If there’s one thing we love to hook to our veins, it’s really twisted true crime documentaries on Netflix. And thankfully, the streamer has them coming out the bloody wazoo.
At this point, I don’t even remember when the world’s obsession with true crime documentaries began, but it seems like everyone and their dog has a true crime podcast and it seems like there’s cooked new true crime documentaries on Netflix releasing every week.
But if you’ve already deep-dived into the JonBenét Ramsey case and read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark during lockdown, you’re probably on the lookout for some new crime content to feast your eyes on. And don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
So without further ado, here are the top true crime documentaries on Netflix that personally made me nail my front door shut and vow to never leave the house again.
This Is A Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist (2021)
COMING APRIL 7
An art heist, a $10 million reward, the mafia, the Irish mob, what *doesn’t* this documentary have? This Is A Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist follows the story of the robbery of a Boston museum in 1990.
Two thieves dressed as cops enter the museum on the evening of St Patrick’s Day 1990 and steal half a billion dollars worth of precious art. Now, more than 30 years on, the paintings are still yet to be recovered. Whoever finds the painting will receive a $10 million reward, but it’s not that simple.
Experts believe the heist was either orchestrated by the Italian mob or the Irish mob, but here we are 30+ years later with no real answer.
Amanda Knox (2016)
This one is an oldie but a goldie. This is one of the first true crime cases that captured my attention, and if you haven’t already watched the documentary, I suggest you add it to your list.
Amanda Knox was convicted and acquitted of murder TWO times after being named the primary suspect in the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher while studying abroad in Italy.
The documentary stars Amanda herself, so you can already guess that they’re leaning towards her innocence. But the doco does a really great job of playing both sides, showing hours of archived footage and news clips from the time to really make you question everything.
Honestly, it’s a really interesting watch because you either have to decide if Amanda Knox is an innocent woman who had her entire life ruined over a crime she didn’t commit, or she’s a cold-blooded killer.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (2021)
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is one of the latest true crime documentaries on Netflix, detailing the story of Canadian traveller Elisa Lam, who died in the hotel under mysterious circumstances.
Elisa’s body was discovered in a water tank in 2013, and throughout the documentary, filmmaker Joe Berlinger tries to piece together the puzzle and evaluate all of the possible theories behind her death.
But instead of focussing solely on Elisa’s story, the documentary focuses on the hotel itself, which is widely regarded as LA’s scariest hotel. Essentially, you’re on a journey to finding out what happened to Elisa Lam, but along the way, you learn about all of the peculiarities that the hotel has behind its doors.
This doco is a must-watch for any true crime fan, especially because most of us were adults, or close-to when the case actually happened.
Evil Genius (2018)
Hooooooo boy, I’m fairly certain this is my favourite true crime case/documentary ever and I just need to yell about it until you all watch it, okay?!
Evil Genius is Netflix’s own true crime docu-series into the infamous collar bomb bank heist that ended in the death of pizza delivery driver Brian Wells, who may or may not have been doing it against his will.
The docu-series is split into four parts: the heist, the frozen body, the suspects and the confessions, making for an easy watch.
Oh, and did I mention that it involves one of the most diabolical women in true crime, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong?
This doco has everything: a bank robbery, a collar bomb, a scavenger hunt and multiple suspects to keep you on your toes until the very end. Was Brian Wells an innocent victim who was swept up in unfortunate circumstances? Or a criminal mastermind who was in on the whole thing?
If you watch just one of the many true crime documentaries on Netflix, make it this one.
Surviving R. Kelly
CONTENT WARNING: This documentary discusses sexual assault.
Surviving R. Kelly is a different type of true crime documentary to those above, but it’s a great – and very important – watch.
Throughout the documentary, alleged victims and their families share their stories, journalists share evidence and hours of footage is released to support the allegations against R&B singer R. Kelly (which he has denied).
In February 2019, Kelly was formally charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
The documentary begins in the 90s, at the height of Kelly’s career and the beginning of the rumours of inappropriate behaviour with underage girls. It then follows everything from his infamous 2008 child pornography trial right up until the #MeToo movement.
