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45 Best True-Crime Documentaries Streaming In 2024

True-crime documentaries are experiencing perhaps their biggest boom period –- especially due to the presence of streaming. The worlds of novels and podcasts have also been swimming in content dedicated to notorious figures, and streaming sites keep churning out the mysterious, creepy, real-life content. Being a true-crime fan has gone from being a small niche interest to a widespread hobby for many people, and there are plenty of true-crime docs available for consumption. Whether it's due to their editing, the shocking nature of the content, or their political relevance, these are some true-crime docs worth your time and attention.

Updated on May 9, 2024: The world of true crime is a fascinating one, and as long as people break the law, there will be documentaries telling these wild stories. So check back here monthly as we keep you up to date on the very best true-crime documentaries out there.

American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders - Netflix

For those looking to go down a seemingly endless conspiracy rabbit hole, Netflix's four-part true crime docuseries "American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders" investigates the death of journalist Danny Casolaro. Although Casolaro's death was officially ruled a suicide, close friends and family believe he was murdered, given the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. At the time, Casolaro was working on a story about a political conspiracy theory he called "the Octopus," suggesting the existence of a hidden surveillance network operating within the U.S. government. This network allegedly tied together various covert operations, organized crime networks, and political scandals, including the October Surprise conspiracy, a secret deal between Ronald Reagan and Iran to delay the release of American hostages until after the presidential election. Director Zachary Treitz and reporter Christian Hansen seek to unravel the mysteries surrounding Casolaro's death and the story he sought to solve in "American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders."

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing - Netflix

Having previously directed "Zion" and "Untold: Malice at the Palace," documentaries about a wrestler and an NBA arena skirmish respectively, documentarian Floyd Russ once again delves into a deep and fascinating story that begins with a sport. "American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing" is a meticulous, compelling, and moving documentary about the terrorist bombing at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Through first-hand interviews with witnesses, victims, and investigators, this documentary details how local and federal authorities were able to find and apprehend the responsible parties through digital media analysis and called-in tips. All the while, the documentary captures the remarkable "Boston Strong" moment, when the city willingly shut down and came together as one to allow law enforcement to catch the bombers.

American Murder: The Family Next Door - Netflix

Sometimes the most heinous crimes can occur right under our own noses, leaving us none the wiser until it's too late. Told via the use of archived family footage, text messages and law enforcement recordings, we learn the story of the Watts family murders. The documentary, for the sake of dramatic pacing, doesn't reveal the truth of Chris Watts — the father — having committed the murders until the latter half of the film. It's a haunting look at just how families can fall apart and the most heinous crimes can occur in peaceful suburbia.

American Nightmare - Netflix

What could be worse than being abducted from your home, sexually assaulted, and held for ransom? Not being believed. In 2015, Denise Huskins was dubbed the "real-life Gone Girl" by the media and publicly accused of staging a hoax by the police after her too-shocking-to-be-true kidnapping from her boyfriend Aaron Quinn's Northern California home on the night of March 23. Faced with injustice at every turn, Huskins and Quinn were only ever vindicated when a police detective unrelated to the case went above and beyond to reveal the truth. "I don't know what needs to happen to me, what needs to happen to any woman, for them to be believed," Huskins says in the docuseries. Filmmakers Felicity Morris and Bernadette Higgins, known for their popular Netflix documentary "The Tinder Swindler," return with "American Nightmare," a three-part docuseries exploring the couple's harrowing story, full of some of the most unpredictable twists in the history of true-crime entertainment.

American Pain - Max

The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and "American Pain" seeks to figure out how and why that deadly prescription drug epidemic ever developed. It's the story of a pair of identical twin Florida bodybuilders, Christopher and Jeffrey George, who — after getting into steroids and committing various petty crimes (for which they received little punishment on account of their connected family) — exploited the many loopholes of state law to open a chain of pain treatment clinics. They quickly became wealthy through questionable and quasi-legal means, operating a series of facilities that pulled in a regional clientele by offering powerful painkillers with almost no questions asked. The Georges' brazen actions would eventually catch up to them, of course, but not after wrecking all kinds of business, medical, and personal havoc throughout Florida.

