Netflix: The best true crime movies and series available to stream


I am an admitted True Crime junkie, and have been since I first picked up a True Detective magazine in my grandparents’ living room at about age ten. I’ve read the books, followed the news stories, and listened to the podcasts.

Netflix has quite a collection of true crime-related documentaries, movies, and series, and in this article, I’ll recommend my favorites. Keep in mind, this is only my opinion, and you may or may not agree with my choices.

Netflix Top True Crime Picks from 1428 Elm

Let’s start with Mindhunter, a Netflix original series based on the book by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, former FBI agents who were among the first criminal profilers in the U.S. The characters of Holden and Trench are based on Douglas and Robert Ressler, (who is credited with coining the term “serial killer”), and the story is based on their real experiences and groundbreaking discoveries.

Mindhunter’s first season sees Holden and Tench teaching local law enforcement officers FBI techniques for catching criminals. Bored, they begin interviewing criminals such as the infamous Coed Killer Edmund Kemper and Richard Speck, who murdered eight nursing students one horrible night in Chicago.

Shout out to actor Cameron Britton for his dead-on portrayal of Kemper, he gives a chilling performance, and his final scene with Holden is hair-raising. This is dark stuff, not for the faint of heart.

Mindhunter—Courtesy of Netflix

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist is a documentary so crazy, it sounds like fiction. In 2003, Brian Wells walked into a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania with a bomb locked around his neck. Brandishing a gun, he handed over a note demanding $250,000.  After the teller gave him money, he was apprehended by law enforcement, but before the bomb could be safely removed, it detonated, killing Wells.

Upon closer investigation, it seemed that Wells was a participant in a crazy plot. Two dead bodies later, the highly intelligent (and bipolar) Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong emerged as the ring leader in a bank heist gone wrong. There are so many twists and turns in this story, I felt like I had whiplash after watching it! At only four episodes, it’s easy to binge, so if you haven’t watched it yet, look it up. Be warned: recorded footage of Wells’ death is shown towards the beginning, and it is rather shocking.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist—Courtesy of Netflix

Cold Justice is an unscripted true crime series currently broadcasting on Oxygen. Former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler and a rotating team of investigators re-open cold cases all over the U.S. with the help of local law enforcement. Siegler begins her case by laying out photos and facts on each suspect. Her team then visits the crime scene and conducts interviews.

What I love about this series is its heart. Siegler’s compassion for the families is always evident; she sometimes cries at their obvious anguish.  Thus far, Siegler and her team have generated 35 arrests, 18 convictions, four confessions, three guilty pleas and three murder convictions.

Cold Justice—Courtesy of Oxygen and Netflix

Dirty John started out as a six-episode podcast, and was downloaded over 10 million times in its first 6 weeks. In November, the eight-episode series debuted on Bravo, and it will become available to stream on Netflix on February 14. I binged this series in three evenings, and have been obsessed ever since.

Dirty John tells the true story of Debra Newell (Connie Britton), who married John Meehan (Eric Bana) after a whirlwind 8-week courtship. Debra was a successful interior designer, who had been married four times previously when she met John.

He claimed to be an anesthesiologist, and why wouldn’t she believe him? He usually wore scrubs, even when meeting her at a ritzy party!

Debra’s adult daughters distrusted John immediately, and he quickly drove a wedge between them. Soon enough, Debra was presented with evidence that John was not who he seemed, that he had a dark past, and that he was a very dangerous man.

The cast is fantastic, particularly Britton, Juno Temple (as daughter Veronica), Ozark‘s Julia Garner (as daughter Terra) and Bana. I highly recommend this series, which has a very satisfying ending.

Dirty John—Courtesy Bravo

Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a 4-part docuseries, debuted last month on Netflix. In 1980, Bundy gave over 100 hours of exclusive recorded interviews with journalists Stephan G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth. They were only able to get Bundy to open up and talk in any detail by having him speak about the murders in the third person.

Much like OJ Simpson in his book If I Did It, he pontificates as to what he “believes” was going on in the mind of the killer (at the time, he was still professing his innocence). The results are fascinating.

Bundy presents himself as a normal kid and teenager, good at sports, lots of friends, etc. But interviews with people who grew up with him tell the story of a young man who “just didn’t fit in”, who “didn’t seem to be all there – to be present.”

There are also interviews with Carol DaRonch, who as a teenager managed to escape Bundy in 1974, and with his longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, who ultimately turned him in. This is an interesting docuseries, recommended for anyone interested in true crime.

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So, there you have it: my recommendations for the best true crime on Netflix. I would also recommend Making a Murderer if you haven’t watched it yet.

Which true crime movies, series or documentaries should I check out? Let me know in the comments.