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10 Most Disturbing Crime Documentaries

In the last couple years, more and more people have become fascinated by true-crime what leads someone to commit such acts. For this list we will be taking a look at some of the most disturbing true-crime documentaries. We warn would like to give a spoiler warning and content warning. We will be taking a deep dive into these documentaries, so if you haven’t seen them already then be aware there will be spoilers. Since this list is about disturbing crime documentaries, please keep in consideration we will be looking at any and all true-crime content. Murder, sexual misconduct, child and animal abuse will all be featured on this list. All of these documentaries can be found either on Netflix, HBO or HBO Max.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Movies About Serial Killers

I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter (2019)

Where to Watch: HBO/HBO Max

This two-part documentary film takes a look at the adolescent relationship between Conrad Roy and his girlfriend Michelle Carter. Carter and Roy were a long distance couple, Conrad suffered from depression among other mental health concerns. For weeks Conrad consistently had thoughts of suicide, while you might think his girlfriend Michelle would convince him not to do it, she instead encourages him to proceed with committing suicide. Which is where this documentary becomes disturbing, the text messages from Michelle as she coheres Conrad to kill himself. The idea of a teenaged girl pushing and pushing a young man with depression and anxiety to the point where he actually succeeds in killing himself. However, what makes this documentary so compelling is the way the show presents Michelle Carter. At first she is evil manipulating girl, but then it proceeds to show you the internal perspective of Michelle and showing viewers that she might be as much of a victim as Conrad.


The Keepers (2017)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Seven episodes in this limited series, which explores the sexual misconduct that occurred at the all-girls Archbishop Keough High School, the unsolved murder of nun Catherine Cesnik and the cover-up by authorities. With a master’s degree in school psychology and a certificate of advanced study in counseling, Joseph Maskell was a Catholic Priest ordained May 22, 1965, at the age of 26. Maskell was originally accused of abuse to a young altar boy at St. Clement Church, instead of removing him from the ministry though he was moved to another location at Our Lady of Victory where he would be in charge of the Catholic Youth Organization. After the relocation his abuse become worse, as he began abusing the young women with Father E. Neil Magnus. After one of the students decided to confide in Catherine Cesnik about the abuse that had been occurring from Maskell and Magnus, Cesnik ended up missing. This documentary comes across as most murder case shows, but what adds onto the horror of this entry are the many stories of sexual abuse told by the students.


Beware the Slender Man (2016)

Where to Watch: HBO/HBO Max

Any time a child goes through something traumatic or life changing, it is always difficult to watch. But it is even worse when it involves a child being attacked by other children. This documentary covers the events that took place in 2014, when two 12-year old Wisconsin girls Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser lured their best friend Payton Leutner into the middle of the woods, pinned her down and stabbed 19 times in the arms, legs, and torso with a kitchen knife with a five-inch-long blade. Surprisingly Leutner survived the attack, but what makes this entry so much more disturbing than just two little girls attempting to kill their best friend, is their reasoning behind it. Both girls were fans of the internet creepypasta Slenderman, and believe he was telling them to commit such a horrendous crime. Some might think that youth are not influenced by entertainment, but in this case it almost led to the death of a young girl.


Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Remember how we mentioned in the warning “animal abuse”? This is the one we were talking about. Taking a look at case surrounding an internet group as they pieced together the evidence to the location of Luka Magnotta. Magnotta was a male model who was posting videos of himself harming and killing animals, eventually leading to the death of international student Jun Lin. The investigation began after posting his videos killing cats, the group were convinced this man would end up taking the life of a human being. Then it happened, shortly after the police became involved and sought assistance from the internet group. While majority of this is focused on the murder of Jun Lin and the manhunt for Magnotta, the disturbing part of this documentary is clearly the animal abuse. While nothing is fully shown in graphic detail, the producers are adamant on showing you as much as you can possibly hear and see.


Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (2020)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Based on the book Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him, and All the Justice that Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein by James Patterson. This documentary interviews victims and witnesses to one of the biggest sex scandals in history. While there are tons of other documentaries relating to men of power using it to fulfill their sexual desires with under aged girls like Hulu’s Untouchable or the controversial Surviving R. Kelly. But what made this one so much more disturbing was the intricate details the victims go into, as well as the shots used exploring the areas of Epstein’s home. While I’m not saying what people like R. Kelly or Harvey Weinstein is ok, what they men do with their power is disgusting. But what made this documentary stand out was the massive operation Epstein created for himself, how majority of his funding came from sex trafficking and prostitution. Not to mention, a large number of the women who were involved with Epstein and his operation were as young as 14-years old.


