In recent years, HBO has become a go-to destination for true crime enthusiasts. The reason? HBO's ever-expanding library of true crime documentaries. That's why we rounded up the best HBO crime documentaries you can watch tonight.
The selections below dig deep into the cases they cover, unearthing evidence, scrutinizing theories, and amplifying the voices of surviving victims and family members. Some of the crime documentaries reach dramatic conclusions that seem to close the case outright; others raise haunting questions about the real-life mysteries they cover. Each doc will have you glued to your screen.
I'll Be Gone In The Dark
In the 1970s and 80s, a violent criminal, now known as the Golden State Killer, committed multiple rapes and murders throughout California. He evaded capture for years. Indeed, the case had gone cold—until 2018. That year marked the release of Michelle McNamara's, I’ll Be Gone In the Dark. McNamara's powerful true crime book examined the decades-long unsolved case, which, at the time of the book's publication in February 2018, was still unsolved. Then, in April 2018, a man named Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested on suspicion of being the Golden State Killer; in August 2020, he was convicted of 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping. This documentary adapts McNamara's work, presenting interviews with investigators, survivors, and even the killer’s family members. It also presents recordings McNamara made before her passing in 2016. The series not only dives into the investigation, it also honors McNamara, who worked tirelessly to solve the Golden State Killer case and find justice for the many victims.
Atlanta's Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children
From 1979 to 1981, at least 30 Black children or young adults were murdered in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children looks into the vicious crimes, beginning with the first two teenagers who were discovered dead. The five-part series tracks the terrifying spree through to the prosecution of Wayne Williams—an area man who police believe committed many of the murders.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
This transfixing documentary elevated HBO's status as a major force in the true crime genre. Over the course of six episodes, director Andrew Jarecki examines reclusive real estate heir Robert Durst and the mysterious murders that seem to follow him. Though Durst long maintained that he was innocent in the death of his wife, the deaths of his close friend and his neighbor raised more questions. With a stunning ending, this six-part series is one you won’t soon forget.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
The 2015 murder of Dee Dee Blanchard is just the tip of the iceberg in this documentary. Mommy Dead and Dearest examines the circumstances behind Dee Dee Blanchard's slaying, a murder for which Dee Dee's daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and Gypsy's boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, were accused. Featuring interviews with those close to the case, including Gypsy Rose, Mommy Dead and Dearest delves into Dee Dee's murder, Dee Dee's relationship with Gypsy Rose, and the web of deceit Dee Dee constructed about her daughter's health.
Beware the Slenderman
This haunting true crime documentary takes a look at the notorious Slender Man stabbing of May 2014—when two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her multiple times in an attempt to appease the fictional creepypasta character known as Slender Man.
I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter
I Love You, Now Die examines the 2014 suicide of 18-year-old Conrad Roy and the issue of culpability in the digital age. After Roy took his own life, Roy's girlfriend, 17-year-old Michelle Carter, was accused of sending texts and emails encouraging Roy to take his own life. Digging into the investigation, and interviewing family members, this two-part documentary moves past the tragic facts of the case to explore implications of guilt and responsibility.
Capturing the Friedmans
This documentary grew out of a chance encounter. While making a short film about New York City birthday party entertainers, director Andrew Jarecki met David Friedman. Friedman was performing as a clown at the time, and soon shared with Jarecki his family’s troubling story, revealing that his brother, Jesse Friedman, and his father, Arnold Friedman, had pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse in a high-profile criminal trial.
Jarecki pieces together court details and interviews to create a harrowing documentary, one that captures the elusiveness of truth and a family crumbling under the weight of scrutiny.
The Case Against Adnan Syed
Picking up where the podcast Serial left off, The Case Against Adnan Syed revisits the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. Syed, Hae Min Lee's boyfriend at the time of her murder, was convicted of the crime and sent to prison. The series chronicles the appeals and legal proceedings that have occurred in the time since. The four-part series attempts to address the questions Serial raised about Syed’s guilt. In so doing, it also raises many new ones.
Who Killed Garrett Phillips?
Who Killed Garret Phillips? re-examines the case of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips, who was murdered at home in Potsdam, New York. The documentary follows the murder investigation. From the start, investigators zeroed in on Oral “Nick” Hillary. Being a Black man in a community that was predominantly white, Hillary was quickly condemned within the town. This two-part documentary picks apart the case and the community's rush to judgement.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills
Following the story of the West Memphis Three, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills looks into the 1993 murder of three boys in Arkansas and the teenagers who were accused of the crimes. As panic about the grisly murders spread throughout the community, locals and investigators alike searched for suspects. Three local teenagers were charged with murdering the boys as part of a satanic ritual. The three teens were then convicted of the crimes. This must-watch documentary tracks the case, the trial, and the trial's aftermath, leading to the eventual release of West Memphis Three from prison.
The Cheshire Murders
In 2007, a triple homicide sent shockwaves through the seemingly safe town of Cheshire, Connecticut. Killed in the process of a home invasion, the deaths of the three victims put the entire community on edge. The Cheshire Murders looks into the brutal crime, the devastation it created, and the ways in which the community came to terms with its consequences.
Feature Image: "Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children" via HBO