So You Want to Get into True Crime

So you want to get into true crime, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the number of documentaries and mini-series that are available. Maybe you’re still a little grossed out by the details of a murder scene but still find yourself intrigued by the crime. I have been obsessed with true crime since the seventh grade (seven years ago, yikes), and here are what I believe to be the best ways to ease yourself into true crime.

  1. 1. Television Shows

    netflix in dark

    My gateway into true crime was the television show Criminal Minds, which also inspired me to pursue my major in criminal psychology.

    The show is about an FBI unit called the Behavioral Analysis Unit, or BAU, which solves crimes ranging from serial murder to arson to terrorism across the United States. The series consists of a group of diverse and relatable characters who make the show fun to watch even if you just need background noise. The series starts mild and grows increasingly gruesome with each season, which, if you’re squeamish, helps ease you into the stories.

    Other recommendations are Mindhunters, which is about the real-life FBI agents who were the first to study the minds of serial killers, and Bones, which is about an anthropologist and her team who study bones and other matters pertaining to human remains to solve their murders.

  2. 2. YouTube

    smartphone with youtube logo

    Youtube is also a really good place to find shows and documentaries if you don’t have access to Netflix or Hulu. However, with Youtube, you have to be really careful what you watch because sometimes there won’t be trigger warnings, or you’ll find a video of a crime that throws you off and stays in your mind for days. My first lookup was “Toybox Killer,” which I do NOT recommend for crime rookies because it’s a horrendous crime and should always come with heavy warnings.

    My personal favorite channels are BuzzFeed Unsolved and Bailey Sarian. Buzzfeed Unsolved goes over unsolved cases from around the world. The two hosts discuss the entire crime in a lighthearted manner, so you’re guaranteed to get the facts of the case, however, they are great at giving out trigger warnings when necessary.

    Bailey Sarian is a makeup artist who does her makeup while telling her audience about a true crime case in her “Murder, Mystery, and Makeup Mondays." Her crime stories range from well-known cases to some that you’ve never heard before. All of her videos include trigger warnings and descriptions of what products she uses.

  3. 3. Books

    picking a book

    Finding time to read is hard, especially when you’re in college. However, there are some great books out there that are broken down, so you don’t have to read an entire novel to get the full story.

    If you’re looking for just a book on general murderers, I would recommend The Killer Book of Serial Killers by Michael Philbin and Tom Philbin. The book dedicates one chapter per serial killer and also has sections for American murderers and international ones. In addition, it also has facts about criminology, which will excite the nerd inside of you.

    Other great recommendations include The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, Helter Skelter by Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi, and The Last Book on the Left by Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks.

  4. 4. Podcasts

    grayscale photo of a podcast setup

    Personally, I’ve only recently discovered true crime podcasts, however, they were the one thing that got me through quarantine. Podcasts are great if you’re busy with chores or wanting something to play in the background of your room.

    Since I’m relatively new to the world of podcasts, the only one I can recommend is The Last Podcast on the Left. The podcast is run by three best friends who go into detail about criminal cases that can last about three episodes. It’s also a great thing to listen to if you have particular dark humor. I will warn you and say that the hosts often use crude humor that others might find offensive and when I say they go into detail, I mean it. However, with almost 500 episodes ranging from true crime to urban legends to just three guys joking around, you’re never going to run out of things to listen to.

    Other podcasts that were recommended to me are My Favorite Murder, Crime Junkie, and And That’s Why We Drink.

True crime has become a trendy hobby to get into, and there’s an overwhelming amount of media to pick and choose from. Obviously, you don’t have to watch every documentary or read every biography to be a crime junkie, but whether you’re interested in the minds of killers or you just want to give yourself a good scare, these are some recommendations of where to start.

Find a source that you’ll enjoy and always be careful because sometimes cases can be too much. Don’t try to overdo your limits, and make sure you're comfortable with what you’re consuming. Happy investigating!