The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez (2020)

Where to Watch: Netflix

One of the most unsettling entries on our list, comes from the story of Gabriel Fernandez and the system that did him wrong. Following the 2013 case about 8-year old Gabriel Fernandez and the abused he endured by the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. After being abandoned in the hospital by his mother Pearl three days after his birth, he was placed in the custody of his great uncle and his partner. Years later, Pearl returned to regain custody of Gabriel to receive welfare benefits. At that time is when the abuse began, as Pearl and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre began feeding Gabriel everything but real food, shooting him with BB guns, forcing him to wear women’s clothing, beating him, and even forcing him to sleep in a small cupboard bound and gagged. While the number of torture methods these people used are endless, the real crime was that nobody did anything to help Gabriel. Seeking help from teachers, security guards, and family members who would then call social services, they still allowed Gabriel to remain in the custody of his mother. I don’t need to really go into detail about what made this documentary so shocking, the fact that a young boy was tortured until his eventual death is enough for anyone to understand the weight of this series.


Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Surprisingly this documentary was released in 2017, but gained a large following after it was released on Netflix in 2019. Telling the story of Robert Berchtold and how he managed to manipulate the Broberg family which eventually led to the sexual abuse and kidnapping of their daughter Jan Broberg. Robert Berchtold was a sexual predator who managed to convince the family the inappropriate behavior he was preforming among them and their children was something to be comfortable with. Eventually Berchtold kidnapped their daughter at the age of 12 and took her to Mexico, the Brobergs convinced him to bring her back. When they returned, Berchtold was arrested but all charges were dropped by the family. The Brobergs continued to let Robert have a relationship with Jan, which led to a second kidnapping that occurred when Jan was 14. The disturbing nature of this film comes from the way Berchtold was able to wiggle his way into a family and have them completely brainwashed, let alone how unsettling it is that a family would continue for this behavior to continue.


The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

Where to Watch: HBO/HBO Max

Produced by Andrew Jarecki after his feature film debut All Good Things, based on the life and crime of Robert Durst. The Jinx is a look at the never-before-seen footage and audio tapes between Jarecki and Durst before and after the release of the film and before the documentary. Exploring the unsolved 1982 disappearance of his wife and death of Durst family friend Susan Berman and neighbor Morris Black. The unsettling aspect of this series comes with many graphic images of dismemberment and mutilation of human bodies, making its way onto this list. But the series has gained a larger audience since in 2018, when the prosecution discovered sufficient evidence for Durst to be tried for the death of Susan Berman. Trial was scheduled to begin in March 2, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The new trial date has now been set to April 12, 2021 where Durst will finally face trial for first-degree murder.


Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Where to Watch: HBO/HBO Max

Another documentary focusing on sexual abuse among a family, Capturing the Friedmans was the first documentary produced by Andrew Jarecki before he went on to produce The Jinx. Taking place in the late 1980’s, a normal middle-class jewish family from Long Island have their life flipped upside down when Arnold Friedman is charged of sodomy and sexual abuse of children. Arnold was a well-respected teacher, but held the secret of being attracted to young boys and purchasing as well as distributing child pornography. Eventually leading to the sexual abuse and sodomy of his young students performed by not only himself, but his son Jesse as well. The documentary is told from the points-of-view of the law enforcement involved in the arrest and prosecution, as well as the Friedman family. Watching as the family begins to fall apart from this terrible secret and how the consequences of Arnolds actions has affected them, as his sons desperately argue the innocence of their father.


Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017)

Where to Watch: HBO/HBO Max

Unsure where to exactly start with this insane documentary. We will begin with the deception and manipulation of Dee Dee Blanchard, as she cared for her mentally and physically incapable daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard. As Dee Dee would manipulate Gypsy into believing she has all sorts of health issues that were nonexistent. To the point where Gypsy would begin to develop such symptoms or realize they were not true, Dee Dee did this to gain access to welfare and other types of living assistance. Eventually when Gypsy was old enough, she met a young man online and developed a relationship with him. She had pleaded to him to save her from her mother’s confinement, leading to the young man entering the home to kill Dee Dee and rape Gypsy. When they are both finally arrested, it is revealed Gypsy and her boyfriend has planned this attack on her mother to ensure Gypsy’s freedom. Even if you have interest at checking out this documentary, you can also look at the series it is based on with Hulu titled The Act.