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. - Netflix

A strange, dark story involving large-scale theft, fake identities, elaborate cons, and even a supernatural element, "Bad Vegan" is a hard to believe but totally true documentary series that began long ago in a place of good intentions and stated purity. Sarma Melngailis used to run Pure Food and Wine, a highly regarded New York City restaurant where everything on the menu was both completely free of meat and animal products and organic too. Then Melngailis fell in love and married Shane Fox and brought him into the business. However, he wasn't really a curious businessman with an interest in healthy, sustainable living. He was actually a con artist named Anthony Strangis, who somehow convinced his wife to illegally hand over millions of dollars from Pure Food and Wine's coffers into his personal accounts because he claimed he could use the money to entice mystical forces into granting her dog eternal life.

Beware the Slenderman - Max

Born on the Something Awful forums of the 2010s, Slenderman quickly became a widespread symbol of homegrown internet horror. Sadly, his legacy will always be intertwined with the unfortunate story of Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser. The documentary details how the duo stabbed their friend Payton Leutner 19 times and left her for dead in the woods. In the latter half of the documentary it's shown how the two — despite their young age — were tried and convicted as adults for their actions. It's a fascinating and sobering look at not only the rise of the Slenderman mythos, but also at an unfortunate crime. 

Bitconned - Netflix

Centra Tech was ahead of its time, not because it was the first company to issue a cryptocurrency debit card like it claimed, but because it turned out to be running one of the first high-profile crypto fraud scams before these kinds of crimes became commonplace. Filmmaker Bryan Storkel lets Centra's proud co-founder and unreliable narrator Ray Trapani tell the story of how he achieved his dream of becoming a criminal by scamming customers and investors out of millions alongside his partners Sam Sharma and Robert Farkas. Relying on the luck of blind trust for their success, the trio's scheme didn't take much to unravel once New York Times journalist Nathaniel Popper caught wind of their shady practices. A cautionary tale or prideful how-to? The documentary teeters on the line but reveals one thing for sure: it pays to be a skeptic, or in Trapani's case, a narc.

Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story - Hulu

Sad, sordid, and horrific, "Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story" will haunt viewers with its harrowing tale of a family that endured unspeakable crimes, both as victims and as helpless outsiders. The story begins in 1972, when 7-year-old Steven Stayner disappears from near his home in Merced, California. While the worst is predicted by many, Steven is actually living with his captors, forgetting most details of his old life and old family, with whom he is reunited at the age of 14. His high-profile kidnapping case captivates the region, but things take a major turn when it's revealed that the area — spoiler alert if you want to stay relatively in the dark — had also been terrorized by Steven's brother, Cary, by all accounts a vicious serial killer.

The Central Park Five - Hoopla, Kanopy

In the world of documentary filmmaking there is perhaps no name more respected than Ken Burns, and for good reason. From topics such as complicated wars to important historical figures to significant athletes the man has seemingly covered it all. Released in 2012 and co-directed with his daughter Sarah, the documentary details the people and events involved in the Central Park Jogger case of 1989. It benefits heavily from Burns's signature usage of archival footage and photographs used to fully immerse the viewers in the flow of events. It's as important a story now as it was back then, and this documentary showcases it perfectly and with ample craftsmanship. 

Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami - Netflix

"Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami" –- a six part Netflix documentary series –- tells the story of Sal Magluta and Willy Falcon. The duo's actions are still regarded as one of Florida's most well known cocaine operations. The series showcases their reign as drug kingpins of Miami — from their rise to the top to their eventual fall. If you are a fan of "Narcos" or "Breaking Bad," this tightly edited true story is most definitely for you.

