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Now with more bingeable true crime content than any other online streaming service, unearthing the best Netflix has to offer can be a time consuming task. When it comes to documentaries of the true crime variety, deciphering the good from the bad can be hard, until it’s too late and you find yourself 35 minutes into a film you have zero interest in finishing. To save time in the search for your next true crime fix, TotalCrime has picked the best of the bunch, narrowing down the creepiest real world stories available to stream on Netflix.
by April Summers 5 February 2020
Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting for an Internet Killer
This well-paced three part programme presents, almost in real time, the making of a sociopath – in this case gay model and porn star Luka Magnotta (pictured below). Packed full of thrilling interviews, tense police footage and helpful re-enactments, Don’t F**k with Cats depicts the evolution of narcissist to fully fledged killer, and the dangers of online infamy. This well researched documentary’s running time is a little over three hours and details the criminal investigation from its troubling beginning right through to it’s very gruesome end. Despite the escalating nature of this true crime tale, the intriguing but elusive title gives very little away. Instead, the subject of internet witch hunts takes centre stage, prompting viewers to deliberate one very pressing, very pertinent underlying question: How can we truly know who we are dealing with online?
Abducted in Plain Sight
An unforgettable true crime story which serves as a cautionary tale for neighbourly oversight while simultaneously presenting the shocking contrast of what one family deemed socially acceptable. Over the course of 90 minutes, film maker Skye Borgman tells the twisted tale of the Broberg family and their affable and endearing neighbour, Robert Berchtold. Masterfully dissecting the ulterior motives and questionable charms of a seemingly innocent family friend, this toe curling film follows the unravelling of one little girl’s innocence at the hands of someone nobody close to her ever suspected. Full of jaw dropping, and at times frankly unbelievable statements, the details of Abducted in Plain Sightare so warped and far fetched they are likely to stay with you for a long time after the credits role.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
One could be forgiven for assuming this documentary’s core demographic would be those with an interest in the NFL career of Aaron Hernandez (pictured) or American football in general. However, the real appeal of this fascinating documentary is the psychological and medical evidence attributing to the many layers of a once prolific NFL player turned cold blooded killer. Similar to the controversy surrounding OJ Simpson, this documentary poses the question, how is such a high profile athlete able to escape the attention of law enforcement? A thrilling watch, complete with several shady characters and questionable testimonies, Killer Inside keeps you guessing and presents an interesting array of possible theories behind Hernandez’s alleged crimes.
Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist
Evil Genius is a story told in four parts, every episode revealing further baffling details of the fateful day in 2003, now infamously known as The Pizza Bomber Mystery. In the sleepy, unassuming small town of Erie, Pennsylvania, a pizza delivery man, Brian Wells, is accused of plotting a bank heist lavish enough to attract the attention of the FBI. As far as true crime documentaries go, Evil Genius concerns almost every crime imaginable; abduction, kidnapping, murder, and robbery. Produced by Hollywood golden boys Jay and Mark Duplass, this film expertly shines a light on Wells (pictured) and the years and months leading up to his unusual behaviour and consequential bank heist, as well as delving into the background of the other key players involved. The Duplass brothers present the cold hard facts as they attempt to make sense of the pizza bomber’s motivations; Was Wells a victim of a bizarre scavenger hunt gone wrong or was he the willing participant of a premeditated crime?
The Confession Tapes
Following the influx of public interest and mass outrage caused by chilling confession tapes imperative in the sentencing of other high profile cases made famous by Netflix, such as Making a Murderer, The Confession Tapes series applies this popular form of exoneration story telling. Built around a narrative based on police recordings, phone calls and prison testimonies, The Confession Tapes presents a number of cases over the course of two seasons, where the accused claim to have been coerced into confessing to a crime they did not do. Eluding to the flaws of the US Criminal Justice System, each episode primarily focuses on the confessions of these alleged criminals, from terrorism to double murders to victims of arson, leaving viewers to make their own minds up about how feasible their claims of false confessions are.
THE BEST OF TRUE CRIME: TOTALCRIME’S TOP 10 PODCASTS
by April Summers 12 January 2020
True Crime ranks as one of the most highly consumed genres of podcasts. From the creators of This American Life, came the sensational viral story of Adnan Sayeed in Serial. Following this came the acclaimed S-Town series, as well as hungrily consumed favourites Dirty John and My Favourite Murder.
If the last five years is anything to go by, it seems the preferred form of storytelling now lies in podcasting. According to recent figures, there are currently over 800,000 podcast shows and, as of December 2019, more than 30 million episodes available for download in over 100 languages. True Crime podcasters are the new celebrities of journalism, with millions of followers eagerly awaiting their next move. Naturally, the Totalcrime team favours this genre above all others, and as keen podcast enthusiasts, this list ranges from internationally recognised stories to lesser known small town journalism. Here, in reverse order, are Totalcrime’s Top 10 True Crime Podcasts not to be missed.
As far as podcasts go, Gangster Capitalism is a straightforward and easily digestible introduction to the world of true crime podcasting. Season 1 focuses solely on one high profile case: the 2019 college admissions scandal. The story received global attention after actors William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were revealed to be key players in the scam and in this podcast series, documentarian Andrew Jenks delves deeper. In each episode of a relatively short season Jenks gets to work dissecting the inner workings of the scandal, addressing the bigger picture questions that have been brought to light, regards to the higher education system in the US and the role of celebrities in modern society.
