50 greatest true crime documentaries on Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, extra

Cult murders, lottery heists, lethal relationship apps, killer clowns: We’re within the midst of a true-crime wave, and tv is the perpetrator. From HBO Max to A&E, true-crime programming is extra prevalent than unlawful weed dispensaries. So, just like the authorities — no less than the sincere ones — we’re stepping in to assist.

Here, chosen by yours really and compiled from Times protection, are 50 of the perfect true-crime documentary movies and TV sequence you’ll be able to stream proper now. The selections run the gamut by way of material and tone, tackling all matter of narratives: following the gumshoe detectives of “The First 48,” exposing miscarriages of justice in “Who Killed Malcolm X?,” chronicling crimes so weird it’s laborious to consider they qualify as true in “Sasquatch.”

The filmmakers behind these productions have solved crimes, freed the wrongly accused, uncovered the responsible and given voice to victims and survivors. And sure, they’ve additionally unraveled the twisted tales of heinous murders, heartless scams and wanton corruption for the sake of leisure. Critics of the style argue that true crime is exploitative and voyeuristic, and there’s little question that’s a part of its attract. True-crime buffs usually level to the joys of taking part in armchair detective (see “Don’t F— With Cats”) and the satisfaction of fixing a real-life puzzle. I’d prefer to consider the shape has turn into so in style as a result of perps and their wrongdoings are uncovered within the majority of the programming, and accountability is briefly provide elsewhere today.

Like any checklist, in fact, this one comes with limitations: I’ve excluded programming from networks devoted to the style, corresponding to Investigation Discovery and Oxygen, which function a lot content material they deserve their very own information. How else to do justice to nationwide treasures corresponding to “Snapped” and “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda”? I’ve additionally sought to strike a stability amongst many tones and topics, so the explanations for together with the titles range as a lot as their manufacturing values. Some are bar-setting movies from grasp documentarians, others are vital works from filmmakers who uncovered unimaginable tales. Some had been just too juicy to go up.

And it’s possible you’ll be stunned by a number of of the massive titles that didn’t make the checklist, like “Making a Murderer” and “The Staircase.” I may write prolonged essays on my points with each docuseries, however I’ll spare you. In quick, I left them out as a result of I discovered problematic the creative license each sequence used to make their level. Go forward. Arrest me.

To my fellow true-crime aficionados: I’ve undoubtedly missed your favorites or promoted others that don’t have any enterprise on this checklist! I get it. But when you’ve stopped fuming, I hope you’ll uncover titles which can be new to you, or give one other shot to at least one you beforehand dismissed. Sleuth away. —Lorraine Ali

Curated by Lorraine Ali
Compiled by Ed Stockly

50. Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal

Alex Murdaugh, from left, Morgan Doughty, Paul Murdaugh and Maggie Murdaugh.


2023 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason

The Murdaughs. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? The outstanding Hampton County, S.C., household as soon as famend for his or her wealth and energy at the moment are on the middle of a lot demise that a number of documentaries are required simply to maintain up. Netflix’s sequence is probably the perfect of the bunch relating to organizing the mayhem right into a cohesive, crisp narrative, and there’s loads to catalog: the 2014 homicide of a scholar with ties to the household. The 2018 demise of the Murdaughs’ longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, and the doubtful life insurance coverage rip-off round her demise. The 2019 demise of Mallory Beach throughout a reckless boating collision. And the 2021 double murder of Alex Murdaugh’s son Paul and his spouse, Margaret. “Fyre Fraud” filmmakers Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason chronicle the downfall of the household dynasty and now-disgraced former legal professional Alex Murdaugh over three episodes utilizing interviews with former buddies, lovers, law-enforcement officers, attorneys and journalists to indicate how the Murdaugh clan’s gorgeous abuse of energy and privilege spiraled right into a nationwide obsession. Alex was sentenced to life for the murders of his spouse and son, however with so many doubtful deaths in his wake, this story isn’t over — not by a protracted shot. Expect a second season. —Lorraine Ali

49. Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story

A man claps at a microphone next to Prince Charles and Princess Diana in a black-and-white photograph.

Diana, Princess of Wales, Charles, then-Prince of Wales, and English DJ, tv and radio broadcaster Jimmy Savile, proper, in 1983.

(Hilaria McCarthy / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

2022 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Rowan Deacon

Generations of British kids grew up watching Jimmy Savile because the jovial host of the children present “Jim’ll Fix It” and the bubbling emcee of “Top of the Pops.” The affable DJ and philanthropist was famend for his weird hairdos, quirky demeanor and skill to attraction everybody from Muhammad Ali to the royals. But after his 2011 demise, a U.Okay. investigation discovered that Savile sexually abused no less than 500 victims all through his profession from 1955 to the mid-2000s. He preyed upon kids in BBC’s broadcasting studios, at kids’s hospitals and inside colleges. The majority of Savile’s alleged victims had been between ages 13 and 15, however some had been as younger as 2 years outdated. The late entertainer’s decades-long abuse of the younger individuals he presupposed to be serving to is chronicled on this two-part documentary, and although the movie may use some reorganizing, it tells the fascinating story of a predator who hid in plain sight. The movie reveals what number of within the U.Okay. media and leisure worlds knew one thing was flawed however selected to disregard his troubling habits. After all, Savile was a “national treasure.” Prepare to be enraged. —Lorraine Ali

48. Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story

Three people in scrubs in an operating room

A scene in an working room from “Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story” on Peacock.

(Anton Floquet / NBCUniversal)

2021 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Peacock: Included
Created by Sara Mast

In the fingers of neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, surgical instruments had been lethal weapons. The unhealthy physician (now serving a life sentence) injured, maimed or killed 33 of the 38 sufferers who trusted him with their routine spinal surgical procedures within the Dallas space over a two-year interval within the early 2010s. “Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story” chronicles an erratic historical past, from his beginnings as a manipulative, below-par medical scholar to a rampant drug abuser to an egomaniac whose impunity and incompetence within the working theater injured or killed his sufferers and surprised his colleagues. Scarier but, the healthcare system knew about his deadly spree however nonetheless allowed him to observe. Surgeons and nurses interviewed within the movie recall in jaw-dropping element how they regularly blew the whistle on Duntsch as he continued to search out employment at hospitals throughout the state. A serial killer with a scalpel or just a clumsy physician with a license to kill? Watch this sequence and determine for your self. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

47. Truth and Lies: Jonestown, Paradise Lost

A black-and-white photograph of a journalist and photographer in front of a small plane.

NBC newsman Don Harris, left, and San Francisco Examiner photographer Gregory Robinson, proper, are proven in movie taken by NBC-TV cameraman Robert Brown, minutes earlier than taking pictures erupted at an airstrip at Port Kaituma, Guyana.

(AP / NBC-TV Nightly News)

2018 | TV-PG | Documentary particular
Hulu: Included

Created by Monica DelaRosa and David Sloan

The largest mass homicide and suicide in fashionable historical past is recounted on this documentary. Over 900 members of the Peoples Temple church, a lot of them American, died on the cult’s distant jungle compound outdoors Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978 after they’d consumed a lethal cyanide-laced drink on the orders of their paranoid chief, Jim Jones. The particular traces the origins of the eccentric pastor, from his church’s racially built-in beginnings in Indianapolis by way of its exodus from San Francisco to Guyana to keep away from elevated media consideration and investigations.

The doc makes use of seldom-seen, uncooked footage, audiotapes and not too long ago declassified FBI paperwork to color the image of a cult the place grueling handbook labor, abuse and hunger had been on a regular basis realities. But it’s the interviews with those that survived the horror, and the posthumous diaries and letters from those that died, that seize the downward spiral of the delusional Jones. He ordered the bloodbath after U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown out of concern for the well-being of Jones’ followers. As Ryan was making ready to depart, he and 4 others (together with U.S. journalists and defectors) had been shot to demise on the airstrip by Temple gunmen. The murders prompted Jones to command his flock to drink the poison punch. “There’s no way we can survive” he advised the anguished, crying crowd. “Truth and Lies: Jonestown, Paradise Lost” is a must-watch for anybody who needs to grasp why 909 souls — a lot of them kids — perished on the command of 1 demented man. —Lorraine Ali

46. Crime Stories: India Detectives

A police officer in Bangalore

A scene from “Crime Stories: India Detectives.”


