The 25 Best True-Crime Documentaries on Netflix, from ‘Amanda Knox’ to ‘Night Stalker’
After months of being in quarantine, we’ve been indulging in quite a few compelling docs that make us channel our inner detective, and luckily, one of our favorite streaming services is teeming with options. From There Is a Robbery to Amanda Knox, here are 25 of the best true-crime documentaries on Netflix.
1. ‘Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez’ (2020)
It might not be considered “hidden,” but it’s worth a mention. Aaron Hernandez shocked the world when he went from budding NFL star to convicted killer. The docuseries features interviews with friends, family and players, who examine the chain of events that led to his demise. *Adds to queue*
2. ‘The Confession Killer’ (2019)
Meet Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer who confessed to more than 600 murders. Although there was no hard evidence linking him to the victims, Lucas recalled gruesome details about the crimes that weren’t known to the general public, resulting in his conviction. When modern DNA testing contradicts his claims, police begin to wonder: Was Lucas telling the truth?
3. ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’
This doc can be summed up in three easy words: Trust no one. When a friendly neighbor manipulates the parents of a young girl into letting him kidnap their daughter, you’d bet a million dollars that the parents wouldn’t fall for it again…until they do.
4. ‘Long Shot’ (2017)
The 40-minute documentary introduces viewers to Juan Catalan, a young man who’s on a mission to prove he’s innocent of murder. So he does what no defendant has done before and obtains footage from a popular TV show in an attempt to solidify his alibi. (Fun fact: The Los Angeles Dodgers played a big role in his case.)
5. ‘The 43’ (2019)
In 2014, forty-three students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College planning a political protest in Iguala, Mexico, went missing. This docuseries disputes—to chilling effect—the Mexican government’s account of how and why they vanished.
6. ‘The Investigator: A British Crime Story’ (2016)
Renowned criminologist Mark Williams-Thomas uses his 11 years of police training to reexamine a string of mysterious murders. With two seasons currently streaming on Netflix, you’ll be investigating alongside the detectives in no time. (The British accents are just icing on the cake.)
7. ‘Wormwood’ (2017)
If you’ve ever been curious about MKUltra—the CIA mind-control program—this is a must-watch. Directed by Errol Morris (American Dharma), the docudrama is as genre-bending as it is mind-bending, using Oscar-worthy reenactments like you’ve never seen before to explore the mysterious death of a U.S. scientist entangled in the secret Cold War initiative.
8. ‘The Keepers’ (2017)
In 1969, Sister Cathy Cesnik (a beloved nun and Catholic high school teacher) went missing and was never seen again. Although her body was recovered two months later, her murder remains unsolved to this day. This is her unsettling story.
9. ‘Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes’ (2019)
Ted Bundy is one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Oscar-nominated director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory) offers a never-before-seen look at the case, using archived footage and audio recordings from when Bundy was on death row. The four-part series features more than a hundred hours of interviews, so buckle up.
10. ‘The Innocent Man’ (2018)
The documentary reintroduces viewers to the controversial ’80s case that shook the small town of Ada, Oklahoma. Inspired by the namesake book by John Grisham, the six-part series examines new evidence that is making everyone question whether they got the right people or if the real killers are still at large.
11. ‘ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke’ (2019)
You probably remember Sam Cooke for his huge soul hits, including “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Chain Gang.” But this documentary explores how the crooner’s outspoken views on civil rights might have led to his untimely death at age 33. This reexamination of one of the 20th century’s most iconic talent’s life and death is undoubtedly a must-watch.
12. ‘Strong Island’ (2017)
Rewind to April 1992, when a 24-year-old African American teacher named William Ford Jr. was murdered by a white male. Although Ford was unarmed, he immediately became a suspect in his own murder. Strong Island tells his story, along with how racism shaped the upsetting outcome of the case.
13. ‘Murder Among the Mormons’ (2021)
Murder Among the Mormons takes a deep dive into the three bombings that occurred in 1985 in Utah and threatened the foundation of the Mormon church. The official synopsis also notes that the resulting murders sent “further shockwaves through the community when a trove of early Mormon letters and diaries were found destroyed in the vehicle of the third victim.”
14. ‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ (2021)
If you ever visit Los Angeles, you might want to think twice before staying at The Cecil. This documentary follows the mysterious disappearance of a 21-year-old student who checked into the hotel—where there have been countless unsolved murders—for vacation. When she fails to contact her parents, they reach out to the police, and what they find is pretty unsettling.
15. ‘Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer’ (2021)
Night Stalker tells the story of Richard Ramirez, a notorious serial killer who committed a series of disturbing crimes in Los Angeles during the ‘80s. Detectives Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, who solved the case, share their insights in this documentary through interviews and archival footage.
16. ‘Why Did You Kill Me?’ (2021)
Desperate for justice and revenge, a family decides to take a unique approach in trying to catch a killer. After Crystal Theobald, a 24-year-old mother, is tragically murdered in 2006, her relatives resort to creating a series of fake MySpace accounts in order to catfish the killer into revealing himself.
17. ‘Carmel: Who Killed María Marta?’ (2020)
This Argentinian true-crime series explores the mysterious death of María Marta García Belsunce. Although it was initially assumed that she accidentally fell and died in her bathtub, Belsunce’s autopsy results told a different story, leading to a rather surprising twist.
18. ‘American Murder: The Family Next Door’ (2020)
In this terrifying doc, revisit the story of the Watts family murders, which occurred in Colorado in 2018. The film includes home video footage, social media posts and law enforcement recordings to help retell the story.
19. ‘Athlete A’ (2020)
It's not the easiest watch, but we'd say it's required viewing. This disturbing doc sheds light on The Indianapolis Star's breaking story about Dr. Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted at least 255 young women and girls, including gymnasts like Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
20. ‘Amanda Knox’ (2016)
On November 2, 2007, a 21-year-old exchange student named Meredith Kercher was found dead in a room that she shared with Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy. Fast-forward to December of 2009 and Knox is found guilty of murdering Kercher—but the case doesn’t end there. After her conviction, she was acquitted. Twice. This documentary gives Knox a chance to tell her side of the story.
21. ‘Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story’ (2020)
This film follows the highly publicized and controversial case of Cyntoia Brown who, at 16 years old, killed Johnny Michael Allen in an act of self-defense. The teen was then sentenced to life in prison, raising a number of valid questions about the justice system.
22. ‘White Boy’ (2017)
White Boy offers some insight into the story of Richard Wershe Jr., also known as “White Boy Rick.” After working undercover as an FBI informant in Detroit during the 80s, he continued to sell drugs and earned quite the reputation—all before the age of 18.
23. ‘There Is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist’ (2021)
It sounds more like the plot to a really good heist movie, but this popular docu-series follows a major art heist that went down in Boston in 1990, through the lens of eye witnesses, journalists and investigators. Two men dressed as cops actually managed to con their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, stealing more than a dozen valuable works of art.
24. ‘I Am a Killer’ (2020)
If you've ever been curious to see convicted killers tell their side of the story, then this doc is right up your alley. Take a journey into the minds of ten death row inmates as they all give firsthand accounts of the crimes they committed and explain why.
25. ‘Evil Genius’ (2018)
In August of 2003, a bank was robbed by Brian Wells, who had a bomb around his neck. When new evidence suggests that Wells might've been forced to commit the crime, it turns out there's a lot more to this bizarre story than meets the eye.