Netflix is a life saver for students, especially when you’re tired of essay writing, and if there’s one thing they do best it’s true crime. With plenty of shows exploring serial killers, kidnappings, hostage situations and corruption of the legal system, there is a bunch of choice to fill all those hours when you should be studying.
In 1996, police in Boulder, Colorado received a desperate phone call. The woman on the end of the line frantically explained that her six year old daughter, pageant star JonBenet Ramsey, had been kidnapped during the night. The Ramsey family discovered a ransom note which claimed that JonBennet had been kidnapped and demanded a payment of $118,000. However, when police arrived, they discovered a bizarre crime scene. JonBenet was found dead in the family’s basement, tied up and covered in a blanket. A window in a corner was open but there were no footsteps leading to it despite heavy snow outside. To this day, the case is unsolved.
Casting Jonbenet is a Netlix true crime film which interviews actors for the roles of main suspects in the case, including JonBenet’s parents. All the actors are local to Boulder Colorado, having seen the events of the case unfold among the community. Each actor’s audition forces them to question the motivations of each suspect as well as their own theory as to what happened. Unique in it’s methods for exploring true crime, it’s a must watch.
Making A Murderer
In 1985, Steven Avery of Manitowac County, Wisconsin, was wrongfully convicted for the sexual assault and murder of a young woman, serving eighteen years of the sentence before DNA evidence proved his innocence. As he was working to sue the county for $36 million for wrongful imprisonment, local photographer Theresa Halbach disappeared following an appointment at Steve Avery’s garage. Soon he was back in prison, where he remains to this day. However, following his initial wrongful arrest and the considerable amount of money he was demanding, suspicions have arisen as to whether he was innocent once again, and whether the local sheriff’s department may have had a hand in ensuring he was out of the way instead of paying up.
The first series of Making A Murderer explores the case as it was in 2005, how the county police built their case against Steven Avery and the many holes in their story that seem to prove his innocence. Series two, continues to investigate the case as it continues to this day, with Avery’s lawyer, Kethleen Zellner, fighting for his freedom. The docuseries is one of Netflix’s biggest hits and for good reason. You can’t help but feel passionately involved with the events of Avery’s life and frightened by the possibility of the criminal justice system putting innocent men behind bars.
Inside The Criminal Mind
For hundreds of years, people have debated about whether criminal behaviour is a result of nature or nurture. Even to this day no one can be sure. Why does one trauma victim grow up to live a normal life and why does another kill? For a lot of people the psychological aspect of criminal behaviour is what draws them to true crime and it is a fascinating field that continues to shed light on the workings of the human mind.
Inside The Criminal Mind explores these questions, studying what caused some of history’s biggest criminals to act in the way that they did. The episodes aren’t all limited to murder, with the four part series investigating the inner workings of serial killers, kidnappers, death cult leaders and crime lords, each in their respective episodes.
Abducted In Plain Sight
As a child, Jan Broberg was kidnapped twice. Once at the age of twelve and then again two years later. The Broberg family had lived happily before Robert ‘B’ Berchtold arrived in their lives. Grooming her parents in order to get closer to Jan, he became a close family friend. When he was able to make his move, Berchtold abducted Jan, holding her in a caravan, where he brainwashed her into believing that she was the last hope of an alien species who demanded that she have a child before her sixteenth birthday. If she didn’t comply, her family would be vaporised.
Abducted In Plain Sight made waves among Netflix viewers when it first came out. At times it is harrowing, telling the story of child sexual abuse and grooming in a frank and honest way. It also challenges you to reconcile how two parents could allow such a man into their daughter’s life without suspicion and whether they are partly to blame.
I Am A Killer
People kill for all kinds of reasons. Desperation, convenience or a sociopathic drive towards crime, the reasons are long and complicated and inexplicable to most people. Hearing from the killers themselves can be a fascinating insight into a world which is otherwise impossible to comprehend.
In Netflix’s I Am A Killer, each episode focuses on a new case, hearing from the killer themselves about the reasons behind their crimes and what led them to murder. Episode one tells the story of a man who killed his cell mate to escape mainstream prisons for the comparative luxury of death row. His account is chilling and makes for the perfect show for true crime lovers.
Between 1978 and 1995, bombs arrived in the mail across the United States from universities, to air line officials and even in planes themselves. Each becoming more sophisticated, the explosive packages all contained the initials FC, and would blow up upon being opened. Over the years and despite FBI involvement, two people were killed and many more suffered disfiguring injuries. Then, in 1995, media outlets received a 35,000 word manifesto titled Industrial Society And It’s Future. An accompanying letter stated that, if they printed the manifesto, the terrorism would stop.
Manhunt:Unabomber is a fictionalise retelling of the Unabomber case, following forensic linguist Jim Fitzgerald, as he uses pioneering techniques to identify a suspect. Not only does it provide a retelling of the bombings, but it also delves into the Unabomber’s motivations, leading to the troubling question, was his manifesto right after all?
The Investigator: A British Crime Story
In 1988, Louise Kay was enjoying a night out in Sussex. She dropped off her friend, the last person to see her, and drove off in her father’s Ford Fiesta towards Beachy Head near Eastbourne. Since then, no one has seen the then eighteen year old girl, or the very distinct gold Ford Fiesta with a single white door.
The Investigator: A British Crime Story follows former-police detective Mark Williams-Thomas as he endeavours to solve the decades old case and bring closure to the family who have missed their little girl since the eighties. His investigation leads him to Peter Tobin and Angus Sinclair, two notorious, British serial killers. Over the course of three episodes he uncovers some compelling evidence relating to various murder cases and disappearances.
Criminal profiling is one of the strategies used by law enforcement to identify likely suspects of serious crimes. By identifying evidence at crime scenes, investigators use the system to make predictions about the perpetrator’s mental and emotional state as well as personality traits.
Mindhunter is a fictionalised Netflix series following the early days of criminal profiling, with Holden Ford and Bill Tench interviewing serial killers in order to create a methodology that they can apply to future and existing cases.