There’s something about true crime that just sucks us in. It gives us the opportunity to see the inner workings (and sometimes failings) of the criminal justice system, and documentaries are one of the best mediums to showcase these in-depth explorations.
In our modern age of streaming, no one has access to better true crime documentaries than Netflix. From crimes that reshaped America to lesser-known cases from around the world, here are 33 true crime documentaries and docuseries you can stream on Netflix tonight.
Memories of a Murder: The Nilsen Tapes
This documentary recounts the life and horrific murders of British serial killer Dennis Nilsen.
Investigators guide the audience through the process of apprehending Nilsen and attempting to track down the remains of his many victims, but the real insights come from the audiotapes of Nilsen himself that he recorded from his jail cell.
In one of the most heavily covered trials of the 2000s, Amanda Knox was convicted of the 2007 murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. After spending four years in an Italian prison, she was freed. Debate about whether or not she actually did it rages to this day.
You’ve heard from lawyers, you’ve heard from media talking heads, now hear the story from Amanda herself.
Interview With A Serial Killer
Arthur Shawcross, also known as the Genesee River Killer, was first imprisoned for the rape and murder of two children in 1972.
In April 1987, he was released on parole after being deemed “no longer dangerous” by prison staff. By 1990, he had killed 12 more people and was back in jail. In this interview from jail, Shawcross recounts the chilling details of his crimes.
American Murder: The Family Next Door
In August 2018, residents of the Denver area saw Chris Watts on local TV stations, begging for the safe return of his wife Shanann and their two daughters Bella and Celeste, who had been missing since the previous day.
Two days later, he was arrested for their murder. With raw, firsthand footage, witness how the picture-perfect American family disintegrated into a tragedy.
Murder by the Coast
This Spanish documentary tells the story of the aftermath of the murder of 19-year-old Rocío Wanninkhof.
Suspicion soon falls on her mother’s ex-lover, Dolores Vázquez, who is later convicted of the crime. But then another girl is found murdered, with DNA evidence pointing in a completely different direction.
Casting JonBenet recounts the many theories surrounding the still unsolved murder of JonBenet Ramsey, by interviewing residents of her hometown of Boulder, Colorado.
One of the most unique documentaries in recent memory, all of its interviewees are actors in the midst of auditioning for a movie about the murder. Its different approach allows Casting JonBenet to tell a bigger story about how true crime affects us all.
Private Network: Who Killed Manuel Buendía?
The murder of renowned Mexican journalist Manuel Buendía in 1984 shocked the nation. His column, which was printed in over 200 newspapers across the country, exposed government and police corruption and reported on organized crime and drug trafficking.
Even after arrests were made, the question remains for many: Who really killed Manuel Buendía?
ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre
The Miami Showband were one of the most popular bands in Ireland in 1975. One night, on the road back to Dublin from a performance in Northern Ireland, everything changed.
What seemed to be a normal military checkpoint stop turned into a massacre when a bomb went off and the British soldiers started firing. Three members of the band were killed and all of Ireland was left reeling.
Over 40 years later, questions remain about what really happened that night.
Why Did You Kill Me?
After the murder of her daughter Crystal Theobald, Belinda Lane takes the pursuit of justice into her own hands by tracking down the killers on social media. Her tactic? Setting up a fake profile and pretending to be Crystal herself.
Out of Thin Air
In 1974, six people were convicted of murder based only on their confessions. The bodies of the victims were never found, and there were no witnesses or any physical evidence. The suspects were kept in isolation for extreme periods of time, drugged, and were subjected to water torture.
This is the story of what has been called the greatest miscarriage of justice in European history.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
The life, horrific crimes, and death of serial killer Ted Bundy are traced through interviews with investigators who worked on his case, surviving victims, as well as family and friends.
The main narration comes from Ted Bundy himself through a series of audio recordings he made while on death row. Hearing Bundy tell his story in his own words reveals just how dark and twisted one of America’s most notorious serial killers really was.