The Curious Case of Natalia Grace - Max

Kristine and Michael Barnett adopted Natalia Grace, a Ukrainian-born American with dwarfism, in the spring of 2010. Two years later, they claimed to be victims in their own real-life version of the 2009 horror film "Orphan," accusing Natalie of being a disturbed adult masquerading as a child. They convinced an Indiana court to legally change Natalia's age from eight to 22 years old and abandoned her in a Lafayette, Indiana, apartment. In 2019, the Barnetts were charged with neglect; however, due to the statute of limitation, no evidence revealing Natalia's true age could be used in her defense. In the two-season Investigation Discovery docuseries "The Curious Case of Natalia Grace," Christian Conway and Jackson Conway seek the truth by platforming the perspectives of the Barnetts, neighbors, Natalia's new adoptive parents, and Natalia herself, culminating in a DNA test that puts this mystery to rest once and for all — or so it seems.

Daughters of the Cult - Hulu

Anna and Celia LeBaron grew up in a Mormon fundamentalist religious cult led by their father, Ervil LeBaron. Indoctrinated members operated under the influence of Ervil's violent and abusive practices, including following orders to murder Ervil's opponents and being forced into polygamous relationships as minors. Even after his death in 1981, the killings continued in his name. Now, years later, Anna, Celia, and others are sharing their experiences with the cult, how they escaped, and life since then in this five-part ABC News Studios docuseries. "It's been over 40 years since I escaped my father's cult," Anna LeBaron tells ABC News. "I want to be an inspiration to others. Anyone who's experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, those things don't have to define us today. I have overcome all of the odds, and here I am." "Daughters of the Cult" explores the shocking history of Ervil's polygamous cult and those who survived it.

Girl in the Picture - Netflix

A woman named Tonya Hughes is found dying on a roadside, ostensibly the victim of a hit-and-run accident. But when authorities conduct a standard investigation into foul play, they don't find any evidence of murder, but they do uncover a massive web of awful crimes and secrets that go back decades. "Girl in the Picture" unfolds slowly as it works backward, piecing together the complicated identity of Hughes and her disturbing relationship with her dangerous husband. And then there's the extra, alarming wrinkle of how Hughes' 2-year-old son disappeared, along with his father, after that car accident.

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker - Netflix

The title of "The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker" makes it sound like a horror movie or a spooky campfire story. That's because it basically is — only it's true. In 2013, Kai McGillvary, a self-identified "home-free" nomad, became a viral sensation after saving a woman from a deadly assault and giving a colorful TV interview. The reality television industry came calling, but he wasn't much interested. Then the story took a twist: McGillvary was arrested for an especially violent death. Authorities say it was murder, McGillvary claimed self-defense. Where does the truth lie? That's what this documentary is here to find out, by untangling the intersection between media, crime, perception, and notoriety.

I Love You, Now Die - Max

"I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter" is a two-part documentary focusing on the death of Conrad Roy. Split into two parts -– "The Prosecution" and "The Defense" -– the documentary goes into detail about how Michelle Carter's texts influenced Roy's suicide. The documentary doesn't choose to fully paint Michelle as a villain — never condoning her actions, but offering elaborations on her mental state. It's far from a pleasant watch, but it's still a riveting look at a tragic and complicated situation in which there were no true winners. Directed by Erin Lee Carr -– the same director behind "Mommy Dead and Dearest" –- the documentary pulls zero punches in discussing a very uncomfortable subject matter. 

I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Max

"I'll Be Gone in the Dark" centers around the Golden State Killer, a man who terrorized California throughout the 1970s and 1980s and eluded capture for decades. But "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" isn't just about his crimes — it's also about the tireless efforts of pioneering true-crime blogger, author, and victim rights crusader Michelle McNamara, who finally brought the Golden State Killer to justice through her exhaustive investigation.

