‘I make no secret of my love of true crime. I read books, listen to podcasts, read news stories and, love being tucked up in bed, scaring the pants off myself by watching Netflix…’
Since the dawn of Making a Murderer (and indeed even before), Netflix has been at the forefront of churning out incredible stories – many little known – and asking questions about some pretty offbeat crimes. All of them deserve more attention and are all shocking in their own ways. These are the most jaw dropping documentaries and series I’ve been watching lately:
Chronicling the early life and influences on the mind of Timothy McVeigh, this documentary takes you to places you didn’t necessarily think it would. As opposed to concentrating on the crimes of McVeigh, it spends a great deal of time going through the impact that the Waco disaster had upon him and how his already impressionable mind was further warped by these events in Texas.
There’s nothing overly surprising in the timeline of McVeigh’s life or crimes; he was anti establishment and heavily influenced by propaganda from the far right, but the fact that he committed the worst act of domestic terrorism the US has ever experienced, in April 1995, is still wholly shocking, even by today’s standards.
Interestingly, the use of fertilizer in the bomb he concocted that blew apart the FBI building in Oklahoma City, led to far more stringent restrictions on being able to obtain the substance.
Conversely, there’s very rarely any tighter regulations after each instance of mass shooting they experience. The right to bear fertiliser isn’t in the constitution, right enough.
Following the case of the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik back in 1969, this 7 part documentary takes you through the mysterious happenings at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore. Sister Cathy was a very popular student and, later in life, an equally popular school teacher.
When she disappeared in 1969, her body was not found for almost 2 months. For many years, rumours of sexual abuse swirled around the school and, in particular, its Chaplain, Father Joseph Maskell. From testimony from other student, who detail their own allegations of the abuse they suffered whilst at the school, to the sensational story about one woman being shown the corpse of Cesnik.
The docu-series is a quite shocking look at a 26 year old life, which was deliberately snuffed out, and a crime which remains unsolved to this day.
The Confession Tapes
Each of the six episodes in this series focusses on a different crime. Each individual case tries to show both sides of the story; from the point of view of the authorities, as well as the position of the accused or suspected.
It kicks off with the brutal slaying of three members of the same family and the suspicion that surrounded the son and his friend, both of whom lived in the property where the murders occurred but were absent when the attack took place. Despite some fairly sneaky police work and tenuous confessions, you’re genuinely left wondering who is responsible and whether the authorities were even in the right ball park when looking for suspects.
The series will either leave you shaking your head or genuinely scared about ever being interviewed by police – even when you’re entirely innocent.
Granted, this is a very famous and well covered case, but the new dramatisation of the hunt for the Unabomber is one of the best things I’ve seen for a long time.
Starring Sam Worthington as FBI profiler, Jim Fitzgerald; Chris ‘Mr Big’ Noth as his SSA, and the brilliant Paul Bettany as the wonderfully odd and very dangerous, Ted Kaczynski, the show concentrates mainly on the use of forensic linguistics and their role in how the Unabomber was eventually brought to justice.
I found it fascinating – not least due to the length of time it took for Kaczynski to be apprehended and who it was that finally led to his downfall. There are 8 episodes in total and the tension builds throughout as you follow the FBI investigation and watch them closing the net around their man.
This documentary tells the story of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in Queens, New York city in 1964. Recounted through the words of her brother, Bill, the tale uncovers the shocking fact of an attack that took place in a heavily populated area and was allegedly witness by numerous people; none of whom did anything to stop it.
This will make you put yourself in a similar position and think about how you would react to witnessing a serious crime. It will also make you seriously consider whether to believe what you read in the press and just how many people take newspaper reports as fact. How many people actually did witness the murder of Kitty Genovese? No one really knows.
However, the whole concept of the apathy of society as a whole has long overshadowed a brutal murder and the needless loss of a young woman’s life.
What have you been watching on Netflix recently?