The public’s fascination with crime stories is nothing new. From the trial of O.J. Simpson that unfolded on live television in the 1990s, to the more recent success of the docuseries Making a Murderer, we just can’t seem to look away.
Cable television and pretty much every streaming service out there have certainly taken notice, producing dozens of true crime documentaries within the last 5 years.
We’ve compiled a list of 16 true crime documentaries that are currently streaming so you can plan your next bingewatch. Just don’t blame us if you find it difficult to fall asleep afterward!
Best True Crime Documentaries to Watch Now
Here are some of the best true crime documentaries you can stream right now.
This documentary follows the journey of different individuals who have been accused of crimes. For this season, it follows the story of Kalief Browder, a Black teen from the Bronx who was put in jail for three years despite not having been convicted of a crime.
The documentary focuses on the consequences of crimes, giving us a look into the effects of mass incarceration, especially for Black families.
2. The Painter and the Thief
In The Painter and the Thief, Karl-Bertil Nordland steals two of Barbora Kysilkova’s oil paintings. But her reaction is not what you’d expect: instead of condemning Nordland, she asks him to model for a painting.
In a strange twist, it turns out that Nordland has no memory of stealing the paintings. Instead, Kysikova learns of his inner demons.
In 2017, two girls were captured on surveillance footage assassinating Kim Jong-nam, the exiled half brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Assassins explores whether the pair committed the crime in cold blood, or if they were manipulated by other puppeteers.
The two women claim they believed they had been acting in a reality TV show and did not intend to kill Jong-nam. Another question be asked is why did the nerve agent not affect the two women, but kill Jong-nam in one hour?
4. Murder to Mercy
Murder to Mercy follows the 2017 efforts of several celebrities to get Cyntoia Brown released from prison. At 16, she shot and killed a real estate agent who had paid her $150 for sex.
The shooting was most likely self-defense. Brown’s boyfriend acted as a pimp and forced her to have sex with the 43-year-old agent. Nevertheless, Brown was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
This documentary explores the failings of the 2004 trial for Brown.
5. Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer
Ted Bundy was an infamous serial killer, but this film throws the spotlight on his victims, using commentary from the families of the women he killed, as well as Bundy’s girlfriend. Its main intention is to stop the deletion of victims when it comes to portraying serial killers.
6. Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children
Between 1979 and 1981, at least 30 African-American young adults and children in Atlanta, Georgia disappeared and were murdered. But the case was quickly closed when Wayne Williams, a Black man, was charged with the last two murders. But was the final verdict correct? Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered explores that question.
7. Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez’s life changed forever when he was tried and convicted for murder. This documentary is divided into three parts, and includes footage of court trials, phone calls, and actual interviews to give you a solid picture of how a former New England Patriots star player can become a convict who eventually dies in prison.
8. The Trials of Gabriel Fernández
This Netflix docuseries covers the heartbreaking torture and eventual murder of Gabriel Fernández by his own mother and her boyfriend.
The most heart-wrenching part is that some people actually had an idea of what was happening: how his mom and live-in boyfriend physically abused the 8-year-old because he was gay, while social workers failed to see the evidence of his abuse.
9. The Confession Killer
In this documentary, Henry Lee Lucas confessed to having committed hundreds of murders even though he was completely innocent! After he was convicted of 11 homicides, he was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment.
This docuseries follows the case that convicted high school football star Greg Kelley of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy. Kelley’s life turned upside down that faithful day in 2014 when he was sentenced to prison for 25 years.
But what if the case was not as solid as it seemed? What if police rushed the investigation, with the victim never identifying Kelley in court?
11. Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
This documentary traces how Luke Magnotta shared videos of him torturing and killing animals, before a group of people found his videos online and launched a hunt to bring Magnotta to justice. But who would’ve guessed that not only did he kill animals brutally, he was also responsible for one of the most infamous crimes in Canada?
12. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
This HBO documentary is a film adaptation of the book of the same title written by Michelle McNamara. The series follows the deceased author’s investigation into the 70’s and 80’s crimes of the Golden State Killer or the East Area Rapist. With dozens or rapes and 12 murders, this criminal terrorized the entire state of California.
The docuseries features excerpts from the book, which includes interviews with investigators and survivors. The author passed away two years before Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. was captured.
13. The Staircase: Did He Do It?
In 2011, Michael Peterson’s wife passed away. The novelist told everyone that she died falling down the stairs, but the court didn’t believe him. This documentary follows the questions set for Peterson, as friends, legal experts, and his own children begin to view him as a suspect.
14. Trial By Media: The Truth Behind the Crimes
This documentary critiques the way the media covered six high-profile crimes. Relying on facts, archival footage, and interviews with actual people involved in the stories, the series aims to give its audience an objective view of the crimes in question.
This documentary follows the lives of kidnapping victims and high-risk hostage situations. Who says that a harrowing true crime documentary has to be about murder?
16. The Lost Boys of Bucks County
In 2017, four bodies are discovered on a Pennsylvania farm, leaving police stumped. Although the crime rocked the small town, this documentary focuses on the lives of the four murdered men. Using interviews with the families of the slain men and the investigators, this film captivates with a case that seems unsolvable.
Watching True Crime Documentaries
Watching true crime documentaries is a great way to understand how case trials work—and sometimes fail.
It also gives us an insight into the lives of criminals and their victims, helping us to be more empathetic to other people’s plight.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
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Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.