  • Director: Elizabeth Wolff, Liz Garbus, Myles Kane, Josh Koury
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 7 episodes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst - Max

Real estate heir Robert Durst's attorneys kept him out of prison for years, despite overwhelming evidence and an admission of guilt that he committed multiple murders. Durst is cold and aloof as he recounts the disappearance of his wife, the murder of his close friend Susan Berman (right before she planned to tell police that Durst killed his wife), and the fact that he managed to escape justice — for a while, anyway. "The Jinx" is a fascinating, unsettling character study, made all the more unnerving when Durst basically incriminates himself on an open mic in a stunning final scene. A second season, which premiered in 2024, follows Durst's arrest and trial for the murder of Berman while introducing more of the strange characters who surrounded him.

John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise - Peacock

John Wayne Gacy is among history's more notorious serial killers. His name is often mentioned in the same conversations as Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer. Peacock clearly understood just how fascinating Gacy is which is why they released "John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise" in 2021. His crimes are made even more disturbing when you learn he was a beloved and trusted member of his community. He was so trusted, in fact, that he would often dress as his persona of Pogo the Clown for children's birthday parties.

The Keepers - Netflix

Who killed Sister Cathy? That is the question that the Netflix documentary "The Keepers" asks over the course of its runtime. The seven-episode documentary series takes a look at the murder of nun Catherine Cesnik back in the late '60s. The series, unfortunately, does not end with the reveal of Cathy's murderer, as the killer was never caught. It instead showcases the ripple effect it had on the people around Cathy. The documentary features interviews with friends, family, fellow students and key investigators who all elaborate on these multilayered events. 

The Lady and the Dale - Max

This documentary focuses on the life and times of Elizabeth Carmichael –- founder of the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation. Creator of a car known as "The Dale," Elizabeth's life was rife with scrutiny and controversy in regards to her own past. The documentary does a good job at showcasing Carmichael's rise prominence while also spotlighting her various identities, marriages and legal issues. Using archival material such as photos and audio recordings — combined with animation and photo collages — "The Lady and the Dale" paints a succinct picture of the story.

Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York - Max

LGBTQ+ people of the early 1990s found a safe haven in New York City's gay bars. But that feeling of community was violently stripped away when a great number of men started disappearing, followed by the emergence of their brutalized remains. Over four tense and compelling episodes, "Last Call" looks back on this dark and frightening time, with contributions from the people who lived through it, lost loved ones, and fought hard against a bigoted general population and authorities who didn't seem to care if the killer — clearly targeting gay men — was ever identified or apprehended.

Last Stop Larrimah: Murder Down Under - Max

Larrimah is an extremely remote, exceedingly small town in north-central Australia. At the time that the events chronicled in "Last Stop Larrimah" occurred, it boasted just 11 residents — but then, suddenly, there were 10. Paddy Moriarty, seemingly a gregarious, beer-swilling hippie type, went out riding his motorbike with his dog one night, and never came home. Nothing was amiss at his domicile. What happened — and did his neighbors have anything to do with it? The truth is complicated. "Last Stop Larrimah" uncovers Moriarty's dark side, as well as that of the town. Did someone with a grudge kill Paddy and make him into meat pies, for example, or feed him to the town's mascot, a crocodile? Maybe ... or maybe not.

Love Fraud - Paramount+ with Showtime

Unlike most true-crime documentaries, which are told by curious but ultimately external filmmakers, "Love Fraud" is an on-screen crusade. Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady depict the stories of the many women done wrong by Richard Scott Smith, a scam artist who charmed his way into their lives, married them — some simultaneously and under fake names — and robbed them of their life savings and credit. Then, the filmmakers hire a bounty hunter to find Smith, and hopefully allow his victims to bring him to justice.

LuLaRich - Prime Video

Not all true crime needs to focus on sickening murders. Sometimes uncovering deceit and financial theft is more than enough. Founded in 2012 by DeAnne Brady and her husband Mark Stidham, LuLaRoe is a multi-level marketing company that sells women's clothing. However, this documentary series released via Amazon Prime investigates the company's shady business practices and exposes it as a pyramid scheme. Despite the truth of their operation being exposes LuLaRoe is still very much an active business. The series talks with people inside LuLaRoe and people on the outside investigating it. The slick editing and great pacing makes for a great watch. 