2021 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by N Amit and Jack Rampling

The frenetic bustle of Bangalore is the backdrop for this four-episode docuseries about crime-solving within the metropolis of 11 million. Each episode follows a special precinct of Indian detectives from the second a sufferer studies a criminal offense to the seize of the suspects. Extortion, kidnapping and homicide are among the many offenses chronicled right here, but it surely’s the distinctive setting of the sequence that makes it a captivating watch. The investigations take viewers round Bangalore, from crowded slums the place intercourse employees are discovered killed to the comfy flats of tech employees in a area referred to as India’s Silicon Valley, a setting the place nothing unhealthy ought to ever occur — however does. It’s a singular window into the lives of Bengaluru’s police power, and an unexpectedly transferring take a look at the individuals they’re charged with defending. Brace your self: A&E’s “Interrogation Raw” has nothing on the inquisition scenes right here. —Lorraine Ali

45. Undercurrent: The Disappearance of Kim Wall

A woman with glasses looks at blueprints.

Lt. Cmdr. Ditte Dyreborg, Danish Navy, drawings of the submarine UC3 Nautilus in “Undercurrent: The Disappearance of Kim Wall” on HBO.


2022 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included
Created by Erin Lee Carr

An eccentric entrepreneur, an intrepid journalist, a submarine, a homicide. Swedish reporter Kim Wall disappeared in 2017 on task, protecting what ought to have been a tame human curiosity story a couple of superstar inventor and his newest contraption. She was was final seen interviewing media darling Peter Madsen aboard his self-made submarine in Danish waters, a visit from which solely considered one of them returned. This two-part documentary chronicles the weird occasions round Wall’s demise, from her expertise reporting in sizzling zones across the globe to the hubris of a rich predator who assumed he’d attraction his method out of a murder conviction. Police, prosecutors and Navy scientists are among the many cadre who waded by way of Madsen‘s multiple lies in search of the real story. As details about Wall’s final moments emerge, the reality is much extra horrific and barbaric than anybody imagined. —Lorraine Ali

44. Helter Skelter: An American Myth

Charles Manson in handcuffs flanked by police officers

Charles Manson is escorted into courtroom for a listening to Dec. 3, 1969.

(John Malmin / Bill Murphy / Los Angeles Times)

2020| TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
MGM+: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Lesley Chilcott

More than half a century later, recollections of the Manson Family nonetheless resemble a fever dream. It’s no marvel storytellers can’t assist however reexplore the rise and fall of Charlie Manson, a diminutive ex-con, pimp and aspiring musician who amassed a following of largely younger ladies, plied them with LSD, intercourse and antiestablishment jargon, then satisfied them to kill within the title of a race warfare. They lived on a commune. They mingled with, and murdered, celebrities. And all of it occurred behind the misleading cloak of peace and love.

Compelling and complete documentaries on that anomalous interval in American crime are laborious to come back by, and whereas “Helter Skelter: An American Myth” isn’t good, it does do a wonderful job of capturing the cultural confusion that ensued when a band of hippies crept into the properties of the LaBiancas and Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate to homicide them in probably the most ugly of how. The six-part manufacturing follows the historical past of the “Family,” from its flower-power beginnings to its barbaric killing spree in the summertime of 1969. Full of illuminating archival footage of Manson, his followers and the environs that formed their unlikely ascent, the sequence’ hourlong episodes function unique interviews with former cult members, survivors of the victims, and the women and men concerned in investigating a chilling crime spree that’s now a part of L.A.’s darkish historical past. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

43. How to Fix a Drug Scandal

A lab technician holds a small bag containing white powder in "How to Fix a Drug Scandal” on Netflix.

“How to Fix a Drug Scandal.”


2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Erin Lee Carr

This four-part sequence will be irritating to observe attributable to its over-the-top re-creations and clunky makes an attempt at clever digicam work, however the topic at its coronary heart is price your time. Erin Lee Carr focuses on Sonja Farak, a chemist at a drug lab in Amherst, Mass., that was one of many state’s two predominant testing services. Her function was to check proof gathered from drug-related instances. Her lab work and her testimony on the stand secured 1000’s of convictions. But she additionally occurred to be stealing and partaking within the managed substances she was meant to be testing, together with methamphetamines and LSD. But there’s extra. Across the state, a chemist on the Hinton Lab was caught forging tens of 1000’s of checks, and that was just the start of the malfeasance uncovered by authorities after they investigated Annie Dookhan. She wasn’t getting excessive on proof, however she was constantly misidentifying samples, and claimed to have examined substances that she’d by no means actually examined. She even falsified proof as a way to impress her bosses and transfer up the chain.

Together the ladies compromised greater than 47,000 felony instances, affecting the lives of 1000’s. Dookhan’s arrest resulted in an avalanche of appeals, and quite a few defective convictions had been overturned, however the state legal professional basic’s workplace went to nice lengths to downplay Farak as a legal responsibility, burying proof of her drug habit, mendacity to district attorneys and deceptive judges for 5 years whereas retaining defendants from interesting their convictions. —Lorraine Ali

42. West of Memphis

A young man sits in a courtroom with an attorney, with two men in the background.

From the film “West of Memphis”: Jason Baldwin sits with considered one of his attorneys, George Robin Wadley Jr., in 1994.

(Lisa Waddell / The Commercial Appeal / Sony Pictures Classics)

2012 | Rated R | Documentary
Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Directed by Amy Berg

Satanic panic plagued the Bible Belt the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, when satan worship was regarded as behind seemingly each inexplicable, heinous crime. It was in opposition to this paranoid backdrop that the kids later referred to as the West Memphis Three had been wrongfully convicted for the 1993 homicide of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark. The crime was notably ugly: The our bodies of the boys had been discovered bare and hogtied in a drainage ditch, and one of many younger victims’ genitals had been mutilated. The unthinkable ranges of cruelty and violence had been assumed to be the work of a demonic cult — villains who wearing black and listened to heavy metallic, as native teenagers Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols did on the time. The trio had been arrested and convicted of the murders regardless of a shocking lack of proof and coerced confessions. Filmmaker Amy Berg chronicles this gross miscarriage of justice by way of interviews with these deeply concerned within the case, together with relations, witnesses and the West Memphis Three themselves. Berg rightly argues that the kids had been railroaded, and DNA proof years later appeared to implicate the stepfather of one of many deceased. After 18 years in jail and superstar campaigns to free the boys (Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp and Natalie Maines had been amongst these calling for his or her launch), the West Memphis Three had been launched in 2011. Produced by Echols, his spouse, Lorri Davis, and filmmaker Peter Jackson, “West of Memphis” is a searing indictment of the felony justice system that shines a light-weight on the risks of institutional classism. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

41. Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan

A close-up photo of a man with shaggy hair and a mustache

“Monsters Inside: The 24 faces of Billy Milligan” on Netflix.


2021 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Olivier Megaton

In 1978, Billy Milligan turned the primary individual in U.S. historical past to quote a number of persona dysfunction in an madness protection. But had been his a number of personalities actually controlling his actions, or had been they merely the pretext of a harmful, narcissistic sociopath? Netflix’s four-part investigative sequence revisits these questions, and the crimes of the rapist who terrorized Ohio State University earlier than his arrest and made subsequent claims that he had no reminiscence of the assaults. French movie director Olivier Megaton (“Taken 2” and “Taken 3”) applies a cinematic lens to the docuseries format as he follows the Milligan household, buddies, docs and regulation enforcement who’re nonetheless making an attempt to grasp Milligan’s frame of mind on the time of his alleged crimes and at trial.

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A litany of psychiatrists identified Milligan, who was in his 20s when he was accused, with “multiple personality disorder” (identified now as dissociative id dysfunction). They decided he had as many as 24 distinct “multiples,” which led a jury to search out Milligan harmless by motive of madness. The landmark verdict rocked the felony justice system, and its repercussions are nonetheless being debated right now. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

40. Catching Killers

A balding man in a beige suit rolls his eyes.

Dennis Rader, who admitted to killing 10 individuals within the Wichita, Kan., space between 1974 and 1991, taunted media and police with cryptic messages calling himself “BTK.”

