Whether or not you want to admit it, there’s a part of many us that wants to take a peek at the darker side of life. We want to peel back the curtain and peer into the dark abyss of the human mind. It’s that little bit of our brain that makes us crane our necks to see a car accident as we drive by. The same part of our brain that makes us want to watch the story du jour on Dateline or listen to true crime podcasts while we run on the treadmill.
Regardless of whether or not it’s something we tell our friends or family or our guilty secret, we’re interested in murders, missing people, and overall malevolent behavior. Luckily for us, there are myriad true crime podcasts, television shows, and documentaries (and docuseries). And while it would be easy to write about all the ways to ingest true crime, today is all about true crime documentaries.
And the best part? There are seemingly countless true crime documentaries (with new ones appearing all the time). These are 10 of the best that are available to stream right now. They run the gamut from mysteries, to abductions, to strange pop culture phenomena. All will scratch that dark itch on the back of your neck that keeps you up at night.
Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)
This documentary goes into detail about the story of Jan Broberg. Who, in 1974 was abducted in Idaho by a trusted family friend. That alone would be an interesting story. But this is simply the start of the story. Things get a lot stranger and hard to believe from there.
Girl in the Picture (2022)
This almost unbelievable documentary begins with a mysterious death of a young woman named Tonya Hughes. But who was she? What follows is a story about kidnapping, fake identities, murder, and decades of abuse. And it’s all centered around a federal fugitive who has an uncanny ability to stay hidden in plain sight.
Wild Wild Country (2018)
Ranchers and locals and a cult-like Indian spiritual guru called Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, his assistant Ma Anand Sheela, and his fanatical followers clash in rural Oregon in this documentary detailing the strange yet true story from the 1970s. Wiretapping, a bioterror act, and a lot of hard-to-believe events follow.
Long Shot (2017)
Calling this documentary ‘Long Shot’ is an absolute understatement when you realize what it’s about. The documentary centers on Juan Catalan who, in the summer of 2003, was arrested for a murder he claimed he didn’t commit. He might not have been cleared if, unbeknownst to him, he didn’t appear in the background of a popular HBO television show at the time of the killing.
Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (2018)
As true crime stories go, this one is really on the stranger side. Yet it all actually happened in 2003. The story begins when a pizza delivery man robs a bank with a bomb attached to his neck. Was he a criminal or a victim himself? What follows is a bizarre story that’s a lot more than your basic bank robbery.
Our Father (2022)
It all starts with an at-home DNA test. This is when Jacoba Ballard found that she has multiple half-siblings. As she learns more about her new siblings and the numbers begin to rise, she dives in deeper she realizes that her parents visited a renowned Indianapolis-area fertility doctor in an effort to get pregnant. She learns that the reason Dr. Donald Cline was so good at his job was because he was using his own sperm.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)
Robert Durst, a real estate heir, was linked to three murders between 1982 and 2000, but was never tried for the first two and claimed self-defense in the third and was acquitted. The documentary was designed to investigate the murders, but it eventually led to Durst admitting that he “killed them all” on a microphone he didn’t realize was on.
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker (2023)
This is one of the strangest true crime documentaries you’ll find. It centers around a man named “Kai” who gained fame online when he gave a wild interview after witnessing a crime. A deep dive into this character would be enough for a documentary on its own, but this isn’t where the story ends. He was later convicted of first-degree murder. The documentary details his viral fame and the eventual murder and ensuing trial.
Making A Murderer (2015)
In the last decade, there are few docuseries more well-known than ‘Making a Murderer’. This multi-episode series follows the story of Steven Avery who was charged and convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder and served 18 years in prison before being exonerated. This isn’t even close to the end of the story. Instead of living his life out of the spotlight, he was convicted of murdering a woman named Teresa Halbach in 2005.
Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story (2022)
The story starts with the 1972 kidnapping of seven-year-old Steven Stayner by child molester Kenneth Parnell. It dives into what happened to him, the media coverage after his return home, and the long-lasting damage to Stayner, his brother, and his family decades later. It’s so much more than simply a kidnapping story.