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street - Netflix

Bernie Madoff is arguably the most notorious financial criminal in modern history. Convicted of charges including money laundering and fraud, Madoff earned a 150-year federal prison sentence after his Ponzi scheme, which scammed billions, fell apart. He didn't act alone — and there's no way he could have, according to "Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street." Purporting to tell the true story, which is far more complex than what's common knowledge, this docuseries utilizes re-enactments and interviews with Madoff in prison and his victims to suggest that the financial manager was a fall guy. Hoping to avoid reprisals from dangerous and violent elements, he got away with his crimes for so long because the banking system and regulatory bodies ignored his actions.

Making a Murderer - Netflix

"Making a Murderer" is one of the most noteworthy true-crime docuseries of the past few years. It's the story of Steve Avery, a Wisconsin man who falsely served 18 years in prison for the attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen. It shows that a documentary series can be just as, if not more enthralling, than a fictional serialized drama, as long as the subject matter is captivating enough. Clocking in at two seasons, the series is a meticulously researched and tightly edited look at the failings of the justice system.

McMillions - Max

"McMillions" and "LuLaRoe" would honestly make for a great double feature. The miniseries focuses on the now infamous scam Monopoly promotion run by McDonald's for over a decade. Based on the famous Hasbro board game, the contest promised various large cash prizes — none of which were ever won legitimately. It goes into massive detail about this incredible scam run amok. It's far from graphic or disturbing, but it definitely excels due to its exemplary editing and stimulating subject matter.

Mind Over Murder - Max

In 1985, as HBO's six-part miniseries "Mind Over Murder" tells viewers, 68-year-old Helen Wilson was assaulted and murdered in the small town of Beatrice, Nebraska. Six people were subsequently implicated, tried, and imprisoned for the crime, with nearly all of them having confessed. What makes this a truly strange and compelling story is that they were all exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009 — none of the people who did time for the crime, despite their confessions and the authorities' insistence on their guilt — could have done it. 

"Mind Over Murder" follows the case from its beginnings, through the trials and into the present day, with the population of Beatrice still so fractured by the matter that it stages a documentary theater project to work out their feelings. It's a truly odd tale of true crime and also one about the mysteries of human psychology and criminology.

Mommy Dead and Dearest - Max

If you've seen "The Act," starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette, then you'll be familiar with the events surrounding Gypsy Rose Blanchard. However, this feature-length documentary shows that truth is most definitely stranger than fiction, showcasing the story in its stomach-churning entirety. It details the sinister machinations of Gypsy's Mother Dee Dee and what led to her murder in 2015. Also detailed in the documentary is the topic of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, how Dee Dee was a textbook case of it, and how Gypsy was a victim of it. If you found interest in the dramatization, then this documentary is most definitely required viewing.

Murder Among the Mormons - Netflix

In the mid-80s, Salt Lake City found itself rocked by a series of bombings carried by Mark Hofmann. He sent out three bombs to three separate people in the Salt Lake City area, resulting in two deaths — the third bomb going off by accident in Hofmann's own car. The documentary goes into detail about the various crimes that led to these bombings, including rampant counterfeiting and forgery. If you hadn't heard of these shocking events, then it would benefit you to give it a watch. Mark Hofmann doesn't get much mention alongside figures like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer, but his story is still an immensely fascinating one.

Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage, and Reckoning - Max

"Murder in Boston" explores a notorious murder in New England that, even 30 years later, remains heavily scrutinized, as it permanently altered the lives of everyone involved and even the surrounding community. In October 1989, Chuck Stuart called 911, claiming that his pregnant wife, Carol, was shot by a Black man in Boston, historically one of the most racially charged and racially separate cities in the United States. Race — and Boston's reckoning with racial tensions — became a factor in the case, creating sides in the wake of a violent and mysterious tragedy. Decades past the events, "Murder in Boston" weaves news and archival footage with contemporary interviews of those who lived through this difficult historical period to explore complicated issues and the context surrounding the case.