(AP Photo / Court TV, Pool)

2021 | TV-MA | 2 Seasons | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Simon Dekker

Homicide detectives recount in vivid element the acute measures they took to trace and seize the globe’s most infamous serial killers in Netflix’s docuseries “Catching Killers.” The Green River Killer, Aileen Wuornos, BTK and the Happy Face Killer are among the many topics coated on this two-season, eight-episode assortment of fascinating tales advised by the investigators on the forefront of fixing the instances. There’s no narration or outdoors speaking heads right here, simply compelling sit-down interviews with the men and women who labored on among the nation’s most infamous crimes, poring over tons of of clues, risking their lives and struggling emotionally after witnessing ugly scenes and interrogating sociopaths, sadists and cannibals. Their frank and humanizing testimonials, paired with archival police and information footage from the instances, illustrate the momentous effort that went into cracking among the most egregious serial homicides in fashionable reminiscence. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

39. The Vow

A seated woman wears glasses and an orange scarf.

Sarah Edmondson in “The Vow” on HBO Max.

(HBO Max)

2020 | TV-MA| 2 Seasons | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer

“The Vow” follows disaffected members of NXIVM as they extricate themselves from the alleged cult and communicate out in opposition to its chief, Keith Raniere. You may be questioning how seemingly clever individuals acquired concerned in such a doubtful operation. Weren’t they freaked out by the color-coded sashes that members wore to indicate their rank? What concerning the outlandish claims about Raniere’s supposed intelligence or the midnight volleyball video games he insisted on taking part in? Was something actually price transferring to the suburbs of Albany, N.Y., the place the group was based mostly?

Sarah Edmondson and Mark Vicente, two of the first topics of “The Vow,” say they by no means deliberate to affix a cult. They had been well-meaning religious seekers who discovered a way of objective by way of the group’s “Executive Success Program” — or ESP — private growth seminars supposedly designed to assist individuals overcome their “limiting beliefs.” As recounted in “The Vow,” Edmondson and Vicente labored their method up the group’s inside hierarchy — referred to as “the stripe path” — and have become enthusiastic boosters of its mission, recruiting Hollywood actors and different artists to affix NXIVM and serving to it broaden throughout North America.

Their determination to turn into whistleblowers, chronicled by “The Vow” administrators Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, helped result in Raniere’s 2020 conviction on prices together with intercourse trafficking. Other high-profile NXIVM members, together with Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman and “Smallville” actor Allison Mack, even have confronted authorized motion. (Read extra) —Meredith Blake

38. Cocaine Cowboys

A black-and-white still from the documentary movie "Cocaine Cowboys."

“Cocaine Cowboys” is about Miami’s cocaine commerce within the Nineteen Eighties (as advised by the smugglers).

(Magnolia Pictures)

2006 | TV-MA | Documentary
Hulu: Included
Directed by Billy Corben

Before the cowboys got here to city, Miami was a quiet place that featured, somebody says, “a lot of old people sitting around in beach chairs waiting to die.” Then Colombia’s Medellín Cartel, “the world’s largest cocaine-smuggling organization,” found the place, increasingly Americans acquired the drug behavior, and plenty of numbers in Miami skyrocketed. Those included the thousands and thousands of {dollars} positioned in native banks and the homicide depend, which went from 104 in 1976 to 621 in 1981.

“Cocaine Cowboys” tells this story with an all-sleaze-all-the-time perspective. The story is advised largely by a trio of males who had been there. Jon Roberts claims to have overseen the transport of greater than $2 billion price of cocaine from Colombia, pilot Mickey Munday says he personally flew in some 10 tons, and Jorge “Rivi” Ayala is at the moment in jail for homicide. These gents are all succesful storytellers, albeit invariably self-serving ones. While the filmmakers clearly acquired a contact excessive from listening to all these warfare tales, most civilians will discover a bit of of this goes a good distance. (Read extra) —Kenneth Turan

37. John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise

A black-and-white mug shot of a man with a mustache

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy.


2021 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Peacock: Included
Created by Rod Blackhurst

John Wayne Gacy appeared like a stand-up man to his buddies and neighbors. He carried out as a clown in parades and on the bedsides of sick kids. He was a former Jaycee who based a building firm the place he generously employed younger males with little expertise. He was jovial and had a terrific humorousness. But when 26 our bodies had been found underneath the floorboards of his Chicago dwelling in 1978, it was clear they’d all been hoodwinked by the middle-aged man subsequent door. This six-part docuseries reveals how one of many nation’s extra prolific serial killers hid in plain sight as he preyed upon younger males all through the Sixties and Seventies. “Devil in Disguise” options interviews with Gacy’s sister and never-before-seen footage from his assembly with FBI profiler Robert Ressler, offering clues into how a monster satisfied everybody he was a innocent jester. Warning: There’s clown artwork. —Lorraine Ali

36. The Lady and the Dale

A black-and-white photo of a woman holding a model car and a handful of cash

Elizabeth Carmichael in “The Lady and the Dale” on HBO.

(Colin Dangaard / HBO)

2021 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included
Created by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker

Liz Carmichael, a transgender lady, brash vehicle entrepreneur and Ayn Rand-loving libertarian with purported Mafia ties, is the topic of “The Lady and the Dale.” Directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker, the four-part sequence paints a riveting portrait of Carmichael, who gained notoriety because the iconoclastic maker of a supposedly revolutionary three-wheeled automobile known as the Dale — touted as the best automobile for the reason that Model T. At the peak of the oil disaster, within the mid-Seventies, Carmichael made grandiose claims that the automobile may get 70 miles to the gallon and would upend the auto business.

But in 1977, she was convicted on prices of fraud and conspiracy for bilking buyers in her L.A.-area Twentieth Century Motor Car Corp. — merely one twist in a much-stranger-than-fiction life story that additionally concerned a roadside flower enterprise in Texas, an look on “Unsolved Mysteries,” cosmetic surgery, the FBI, Cuban gunrunners and political commentator Tucker Carlson’s dad.

Using archival video, interviews with relations and colleagues, animated photo-collage re-creations and knowledgeable commentary, “The Lady and the Dale” depicts Carmichael as a deeply flawed but undeniably charismatic transgender pioneer — a true-crime antihero who by no means sought to be a task mannequin, but impressed fierce devotion and radical acceptance from many who knew her. By permitting Carmichael to be so fully herself, rife with fascinating contradictions, the sequence represents one thing of a breakthrough in transgender illustration on the small display. (Read extra) —Meredith Blake

35. Murder on Middle Beach

A young man looks at a photograph as a woman looks on.

Conway Beach, left, and Madison Hamburg in “Murder on Middle Beach” on HBO.


2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included
Created by Madison Hamburg

Madison Hamburg, whose mom, Barbara Beach, was killed in 2010, is satisfied that, if utilized in the proper method, true-crime TV will be of worth within the hunt for justice — even regardless of the hurdles he’s come throughout in his personal efforts to resolve the crime, documented in HBO’s “Murder on Middle Beach.” The sequence introduced Beach’s perplexing homicide within the yard of her prosperous Connecticut dwelling again into the highlight, however Hamburg needed to concentrate on the opposite victims — the whole Hamburg/Beach household — as he sought to exonerate his sister, his aunt and others recognized as “persons of interest” by the native police division. Throughout Hamburg’s personal detective work, he bumped into one central drawback: Detectives don’t need to share info.

The media frenzy round a case, chilly or in any other case, is a double-edged sword: It will be devastating for the household to relive the horror, even because the media’s consideration might be able to seize the general public’s consideration — and put strain on the police. A number of years in the past, Hamburg himself confided in an outdated good friend who additionally occurred to be an ex-FBI agent about his challenges with “Murder on Middle Beach.” He feared exploiting his mom’s story or his household, and was uncertain whether or not airing it will make any distinction. His good friend requested him, “Would you rather find justice or the truth?” (Read extra) —Valentina Valentini

34. Love Fraud

A headshot of a smiling gray-haired man

Richard Scott Smith in “Love Fraud.”


2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Included
Created by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing

The hunt and seize of lonely-hearts con artist Richard Scott Smith is on the middle of this Showtime thriller. For over 20 years, Smith used the web and a number of aliases to lure in dozens of girls. He’d woo them, professing his love mere weeks into their relationship, convincing the ladies he was The One. Then he’d breach their financial institution accounts, dignity and sense of belief. But his victims finally discover each other, examine notes and unite underneath the banner of revenge. The chase virtually performs out in actual time right here as Smith’s exes take issues into their very own fingers after they’re dismissed by regulation enforcement. The pacing together with the colourful solid of characters make this sequence pop, from doting soccer mothers to a tough-as-leather feminine bounty hunter to Smith himself. When filmmakers Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing lastly meet up with him, he explains away his crimes by pointing to a loveless childhood that made him the hopeless romantic he’s right now. The con by no means ends. —Lorraine Ali

33. The Witness

Kitty Genovese sits on the hood of a '50s-era car.

