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Seven excellent crime documentaries you may not have seen


by Jennifer McShane
30th Jul 2019
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Crime documentaries have taken on a life of their own; we’re fascinated with them. Netflix boasts a must-watch every month that quickly gains traction and it is seen by the masses. But what of the more under-the-radar offerings? Below are several that may not have been on that obvious publicity train but make for equally compelling viewing.


Who Took Johnny

In 1982 disappearance of Johnny Gosch rattled the nation – he disappeared one morning at 12-years-old during an early morning paper route and was never found – and inspired new laws (he was one of the first missing children to appear on the side of a milk carton), and his case prompted the beginning of registered sex-offenders lists in the US. The film follows his mother’s decades-long quest to uncover the truth.

Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

If you’ve seen this already, I’d be surprised as it’s literally just landed on Netflix. This four-part series investigating the life of US serial killer Ted Bundy is the latest true-crime series set to land on Netflix. Bundy was a serial killer who terrorised the US during the Seventies. He confessed to 30 murders, though detectives fear the true toll could be higher. It features previously unheard audio of interviews with Bundy while he was on death row in Florida. The new documentary will be directed by Joe Berlinger, who also directed Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a feature film about Bundy starring Zac Efron that will premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2019.

The Witness

In this documentary, Bill Genovese aims to set the record straight regarding his sister, whose name took on a tragic meaning after her 1964 murder. Her death caused international outrage; reports at the time said 38 people had witnessed her murder and failed to act. Twenty-eight-year-old Catherine Genovese, known as Kitty was stabbed to death outside her apartment and the film follows her brother Bill, and his decades of efforts to find out what really happened.

The Imposter

In this 2012 documentary, filmmaker Bart Layton chronicles the bizarre tale of Frederic Bourdin, a French con artist who seemingly tricked a Texas family into believing he was their son, Nicholas Barkley who disappeared years earlier – as well as faking the identity of dozens of other missing children. Eyes then turned on the family as police began to reinvestigate what could have happened to the young boy. It’s chilling and twisted and a hugely underrated watch.

The Confession Tapes 

The Confession Tapes is an unsettling six-part series that examines the nature of a confession. Six people, convicted of crimes they confessed to committing, have walked back their confessions. Are these people incredibly skilled liars, or should America’s detective work be under a microscope? Can it be both? Could you be coerced into a fake confession? It’s a fascinating watch.

The Life & Death Of Marsha P. Johnson


The Life & Death Of Marsha P. Johnson chronicles the journey of Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman, LGBTQIA activist, and general icon. This documentary primarily focuses on her influence and activism, as well as the mysterious and quite bizarre circumstances that led to her death.

Long Shot

Long Shot is the true story of Juan Catalan, a California family man arrested for a murder he did not commit. The documentary documents his lawyer’s attempt to prove his innocence. It’s a gut-wrenching watch.