Murder Among the Mormons
In 1985, a trio of bombings rocked Salt Lake City. Two people were dead, and a third, the famed rare documents collector Mark Hofmann, was left in critical condition.
Suspicions began to arise when a collection of early Mormon letters and diaries were found destroyed in Hoffman’s bombed car. What did those documents contain? And who sought to gain from their destruction?
Who Killed Little Gregory?
In October 1984, after three years of an extended harassment campaign against his family by an unknown individual, Jean-Marie Villemin’s son Gregory’s body was found floating in the nearby Vologne River.
The next day the grieving family received another anonymous letter that read, “I have taken vengeance”. The investigation that ensued captured the attention of all of France. Suspicion falls on nearly every member of the Villemin family as the struggle to find Gregory’s killer drags on.
In 1969, Sister Cathy Cesnik, a popular teacher at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore, Maryland, was murdered. Almost 50 years later, her former students came together to find the truth about her death, and about the powerful forces that may have had a hand in it.
Did Sister Cathy know something she wasn’t supposed to? Who killed her? And who has been trying to keep those answers hidden for so long?
The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness
On August 10, 1977, David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam killer, was arrested. The largest manhunt in the history of New York City was over, and the terrifying killing spree was finished. Or was it?
Maury Terry spent nearly 40 years trying to prove that Berkowitz did not act alone and that he was acting on behalf of a Satanic cult. This series follows a man caught between perusal of the truth and becoming a victim of his own obsession.
Sophie: A Murder in West Cork
Just before Christmas in 1996, Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a wealthy Paris socialite, was found brutally murdered in a rural Irish town. 25 years later, questions continue to haunt Sophie’s family and the Cork community. Will there ever be justice for Sophie?
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer
From 1984 to 1985, Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, terrorized the residents of the Los Angeles and later San Francisco area. Ramirez baffled detectives as he continues to evade capture.
This documentary recounts the terrifying reign of one of America’s most notorious serial killers, as told by the people who lived through it.
Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
When a video of a man killing two kittens goes viral online, a team of internet sleuths come together to bring him to justice. They analyze every frame of the video, using small details to narrow down his location.
As the group begins to make real progress, the killer shifts from animal victims to human. Don’t let the title fool you—Don’t F**k With Cats is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a race against time to stop a potential serial killer, with only the internet as a tool.
The Alcàsser Murders
In 1992, the small town of Alcàsser, Spain was rocked by the kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder of three teenage girls.
Even before their bodies were found, the disappearance of the Alcàsser Girls became a major national news story. This series traces the events of 1992 through archival footage along with fresh insight from interviews and evidence, examining the long term effects of the brutal murders on Spain as a whole.
In the late 1970s, the man who would become known as the Yorkshire Ripper began his killing spree. His victims were mainly sex workers, and sustained brutal injuries similar to the victims of England’s most notorious killer, Jack the Ripper.
As more women turned up dead, the police continued to struggle with their investigation. Still, most people didn’t give the case much thought… until it turned out no woman was safe.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez had everything. He was building an incredibly successful career as a tight end for the New England Patriots. He was engaged to the mother of his one-year-old daughter. So when he was arrested for the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd, everyone had questions.
In interviews, police, teammates, and friends all attempt to make sense of what led a man who seemed to have the perfect life to commit murder.
Wallace Souza was a hero to the people of Brazil. Starting in 1989, he served as the host of Canal Livre, a variety show that also specialized in covering crime-fighting and social justice efforts.
His popularity eventually propelled Souza into a successful political career… then he was accused of orchestrating the murders his show covered to boost ratings.
Humboldt County, California is home to a booming local marijuana industry, but things are not very mellow in the surrounding mountain range. More people go missing from Humboldt County than anywhere else in the state.
Centered around the murder of cannabis grower Garret Rodriguez and his father’s desperate search for answers, Murder Mountain investigates how this 70s hippie paradise became a wild west in the mountains.