Kitty Genovese, topic of the film “The Witness.”

(Five More Minutes Productions)

2016 | Rated 13+ | Documentary
AMC+: Included | Kanopy: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Bill Genovese, directed by James Solomon

At first look, the title of “The Witness” would appear to reference the 38 residents of Kew Gardens in Queens, N.Y., who had been pilloried within the press for his or her obvious indifference to the screams of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese as she was stabbed to demise outdoors their home windows. In the many years since that evening in March 1964, Genovese has been held up as a tragic sufferer of bystander apathy within the large metropolis, although one of many key accomplishments of this quietly revelatory documentary is that it sees the individuals on this tragedy as extra than simply handy scapegoats or symbols. Not all these 38 neighbors had been as cruelly detached as the general public was led to consider, and Kitty herself, as one individual passionately attests right here, “was so much more than her last 30 minutes.”

That individual is Kitty’s youthful brother, Bill, the movie’s chief digicam topic, its driving power and the true witness of the title. No passive observer, he’s as a substitute an energetic investigator and interpreter of occasions that endlessly modified his household’s life. Only 16 on the time of his sister’s demise, Bill joined the Marines a number of years later and went to Vietnam, the place he misplaced each his legs — a setback that, no matter it might have price him in mobility, appears to have sapped none of his dedication. Now in his 60s, hoisting himself up stairs and climbing out and in of a wheelchair, he may scarcely appear extra energetic — or extra inspiring — in his dogged pursuit of the reality.

The energy of “The Witness” lies in its recognition that the reality is usually not simply elusive however unattainable. To name the movie a debunking or a corrective would ascribe to it a degree of information that neither Bill Genovese nor director James Solomon, a screenwriter making a wonderful nonfiction filmmaking debut, claims to own. Instead they throw themselves into the hunt with unflagging resolve, turning a sober reflection on tragedy right into a vigorous and unpredictable detective story, and evincing at each step a way of initiative that’s the very reverse of apathy. (Read extra) —Justin Chang

32. The Hillside Strangler: Devil in Disguise

Kenneth Bianchi speaks on the witness stand as a judge looks on.

Kenneth Bianchi, confessed killer in 5 of the Hillside Strangler murders, testifies throughout a pretrial listening to in entrance of Judge Ronald George in Los Angeles Superior Court, July 6, 1981.

(Pool / Associated Press)

2022 | TV-MA | 1 season | Documentary sequence
Peacock: Included
Created by Alexa Danner

Los Angeles has been known as many issues: City of Angels, Tinseltown. But it additionally gained a reputation for a decidedly much less glamorous distinction within the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties: Serial Killer Capital of America. In the many years between the 1969 Manson Family murders and the 1989 conviction of Richard Ramirez, a.okay.a. the Night Stalker, there have been so many serial murders to maintain monitor of that traumatized Angelenos wanted a movement chart to maintain up. There was the Skid Row Stabber. The Sunset Strip Killer. The West Side Rapist. The Toolbox Killers. The Grim Sleeper. During this era, greater than 20 serial killers had been reportedly working concurrently in Los Angeles.

“The Hillside Strangler: Devil in Disguise” focuses on one of many extra infamous instances to rise out of that darkish period. The four-episode sequence revisits the killing spree of the so-called Hillside Strangler, a phantom behind the killings of 10 ladies in Los Angeles in 1977 and 1978. The metropolis was gripped with concern as physique after physique was discovered dumped within the hills above Glendale and Eagle Rock, close to Dodger Stadium in Elysian Heights, on a residential road in La Crescenta, close to a freeway offramp in Los Feliz. The males in the end convicted of the slayings had been cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, who seem in interrogation rooms within the latter half of this documentary. It’s a visit again in time to the terrifying true tales of the serial kidnappings and murders that held the quiet neighborhoods of East Los Angeles hostage through the Seventies. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

31. Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story

A photo of a young man wearing a hoodie

Trayvon Martin.

(Trayvon Martin Foundation / Paramount Network)

2018 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
BET+: Included | Paramount+: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy
Created by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason

Social justice, private loss, systemic racism and nationwide reckoning are explored in “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” a potent, transferring six-part documentary providing recent perception into the 2012 killing of the unarmed teen by 28-year-old vigilante George Zimmerman. The docuseries chronicles why this slaying of a younger Black man — a criminal offense that usually goes uncovered within the media — made headlines, impressed protests and compelled a nationwide reckoning.

“Rest in Power” delves deep into the specifics of the 17-year-old’s murder, the police investigation, the trial and the acquittal. But it’s the way in which wherein administrators Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason join new and outdated particulars of the case with its widespread impact that makes “Rest in Power” a complete, emotional and brutally sincere take a look at America since that deadly taking pictures. Martin’s killing and Zimmerman’s acquittal helped ignite social justice actions corresponding to Black Lives Matter, galvanized alt-right advocates round problems with white separatism and in the end influenced the result of the 2016 presidential election.

The sequence, impressed by a 2017 ebook by Martin’s dad and mom, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin (they co-produced the sequence together with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter), makes use of the scope of historical past to string collectively all these occasions, in addition to the following protests over the shootings of unarmed Black women and men throughout the nation. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

30. 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets

A frowning man in a suit

Michael Dunn within the film “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets.”

(Participant Media)

2015 | Rated 13+ | Documentary
HBO Max: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Directed by Marc Silver

A documentary that shouldn’t must be made, a couple of regulation that needn’t exist, explored through a criminal offense that might have been prevented: “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” is a thought-provoking, mournful expertise. The movie’s focus is the trial of Michael Dunn, a middle-aged white man who on Nov. 23, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla., shot and killed black teenager Jordan Davis at a fuel station throughout an argument over the decibel degree of the rap music coming from the SUV that Jordan, 17, and his buddies had been in.

Director Marc Silver gained approval to movie the trial, and the sobering narrative his mounted cameras seize — of a tragedy parsed for some measure of institutionalized justice — extends to the extra private connecting tissue of interviews with Jordan’s household and buddies. Silver artfully layers that, coolly and calmly, so the load of the problems — specifically how racial profiling and a self-defense regulation like “stand your ground” malevolently feed one another — sinks in. The heartache and outrage are there already. The film correctly doesn’t power it. And when you don’t know the result, the suspense might show to be insufferable. (Read extra) —Robert Abele

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29. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

Aileen Wuornos in prisoner orange garb stands with two uniformed officers behind a counter marked “Officer’s station.”

Aileen Wuornos, of Florida, was convicted and executed for the murders of seven males.

(Lantern Lane Entertainment)

2003 | Rated R | Documentary
Sundance Now: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Included
Directed by Nick Broomfield

Controversial documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s first movie on Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos, 1992’s “Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer,” was a biting critique of the ascendant tabloid media tradition and portrayed the accused killer as probably the most honorable and clear-eyed individual concerned in her unseemly story. Broomfield’s second, “Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer,” finds him and his footage subpoenaed for considered one of Wuornos’ death-row appeals. Broomfield, then 55, performed Wuornos’ closing interview the day earlier than she was executed in October 2002. (Read extra) —Mark Olsen

28. Tales of the Grim Sleeper

A seated man wearing glasses and orange prison garb

Lonnie Franklin Jr., a convicted serial killer referred to as the Grim Sleeper, at his sentencing at Los Angeles Superior Court.

(Al Seib / Associated Press)

2014 | TV-MA | Documentary
Plex: Included
Directed by Nick Broomfield

“Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” from British documentarian Nick Broomfield (“Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer,” “Biggie and Tupac”), probes into what, on the floor, looks as if the underzealousness of police monitoring a Black serial killer. The motive it solely “seems” that method is that the neglect stems from the identical cultural swimming pools of racism: In the case of the Grim Sleeper, the victims had been all Black ladies, a lot of them intercourse employees and/or addicts.

Broomfield tells us that for years the unofficial police designation for such victims was NHI — no people concerned. In this case, a dozen murders acquired much less official consideration and press protection than the demise of any single upper- or middle-class white sufferer.

