18 Best Netflix True Crime Documentaries (2018)
Discover our list of the best Netflix true crime documentaries in 2018.
18 Best Netflix True Crime Documentaries
Between TV series, documentaries, docudramas, podcasts, and more, true crime is a wildly popular genre right now. To help you dip your toes into the true crime waters, here is our list of 18 of the best Netflix true crime documentaries.
The true crime boom began, at least in part, thanks to Netflix's 2015 Making a Murderer. We decided not to include it on the list because we figured that everyone has either already seen it by now or at least was aware of it and wanted to bright awareness to a documentary you may be unfamiliar with.
Nowadays, it seems as if Netflix is adding true crime Netflix Originals to their roster every other week, along with getting the streaming rights to other great documentaries. Which obvious benefits those of us that enjoy watching the docs! Take a look at our list of 18 of the best Netflix true crime documentaries and let us know what you think!
1. Casting JonBenet
Casting JonBenet is a 2017 Netflix Original about the unsolved death of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey. This documentary is a unique take on the case, using people from Ramsey’s hometown to recreate scenes from her life, "creating a bold work of art from the collective memories and mythologies the crime inspired."
2. The Keepers
The Keepers is a seven episode docuseries chronicling the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969 and the potential ties to sexual abuse allegations toward a chaplain that worked at the same school that Sister Cathy once taught. Since the docuseries aired, even more sexual abuse victims have spoken out against Father Joseph Maskell and the police are currently looking into it.
3. The Witness
Kitty Genovese was murdered in 1964 while 38 looked on and did nothing, or that is the story everyone has been lead to believe. Bill Genovese, Kitty’s brother, didn’t buy it. The Witness is the result of his investigation into his sister’s death. The Witness “debunks” the bystander effect, which was also called the Genovese effect.
4. Strong Island
Strong Island is a hard film to watch. It is part tribute to the filmmaker’s brother, who was murdered, and part examination of racism within the judicial system that allowed a killer to go free and left the Dunmore and Ford family devastated.
5. Time: The Kalief Browder Story
When Kalief Browder was 16, he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. He was arrested and sent to Rikers while he awaited trial, spending two years in solitary confinement. Ultimately, he spent three years in jail for a case that was never prosecuted because the charges were dropped. Browder died by suicide after he was finally released. Time: The Kalife Browder Story is his story told in six episodes.
6. Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox is a true crime documentary covering the case of Amanda Knox, an American exchange student in Italy accused of killing her roommate, Meredith Kercher in 2007. The documentary chronicles the murder, investigations, the trails, and appeals. Knox was convicted of murder and ended up spending four years in prison before finally being acquitted.
7. The Hunting Ground
The Hunting Ground is “an exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.” Annie E, Clark and Andrea Pino, two former students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who both file Title IX complaints after being raped, are the primary focus of the documentary.
8. Wild Wild Country
Wild Wild Country covers the controversial cult lead by the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers, the Rajneeshee, as they built what was to be a utopia in Oregon. However, they quickly clashed with the nearby locals and things quickly escalated from there, including illegal wiretapping, assassination plots, and the largest bioterror attack in US history.
9. Evil Genius
Probably the most recently released documentary on the list, Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist is a four episode docuseries about the “pizza bomber,” a man that attempted to rob an Erie, PA bank in 2003. The man had a bomb locked around his neck that exploded on live TV and the case to figure out who put it there began.
10. Into The Abyss
Into the Abyss is unlike some of the other documentaries on this list. It doesn’t examine why innocent people go to jail, but by why guilty ones do. The documentary interviews convicted killers, family of the victims, along with members of the Texas criminal justice system. Michael Perry, a man convicted of killing Sandra Stotler and confessed to killing two other people. The interviews take place just days before his execution in 2010.
11. The Seven Five
The Seven Five follows police corruption at the 75th precinct at the New York Police Department in the 1980s, which lead to one of the single largest corruption scandals in the city’s history. Actual footage from the Mollen Commission and commentary from those involved provide and interesting look at the scandal.
12. Audrie and Daisy
Audrie & Daisy is about a lot of things. It’s about cyberbullying. It’s about the effects of rape and mental illness. But most of all, it is about Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, two teenage girls. Both of them passed out at parties and were sexually assaulted. Despite living in different parts of the country, they were both cyberbullied and both attempt suicide. Sadly, one of the girls succeeds. The film “explores this new square o shame from the perspective of teenage girls and their families.”
Girlhood, a 2003 documentary, follows Shanae and Megan, two young girls at the Waxter Juvenile Facility in Baltimore. Before ending up in the juvenile justice system, both girls endured horrific abuse and trauma. Described as “bright but troubled,” Girlhood tries to shine light on the struggle these children face while still asking if there can be redemption.
14. Who Took Johnny
Paperboy Johnny Gosch went missing more than 30 years ago and his case is still unsolved. Who Took Johnny dives into the story headfirst, chronicling the story of the first child to appear on a milk carton, of his mother, Noreen, and her determination to discover what happened to her son. The documentary discusses supposed sightings, conspiracy theories, and so much more.
15. Survivors Guide to Prison
In the United States, you’re more likely to go to prison than anywhere else in the world. For this reason alone, it might be a good idea to give Survivor’s Guide To Prison a watch. The documentary is essentially a “how-to handbook for the incarcerated” brought to you by former inmates, officers, and celebrities. The documentary also brings up problems you might face, such as solitary confinement and life after prison.
16. Cold Justice
Cold Justice is the only TV series included on the list. An unscripted procedural drama, Cold Justice follows Kelly Siegler, a former prosecutor, and Yolanda McClary, a crime scene investigator, as they travel the country attempting to solve cold cases. (McClary was the inspiration for Catherine Willows from CSI!)
17. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer is Nick Broomfield’s 2003 follow up to his 1992 documentary Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. Wuornos was a mentally ill sex worker convicted of killing 6 men in 1989 and 1990. The documentary features parts of her trial and interviews with Wuornos, whom the state of Florida deemed “sound of mind.”
18. American Experience: Ruby Ridge
Ruby Ridge is an episode of the PBS show American Experience about Randy and Vicki Weaver and their three children living on Ruby Ridge located in Idaho. The Weavers believed the outside world to be corrupt and lived off the grid. Randy got caught selling sawed-off shotguns to an undercover agent and failed to appear in court.
Ruby Ridge chronicles the subsequent standoff with federal agents that result in the death of 14-year-old Sam Weaver. Vicki Weaver would also die in the firefight. The documentary also includes compelling interviews with daughter Sara.