True Crime has become an absolute television phenomenon and Netflix has quickly established itself as the streaming home of this incredibly addictive genre. Unrelenting and brutally honest in their explorations, their true crime documentaries have garnered millions of viewers across the globe as well as critical appraise.
Here we round up the greatest true crime documentaries to air on Netflix so far…
The Staircase is one of the latest Netflix true crime offerings. This 13-part series pieces together episodes from the cult status original 2004 series and adds a final three Netflix-produced episodes. It examines the death that captured a nation – that of American crime writer Michael Peterson’s second wife Kathleen Peterson.
Discovered dead under mysterious circumstances at the bottom of the couple’s staircase, Michael became a murder suspect and the star of a story that captured the imagination of a nation for more than a decade. Ultimately you as the viewer will be left to decide whether he did kill Kathleen, or indeed whether any of the alternative theories are more plausible.
Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist is a docuseries that tells the tale of the crime far stranger than fiction. About a bank heist gone terribly wrong that resulted in a middle aged pizza delivery man being blown up by a bomb that was clamped around his neck, this true story really has to be watched to believe.
The involvement of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, a former beauty queen turned mentally ill recluse is fascinating to say the least and we expect you’ll be left truly speechless by the end of this four-part saga.
It’s two sweet old ladies versus the Catholic Church in this compelling series. The retired students of Baltimore USA’s Archbishop Keough High School have long believed that there was a cover-up of the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik - their beloved high school teacher.
This heart-wrenching series explores just about every nook and cranny possible regarding her mysterious murder and the suspicious characters surrounding it. But ultimately once the evidence is laid bare, you will be the left to make your own conclusions.
The Fear of 13
Nick Yarris spent more than 20 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. In The Fear of 13 he tells his gripping and oftentimes harrowing story – from experiencing years of isolation to enduring beatings from police and directly mixing with some of America’s most prolific serial killers.
Now living as a free man, Nick recounts his disturbing experiences as well his new life adjusting to life on the outside.
My Friend Rockefeller
Christian Gerhartsreiter is a German US immigrant who claimed to be a descendant of the Rockefeller dynasty. Scamming his way across the country, he managed to find himself at the top of several revered American social scenes as well as marrying a wealthy financier. But it all came crashing down when he was convicted of murder…My Friend Rockefeller is a commanding portrayal of a con man’s rise and headline grabbing fall from grace.
Wild Wild Country
Wild Wild Country is about one of the most successful and affluent cults of the last century – that you’ve likely never heard of.
Shining a light on the forgotten Rajneeshpuram community of Oregon and its leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela, viewers are taken on a truly wild ride that involves political tension, wiretapping, poisoning and even attempted murder.
The Confession Tapes
Does a confession prove guilt? Not necessarily, as Netflix's first season of The Confession Tapes demonstrates. Pinpointing US crimes in which suspects were seemingly coerced or manipulated into confessing to a crime, both the interview tapes and evidence surrounding the crimes are examined by detectives, witnesses, lawyers and wrongful conviction experts.
Amanda Knox became one of the most hated women in the world when she was convicted of the 2007 murder of English exchange student Meredith Kercher in Italy. But her appeal led to her acquittal in 2011.
Did she do it? Plenty still believe she did. In Amanda Knox, Amanda is given the unique opportunity to redeem herself once and for all by explaining in her own words exactly what happened. But the people closest to the case, including the detectives and her ex-boyfriend, provide their own illuminations as this one-off documentary unfolds.
Making a Murderer
One of Netflix's most successful series of all time, Making a Murderer is about Steven Avery, a man exonerated after spending almost two decades behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. However, shortly after his release he was arrested again for the murder of a 25-year-old female photographer.
Did he also commit this second crime? Or was it a convenient cover-up to save face for the embarrassed local police department? This series explores the troubled life of Steven that led up to his accused crime and whether his case should now be officially reviewed.
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
The life and times of infamous serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who was convicted of murdering six men while working as a highway prostitute, are examined in this explosive documentary film. With unprecedented interview access to Aileen as well as trial testimony and footage, documentary maker Nick Broomfield captures her increasingly distorted mind – despite being deemed of sound mind by the state of Florida when she was executed in 2002.
Photo credits: Netflix