The perp was given his nickname by L.A. Weekly, which revealed that, based mostly on DNA proof, the identical man was doubtless chargeable for virtually a dozen killings within the mid-’80s after which, after a 13-year hiatus, extra killings between 2001 and 2010. No one is aware of the precise variety of lives he took. The proof connects the one killer to roughly 20 murders. But Lonnie Franklin Jr., who died in 2020, had photographs — usually sexually specific — of tons of of girls, a lot of whom have but to be recognized. (Read extra) —Andy Klein

27. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

A man in a suit in front of a building that reads 500 Pearl Street

Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival, leaves federal courtroom after pleading responsible to wire fraud prices in New York greater than three years after the extremely publicized pageant fizzled out within the Bahamas.

(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

2019 | TV-MA | Documentary
Netflix: Included
Directed by Chris Smith

It was introduced as “the cultural experience of the decade,” and it was — simply not in the way in which anybody anticipated.

As detailed by director Chris Smith within the compulsively watchable documentary “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” what began out being touted as “Coachella in the Caribbean” ended up as pure chaos that reminded contributors of “a scene from a horror movie.” The wreckage of 2017’s Fyre Festival was so compelling that this documentary, which opened concurrently in theaters and on Netflix, was launched in the identical week as a Hulu doc on the very same subject.

Documentary veteran Smith, whose earlier movies embody “American Job” and “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond,” does an knowledgeable job right here, speaking to some 50 of us, together with pageant workers, consultants, would-be revelers and unwitting residents of the Bahamas who acquired caught within the occasion’s momentous undertow. These interviews, together with vérité footage shot because the occasion was coming collectively and falling aside, are briskly edited by Jon Karmen and Dan Koehler right into a fast-moving narrative that has the fascination of the unhealthy visitors accident you simply can’t flip away from. (Read extra) —Kenneth Turan

26. Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

A handcuffed man with glasses walks ahead of three law-enforcement officials.

Wayne Williams leaving the Fulton County Jail in “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children.”

(Gary Gardiner / Associated Press )

2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Joshua Bennett and Sam Pollard

Anthony Terrell is grateful that HBO’s “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” introduced a brand new highlight to the fear that gripped Black residents of Atlanta within the late Seventies and early Nineteen Eighties, when dozens of kids and younger adults had been murdered or disappeared and not using a hint. Terrell can also be grateful that the five-part documentary allowed him to debate the ache and trauma he has suffered all his life because the survivor of one of many victims of the brutal crime wave — his 10-year-old brother, Earl, was murdered after going to a neighborhood swimming pool. But in the long run, he worries it’s not sufficient.

Although Atlanta native Wayne Williams was prosecuted for 2 of the crimes, the rest of the instances had been closed with out being totally investigated. Painful questions have lingered for lots of the survivors, who keep that the true reality behind the murders has by no means been uncovered. “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered” presents robust proof that the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists belonging to the National States’ Rights Party might have been concerned within the killings and the disappearances. The sequence, the nonfiction “Atlanta Monster” podcast and Season 2 of Netflix’s “Mindhunter” have renewed public curiosity within the case in recent times. (Read extra) —Greg Braxton

25. Surviving R. Kelly

R. Kelly wearing sunglasses and a gray suit

R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago.

(Amr Alfiky / Associated Press)

2019 | TV-MA | 3 Seasons | Documentary sequence
Lifetime: Included | Netflix: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy
Created by Dream Hampton

Lifetime’s documentary sequence “Surviving R. Kelly” was instrumental in taking the singer down after many years the place the star appeared untouchable. Through its blockbuster debut season, sequel “The Reckoning” and a 3rd installment, “The Final Chapter,” it used firsthand accounts, police investigations, courtroom paperwork and extra to chronicle the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s more and more disturbing sample of sexual, psychological and bodily abuse of underage women over twenty years. Women who fell underneath Kelly’s spell, some who had been as younger as 13, communicate out for the primary time right here, illustrating the darkish facet of fame, the perils of superstar worship and double requirements relating to race within the #MeToo period. In-depth interviews with alleged victims, Kelly’s ex-wife, his brothers, former insiders, buddies and journalists who’ve coated the Chicago songwriter and producer paint an image of a predator whose habits was constantly missed by the business, his friends and the general public whereas his religious hit was sung in church buildings and colleges. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

24. Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey

Four women in conservative purple dresses with their hands behind their backs, standing in a wood

An picture from “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey,” Netflix’s docuseries about Warren Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


2022 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Rachel Dretzin

The crimes of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints chief Warren Jeffs are explored by way of the firsthand accounts of his former followers in “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.” This four-part documentary sequence chronicles Jeffs’ rise within the FLDS and the crimes he inflicted on the flock who resided in his settlement on the Utah-Arizona border. Ex-members — largely ladies — inform the tales of Jeffs forcing them into underage marriages, inserting inflexible restrictions on their lives, and vowing to destroy them in the event that they ever dared to depart. This documentary provides his victims the possibility to inform their very own tales, and to clarify what actually occurred contained in the twisted world he created. Jeffs was sentenced to life in jail plus 20 years in 2011 for sexually assaulting two women, however his reign of terror continues to hang-out his former followers. —Lorraine Ali

23. Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer

A black-and-white photo of Ted Bundy in a suit

Ted Bundy through the second day of jury choice for his homicide trial in Miami.

(Associated Press)

2020 | Rated 18+| 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Prime Video: Included
Created by Trish Wood

There’s no scarcity of productions about prolific serial killer Ted Bundy, however a lot of these narratives depend on the recollections of the extremely articulate killer who by no means appeared to cease speaking about himself. “Falling for a Killer” by director Trish Wood takes a special strategy by reframing his story by way of the voices of girls who knew him. His former girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall is major to the story, as she recollects their early halcyon days and, later, indicators that one thing was terribly damaged in her good-looking but troubled companion. The story is ready in opposition to the feminist motion of the Seventies. Kendall and others share their recollections of the person they thought they knew on this insightful, five-part docuseries. —Lorraine Ali

22. The Imposter

A man in a hooded jacket lies on a bed.

Frédéric Bourdin in “The Imposter.”

(Indomina Releasing)

2012 | Rated R | Documentary
Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy | Peacock: Included
Directed by Bart Layton

A complete lot stranger than fiction, “The Imposter” is a documentary that’s disturbing in methods solely actuality can handle. This is a practice wreck you assume you see coming, however regardless of how ready you’re, the character and extent of the injury will overwhelm you.

As directed by British documentarian Bart Layton, “The Imposter” tells the story of a dark-skinned French Algerian man, a world-class deceiver and manipulator who managed to persuade members of a distraught Texas household that he was their long-lost blond and blue-eyed teenage brother and son. What makes this movie so spooky and unnerving is that it reveals how a lot of what we contemplate to be actuality is merely a perform of what we need to consider. Next to the ability and needs of the human coronary heart and thoughts, few issues stand an opportunity, actually not the puny assemble we prefer to name the true world.

The disappeared boy is sassy 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay, who vanished from the streets of San Antonio in 1994. “It gives you nightmares, it really does,” says his still-distressed mom Beverly Dollarhide. “It didn’t make the news. It was just news to us.” Then, three years and 4 months later, the household will get an out-of-nowhere telephone name from Linares, Spain. Nicholas has been discovered, and he needs to come back dwelling. Beyond shocked, Nicholas’ sister Carey Gibson remembers pondering that Linares should be a city in Texas. “You had like 100,000 questions you wanted answered immediately,” she says. “You want it to all happen now.”

The individual in Spain, we discover out directly, couldn’t be farther from the 16-year-old Nicholas. Instead, he’s 23-year-old Frédéric Bourdin, finally identified to European authorities as “La Chameleon” for his shape-shifting talents. “As long as I remember,” he says, wanting straight on the digicam, daring as brass, “I wanted to be someone else. Someone who was acceptable.” (Read extra) —Kenneth Turan

21. Who Killed Malcolm X?

A tall man wearing glasses and speaking to a crowd of reporters

Civil rights chief Malcolm X speaks to reporters in Washington, D.C. “Who Killed Malcolm X?” dives into questions surrounding his assassination and allegations of a botched investigation.

(Associated Press)

2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Abdur-Rahman Muhammad

Abdur-Rahman Muhammad was obsessive about uncovering the reality about Malcolm X’s 1965 homicide. The activist and researcher spent 20 years investigating the query of who actually killed the civil rights hero throughout a speech in New York’s Audubon Ballroom, and that quest is on the middle of the Netflix documentary sequence “Who Killed Malcolm X?”

