Netflix boasts an impressive and ever expanding catalogue of True Crime Documentaries from recent years. Some are very well known and recent such as ‘Wild Wild Country’, however its actually some of the documentaries that you may not know too search for which will provide the most chilling spectacle which is where this article can be your perfect cultivated guide!
We would like to present you with our editors choice for the very best this genre has to offer currently on Netflix.
#1 Team Foxcatcher (2016)
John E. du Pont is not an entirely new name, especially for people who saw 2014’s Foxcather, where Steve Carrel and Channing Tatum starred. Du Pont’s lifelong dream was to build an American Olympic wrestling team that would make significant exploits. And to achieve this, he invited many athletes to train and live in his modern gym, built on his expansive family farm. It all looked set to be completed until an unexpected, tragic, and seemingly stupid crime– a cold-blood murder – changed the turn of things.
#2 Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1993) and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
This 1993 doc centred on the journey of the popular filmmaker, Nick Broomfield, to interview one of the most notorious female serial killers America has ever seen, Aileen Wuornos. In this documentary, the trials and tribulations of Wuornos, as fueled by the legal system, especially the disservice of her original attorney, was carefully examined.
When Broomfield returned to Wuornos ten years later, the subject was rebirthed to Life and Death of a Serial Killer. The new series dwells on the sequence of events that led to the 2002 execution of Wuornos.
#3 The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden (2013)
Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller ultimately thrilled the viewers with this dark mystery. By taking everyone back to the 1930s, these prolific directors were able to tell the story of how a new Eden turned out to be a hell on Earth. Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch, two famous German elites, had just left their partners in 1929. They proceeded to start a new life in a little-known Galapagos island of Floreana.
Unknown to them, their letters home were leaked to the press, and their long-kept secret of a solitary love was exposed. After spending a few months on the Island, another German couple joined them, before the arrival of the irrational and unpredictable German Austrian woman, alongside her two lovers, and her love for guns.
With the help of the archival footage obtained from the transplants on the Island, coupled with the efforts of voice actors including Diane Kruger and Cate Blanchett, Goldfine and Geller successfully recounted the travails before and after the rise and fall of the Eden.
#4 Casting JonBenet (2017)
The main subject here is JonBenet Ramsey’s lingering unsolved murder. In the bid to solve the ‘unsolvable,’ Director Kitty Green chose to go for the unthinkable – he cast a fictional film on the case. He invited actors from Boulder, Colorado – the place of the crime – to participate in auditions for the key players of the story, including JonBenet herself, John (her father), Patsy (her mother), and others.
From the feedback obtained from these actors, Director Green was able to create a convincing picture of how JonBenet’s murder has shaped the Boulder community, its inhabitants, and the entire society.
#5 Brother’s Keeper
Brother’s Keeper is mainly about the other three brothers of the Ward family. With a 1992 setting, this documentary showed how the Wards grew up in Munnsville – a small town in upstate New York – alongside about 300 other residents. Although they were mostly illiterate, the four Ward brothers make about $7,000 collectively every year. The death of the second youngest brother in 1990 was seen as normal until Delbert was later identified as his killer. The intent of the killing was played down, however, due to the deteriorating health of William then. The real story behind William’s death was never unveiled, but the family’s portrait offers some fascination.
#6 The Confessions of Thomas Quick (2015)
Having been convicted of armed robbery, coupled with his past pieces of evidence on assault, drug use, and molestation of young boys, Sture Bergwall would later find himself in an institution for criminals with acute mental health problems. Bergwall’s evil double – Thomas Quick – during one of his therapy sessions disclosed how he was singlehandedly responsible for about 30 murders between 1964 and 1933, cutting across Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
Quick’s confession was enough to get him convicted of eight murders. However, in 2008, Hannes Rastam, a renowned journalist, having combed through Bergwall’s file of about 50,000 pages, declared that the only thing linking Quick to the crimes was his confessions, with nothing close to evidence found in his record.
This 90-minute documentary, directed by Brian Hill, discusses one of the most notorious murder and false imprisonment cases, resulting from a single man’s mind and the pursuit of justice.
#7 Who Took Johnny? (2014)
No one would ever imagine the disappearance of a harmless little boy like Johnny Gosch. However, when the 12-year-old paperboy vanished in Des Moines in 1982 while doing his daily morning rounds, everyone was shocked. Two years later, another paperboy disappeared in similar circumstances, and Johnny was reportedly spotted in Oklahoma. However, these were not enough to keep the case open, until Noreen, Johnny’s mother, claimed that Johnny checked on her in 1997, alongside a strange man who prevented him from revealing his whereabouts.
