Your favourite streaming sites hide a lot of true crime documentaries if you know where to find them. Here are some of the best documentaries and true crime stories you might have missed while you were busy re-watching Friends.
Surviving R. Kelly (Netflix)
This six-part documentary series looks at the life and times of R. Kelly, from his beginnings as a young musician in Chicago to the various sexual assault allegations made against him over the years. The series features interviews with Kelly’s family, friends, and former employees, as well as people close to his alleged victims.
The documentary is shocking and will leave you filled with anger – the first time I’ve seen it R. Kelly still had women in his house who couldn’t get out of his control – luckily 2021 brought Kelly to justice and hopefully, he will never see the light of day again.
The Staircase (Netflix)
This 2004 documentary follows the trial of Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife Kathleen after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home. The film spawned two sequels, 2011’s The Staircase II: The Last Chance and 2018’s The Staircase III: Murder on Trial in France, which continue to follow Peterson’s case and explore new evidence that surfaced later since Michael Peterson was also suspected in the murder of his ex-wife in similar circumstances to the famous original documentary.
House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths (Netflix)
This must be one of the weirdest stories you’ve never heard of.
A family in New Delhi were found dead in their home after eleven days. The police arrived to the scene to find the bodies. 10 family members had died exactly the same way – hanging themselves from an iron grill on the ceiling while the grandmother was found strangled.
The death of the Chundawat family is absolutely baffling, no motive or evidence was found to give a definite answer on what has happened, but the documentary covers some of the theory. The tragedy happened in 2018, so there should be plenty of forensic evidence, which makes this to be all the more harrowing.
Murder by the Coast (Netflix)
This Spanish documentary covers the murder of Rocío Wanninkhof. The young woman was found dead on the beach, having suffered many blows to her body. However, that is only the beginning of this case which ends up with police arresting a suspect who turns out to be someone completely unexpected – and someone innocent.
The murder happened in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2017 that they had enough evidence and information to make an arrest.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO)
This six-part miniseries from HBO follows the life of real estate heir Robert Durst, who has been suspected (but never convicted) of three murders over the course of his life. The show was controversial for its use of dramatic reenactments and audio recordings made by Durst himself, which were used as evidence in his eventual trial.
Wild Wild Country (Netflix)
Wild Wild Country is a Netflix documentary series that tells the story of a famous Oregon “commune” in the 1980s. The group, led by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Ma Anand Sheela, invaded an area in central Oregon with plans to turn it into their utopia – but things got complicated when their ideas clashed with those of local citizens.
This story is as whacky as you can imagine – you have the Rajneeshees trying to poison people, launch a bio-attack, meanwhile the holy Bhagwan just cruising around in 10 Rolly Royce’s. If you haven’t seen this yet, you better get on it!
The Keepers (Netflix)
This story always gets me upset – what can one gentle soul do against the power of the Catholic church? How far would people in power go to silence the truth? The answer? Too far.
This true-crime drama from Netflix focuses on unsolved crimes against young women within Baltimore’s Catholic school system during the 1960s and 70s. Despite very little evidence or leads for decades, one determined nun sets out to solve these mysteries once and for all – even if it means ruining certain people’s lives in order to do so.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO)
This story is legendary among true crime junkies, who follow the Murder Squad or the My Favourite Murder podcasts. Michelle McNamara was close friends with Billy Jensen and have worked closely with cold case investigator Paul Holes, who brought the Golden State Killer to justice not long after the book got published. Michelle, unfortunately, died before the book got published, but her friends and family gifted us one of the most personal true crime books since The Stranger Beside Me from Ann Rule.
This title is a bit of a misnomer, as the Golden State Killer was only captured after this book’s publication. But don’t let that dissuade you from watching one of the most suspenseful crime documentaries out there.
The story of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark follows author Michelle McNamara’s obsessive quest to identify and capture the man who committed dozens of rapes and murders throughout California in the 1970s and 80s. The documentary takes an interesting approach by incorporating interviews with law enforcement officials involved in the case, family members of victims, and journalists who have followed it over the years – giving viewers a well-rounded view of this investigation.
Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer (Amazon Prime)
Ted Bundy is one of the most famous serial killers in American history. This documentary tells the story of Ted’s life before he was executed for murdering at least 30 people between 1974 and 1978 – focusing on how women fell under his charm despite warning signs that something wasn’t quite right about him.
This Ted Bundy Documentary stands out from the rest – it is more about the victims and the era than glorifying Ted’s charm.
Elizabeth Kendall – Ted’s long time partner shares very personal experiences in detail and you will be left wondering how a killer like Bundy could act like a human and be a real father to her daughter.
American Vandal (Netflix)
In this true-crime mockumentary, a kid is expelled from school for vandalizing cars with phallic images – but was he really the culprit?
Netflix’s American Vandal is one of those shows that you binge-watch because it becomes so addictive. I have to admit when I first started watching it, my thoughts were ‘oh here we go another stereotypical high-school drama’ and while there are elements of being in high school still prevalent throughout, they manage to add some humour into what could be a very serious subject matter. In Season Two – Peter Maldonado investigates if an alleged attack on a teacher by student Tyler has been staged or not.