Two males identified on the time of the killing as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson spent many years in jail for the homicide. But the case in opposition to them was questionable from the beginning, inflicting historians and newbie sleuths to boost doubts concerning the official account of what occurred that fateful day. Through archival footage, declassified paperwork and quite a lot of interviews with former and present Nation of Islam members and retired brokers who labored the case, Abdur-Rahman presents a compelling concept that the flawed males took the rap.

He identifies a probable murderer based mostly on his exhaustive investigative analysis, spurring the Manhattan prosecutor to reopen the case. Then, practically two years after the docuseries raised its titular query and helped spur a renewed investigation into the assassination, two of the three males convicted in Malcolm X’s killing had been exonerated (considered one of whom continues to be alive). The sequence isn’t the tightest of productions, however its impression is immeasurable. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

20. Athlete A

Gymnast Maggie Nichols captured in midair in "Athlete A" on Netflix.

Maggie Nichols in “Athlete A” on Netflix.

(Melissa J. Perenson / Netflix)

2020 | Rated PG-13 | Documentary
Netflix: Included
Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk

Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander turned the primary lady to report sexual abuse by the hands of Larry Nassar, a doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. In August of 2016, she filed a Title IX grievance with MSU and advised its police division that Nassar had assaulted her when she was a 15-year-old gymnast.

Her story — now on the middle of the Netflix documentary “Athlete A” — would compel over 260 feminine athletes to come back ahead with their very own tales about Nassar’s abuse. In 2017, he pleaded responsible to federal little one pornography prices along with a number of prices of first-degree sexual assault and can in all probability spend the remainder of his life in jail.

But though Nassar is behind bars, Denhollander and others within the gymnastics world really feel the game has much more work to do to deal with claims of systemic emotional, bodily and sexual abuse. —Amy Kaufman

19. Allen v. Farrow

Two women sitting on an enclosed porch in winter

Dylan Farrow, left, with Mia Farrow in “Allen v. Farrow.”


2021 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

“Allen v. Farrow,” from investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, goes past the scandalous headlines and makes a compelling argument that revered filmmaker Woody Allen acquired away with the unthinkable. This four-part sequence explores allegations that Allen abused Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter with Mia Farrow, when she was a toddler. The accusations had been turned in opposition to Farrow within the media. When Allen later married Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, Hollywood and the press nonetheless largely ignored the disagreeable private lifetime of their favourite director in lieu of celebrating his work.

Documentarians Dick and Ziering pored over years of custody trial proof, dwelling films, recorded telephone conversations, photograph reveals and extra, piecing collectively a harrowing image of Allen as an abuser and grasp manipulator, and Dylan Farrow as a silenced, disbelieved sufferer. Allen has lengthy denied the allegations. But right here Dylan, now 37, has a platform to inform her facet of the story. The result’s a convincing and in the end devastating portrait of Allen. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

18. The Seven Five

A man in a suit talks mid-testimony

Michael Dowd testifies at a listening to.

(Willie Anderson / NY Daily News through Getty Images)

2014 | Rated R |Documentary
Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Included
Directed by Tiller Russell

It can be laborious to think about a extra entertaining corrupt-cop documentary than “The Seven Five,” a slick and interesting portrait of disgraced New York policeman Michael Dowd. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Dowd was an officer at Brooklyn’s seventy fifth Precinct, located in a very tough neighborhood that led the town in homicides and police shootings.

Director Tiller Russell relates an evocative story of cocaine-fueled temptation and greed, interspersing footage from a 1993 listening to for Dowd (who was sentenced to 14 years) with new interviews with the seemingly unrepentant Dowd, his former companion and contemporaries on either side of the regulation. The cocky Dowd’s systematic development from cop on the take to drug trafficker is choreographed with the type of verve and gusto that gave Billy Corben’s 2006 Miami-based documentary “Cocaine Cowboys” an identical rock ‘n’ roll model.

With a wildly colourful solid of characters (particularly the swagger-ific drug lord Adam Diaz) and sound bites (“Forget Beverly Hills … the ghetto is one of the richest neighborhoods there is!”), there’s no lacking that “The Seven Five” would make one swell Hollywood film. —Michael Rechtshaffen

17. Wild Wild Country

Bhagwan Rajneesh steps out of a car and greets a crowd with his hands together in prayer.

Bhagwan Rajneesh in “Wild Wild Country” on Netflix.


2018 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Chapman and Maclain Way

“Wild Wild Country” is a dippy story of the early Nineteen Eighties wherein East meets West and, out of an try and construct a paradise, all hell breaks free.

Directed by brothers Chapman and Maclain Way (“The Battered Bastards of Baseball”), its focus is a dimly remembered however in its time nationally newsworthy non secular group — or intercourse cult, relying in your standpoint — led by Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and the town they got down to construct on a distant patch of Oregon.

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It’s a narrative of enemies and neighbors, of energy performs and paranoia that features, amongst different issues, tried homicide, arson, electioneering, bioterrorism by quick meals, nude sunbathing, the separation of church and state, 10,000 cassette tapes and 93 Rolls-Royces, considered one of which the guru would day by day drive previous his admirers.

“Why do they do this?” a TV reporter standing amongst them wonders. “What do they believe in?”

Rajneesh (later known as Osho) and his motion caught on within the Seventies, his ashram changing into a vacation spot of alternative for largely Americans and Europeans searching for enlightenment or religious thrills. He promoted, amongst different practices, a model of “dynamic meditation” that concerned hyperventilation (“designed to arouse the serpent force, called kundalini”); primal-scream catharsis; leaping up and down and saying “Hoo!”; and, lastly, silence and stillness. Then perhaps some dancing. This would possibly occur with everyone bare. (Read extra) —Robert Lloyd

16. Sasquatch

Three large Sasquatch-sized footprints

“Sasquatch” on Hulu.


2021 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Hulu: Included
Created by the Duplass brothers

True crime, weed wars and monster tales meet in “Sasquatch,” and Hulu’s three-part docuseries delivers on all fronts.

This hybrid whodunit/monster-hunter mashup is centered round one central unsolved thriller, and a number of other ancillary riddles, within the Emerald Triangle, a swath of Northern California wilderness throughout Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties. It’s a area famend for its pure magnificence, marijuana manufacturing — and Bigfoot sightings.

Leading us into the tangled woods is investigative reporter David Holthouse, who was engaged on a Mendocino dope farm in 1993 when a gaggle of terrified males burst into his cabin with claims of discovering three mutilated our bodies at a close-by farm. The deceased had been torn limb from limb, heads ripped from torsos, their elements strewn across the campsite. This wasn’t a drug heist, they mentioned. No marijuana vegetation had been stolen — and there have been large footprints across the scene. It needed to be Bigfoot. Or did it? “Sasquatch” units out to reply that query over three episodes. This is an eccentric providing on this planet of true crime, which is a part of what makes it so addictive. Monsters are available in all shapes and types, and this sequence grapples with all of them. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

15. A Wilderness of Error

A man in glasses talks to reporters.

Former Army doctor Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald talks with newsmen after being launched on bond in Los Angeles, Jan. 31, 1975.

(George Brich / Associated Press)

2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Hulu: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Marc Smerling

Fifty years after his spouse and two younger daughters had been brutally murdered, and 41 after he was convicted of the crime, the case of former Army surgeon Jeffrey R. MacDonald continues to fascinate. Were the Fort Bragg, N.C., murders, as MacDonald has lengthy contended, dedicated by a gaggle of drug-crazed hippies chanting, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs?” Or had been they, because the prosecution efficiently argued, really the work of MacDonald, who murdered his household in a psychotic rage?

The case impressed Joe McGinniss’ nonfiction bestseller “Fatal Vision,” printed in 1983, in addition to a vastly profitable 1984 TV miniseries based mostly on the ebook — to not point out Janet Malcolm’s famed 1990 reconsideration “The Journalist and the Murderer.” Now it’s the topic of the FX sequence “A Wilderness of Error,” based mostly on the ebook of the identical title by Oscar-winning documentary director Errol Morris (“The Fog of War”), who has questioned MacDonald’s guilt and the prosecution’s dealing with of the case.

Morris, whose 1988 movie “The Thin Blue Line” really led to the overturning of a demise sentence, puzzled whether or not the testimony of a number of key individuals — a girl who claimed she’d been in the home through the murders, a U.S. marshal who alleged the girl confessed to him and a person who allegedly admitted to the killings — had intentionally been missed by the prosecution, and whether or not the preliminary investigation by the Army had primarily been a shoddy cover-up. (Read extra) —Lewis Beale

14. Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes

An overhead shot of a cassette recorder

“Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes” on Netflix.