The Mystery of D.B. Cooper - Max

On November 24, 1971, a man who has become known as D.B. Cooper threatened the crew and passengers of a commercial flight, and then, with the fortune he demanded on his person, parachuted into the dark, chilly forest below, never to be seen again. "The Mystery of D.B. Cooper" doesn't explore the crime itself, so much as the legend of the hijacker. Built around interviews with people who think they once knew someone who very well could have been D.B. Cooper incognito, these stories are convincing and even credible.

The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman - Netflix

By exploring multiple time periods and slowly revealing connections between them, "The Puppet Master" tells the story of a con artist as audacious as he is deceptive. In 1993, a bartender named Rob convinced a British college student that he was actually an MI5 agent, a friend's suicide was related to a campus terrorist cell, and they had to hit the road for their own safety. Flash-forward a few years and miles away to the Clifton family, where divorced Sandra was romanced by a rich guy named Dave, who bought her a car and drove a wedge between her and her grown children. Spoiler: Rob and Dave are the same guy, and he's not in prison.

Quiet on Set - Max

From the late '90s through the late 2010s, writer, producer, and showrunner Dan Schneider created a string of highly popular children's shows for the television network Nickelodeon. Helming familiar titles such as "The Amanda Show," "Drake and Josh," "Zoey 101," "iCarly," and others, Schneider was credited with much of the network's success. However, this Investigation Discovery five-part docuseries exposes the tragic side of Schneider's Nickelodeon empire to a much wider audience. "The Amanda Show" and "Drake and Josh" star Drake Bell comes forward for the first time as the previously unnamed minor in Nickelodeon acting coach Brian Peck's public yet quickly disregarded sexual assault case. But Bell's harrowing story isn't the only one. Seeking healing, accountability, and justice, "Quiet on Set" ruins the childhood of many with its shocking revelations.

Sasquatch - Hulu

While working as a fringe investigative journalist in the 1990s, David Holthouse was privy to an odd and frightening night in the remote forests of Northern California. Someone wound up brutally murdered, and witnesses were convinced it was the work of Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot, the forest monster of legend. In "Sasquatch," Holthouse tries to piece together the who, what, and why of the bizarre murder. In doing so, he delves into a secretive community in the area, where former hippies dropped out of society and illegally farmed marijuana. This created a violent and complicated culture and a drug war that raged for decades — one more enigmatic and brutal than even Sasquatch.

Sins of Our Mother - Netflix

Lori Vallow once lived a fairly normal American existence, residing in Arizona with her husband and their three children. Now, according to "Sins of Our Mother," she's in prison, awaiting trial on murder and conspiracy to murder in the deaths of four people, including two of her own children. In this three-part Netflix series, Lori's only surviving child, Colby Ryan, tries to help filmmakers figure out what went so tragically wrong in his mother's life, and it all hinges on her involvement with Chad Daybell, a man who believed that he and Vallow could see the good and bad spirits that lived inside of people and that the way to vanquish the bad ones was to kill the bodies in which they resided. "Sins of Our Mother" is a shocking, sad story about the power of belief and the darkness that can reside in just about anybody.

The Staircase - Netflix

Before its Netflix release in 2018, "The Staircase" began life as French miniseries by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade released in 2004. The series looks at the trial of Michael Peterson, who was convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen back in 2001. The title is based upon Michael's claim that a drunken Kathleen has fallen down the stairs resulting in her death. Lestrade, the director, was given the keys to the kingdom in terms of information and assets — being present for and allowed to film the entirety of the trial. If you have yet to hear the story of Kathleen Peterson's death, then this expertly crafted documentary will provide you with ample information.