A true crime classic over a decade in the making, The Staircase covers the trial of novelist Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife. Peterson claimed she had fallen down the stairs, while investigators believed he had bludgeoned her to death.
As the trial progresses, theories abound and truths are revealed that casts the Petersons’ marriage in a new light.
Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist
In 2003, after attempting to rob a bank, a pizza delivery man died when an explosive collar that was locked around his neck detonated.
Brian Wells’ body was found with a nine page set of instructions addressed to “bomb hostage” that listed the bank robbery as just the first of many tasks that he would have to perform in order to stay alive. The investigation eventually revealed that the “bomb hostage” bank robbery was a plot to get money, but which of the four conspirators was the true mastermind? And was Wells really just a hostage?
The Confession Killer
Henry Lee Lucas was already serving out his sentence for 11 murders when he began to confess to more. First it was 60 people, then 100, and kept growing from there. Texas law enforcement officials were closing cold cases left and right, and a convicted serial killer became a key asset to the police.
As Lucas’ confessions continued to mount, suspicions begin to rise among reporters and the families of his alleged victims. Had an entire police force been fooled?
Unabomber: In His Own Words
The subject of one of the longest manhunts in FBI history, the Unabomber has fascinated people for decades.
Starting from the beginning of his bombing campaign in 1978, this series attempts to deduce what brought Ted Kaczynski to his terrorism. Important insights come from excerpts from Kaczynski’s personal writings and a rare interview.
Who Killed Malcolm X?
In 1977, Talmadge Hayer, a convicted assassin of Malcolm X, claimed in an affidavit that the other two men convicted with him were innocent. He went on to name his real co-conspirators, who all belonged to the same Nation of Islam mosque in Newark, New Jersey.
In the present day, activist and historian Abdul-Rahman Muhammad sets out to investigate Hayer’s claims, and to discover the truth about who really killed Malcolm X.
Elize Matsunaga: Once Upon A Crime
In 2012, Elize Matsunaga shot and dismembered her husband Marcos Matsunaga. From the moment she was arrested, a plethora of theories emerged about why she would have committed such a brutal act. In her first interview, Matsunaga herself presents her version of the story, detailing a disintegrating marriage and a crime of passion.
Meanwhile, other figures connected with the case share their own opinions. In recounting one of the most shocking cases in modern Brazilian history, Elize Matsunaga: Once Upon A Crime shows the multitude of ways one event can be viewed.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, & Madness
If you’ve managed to hold out this long without watching Tiger King, now is as good a time as any to find out what everyone’s talking about.
The exploits of Joe Exotic, his zoo full of tigers, and his sworn nemesis Carole Baskin are unbelievable right from the start, but just when you think things can’t get crazier, they do.
Carmel: Who Killed María Marta?
When María Marta García Belsunce was found dead in her bathtub in her country club home, her husband told investigators it was an accidental fall. Within two months, forensic evidence made it clear that she had been killed by five shots to the head.
With questions arising, María Marta’s entire family was put under the microscope while all of Argentina tuned in to watch.
John Grisham’s The Innocent Man
Based on John Grisham’s 2006 true crime book of the same name, The Innocent Man tells the story of two murders that rocked the town of Ada, Oklahoma between 1982 and 1984 and the investigations that followed.
Both investigations resulted in two separate pairs of men confessing and going to jail. As time passes, holes begin to emerge in the confessions and troubling questions begin to emerge about the methods of the Ada police department.
Under Suspicion: Uncovering the Wesphael Case
This series follows Belgian politician Bernard Wesphael after he is accused of murdering his wife, Véronique Pirotton.
To many, the case seems fairly simple. Pirotton’s body was found in their shared hotel room with evidence of a struggle, and inconsistencies were easily found in Wesphael’s account of the evening. Everything changes when details of Pirotton’s personal life come to light.