2021 |TV-MA | Documentary
Netflix: Included
Directed by Michael Harte

The life and crimes of Scottish serial killer and necrophile Dennis Nilsen are documented in his personal phrases on this extremely competent and deeply creepy 85-minute movie, culled from 250 hours’ price of recordings that Nilsen taped in his jail cell after he killed no less than 12 younger males between 1978 and 1983. Like Ted Bundy, the soft-spoken Nilsen is very articulate and even charming, however his cowl was an unassuming, mousy demeanor. He recounts the occasions of his life in poetic prose with flowery language, but it surely’s the recollections of police, survivors and his personal mom that make clear the monster on the coronary heart of his ghoulish crime spree. Directed by Michael Harte (“Don’t F— With Cats”), this documentary is a grasp class in pitting a killer’s personal warped recollections in opposition to the firsthand accounts of those that suffered from his actions. —Lorraine Ali

13. The Central Park Five

A black-and-white image of a young man and his lawyer in court

Defendant Korey Wise together with his lawyer, Colin Moore, in Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon’s film “The Central Park Five.”

(John Pedin / NY Daily News Archive through Getty Images)

2012 | TV-PG | Documentary
PBS: Included | Kanopy: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy
Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon

Then-New York Mayor Ed Koch didn’t shrink from calling it “the crime of the century.” A TV newscaster talked angrily about evildoers who “blazed a nighttime trail of terror” that culminated within the horrific beating and savage rape of a Central Park jogger on the evening of April 19, 1989. The occasion turned an all-consuming nationwide sensation, however, because it seems, every thing everybody thought they knew was flawed.

This is the devastating premise of “The Central Park Five,” a cautious, considerate documentary that meticulously re-creates what occurred on that evening and particulars how and why every thing went so terribly off-course. Co-directed by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns, it initiatives equal elements fury and despair because it reveals how a specific group of people was caught within the unforgiving gears of the felony justice system.

Five black and Latino youngsters, ages 14 to 16, admitted to the rape and beating (although they virtually instantly recanted) of the white jogger and served jail sentences starting from six to 13 years. But, out of nowhere, compelling new proof, together with a startling 2002 confession by a convicted assassin and rapist whose DNA was current on the crime scene, led a decide to overturn their convictions. Yet it is among the case’s painful ironies that to at the present time it’s the arrest and never the last word exoneration that’s remembered.

“The Central Park Five” serves as a cinematic primer on what has turn into probably the most disturbing features of our felony justice system: the power — and the unabashed willingness — of police to psychologically manipulate individuals into confessing to issues they haven’t achieved. (Read extra) —Kenneth Turan

12. McMillions

Michael Hoover holding an oversize check for one million dollars in "McMillions"

Michael Hoover in “McMillions” on HBO Max.

(HBO Max)

2020 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included
Created by James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte

James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte’s six-part documentary, “McMillions,” is a twisty, many-fingered, onion-layered story tailored for cliffhangers and progressive reveals. The HBO sequence tells the story of the McDonald’s Monopoly recreation fraud, wherein an ex-cop nicknamed Uncle Jerry — in an operation that went undetected from 1989 to 2001 and concerned an advert hoc community of “recruiters” and semi-solid residents prepared to take part in what not all totally understood was thievery — managed to rip-off some $24 million in money and prizes from the house of the Happy Meal.

It was the topic of a 2018 Daily Beast story by Jeff Maysh, “How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions,” which inside days turned the topic of a bidding warfare for the movie rights. (Fox gained; Ben Affleck is scheduled to direct, Matt Damon to star.) (Read extra) —Robert Lloyd

11. The Innocence Files

A map covered with pictures of suspects and a notepad

“The Innocence Files” on Netflix.


2020 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by: Roger Ross Williams, Liz Garbus and Alex Gibney

“The Innocence Files” masterfully examines how harmless individuals find yourself in jail and paperwork the Herculean effort it takes to overturn these wrongful convictions. Though there’s no scarcity of heartbreaking tv productions about poor of us who’re betrayed by the system, this transferring, impactful sequence stands aside. Expertly directed by revered documentary filmmakers Alex Gibney, Roger Ross Williams and Liz Garbus, “The Innocence Files” delivers a potent assertion on class, crime and the American justice system. The nine-part sequence takes its supply materials from Innocence Project instances, following a number of wrongfully convicted topics over three completely different story arcs. The filmmakers discover widespread defects within the system — from the usage of bogus forensic proof to unreliable eyewitness accounts — exploring the authorized and emotional fallout for all concerned. —Lorraine Ali

10. Don’t F— With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

A close-up image of a woman's face over her computer screen

“Don’t F— With Cats” on Netflix.


2019 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Mark Lewis

A gaggle of Facebook sleuths monitor down a deranged killer and wannabe web star on this three-part sequence from Mark Lewis. Luka Magnotta was courting the concept of superstar in 2010 when he turned well-known for all of the flawed causes. The then-28-year-old Canadian was posting on-line a sequence of nameless movies exhibiting him suffocating, drowning and feeding kittens to a snake. A neighborhood of outraged web sleuths coalesced across the aim of outing this animal abuser.

Filmmaker Lewis embedded with a number of of the armchair detectives, documenting how they pieced collectively Magnotta’s id clue by clue. Is that mild socket within the background of his video European or American? Are there any figuring out background sounds? Their digital legwork proved invaluable to regulation enforcement when, in 2012, the killer graduated to killing people. He murdered a 33-year-old pc engineering scholar from China, Jun Lin, and launched a video of the horrific crime on-line. The sequence is a wild trip by way of Magnotta’s sadistic ploys for consideration, and the dogged efforts of newbie detectives to cease him. In the tip, they had been instrumental in his seize throughout a worldwide manhunt, even when it might have resulted in giving his wicked movies extra views than they ever ought to have had. This doc was considered one of Netflix’s greatest true-crime hits outdoors of the problematic “Making a Murderer.” Riveting, however not for the faint of coronary heart. —Lorraine Ali

9. The Crime of the Century

 OxyContin pills and bottle

“The Crime of the Century” offers with the opioid disaster.

(Toby Talbot / Associated Press)

2021 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included
Created by Alex Gibney

For greater than 20 years, Americans have watched the human price of the opioid disaster as if it had been an epidemic with out trigger. But what if the disaster had been manufactured by way of a sequence of cynical misdeeds involving profit-ravenous pharmaceutical firms, bought-and-paid-for medical professionals and a toothless political and authorized system?

You in all probability wouldn’t be shocked, given what we now know from quite a few class-action lawsuits, interviews with recovering addicts and grieving dad and mom, laborious information exposés and, sure, numerous documentaries. But Alex Gibney’s gripping two-part docuseries “The Crime of the Century” sheds new mild on an ongoing catastrophe by meticulously monitoring the strikes of 1 main kingpin: Purdue Pharma, the drug firm that made billions off the addictive and sometimes deadly ache medicine OxyContin. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

8. Long Shot

A man in a blue T-shirt and baseball cap looks out from the stands at the infield in an empty Dodger Stadium.

Juan Catalan in “Long Shot.”


2017 | TV-14 | Documentary
Netflix: Included
Directed by Jacob LaMendola

Social etiquette crimes are the lifeblood of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David’s HBO comedy sequence the place a self-centered man named Larry offends everybody he meets, and his unhealthy habits usually has a butterfly impact. But right here’s one occasion the place Larry was affect, even when it was unintentional.

“Long Shot” tells the story of younger father Juan Catalan, an Angeleno who was wrongly accused of the 2003 gang-related homicide of a 16-year-old woman in Sun Valley. But Catalan swears he’s harmless. The accused even has an alibi: He was attending a recreation together with his daughter at Dodger Stadium. The prosecutor isn’t shopping for it, even after Catalan produces proof in the type of ticket stubs. Defense legal professional Todd Melnik scraped for the rest which may show his consumer’s innocence. Maybe the Dodger fancam? But the fleeting photographs of the daddy and daughter aren’t clear sufficient.

Here’s the place David is available in. The actor had been taking pictures “The Car Pool Lane” episode of the sequence, the place he picks up a intercourse employee so he can use the carpool lane to make it to the sport on time, and the crew had been filming in an aisle close to Catalan’s seats. Outtakes of the episode had been scanned for photographs of Catalan, and, as David says within the documentary, “There he was. Pretty cool.” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and subsequent cellphone knowledge helped clear Catalan. This quick and easily made documentary chronicles the unimaginable story of a wrongly convicted soul who was saved by the least doubtless of males. —Lorraine Ali

7. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez

Two men wearing suit jackets pose, one with his hand on the other's shoulder.

