And in case there are those who want to delve into a case further and unleash their inner sleuth, there are also several true-crime documentary films that are just as intriguing as the story of Elisa Lam and her mysterious death at the Cecil Hotel. Warning: the following entries contain mature and dark content.
10 I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter
The case involving Carter stirred a lot of public conversation, much like Lam’s death had. On July 2017, Carter was charged with involuntary manslaughter following a death by suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy. During the course of their investigation, police uncovered several text exchanges between Roy and Carter where Carter was encouraging him to take his own life. The documentary features footage from Carter’s trial, as well as interviews with Roy’s family, an expert witness for the defense, and Carter’s defense attorney.
9 Casting JonBenét
This Netflix documentary puts the spotlight back on the case of JonBenét Ramsey, the American child beauty queen who was found dead in the basement of her parent’s Colorado home on the morning of December 26, 1996. The film opens with several little girls attending an audition to portray the slain little girl. At one point, one of them asks, “Do you know who killed JonBenét Ramsey?” The case was initially thought to be a ransom kidnapping until JonBenét’s father located her body.
8 Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland
This HBO documentary examines the circumstances that led to Sandra Bland’s death in 2015. The political activist died while in police custody after she was arrested for a traffic violation in a small town in Texas. Three days after her arrest, Bland was found dead inside her jail cell and her cause of death was determined to be death by suicide.
Following her death, however, police were accused of racially-motivated murder. The film follows the legal team representing Bland’s family as they wage a battle against Texas authorities for two years.
7 Abducted In Plain Sight
This Netflix true-crime documentary centers on the case of Jan Broberg who was abducted by the neighbor and close family friend, Robert Berchtold, in 1974. At the time of her abduction, Broberg had only been 12 years old. To make things even more bizarre, Broberg gets abducted twice. Fortunately, Broberg manages to live through the whole ordeal. And in this film, Broberg and her family discuss critical instances that occurred prior to the abduction. Meanwhile, Broberg herself recalled her abduction.
6 Strong Island
Strong Island is a documentary that chronicles filmmaker Yance Ford’s investigation into the death of his brother, William Ford Jr., in 1992. It also takes a hard look at the history of racial injustice in America. At one point in the movie, Ford re-enacts his brother falling to the ground after being shot, shooting the scene at the exact same spot his brother was shot. Ford worked on the film for six and a half years.
5 Have You Seen Andy
The 2003 documentary delves into the case of Andy Puglisi who seemingly vanished without a trace in August 1976 while at a public swimming pool. At the time of his disappearance, Andy was only 10 years old. Since he had gone missing, Andy’s best friend, Melanie Perkins, has been determined to get answers. As she grew up, Perkins launched an investigation of her own. She has since found that the area where they hung out was surrounded by sexual predators. In fact, there were five known child molesters at Higgins Memorial Pool on the day that Andy went missing.
4 Mommy Dead and Dearest
Today, Mommy Dead and Dearest is among the most compelling documentary films you can watch on HBO Max. This 2017 movie talks about the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard at the hands of her daughter, Gypsy Rose, and her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn. In particular, the documentary explores the circumstances that led to Dee Dee’s death.
After Dee Dee was found stabbed to death in her bedroom, authorities initially assumed that Gypsy Rose had been kidnapped. Godejohn later claimed that he killed Dee Dee after Gypsy Rose confided in him that her mother had been physically and psychologically abusing her.
3 Beware The Slenderman
The Slenderman has always been one of those horror movie creatures that come with an ambiguous back story. In this documentary film though, two 12-year-old girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, were still convinced that the Slenderman was very real. And while under his influence, they decide to lure a friend, Payton “Bella” Leutner, into the woods and attempt to murder her in cold blood.
2 American Murder: The Family Next Door
Admittedly, there are a lot of shocking true crimes that Netflix hasn’t done a documentary film on yet. That said, the streaming service does a good job of chronicling the case surrounding the disappearance and murder of pregnant mother Shanann Watts and her two daughters, Bella and Celeste. During the investigation into the case, police discover that Shanann’s husband, Chris, had been having an affair. He also later confessed to killing his wife and daughters. Chris has since received five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
1 Amanda Knox
This documentary is certainly one of the most heart-breaking documentary films that Netflix has released in recent years. The film chronicles the trial that led to the imprisonment of American Amanda Knox following the discovery of her roommate’s, Meredith Kercher, dead body. Following Kercher’s death, police came to suspect Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Knox was acquitted of the charges in 2015 after spending time in an Italian prison for almost four years. She has since returned to the U.S. and has broken up with Sollecito.
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