The truth can be stranger than fiction. Netflix has a number of true crime documentaries that are not only shocking, but will also make viewers wonder how any of these things could have possibly happened in real life. We rounded up our top five must-watch documentaries that will definitely leave you on the edge of your seat.
In 1974, a 12-year-old girl was kidnapped by a man close to her family. This is only the beginning of the truly unbelievable story of Jan Broberg, a girl from a small town who was targeted by pedophile Robert Berchtold.
Viewers have described Abducted In Plain Sight as “unsettling”, “bonkers” and “unreal”.
Apart from the horrifying details of abuse suffered by Jan as a child, the documentary also zeroes in on her somewhat naive parents. Robert was able to manipulate both Jan’s mother and father into getting his way with Jan, which included sleeping with Jan in the same room on some nights. Somehow, Robert managed to convince Jan’s parents that he needed to be close to Jan as part of his therapy to overcome his own traumatic experience of abuse. This gripping story doesn’t end there. There’s even more details that involves alien abduction, emotional blackmail and how Jan was kidnapped by Robert again two years after the first incident. Parents often warn their children about an imaginary monster under the bed. After watching this documentary, perhaps they should look out for men like Robert Berchtold. Unfortunately in real life, it’s hard to tell when they all look like such wholesome family friends.
American serial killer Ted Bundy is the subject of Hollywood films like The Stranger Beside Me (released in 2003) and the upcoming Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, starring Zac Efron as the infamous Ted with Lily Collins as his wife. But what is Ted Bundy really like without the veneers of a Hollywood production?
Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes offers a fascinating and chilling look into the mind and motivation of a serial killer. Viewers get to see Ted through archival footage and hear his thoughts from recorded interviews. In one memorable account, Ted explained how he was filled with rage while hearing a witness (or in her case, lucky survivor) testify against him in court. The documentary also offers viewers a full account of Ted’s crime against young women by showing forensic evidence of his victims’ remains, or what was left anyway. When viewers see the faces of the young women whose lives were robbed by Ted, they will feel the anguish of their parents or loved ones. Ted is a narcissist who did not deserve his fame nor the public’s fascination for his murderous rampage. For once, his voiceless victims get the chance to have their stories told and embedded into the minds of viewers. This documentary will change the way people think about one of the most popular serial killers of our time.
They say love is a wondrous thing. Divorcee and single mother Debra Newell thought she found the one in John Meehan, a charming man who supposedly worked with humanitarian medical NGO, Doctors Without Borders. A few months later, they were married. Later, Debra would come to realise that John is not who he claimed to be.
This documentary unveils the shocking exploits of John Meehan, a conman who preys on lonely women. Viewers will learn that Debra is not his only victim, and that John’s criminal history has a more sinister beginning. It seems that John will do anything to protect his identity and that includes getting rid of anyone who stands in his way. The problem with dangerous men like John is that they could easily get away with anything, simply because they don’t look like the stereotypical criminal. Perhaps, viewers will learn to rethink of how a bad person really looks like in real life.
Debra’s experience with John inspired called Dirty John, a thrilling eight-part TV series starring Eric Bana as John. Both Dirty John and Dirty John: The Dirty Truth are available on Netflix.
This three-part Spanish documentary series reveals the horrifying sexual abuse suffered by boys at the hands of pedophilic priests or individuals linked to the Catholic church.
Examination of Conscience is not an easy watch as the harrowing details of abuse that the victims suffered when they were young boys is truly disturbing. The chilling effect on viewers of course, is nothing compared to the abuse that the victims endured as they described the emotional and psychological trauma of their past.
One victim explained how even after years of therapy, it was still difficult for him to talk about the extent of abuse he endured at the hands of his perpetrator. Viewers will also see another victim confront his abuser by telling the person that he can never forget what happened even after spending a fortune on psychologists. The victim even asked his abuser for reasons on why he was targeted and that man simply said, “It was between kids”. The documentary also featured an interview with an accused abuser.
Examination of Conscience raises questions on why the abuse was allowed to go on for too long. How do some people get away with heinous crime? Examination of Conscience will give all the answers and more.
In 2007, Amanda Knox was just an American student in Italy. When her housemate Meredith Kercher was found dead in her room with cuts and bruises on her body, Amanda was arrested for being a suspect. Her boyfriend at that time, Raffaele Sollecito, was also arrested. What followed was a sensational media trial that gripped the world’s attention. Was Amanda a cold-blooded murderer, or just an unlucky person who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? She was ultimately convicted for murder, and spent four years in an Italian prison. Then in 2015, she was acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court.
Amanda Knox the documentary features interviews with Amanda herself, as well as individuals involved in her case such as the journalist who came up with the front page headline that Meredith apparently died during a sex game gone wrong. The media had painted Amanda and Raffaele in a negative light, depicting them as a couple who were into dangerous thrills. However, the documentary reveals that the media may have gone too far in the way they reported and scandalised Amanda’s character. This illuminating documentary reveals the horrors of a justice system gone wrong, and how just about anyone could be the next Amanda Knox.
Are you a crime doc fan? Let us know your must-watch suggestions!
Cover Credit: Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash
Writer l JEM
I like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain. Not into yoga. Wait, how does that song go again?