10 true crime docuseries to watch on Netflix while waiting for Crime Scene: the Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

Abducted in Plain Sight still and The Devil Next Door still
Stills from Abducted in Plain Sight and The Devil Next Door. Pic credit: Netflix

Coming to Netflix in February is the true-crime docuseries Crime Scene: the Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. The series will explore the mysterious death of Elisa Lam.

As Lam’s case was so highly publicized, many people are waiting in anticipation for the series’ release in hopes that it will reveal new information or add some confirmation to their various speculations.

Thankfully Netflix has a whole host of other great true crime offerings that we can watch in the meantime, and here are 10 of the best…

I Am A Killer

Originally premiering in 2018, I Am A Killer is a docuseries running over two seasons, which consists of one-on-one interviews with inmates who are on death row. 

The show forces its audience to have an intimate relationship with the perpetrators which amplifies the bone-chilling feeling that comes with watching a true-crime retelling. I Am A Killer passes the microphone past investigators and journalists and instead asks the inmates themselves to recant the stories of their murders. 

The Pharmacist 

This four-part documentary follows pharmacist Dan Schneider in his personal investigation to figure out who is responsible for the murder of his son. 

The youngster was shot and killed while buying crack cocaine in New Orleans. As this happened during the height of the opioid epidemic, the police investigating the case were not entirely helpful and they failed to humanize Schneider’s son. Instead, they just attributed it to the rise of drug-related murders in the area. 

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The Pharmacist is a heartbreaking and powerful true-crime series. It provides the perfect build-up for the eeriness that is going to come from Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.

Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer

Netflix’s true-crime documentary Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer follows the story of Richard Ramirez, a violent serial killer notoriously known under the pseudonym Night Stalker. 

Premiering roughly two weeks ago, the tagline for Night Stalker reads

Beneath the sunlit glamour of 1985 LA lurks a relentlessly evil serial killer. In this true crime story, two detectives won’t rest until they catch him.


The docuseries interviews Detectives Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, and victims and active news reporters from Ramirez’s time. It successfully let those who were affected by his crimes share their narrative, rather than spotlighting the killer.

The Devil Next Door

The Devil Next Door premiered in 2019 and consists of five episodes. It focuses on war criminal and former Nazi extermination camp guard John Demjanjuk. 

Demjanjuk died in prison while awaiting review of his guilty sentence. He was charged with accessory to murder in over 27,000 cases. This true-crime series is extremely intriguing and keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats.

This short Netflix series shows footage from Demjanjuk’s trials, recountings from his surviving victims, and interviews with those involved in his case; including his family and attorney.

Abducted in Plain Sight

This award-winning docuseries follows the two kidnappings of Jan Broberg. The story is unbelievable and even suffered quite the meme-treatment when it was added to Netflix in 2019.

Both abductions of Broberg were by a family friend who was, at the time, allowed to have an up-close-and-personal relationship with their teenage daughter. Many people blamed Broberg’s parents just as much as they blamed the perpetrator. 

Critic Jen Cheney from Variety wrote in her review that Abducted in Plain Sight featured  “parents so willfully blind to what’s going on with their own child that they make the unseen moms and dads in the Peanuts cartoons look like helicopter parents.”

Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer 

This 2019 Netflix true-crime series is highly-controversial, leaving most of its viewers with a more-bitter-than-usual taste in their mouth. 

It follows a group of online vigilantes — unqualified investigators — as they recant their experience tracking down an animal abuser who was livestreaming himself on to social media while doing his crimes. This documentary takes a few dark twists and it leaves its audience both entranced and disgusted by the way the story unfolds. 

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann was released by Netflix as a limited series. It premiered in 2019 and consists of one season which spans eight episodes. 

This investigative series is very distressing, as most are. It explores three-year-old Madeleine McCann’s missing-person status, one that is still active after over 13 years. McCann disappeared while on vacation with her parents in Portugal. 

Interviewed in this series is the former spokesperson for the McCann family, a private investigator, and a journalist who reported on the case in real-time, among many others. 

The Staircase

Throwing it back to 2004 releases, The Staircase focuses on the 2001 death of Kathleen Peterson.

The Netflix synopsis for this show is: “Accident or Murder? After the mysterious death of his wife, Michael Peterson watches his life go under the microscope.” 

This limited series has one season, consisting of 13 episodes. Originally, The Staircase only had nine episodes however, many years later the filmmakers followed up with Michael Peterson and Netflix updated the series accordingly. 

Who Killed Little Gregory?

Released in 2019, Who Killed Little Gregory? follows the disappearance and murder of the four-year-old boy Gregory Villemin which happened in 1984. This case is a never-ending tragedy that has numerous suspects. 

The series gives insight into the moving parts of the murder case, as well as the sleezy behaviors from the authorities and desperate journalists. It’s certainly a tummy-turning type of true-crime viewing.

Trial 4

Added to Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection is Trial 4, a socially-relevant crime series about the wrongful incrimination of teenager Sean K. Ellis. The series was released in November 2020 and consists of eight episodes. 

It is described by Netflix:

“Charged as a teen in the 1993 killing of a Boston cop, Sean K. Ellis fights to prove his innocence while exposing police corruption and system racism.”


The murder which starts this series was the brutal attack on cop John Mulligan. He was shot five times in the face while working a night shift back in 1993. As explored in this documentary, what preceded Mulligan’s murder was the unjust arrest of Ellis, who spent 22 years in jail as an innocent man.

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