Don’t F*ck With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
Don’t F*ck With Cats was one of the streaming service’s top five most-watched documentaries in 2019, and is one of the best and most talked-about true crime documentaries on Netflix.
What started out as a crowd-sourced amateur investigation into animal cruelty turned into a full-blown murder investigation when Canadian Luka Magnotta murdered Chinese international student Jun Lin.
The documentary really illustrates the progression of Magnotta’s crimes, from posting videos of himself killing kittens on the internet to the murder of another human being.
Not to mention, it truly shows the power of the internet and the online true crime community, which is basically the whole reason the case was ever solved.
However, I will warn you that this Netflix doco is pretty graphic, especially towards animals. If you’re queasy or just… I don’t know, don’t want to see cats get murdered, you might want to be cautious with this one.
Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer (2021)
Another one of the newer true crime documentaries on Netflix, this series following the hunt for Richard Ramirez, one of the most notorious serial killers in LA’s history.
Unlike most serial killers, Ramirez didn’t follow a pattern or have a specific type of victim or method behind his madness. In the short period between 1984 and 1985, Ramirez committed murders, rapes, burglaries, kidnappings and other acts of violence across the city, quickly making a name for himself as one of the country’s most prolific serial killers.
We’ll likely never know his true victim count, but after being caught, he was convicted of 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault, and 14 counts of burglary.
The Netflix Original doco follows two investigators in 1985 who would stop at nothing until they found the man responsible for terrorising the city.
American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020)
American Murder: The Family Next Door is a Netflix true crime documentary that tells the story of the 2018 murders of Shanann Watts and her three kids: Bella Marie, Celeste and unborn son Nico Watts, who were all murdered by her husband/their father Chris Watts in a family annihilation in Colorado.
However, the interesting thing about this case is that Chris initially framed the situation as if Shanann left him and ran away with the kids, knowing full well that he murdered his entire family.
Considering how recent the case is, this isn’t an easy watch, but it’s one of the most well-made true crime documentaries on Netflix. Doing away with a narrator or any to-camera interviews, it instead relies on archival footage, social media posts, text messages and law enforcement recordings, depicting the events that led up to and occurred on that day in August 2018.
Murder Among The Mormons (2021)
This is another Netflix true crime documentary from Joe Berlinger, and hoo boy, it’s a good one.
Murder Among The Mormons is the first look into the most infamous crime within the Mormon religious community and the people who orchestrated it.
The series focuses on Mark Hofmann, who created a number of forgeries relating to the Latter Day Saint movement, and is widely regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished forgers. However, when his Latter-Day Saint plot started to unravel, he planted two bombs that killed two people. Ultimately, this landed him in jail.
Making A Murderer (2018)
You can’t talk about the best true crime documentaries on Netflix without talking about Making A Murderer.
This is the story of Steven Avery, a man from Wisconsin who served 18 years in prison for the wrongful conviction of the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen. He was eventually exonerated and released in 2003 before being charged and convicted for the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2007.
The documentary was filmed over 13 years, and was wildly successful for Netflix upon its initial release. If you haven’t watched it, you simply must.
Abducted In Plain Sight (2017)
Abducted In Plain Sight is a Netflix true crime documentary following the story of Jan Broberg Felt, an Idaho teenager who was abducted by her neighbour Robert Berchtold on *two* separate occasions. Notably, the family were deeply involved in the Mormon church.
Interestingly, Berchtold was a family friend of the Brobergs at the time of the abductions, which makes the whole situation even more fucked. But, in saying that, this is also how Berchtold was able to abduct 12-year-old (and 14-year-old) Jan Broberg.
But this isn’t just any abduction, with Jan being brainwashed into having sex with her captor to save the world and her family from aliens.
This is one of the wildest true crime documentaries on Netflix. There is truly so much to explain but I can’t give much more away – you just need to watch it. Go on, do it.