franklin Jr. who terrorized people in Los Angeles in the late 80s. This doc has interviews with victims and their families and is a truly chilling watch.
20. The Confession Tapes (Netflix)
If you have ever had an interest in the phenomenon of false confession, this docuseries dives right in, using actual cases that you probably haven’t heard about.
21. I Am a Killer (Netflix)
This docuseries interviews those in prison who have killed. Each story is different but it’s amazing what the filmmakers were able to do in only an hour per episode. You hear their stories, their thoughts, and what led up to their crimes. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the most interesting docuseries out right now.
22. Trial By Media: The Truth Behind the Crimes (Netflix)
The media has been sensationalizing certain crimes for quite a while. This takes a look at six of those cases, with in-depth details and interviews.
23. The Witness (Prime)
Imagine a murder that took place with at least 38 witnesses. It’s hard to believe that something like that could really happen but it did. Back in 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in Queens, NY.
This documentary examines the “bystander effect” and her brother’s search for answers as to how and why this murder could happen.
Note: All of these true crime documentaries can be triggering for some. Watch with caution.
What are your favorite true crime stories? Have you seen these? Let me know your thought in the comments!