Hosted by none other than Lisa Simpson(!) – or, Emmy Award® winning actress, producer, novelist and playwright, Yeardley Smith – Small Town Dicks follows the criminal activities taking place in little-known towns in the USA. Accompanied by veteran detectives Dave and Dan, who provide first-hand knowledge of big-time crime in small towns, Yeardley presents a different story in each episode. Over the course of an hour, Yeardley speaks with local small town police from all over America, delving into the wretched and occasionally abhorrent acts which have taken place in their precinct. Dave and Dan are on hand to provide their professional opinion and dissect the case. A fantastic podcast shining light on events less likely to traditionally receive media attention.
The Teacher’s Pet
This podcast program centres around the shocking unsolved disappearance of Lynette Dawson; a housewife who was reported missing from the affluent family home by her husband Chris, in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia. The details of this twisted domestic nightmare unfold at a steady pace, tracing back to that fateful day in January 1982. Ever so gradually the real motivation of one man’s desperate greed and perversion is unveiled to listeners. Presented by investigative journalist Hedley Thomas, who first became involved in the story in 2001, this true crime podcast is expertly paced; each episode teases listeners with another tantalising detail of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Lynette’s disappearance.
This is a real meat and potatoes serial killer podcast to get your teeth stuck into. Almost 40 years after the heinous “Atlanta Murders”, this 6 part series sees journalist Payne Lindsay questioning whether the right person was convicted. Over the course of 10 episodes, Atlanta Monster digs into the details of the murders of 29 African American children and young adults between 1979 and 1981, accurately encapsulating the era with impeccable sound design and access to high profile individuals involved with the case. Lovingly layered to keep listeners guessing and in total suspense, every episode ends by leaving you wanting to know more.
The New Zealand Herald’s true crime podcast sees journalists reinvestigating the well known local cold case of missing Amber-Lee Cruickshank, 25 years on. Last seen on October 17th 1992, Amber-Lee’s disappearance shook the local community of Kingston, Lake Wakatipu. The Herald gained amazing access, extensively interviewing her mother, Nicola Cruickshank, and documenting Nicola’s tireless quest to find her daughter. This in-depth investigative series deliberates the suspects and theories still surrounding the case, as well as probing the local criminal underbelly.
This superb, long-standing podcast series is somewhat of an institution, with a back catalogue spanning more GB’s than your Apple-based device is likely to manage. Produced by Irish comedian and professional internet sleuth, Gordon Rochford, and a host of different guests, who join him as he conducts a deep dive dissection into all sorts of subjects. While the nature of the Those Conspiracy Guys podcast is satirical to say the least, the subject of a great deal of the episodes is true crime. Gordon’s intricate researching efforts present famous news stories in a fascinating light, providing context as well as the conspiracies surrounding some of the biggest criminal cases in history. Totalcrime has been following the TCG team’s podcasting efforts since their inception in 2014, there are now well over 100 episodes available online with episode running times ranging from one hour to a whopping eight hours. With this in mind, Totalcrime recommends some of the earlier classics to get a feel for the TCG narrative style: The Boston Bombings Part I & II, Charles Manson & The Manson Family and Josef Fritzl, are good starting points.
Avid crime podcast fans will be familiar with the name Phoebe Judge; the soft, mellifluous and unassuming voice behind the genre-defining Criminal series. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more expansive catalogue of true crime stories online. Hideous examples of criminal injustice, jaw-dropping real life revelations and mysterious small town goings-on, no crime is too weird or wonderful for Criminal to cover. While Judge and team are responsible for a large percentage of the best true crime podcast episodes on the internet, more recent episodes have proven less enthralling. With more than 150 episodes to scroll through, Totalcrime recommends memorable episodes such as I’m About to Save Your Life, Money Tree, Eight Years and Melinda and Judy to get started.
Unbelievable at times, The Clearing is the story of one woman’s suspicion being realised. Having always harboured suspicions, April Balascio’s decision to finally call a detective in 2009 led to the arrest and eventual conviction of her father, Edward Wayne Edwards. The podcast series documents April’s life following that fateful phone call, as host Josh Dean accompanies her on a journey through her unorthodox childhood, unravelling the motivations behind Edwards’ strange behaviour and in the process, unearthing an archive of sinister acts. This true crime podcast taps into a common fear of never really knowing those closest to you and why gut instinct is more important than mistaken memories.
Uncover: Escaping NXIVM
CBC News’ debut true crime podcast endeavour, recorded live from their headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, preempted the scandalous court case which unfolded in NYC last summer. Uncover: Escaping NXIVM (pronounced Nexium), follows the so-called “humanitarian community” from their inception to their reckoning and eventual trial. The appeal of this particular podcast lies in journalist Josh Bloch’s ability to evoke empathy, creating the unsettling impression that This Could Happen to Anyone. Visceral and graphic at times, the Escaping NXIVM serves as a terrifying cautionary tale for followers of modern day self-help fads.
The Missing Cryptoqueen
It is without question that the number one position must be awarded to the mysterious story of Dr Ruja Ignatova, The Missing Cryptoqueen. This gripping series is a work of art, brought to you by BBC Sounds and their two most hard working journalists, Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Catt. No stone is left unturned during this investigation into the criminal activity of fraudulent cryptocurrency company, OneCoin. The Missing Cryptoqueen team travel from London to Africa by way of Romania and Germany, to unearth the ulterior motives behind the falsified business front which is persuading millions to join a “financial revolution.” Tantalising at every turn, The Missing Cryptoqueen is a perfect example of how podcasting is the most exciting journalism format available to the public.
Totalcrime is a crime website founded by Chris Summers, an experienced crime reporter looking to enter the world of true crime podcasting. Totalcrime is a compilation of databases created by and curated by Chris, from his own records. They remain his copyright.
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