12 of Netflix’s Most Mysterious True Crime Shows
No mystery here – Netflix has exactly what you’re looking for. When you want a true crime show you can get into immediately, you can binge, you can talk about with friends, stream some Netflix. The mysteries at the heart of these most mysterious addictive tales are dark, twisty and painful. Just the way you like it.
Making a Murderer (2015)
Photo Credit: Steven Avery, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: The murder of Teresa Halbach.
Reason to Stream: The Emmy-winning two-season series gave Netflix its true crime street cred. It follows Steven Avery, who once spent 18 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. His recent freedom is threatened for a murder that may take down his teenaged nephew, Brendan Dassey, as well.
Burning Questions: Are Avery and Dassey guilty or innocent? Did the police coerce a confession?
The Keepers (2017)
Central Mystery: Who murdered Sister Cathy Cesnik?
Reason to Stream: It’s arguably the most haunting doc on this list. In 1969 a beloved nun in Baltimore was murdered. Years later, former students channel their inner detectives and attempt to find Sister Cathy’s killer. Plus, horrific secrets dealing with sexual abuse in the Catholic school system are revealed.
Burning Questions: Will we find out who killed Sister Cathy? Will the sexual abuse victims receive justice?
The Staircase (2018)
Photo Credit: Michael Peterson, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: Did Michael Peterson kill his wife?
Reason to Stream: What’s cool is this one originally debuted in 2004, was updated in 2013 and then again in 2018. It ironically features crime novelist Michael Peterson, who stands accused of murdering his wife. Was it an accident or did Peterson deliberately cause her death?
Burning Questions: When Peterson seems innocent another one of his secrets is revealed — why is that? Is the Owl Theory actually correct?
The Owl Theory (Digital Netflix Exclusive):
The Devil Next Door (2019)
Central Mystery: The true identity of Nazi death camp guard Ivan the Terrible.
Reason to Stream: The stakes are high as retired Ukrainian-American auto worker John Demjanjuk is outed as one of the most brutal figures in the history of the Holocaust. He’s forced to stand trial in Israel for his crimes against humanity. We’re left wondering if he’s truly the notorious criminal.
Burning Questions: Is Demjanjuk Ivan the Terrible? Or was he a guard at another concentration camp?
The Innocent Man (2018)
Central Mystery: The deaths of Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway.
Reason To Stream: This series is based on the only nonfiction book bestselling author John Grisham ever wrote. In fact, Grisham helps tell the story of how two women were murdered in Ada, Oklahoma in the ‘80s. Four men were tried and convicted but small town corruption may have led to unnecessary prison sentences.
Burning Questions: How far did the corruption go? Will the convicted be exonerated?
Photo Credit: Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: Who orchestrated the most bizarre bank heist in the history of Erie, PA?
Reason to Stream: This four-parter comes from acting/filmmaking brothers Mark and Jay Duplass. The stranger elements include a pizza delivery man with a bomb collared around his neck. He robs a bank and blows up. A woman— Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong — is one of the 2003 crime’s conspirators. She’s possibly the mastermind.
Burning Questions: Was the delivery man the victim or an accomplice and are the pizza bomb players cursed?
Wild Wild Country (2018)
Photo Credit: Bhagwan Rajneesh, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: How far is a community willing to go in the name of a religious cult leader?
Reason to Stream: A wild piece of American history involving Bhagwan, a charismatic guru from India. He and his followers practically take over a small town in Oregon to set up a utopian city. It’s hard to believe this actually happened, but the ride involves attempted murder, a bio-terror attack, a low speed airplane chase across country and prison time.
Burning Questions: Will the more dangerous schemes prove successful? Will Bhagwan elude law enforcement and escape the U.S.?
Photo Credit: Joe Exotic, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: Is there anyone in the world more eccentric than Joe Exotic?
Reason to Stream: In this crazy dysfunctional eight-part series, Joe Exotic is a gay, polygamist, private zoo owner who sports a mullet; has a passion for tigers; and runs for president. And oh yeah, he hires someone to kill his nemesis. He’s an individual that needs to be seen to be believed.
Burning Questions: What’s the deal with Joe Exotic’s rival, animal activist and big cat sanctuary owner Carole Baskin? Did she get rid of one of her husbands?
Central Mystery: Can a social media group catch a killer?
Reason to Stream: It accomplishes a lot in three episodes. Internet nerds investigate a man posting disturbing kitten videos and, subsequently, a human snuff video. The action eventually extends to Canada, Paris and Germany while managing to drop a pre-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau news footage cameo on us. Impressive.
Burning Questions: How much did the private Facebook group affect the search for a killer?
Central Mystery: Three-year-old Madeleine McCann goes missing at a Portugal resort.
Reason to Stream: A parents’ worst nightmare. While on vacation, the McCanns’ daughter goes missing from her bed. What’s both insightful and heartbreaking is how viewers hear about what happened from Madeleine’s parents along with many other first-hand accounts.
Burning Questions: Why would the Portugese police rush to suspect the parents? How did Madeleine disappear and who’s responsible?
Amanda Knox (2016)
Photo Credit: Amanda Knox, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: The death of Meredith Kercher.
Reason to Stream: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are able to tell their story in their own words. It’s not just them. The lead Italian investigator gives us his side of things. Even a Daily Mail journalist dishes the media’s POV. The various perspectives made the 90-minute doc feel more substantive.
Burning Questions: Why were the Italians dead set on Knox and Sollecito being guilty without the forensic evidence to back it up?
Photo Credit: Aaron Hernandez, Courtesy of Netflix
Central Mystery: How did NFL star Aaron Hernandez go from young football athlete to convicted murderer?
Reason to Stream: What helps paint the picture of Hernandez’s life and death are seeing the accounts from the former New England Patriot’s childhood friends and hearing phone calls he made from prison. Unlike other true crime documentaries, “Killer Inside” spends time following the investigation of the crimes while dissecting the psychology of a troubled, once promising star.
Burning Questions: Did CTE have an effect on the troubled athlete’s behavior? Did Hernandez kill those two men in Boston?
Whether classic murder mysteries are your thing, or shocking cult stories are right up your alley, there is a wealth of content available for your binging pleasure on Netflix. And don’t forget that Netflix has that “More like this” feature to click on once you’ve burned through all of these.