The Top 5 Netflix True Crime Documentaries I Watched And Why You Should Watch Them Too

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone is loving online classes, staying in your bedrooms or dorm rooms, not interacting with friends and having a global pandemic fatally ravage the country. No? Well, if you are like me, you have found some coping mechanisms and hobbies to pass the time before normalcy returns. For me, that means binge-watching almost all of the true-crime documentaries that Netflix has to offer. I have broken down five of what I think are the best and most compelling for all my future Olivia Benson or Criminal Minds stans.

 

  1. When I tell you I obsessed over this case for two weeks straight, I obsessed. This case involves a bank heist, a neck lock bomb, a random unconnected murder and money to hire a hitman. In Erie, Pennsylvania, a pizza delivery man, Brian Douglas Wells, went to hold up a bank with very detailed plans of what to do and say, and where Brian is supposed to bring the money. Upon the police’s arrival, they noticed a bomb on this man’s neck – which proceeded to blow up. Two years go by, and a body is found in a house less than a mile from where Brian was supposed to bring the money. There are many twists and turns that I obviously won’t give up, but I will say those twists and turns are, without a doubt, the craziest I have ever heard. This documentary has been put on the top of my list simply because even though the documentary proved who the perpetrators were, the question about whether or not the pizza man was involved in the case voluntarily or not is still up for debate. I am hoping someone will watch this and then discuss it with me.

  2. The confession killer, a crime that shook America to its core for 20 years, makes for a particularly interesting true-crime documentary. The confession killer, aka Henry Lee Lucas, has admitted to over 360 murders that spanned from 1960 until 1983, when he was suspected of killing his 15-year-old girlfriend and an elderly woman. However, many journalists and detectives began to figure out that it was virtually impossible for Henry Lucas to commit many, if not all, of the crimes he had admitted to. The documentary then looks at the criminal justice system and how politics, a need to solve many murders, and a mentally disturbed man led to such a disaster. Personally, I loved this documentary because it talks about the murders and provides answers to some of the tragedies that Lucas previously admitted to. 

  3. Okay, this was probably the most depressing true crime documentary I have ever watched. Gabriel Fernandez was an eight-year-old boy who was abused at the hands of his mother and stepfather and eventually led to his death. The documentary follows the multiple outlets that are at fault for Gabriel’s death, including the four social workers who failed to check up on Gabriel after many reports of his abuse. It takes a look at the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services and how this system failed to look after Gabriel and other children, whom they have neglected to take proper precautions for. If you are interested in family law and children’s rights, I would 100% recommend it – but be prepared to cry afterward. 

  4. Another case involving children — but slightly less depressing — is the case of the Watt Family. In 2018, Chris Watt murdered his wife, Shannan, their two children, and an unborn child after asking his wife for a separation. He then maintained his innocence and even helped the police look for Shannan before eventually confessing. The documentary uses Shannan’s social media and text messages to look into the family and its problems that led up to the murder. I particularly enjoyed this case because of how “normal” the family seemed before the murders. Using Shannan’s Facebook, texts and home videos really allows viewers to see the “family next door,” and the hidden horrors that were occurring inside the home. It did, however, make me question all of my neighbors for a few days.

  5. A non-murder case? Wow, I know. Athlete A focuses on the scandal of Gymnastic Olympic doctor Larry Nassar and the multiple levels of coverups in order to protect the image of USA Gymnastics. Dr. Larry Nassar had been abusing young women for years, and it was only when Maggie Nichols, a gymnast on the All-Stars team on track to attend the 2016 Olympics, reported the doctor that this scandal came to national attention. However, the higher-ups at USA Gymnastics, the Károlyi Family and others involved, tried to cover up the scandal and years of abuse towards the gymnasts. As a non-athlete myself, I was both fascinated and enraged for the young women who had to deal with both physical and mental abuse in the hopes of making it as an Olympic gymnast.

  6. 6. Honorable Mentions: "Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich"

    Most people by now know who Jeffrey Epstein is and how his horrendous child trafficking scandal unraveled. The documentary features many of the girls who were “involved” with Epstein and exposes his disgusting lifestyle. I give this documentary an honorable mention because it allows the victims a platform to speak out — especially because so many of them were robbed of the chance to do that in court. This documentary also looks into Epstein's life, his friends and associates — Ghislaine Maxwell especially — and how he was able to keep his crimes under the radar for so long. It made me absolutely furious that he was able to get away with it for so long and no true justice was ever really served. I don’t think he killed himself though, and I also will argue that.