True crime is a huge facet of the documentary world and we find ourselves binge watching retellings of the most popular cases during our free time. In honor of all the true crime lovers out there (and we know there are tons of you), take a look at 13 of our favorite must see true crime documentaries that you can stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Max. Then let us know your favorite documentary of the bunch in the comments section on social media.
“American Murder: The Family Next Door” 2020
In 2018, the Watts family murders flooded newspapers and television stations around the country. After all, who could have thought something so terrible could have happened? This documentary outlines the events of the murders of a mother and her two children by the family’s patriarch in Frederick, Colorado. And it’s true to a modern true crime documentaries, incorporating social media to help piece together the story.
“Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” 2019
When this documentary series dropped in 2019, the world stopped. Personally, I knew little of Luka Magnotta before this series hit Netflix but I was instantly engrossed by the story of internet sleuths hunting down an killer—first of kittens and then of a Canadian man in 2012. The storytelling of this series was brilliant and it’s approach felt undeniably fresh.
“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” 2021
This documentary series showcases the Cecil Hotel in all it’s infamy, particularly in the disappearance and death of Elisa Lam in 2013. They piece together the story that left us bewildered and bring together a diverse cast of interviewees, from hotel staff to guests to a black metal singer named Morbid.
“Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer” 2021
Speaking of the Cecil Hotel, another one of it’s frequent guests was serial killer Richard Ramirez. Ramirez, known to many as the Night Stalker, was a serial killer who claimed 15 victims in Los Angeles from April 1984 to August 1985. This documentary includes a plethora of first-person interviews, archival footage and original photography—making it a must see for people interested in this case.
“Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” 2020
It’s not every day that a celebrity becomes the subject of a true crime story. Back in 2013, New England Patriot’s tight end Aaron Hernandez was convicted of murder. The three-part documentary details the facets of this case, discussing Hernandez’s rise to success in the NFL, his arrest and conviction and then his suicide from prison in 2017.
“Abducted In Plain Sight” 2017
This true crime documentary is one of the rare instances where a victim lives to tell the tale of her abduction. During the 1970s, Jan Broberg Felt was kidnapped as a teenager by her neighbor Robert Berchtold—not once, but twice! Felt appeared in the documentary to share her harrowing story and explain what really happened behind closed doors.
“The Staircase” 2004, 2013 and 2018
The telling of novelist Michael Peterson through “The Staircase” is one of the longest ongoing documentary series of all time—with episodes releasing in 2004, 2013 and 2018. In this case, Peterson notified the authorities in 2001 that his wife had fallen down the stairs of their home and died. Upon examination, the authorities believed that Peterson’s wife had instead been bludgeoned to death and the films detail his highly publicized murder trial.
“Making a Murderer” 2015 and 2018
Arguably one of the biggest and most talked about documentary series in history, “Making a Murderer” changed the world of true crime forever. The documentary’s first season, which was released in 2015, details the life of Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder in 1985, served 18 years in prison before being released by the Innocence Project and was later connected to the murder of a photographer in 2005. The case also follows Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey, who was accused and convicted as an accessory of murder. The second season continues the talked about story, introducing lawyer Kathleen Zellner to the case, who insists that Avery is innocent and has been framed once again.
“Amanda Knox” 2016
This story is one of the most talked about and controversial cases of all time, with American student Amanda Knox being convicted (twice) for the murder of her roommate while studying abroad in Italy. Knox spent four years in an Italian prison for this crime, until she was acquitted and released in 2015. In this documentary, Knox tells her side of the story where she explains to audiences that she was wrongfully convicted for the crime.
“The Keepers” 2017
This seven-part documentary details the unsolved murder of a nun named Catherine Cesnik in 1969. Cesnik taught English and drama at an all-girls Roman Catholic school in Baltimore, with many of her former students believing that her murder was a coverup. It was discovered after her death that a priest of the school, Joseph Maskell, was sexually abusing the female students of the school and many interviewees in the documentary allege that he was involved in Cesnik’s death.
“Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery” 2017
Regarded as one of the most notorious true crime stories of all time, this three-part documentary details the murder of toddler Caylee Anthony in 2008. As you likely already know, her mother Casey Anthony was presented as the primary suspect and despite mountains of evidence against her, Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child—much to the dismay of the media.
“I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs Michelle Carter” 2019
This two-part documentary film details the death of Conrad Roy, a high school student who committed suicide in 2014. After recovering Roy’s cellphone, his 17-year-old girlfriend Michelle Carter was accused of coercing him to commit suicide, with the documentary detailing her arrest and later conviction of involuntary manslaughter.
“Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer” 2003
This 2003 documentary details the mental state of convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Wuornos is one of the most notorious female killers of all time, having murdered seven men from 1989 to 1990. The film was released shortly after Wuornos death, as she was executed for her crimes by lethal injection in October 2002.