Made in 2014, this documentary borders on Noreen’s present search for Johnny, while suggesting a couple of interesting theories about the disappearance of the now young boy.
#8 Evil Genius (2018)
With Evil Genius, you will get to re-live one of the top true crime cases that happened as far back as 2003. During that year, the police discovered a pizza delivery worker – Brian Wells – wearing a bomb locked around his neck, while standing outside a local bank. At first, the police thought the bomb was fake, but they were sure that the man posed a real threat, and thus handcuffed him. Once he moved closed to a police car, the bomb went off. The horrible death of Wells made the news, and that was the first of many weird things to come. The mini-series spans four episodes and is sure to keep you guessing till the end.
#9 The Fear of 13 (2015)
This outstanding one-man-show is about Nick Yarris, who was sentenced to 105 years in prison for a crime he knew nothing about. Having been convicted of murder, Nick sat on the death row for 21 years, until he was exonerated of the crime in 2014, courtesy of an incontrovertible DNA evidence. In this doc, ic Yarris himself narrated the story and was the only man on set.
#10 Glory Daze (2015)
In this doc by Ramon Fernandez, the spotlight was on a renowned group of New York clubgoers, who voraciously pursued power and attention. Michael Alig, although smart and resourceful, was a gay outcast in his Fordham hometown. In the bid to find the right environment to redefine himself, Alig transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology from the Fordham University.
At the fashion school, he met Keith Haring’s boyfriend – a meeting that marked the beginning of a fast, and drug-induced integration and takeover of the New York’s club over the ‘80s and’90s. Alig, with his notorious crew – Club Kids – was famous both locally and nationally for their bad cultural reputation. They would later murder a club scene member, before dismembering and disposing of the body in the Hudson River.
According to the profiling done by Fernandez, Alig was the main perpetrator and murderer, while highlighting his transition from simple beginnings to a murderous bragging that got him convicted eventually.
#11 The Staircase (2004)
The Staircase arguably contributed most to the current prominence enjoyed by the true crime genre of docs. Although the series started in 2004, Netflix is set to thrill viewers again with three fresh episodes that will focus on the final trial of Michael Peterson. If you haven’t checked out The Staircase before, I bet now is the perfect time to!
#12 The Karma Killings (2016)
The small town of Nitharia, a suburb of New Delhi, India, witnessed the unusual within 2005 and 2006 – the mysterious disappearance of 15 children. During investigations, the police identified a certain house, and after much questioning, the inhabitant of the house confessed that he cut these children up and cooked them for dinner. This was one overwhelming crime for both the Indian media and its people, as it continued to grow larger and more complex. Alleged involvement by the police was also mooted – they were accused of inciting class violence. The demand for justice and the uncovering of all issues surrounding the children’s disappearance is what The Karma Killings is all about.
#13 Wild Wild Country (2018)
Almost everyone kept talking about Wild Wild Country weeks after its debut. In the story, the cult behind the 1980 invasion of an Oregon town seemed to have retuned—and everyone had their views about Sheela. This is arguably one of the strangest story ever narrated on Netflix, and you don’t want to miss another chance to discover what unfolds in this amazing doc.
#14 My Friend Rockefeller (2015)
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, whom you may know as Rockefeller, was the centre of this doc. In his attempt to end all cons, this man even pulled some unthinkable cons himself. He was shuffling between six identities several years before he was caught, including posing as a member of the New York’s revered Rockefeller family.
His wife was the first to grow suspicious, and her inquisitiveness led to the unravelling of the long list of people her husband victimised over the years. In addition to murder, Gerhartsreiter went to several other unbelievable lengths to create and sustain a false life for himself.
#15 Shadow of Truth (2016)
It was indeed a sad day after 13-year-old Tair Rada’s gruesomely murdered body was found stuffed inside a locked bathroom stall in her Israeli school. Rada’s murder was enough to send shocks down the spines of school children and their mothers, as well as the entire community. During investigations, Roman Zadorov was arrested, and he later confessed to murdering Tair. However, the confession of the Ukrainian immigrant only added to the mystery surrounding the murder. There were lots of inconsistencies in the confessions of other possible suspects, the DNA evidence obtained, thus making the conviction of Zadorov doubtful.
#16 Wormwood (2016)
Wormwood is another great delivery from Errol Morris – one of the most excellent veteran true crime documentarian. The doc, which lasted for four and a half hour and six parts of Netflix mini-series, is all about LSD experiments, a CIA cover-up, a potential suicide/alleged murder, and secret government conspiracies that have enjoyed top secrecy over the past decades. Morris, in his usual fashion, employed long-form interviews and re-enactments in his investigations. But his biggest help in finding the truth was the deceased agent’s son who was looking for facts behind the inexplicable tragedy.
