12 True Crime Documentaries That Shed Light on Unsolved Cases

There’s no shortage of true crime documentaries on streaming platforms. Fans of this genre can’t get enough of these chilling tales of violence and manipulation. These are just some of the stories you might want to add to the list if you’re looking for another documentary to keep you up at night.

1. “Alabama Snake” (2020)

Alabama Snake (2020)
Image Credit: HBO.

If you’re not a fan of snakes, I advise you to skip this documentary. In 1991, a Pentecostal preacher named Glenn Summerford was accused of trying to kill his wife, Darlene, by forcing her hand into a cage with venomous snakes. Alabama Snake examines the truth behind the vicious attack. It explores the “snake-handling” religious rituals unique to Appalachia, and observed by Summerford and his congregation.

2. “Beware the Slenderman” (2016)

Beware the Slenderman
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution.

This true crime documentary provides extra chills because it involves the murder of a child by other children. In 2014, Payton Leutner was stabbed over a dozen times by her 12-year-old friends. The murderers claimed to be doing so to please the Slenderman, a creepy internet figure. The film explores the dangers of the internet, mental issues, and the motives that would push pre-teens into such a horrendous crime.

3. “Capturing the Friedmans” (2003)

Capturing the Friedmans
Image Credit: Magnolia Pictures.

This film follows the investigation and trial of Arnold Friedman and his son Jesse. The duo was caught abusing young boys. They used their computer classes to commit crimes, totaling more than 100 cases. The film has in-home video footage of the Friedman family and interviews with the victims, which tell the story of these two monsters. The film garnered an Oscar nomination, and is a gripping watch for fans of this genre.

4. “The Crime of the Century” (2021)

The Crime of the Century (2021)
Image Credit: HBO Documentary Films.

The two-part series covers the players and corporations that helped throw fire on the opioid crisis. Director Alex Gibney exposes “Big Pharma” and the corrupt politicians who ignored the distribution of dangerous prescription drugs. Seeing the negligence of powerful people during one of the biggest health crises in our country while simultaneously lining their pockets is incredibly frustrating. The film will have people seeking answers and questioning those elected to protect us.

5. “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” (2020)

I'll Be Gone in the Dark (2020)
Image Credit: HBO Documentary Films.

Michelle McNamara spent several years researching and studying the atrocious act of a serial attacker called the Golden State Killer. The six-part series follows McNamara as she writes a book on her findings. These findings led to the capture of Joesph James Deangelo Jr. Sadly, McNamara passed away in 2016, but her legacy and heroism live on with her book and this documentary produced by her late husband, Patton Oswalt.

6. “Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty” (2022)

Low Country The Murdaugh Dynasty
Image Credit: HBO Max.

Alex Murdaugh was convicted and sentenced to prison in 2023 for the murder of his wife and son. If you lived in the South before then, you might have been familiar with the family before the murders. This docu-series explores the shady actions of Mr. Murdaugh before his murder sentence. A look at a man who would eventually decide to murder is a window into the evil that was hidden inside a family man.

7. “Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God” (2023)

Image Credit: HBO.

Amy Carlson, also known as “Mother God,” had enough charisma to build a group of followers she called the “Earth Allies.” Focusing on people with personal traumas, she convinced her disciples she would be leaving the Earth via UFO to ensure Earth’s salvation.

8. “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter”(2019)

Image Credit: HBO Documentary.

This documentary follows the bizarre, unprecedented case of Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy. When 18-year-old Roy killed himself in his truck one early morning, his family and friends were devastated. What unraveled in the following investigations were the text messages between Carter, his girlfriend, and Roy. Carter is accused of sending text messages encouraging him to kill himself. The film focuses on her guilt, mental health, and how we communicate via the internet.

9. “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” (2015)

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)
Image Credit: HBO Documentary Films.

Director Andrew Jarecki gathered 10 years of evidence and 25 hours of interviews with Robert Durst, a man with a mysterious past. Jarecki brings up the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife Kathleen McCormick, the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, and the shooting of his neighbor Morris Black in 2001. All these deaths surround Durst, but none lead back to him. Find out what Jarecki uncovers in this series now streaming on HBO.

10. “Last Call” (2023)

Last Call
Image Credit: HBO Documentary Films.

Anthony Caronna explores the anti-LGBTQ sentiments and violence in New York City in the early 90s. The “Last Call Killer”‘ was able to avoid capture for years as he preyed on young gay men. The many layers of this series touch on the AIDS epidemic, homophobia, murders, and the eventual capture of Richard Rogers. Rogers was convicted of two murders, but is suspected in two more.

11. “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing” (2016)

Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing (2016)
Image Credit: HBO.

Three years after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, this film focuses on the surviving victims and how they’ve dealt with the trauma. It focuses on the humanity and perseverance of the residents and how the community helped the victims heal.

12. “American Nightmare” (2023)

American Nightmare
Image Credit: Netflix.

When California resident Denise Huskins was kidnapped in 2015, all eyes were on her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn. When she suddenly showed up at her dad’s house on the other side of the state, authorities claimed it was a hoax, and she had kidnapped herself. This three-part series follows the mental toll the case had on the couple and their path to clearing their names.

Source: EW

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