Filmmaker Brian Knappenberger, left, and Times reporter Garrett Therolf are behind the harrowing docuseries “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez.”

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

2020 | TVMA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Brian Knappenberger

Netflix documentary sequence “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” follows the story of the torture and homicide of an 8-year-old little one, overwhelmed to demise in 2013 by his mom and her boyfriend, and the repeated failure of social employees and law enforcement officials to intervene. Directed by Brian Knappenberger, “Gabriel Fernandez” piggybacks on the reporting of Garrett Therolf, who coated the story for The Times because it broke, and later elsewhere, and who seems extensively all through. (Therolf, an government producer of the sequence, introduced Knappenberger into the mission.) A well-made and conscientious work that features interviews with individuals concerned within the case and specialists concerning it from afar, together with footage of police interviews and courtroom testimony, it’s outdated information and an ongoing story, since we’ve got not reached the tip of kid abuse or institutional incompetence. (Read extra) —Robert Lloyd

6. The First 48

A detective taking notes sits across a table from another person.

“The First 48” on A&E and Peacock.


2004| TV-14 | 24 Seasons | Documentary sequence
A&E: Included (22 seasons) | Peacock: Included (15 seasons) | Hulu: Included (16 seasons) | Prime Video: Rent/Buy (7 seasons)
Created by Nigel Bellis

Three issues are a given in every episode of “The First 48”: a murder, a murder investigation and laborious questions in a bleak interrogation room. This long-running sequence takes viewers behind the scenes, following a squad of detectives within the first important hours of a homicide. The sense of urgency round every case is implicit within the present’s opening sequence: “The clock starts ticking the moment they are called,” says the narrator. “Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don’t get a lead within the first 48 hours.”

Now in its twenty fourth season, this addictive unscripted sequence nonetheless units a excessive bar because it follows detectives in police precincts from Dallas, New Orleans, Birmingham, Tulsa and different U.S. cities. Each hourlong episode is shot vérité-style and set to minimal ambient music, constructing rigidity subtly because the story unfolds. The leads to every case are unpredictable: Many are solved by the closing credit, whereas others nonetheless stay open. Law enforcement turns to a mixture of things to interrupt their instances, from forensic proof to witness accounts to lies and confessions within the interrogation room, and no two instances ever shake out in the identical method. In a world the place unhealthy individuals all the time appear to be getting away with doing unhealthy issues, “The First 48” is one place the place the search for accountability all the time drives the story. —Lorraine Ali

5. O.J.: Made in America

A wedding photograph of O.J. Simpson with bride Nicole Brown Simpson

O.J. Simpson with bride Nicole Brown Simpson.

(ESPN Films)

2016 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Ezra Edelman

Comedy, they are saying, is tragedy plus time. The identical equation may also lead to revelation, as ESPN’s astonishing documentary sequence “O.J.: Made in America” proves. There have been many makes an attempt to inform the O.J. Simpson story, to clarify why, in 1995, what seemed to be an open-and-shut case of home violence taken to its deadly and too-often inevitable conclusion changed into the trial of the century and resulted in acquittal. But all pale beside Ezra Edelman’s 7 1/2-hour chronicle of Simpson’s life and instances. Historically meticulous, thematically compelling and deeply human, “O.J.: Made in America” is a masterwork of scholarship, journalism and cinematic artwork. (Read extra) —Mary McNamara

4. The Keepers

A black-and-white photo of a nun among sheets of paper

Catherine Cesnik in “The Keepers” on Netflix.


2017 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Ryan White

The seven-part documentary sequence “The Keepers” appears at considered one of Baltimore’s most vexing chilly instances by way of the eyes of the ladies who proceed to push for justice. Sister Cathy Cesnik went lacking in November of 1969. Two months later, her physique was present in a subject not removed from her residence. Five many years later, the homicide of the younger nun and highschool instructor stays unsolved. Policeman and monks — the very individuals tasked with defending and consoling the neighborhood — are among the many case’s prime suspects.

Sister Cathy’s former college students at Archbishop Keough High School, corresponding to Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub, have spent the vast majority of their grownup lives making an attempt to resolve the homicide of their beloved instructor, who was 26 on the time of her demise. But as “The Keepers” reveals, the checklist of theories and suspects solely grows with time. “The Keepers” is an unusually empathetic true-crime providing that locations the reminiscence of Sister Cathy above all else, but nonetheless brings a lot wanted warmth to a tragically chilly case. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

3. Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer

A man with a pentagram on his hand holds it up in a courtroom.

Richard Ramirez, left, in “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” on Netflix.


2021 | TV-MA | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
Netflix: Included
Created by Tiller Russell

Los Angeles was terrorized by a phantom within the spring and summer season of 1985. Creeping into properties at evening, he tortured and murdered greater than a dozen individuals, with the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys the main focus of his mayhem: assaulting ladies of their 80s; kidnapping and molesting kids as younger as 6; scrawling a pentagram on considered one of his homicide victims and demanding that one other pray to Satan.

Netflix’s docuseries “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer” chronicles the pursuit of the elusive predator although the recollections of the investigators and cops who chased him. Analog detective work — years earlier than cellphone knowledge and DNA turned helpful investigative instruments — and the assistance of the neighborhood led to the seize of demon worshipper Richard Ramirez. His crimes stand out as notably heinous and evil, even by right now’s requirements, in a metropolis that’s no stranger to the darkest of crimes (the Black Dahlia, the Manson Family, the Hillside Strangler). The four-part sequence is a strong and haunting addition to the streamer’s onslaught of true-crime fare, capturing a spot and time that many Angelenos regretfully declare as a part of their metropolis’s collective historical past. (Read extra) —Lorraine Ali

2. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

Robert Durst stands in Times Square.

Robert Durst in “The Jinx.”


2015 | TV-14 | 1 Season | Documentary sequence
HBO Max: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy | Prime Video: Rent/Buy
Created by Andrew Jarecki

“The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” is a seductive six-part sequence a couple of homicide, perhaps two murders, perhaps three. Although its particulars are a matter of public document, it’s useful in watching “The Jinx” to know as little as attainable about Durst — the son of a billionaire New York developer, the husband of a girl lacking since 1982, simply to begin — as a way to let its strangeness breathe and its cleverly ordered revelations have their full impact. Director Andrew Jarecki — greatest identified for the Oscar-nominated “Capturing the Friedmans” (2003), begins the sequence in 2001 with the invention of a headless, limbless torso floating in Galveston Bay and works back and forth from there. It’s a puzzle field that provides up its secrets and techniques slowly and unpredictably. (Read extra) —Robert Lloyd

1. The Thin Blue Line

A police officer stands and points a gun in front of a police car's headlights.

A scene from the 1988 documentary “The Thin Blue Line,” directed by Errol Morris.

(Criterion Collection)

1988 | Rated 18+ | Documentary
Criterion: Included | Apple TV+: Rent/Buy
Directed by Errol Morris

Considered probably the most impactful documentaries ever made, Errol Morris’ “The Thin Blue Line” modified the shape and saved an harmless man from demise row. Fusing cinematic approach with investigative journalism and activism with artwork, Morris dissected the troubling case of Randall Dale Adams, a drifter who was charged with the 1976 homicide of a Dallas police officer. The officer was shot to demise after a routine visitors cease. The proof pointed to repeat offender 16-year-old David Harris, and the teenager bragged to his buddies about killing a cop, however he was nonetheless capable of persuade detectives that Adams was the perpetrator.

Morris used the ability of cinema to reveal staggering irregularities within the investigation and introduced his findings in an beautiful show of experimental filmmaking. His unorthodox strategy included haunting reenactments, authentic music by Philip Glass and profound excerpts from the interviews he performed. For instance, Adams’ co-counsel mentioned she believed that the forces of regulation and justice, confronted with a police killing, went after Adams as a result of, as an grownup, he could possibly be despatched to the electrical chair, whereas Harris, as a minor, couldn’t. Her concept is only one of many who Morris makes use of to construct an alternate narrative in his movie.

The result’s a splendidly made movie that confronts injustice, exonerating a wrongfully convicted man whereas altering the face of documentary movie endlessly. —Lorraine Ali