10 serial killer and crime documentaries you have to watch if you love true crime

True crime fans, unite! There’s nothing like sitting down after a long day, putting your feet up, getting cozy, and flipping to the crime channel. I’m pretty sure many of us don’t actually like the crimes being committed but some of us are truly hooked on watching crime shows.

I think it has something to do with being able to learn about all these things in a safe, controlled environment. We wonder just what goes on in the minds of these people and why they turn to these heinous crimes and we can sort of put on our own detective hats and deduce why from the safety of our homes.

If you’re like me and love true crime (and scare away potential friends and dates with an inordinate amount of serial killer facts), here are a few more you might just love, too.

10. Casting JonBenet (2017)

This documentary is a little unique in how it unfolds. Googling it will lead you to a row of little girls all in the same iconic JonBenet Ramsey costume or women in the same maroon shirts. The narrative of the grisly murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey is woven with scenes of actors recreating the events around the incident. A distraught Patsy Ramsey answering the phone is reenacted by different actresses, the way John Ramsey found her body, all of that.

It’s eerie, informative, and tackles this entire case with a level of probing discomfort. Having to watch actors act out these events with their own opinions and biases about who they’re portraying is both honest and artificial, in the sense that they are also trying to make sense of the story in order to act.

9. There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

The entire accident this is framed around is tragic. A car crash takes the lives of eight people and a woman who seems to have her life completely together is the one behind the wheel. The entire documentary tries to answer the whys of this case and it’s a futile and often heartbreaking attempt.

Denial is the driving force. The driver’s husband is adamant in wrapping his head around why his wife was under the influence when she was on the road–he even asks the toxicology report to be redone because he doesn’t believe that she was both drunk and high when the tragedy occurred.

It’s hard to accept death, especially when the circumstances don’t line up. But certain secrets that come to light call into question just how she died and the events that lead up to it.

8. Who Took Johnny

This documentary looks into the disappearance and cold case of Johnny Gosch, a boy who went missing about 30 years ago. He was the first every missing person to be on a milk carton. The case is, chillingly, still open.

It explores all of the mysteries and intrigue behind the case, one that caught almost every American’s attention at the time. The heartbreak his mother experiences and her very real fear and pain make the documentary emotional and the mystery even more bizarre.

7. My Favorite Murder

This is actually a podcast but it’s so entertaining. It has an intro song and everything! They have a comedic twist to all of these cases they discuss. Which is a feat–making light of something so scary is a new level of difficulty. They’re on Spotify and iTunes and they’re amazing.

The two hosts met at a party where they were discussing famous murders. Which sounds like a kind of exciting and simultaneously risky way to meet somebody, really. (But hey! As long as they aren’t murderers!)

6. Cropsey

Ever been scared of the boogeyman? Staten Island has its own version and his name is Cropsey, the last name of a fabled patient of the Seaview hospital that would kidnap children with his hook-for-a-hand and kill them. While it was meant to just scare kids into being good, no one was prepared for him to actually be real. Andre Rand became the city’s real-life Cropsey when he kidnapped 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger.

This documentary is eerie and feels more like a horror film at times, highlighting just how awful these crimes are. We’re spooked. Sometimes the truth is scarier than any urban legend.

5. Mommy Dead and Dearest

This case was crazy. That’s the only way to describe it. Dee Dee Blanchard was the mother of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a child who suffered countless ailments, illnesses, and disorders. Dee Dee projected an image of being a doting, caring mother, signing her sickly daughter up for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and similar organizations that dedicated their time to kids who might have wishes they can’t fulfill. She was found dead one day and Gypsy was gone, causing people to think that someone broke in, murdered Dee Dee, and took Gypsy. She was found later, fully able to walk, with her secret boyfriend. She was later arrested for murder.

Turns out Gypsy Rose didn’t have any of the ailments her mother claimed she had. This documentary delves into the twisted childhood Gypsy Rose had with her mother who suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome, a mental illness where they make up symptoms to make a child look sick. This one’s just a wild ride from start to finish.

4. Capturing the Friedmans

A respected professor in a loving family is suddenly arrested when the US Postal Service finds a child pornography magazine being sent to him. Investigations are opened on this man and his behavior and if he abuses the young boys in his computer class. Soon enough, even more jarring secrets are revealed about not just him, but about his sons, his own father, and his brother, too.

The Friedman family exposes the cracks in their seemingly wholesome lives and this documentary explores every line with such honesty that it keeps you guessing.

3. The Pig Farm

While we generally regard Canada as one of the nicest places on this planet, we can’t deny the existence of Robert Pickton, a man who is considered to be Canada’s most prolific serial killer. He was convicted for the murder of 6 women at first but more and more numbers came out that amounted to 49. And he said once that he wanted to “make it an even 50.” Scary.

But the most disturbing part? He either fed the bodies to the pigs or ground them up to mix with pork. That’s a no from me, man.

2. H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer

Did you ever play any of those video games where there were castles with secret passageways, trap doors, and paths behind shelves and stuff? H.H. Holmes had something like that–except it was called his murder castle. America’s first serial killer set up different rooms in his building to serve different sinister purposes. Some rooms became gas chambers, some passageways were completely secret, and the kiln was used to burn bodies. Insane.

It’s a great balance of storytelling and intrigue. Just crazy thinking about how he put it all together.

1. This is the Zodiac speaking

This documentary is pretty straightforward and I like that about it because it doens’t try to cheapen the world-famous lore of the Zodiac killer. It doesn’t rely on big effects or anything, just rides on how the stories and narratives unfold. The Zodiac killer was an extremely intelligent serial killer who left behind cyphers and codes for police and investigators to find out. He wanted to be involved in their process, taunted them if they couldn’t find him.

The Zodiac Killer is as meticulous as he is secretive and this documentary is able to deliver honest accounts and speculations without being too flashy. If you prefer this over orchestrated reenactments from other films, we’re supportin you!

Which one’s your favorite film? Let us know!






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