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork - Netflix

This is one of many true-crime stories so infamous that it made its way into our consciousness here in the United States despite taking place over seas. French televsion producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered outside her vacation property in the winter of 1996. It was detailed that upon the discovery of her body in a laneway by her house, her face was so disfigured she couldn't be identified by her neighbors. It's a shocking story steeped in death and controversy about how a small community was forever changed by one horrific event.

Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence - Hulu

An unsettling and surprising look at the factors that lead to dangerous cults, "Stolen Youth" explores one that formed at prestigious Sarah Lawrence College. In 2010, an adult man named Larry Ray moved into his daughter's dorm. He insinuated himself into the lives of her friends as a spiritual guide and wise mentor. Within a year, he built a sizable following, and convinced his acolytes to break ties with loved ones. This was just the beginning. "Stolen Youth" examines the development of cult abuse, as well as Larry Ray's fall at the hands of law enforcement, which took nearly a decade.

Strong Island - Netflix

Long Island is no stranger to tragic and controversial events, one of the most famous being the Amityville murders of the '70s. But the tragic story that more should know about is the 1992 murder of William Ford at the hands of a mechanic named Mark P. Reilly. It's a documentary that discusses not only William's life and death but the severe injustice that followed, from which the family is still reeling. The documentary — directed by Ford's own brother Yance -– is far from an easy sit, but it's a necessary one especially amidst current racially charged issues.

The Synanon Fix - Max

Former members of Synanon, the drug rehabilitation program turned cult, come together in this four-part HBO docuseries examining its rise to prominence and eventual fall. Originally founded in 1958 by Charles Dederich, an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) member who sought to treat drug addicts, the program's practices were seemingly effective during its early years. However, Synanon increasingly became more unconventional and controlling over time, transforming into more of a communal social experiment rather than a rehabilitation program. Former members featured in the docuseries recall the organization's infamous therapy sessions known as the "Synanon Game," in which members verbally attacked each other. Disturbing practices swiftly escalated after the death of Dederich's own wife, including encouraging wife-swapping among married members, women shaving their heads, men getting vasectomies, and women having abortions. "The Synanon Fix" documents how this once-effective rehab went from saving people's lives to ruining many.

  • Director: Rory Kennedy
  • Year: 2024
  • Runtime: 4 episodes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A

The Tinder Swindler - Netflix

Every day, countless people use Tinder to find romance. But one never really knows who they'll be spending an evening (or more) with, beyond what they offer up about themselves. That dangerous uncertainty is at the heart of "The Tinder Swindler," a serious documentary with a funny name about a con artist who found his marks via the world's most famous dating app. Tinder users like Cecilie Fjellhøy, one of his victims, matched up with a charming, good-looking, wealthy businessman. Of course, the titular swindler isn't really a rich power player — but by the time Fjellhøy (and the man's many other victims) figured that out, he'd stolen a lot of their money through a series of subtle and sophisticated deceptions.

Who Killed Garrett Phillips? - Max

"Who Killed Garrett Phillips?" tells the tragic story of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips, who was murdered in his own home back in 2011. The man blamed for the crime was Oral "Nick" Hillary, who was accused by the predominantly white community of Potsdam, New York. The two-part documentary looks at the details of the case itself and just what Hillary was subjected to during and after the trial. Much like some other documentaries on this list, it's a harsh reminder of the danger that can be done by the court of public opinion — which, in this case, was intensified by immense racial biases. 

Wild Wild Country - Netflix

The phrase "truth is stranger than fiction" has been used quite few times during this list, and for very good reason. This is most definitely the case for "Wild Wild Country." It covers the shocking events concerning the Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who garnered an immense following during the '70s and founded the community of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon. This six part Netflix series is packed to the brim with first hand accounts, and ample archival footage — all used to shocking effect. If the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh has flown under your radar, we highly recommend giving this one a watch.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, may be the victim of sexual assault, the victim of child abuse, or is struggling or in crisis, contact the relevant resources below:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

  • Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

  • Contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

  • Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.