#17 The Seven Five (2014)
The New York City of the 1980s was certainly not the best place to live, with the cocaine epidemic, all-time high crime rates. More disturbing was the involvement of the top ranks of the NYC police department in top criminal activities. Michael Dowd has worked in the 75th precinct of the NYPD for a decade, overseeing drug deals and taking bribes. He was later arrested and tried in one of the biggest scandals the NYPD will ever see.
#18 A Murder in the Park (2014)
Wrongful conviction is one of the biggest issues rocking the American criminal justice system currently. But have you ever thought about the possibility of releasing the actual criminal in the name of avoiding wrongful conviction? Well, A Murder in the Park shows what that would be like, using the story of Anthony Porter.
Porter, having been convicted of two murders in 1982, had his conviction reversed, courtesy of the exploits of a Northwestern professor and his students. This discovery led to the review of several Northwestern class’s claims, and in this documentary, one of these deeply complex cases was the spotlight.
#19 Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses (2015)
Janet’s Moses’s death rocked everywhere in 2017. No one understood the truth behind the drowning of the young Wainuiomata mother, although the 22-year-old was assumed to have been a victim of a brutal exorcism by her family, in their attempt to lift a particular curse.
There were nine family members involved, and they were all charged with manslaughter, although to them, they were helping her escape from a grave disturbance inside her. This docudrama aimed to help viewers to relive these trying days before Moses’s death while highlighting how this tragic outcome was borne out of the deep and determined love of a family dangerously mingled with cultural belief.
#20 The Witness (2015)
Catherine Susan “Kitty” Genovese isn’t an entirely new name. She was murdered on March 13, 1964, in a Queens, New York alley – a development that rocked the entire local media. A few days later, the case was tagged a ‘deadly apathy,’ with many prominent newspapers, including The New York Times, reporting that about 40 area witnesses said they heard Cathy cry for help severally, although they did nothing to save her.
In this 2015 documentary, both the wrong and right facts about Kitty’s fate was unravelled, including her murderer, and the people who did nothing to avert her impending death, as well as her haunted brother, who has been battling hard against the depression caused by 38 people’s supposed inhumanity.
#21 Out of Thin Air (2017)
Iceland was once popular for some of the world’s most notorious murder cases. And forty years down the line, Dylan Howitt – the renowned movie director and documentarian – tries to recount one of the most intricate of such cases. The story centres on two men, who disappeared mysteriously, and whose deaths led to seven murder confessions from seven different people.
1974 was the year, and after a well-rocked party, an 18-year-old male mysteriously disappeared. Few months after this disappearance, a 32-year-old father also vanished, after receiving a late night call that had him drive to a café.
Investigations led the authorities to a group of young people known to be part of a recent money embezzling plot – for which they were convicted, even with limited evidence. After a few decades, questions were raised about the circumstances surrounding their confessions, with authorities alleged to have tortured these confessions out them. The situation thus turned faces towards one community’s horrific response to the heinous acts of others.
#22 The Keepers (2017)
In the early stages, this true crime docu-series seemed like it was all about finding the killer of Sister Cathy Cesnik. However, more complications and ‘darkness’ surfaced as the story progresses.
Any true lover of crime stories will find impressive the ‘complete’ nature of The Keepers, with its perfect blend of abuse, family secrets, murder, history, religion, and conspiracy. But the most interesting element of the series is, perhaps, the presence of some determined amateur sleuths, who were ready to go any length to find out the truth behind their beloved teacher’s death.
#23 Tower (2016)
By combining an advanced use of rotoscopic animation, and the surviving victims’ recounts, this doc attempts to recreate the unforgettable scenes of August 1, 1996, – a day that saw a lone sniper firing randomly from the clock tower of the University of Texas, Austin Campus. The rampage obviously couldn’t be stopped, and I the end, 16 lives were lost, and several others injured.
Forget about the genre now; this doc is one of the captivating movies of the year. And with the excellent animation delivering a real-time experience, you would think you were there in Austin that year.
#24 Newtown (2016)
Remember the sad events surrounding the December 14, 2002, Newton Massacre? Directed by filmmaker Kim A. Synder, this 2016 documentary recounts the gruesome murder of 20 elementary school students and six of their teachers, by gunman Adam Lanza. The doc successfully revealed the grief and anger at the system that preceded this horrendous event.
#25 Making a Murderer (2016)
Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, a man from Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, who served an incredible 18 years in prison for the wrongful conviction of attempted murder and sexual assault and who once freed was again charged in 2005 and eventually convicted in 2007 for the murder of Teresa Halbach, and the connected story of Brendan Dassey, who was accused and convicted as an accessory in the murder.