5 true crime recommendations for the spooky season

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I love watching true crimes because as a psychology student I’ve always been fascinated by how the human mind works and what drives one person to harm another. But I’m also a true crime fanatic because when I watch I feel like I’m learning a lot more than just a criminal. I enjoy witnessing every twist, turn, and dead end, seeing how an investigation leads to a conclusion, and learning about the culture of the time. I also feel that as a woman, watching true crime makes me aware of many potential dangers, because, unfortunately, women are often the main victims of this genre. Forget the Boogeyman and Chucky: these documentaries show that there is nothing scarier than humanity itself. Without further ado, here are five true crime recommendations you can watch on Netflix this spooky season.

Night stalker: The hunt for a serial killer

This four-part documentary follows the shooting of Richard Ramirez, also known as “Night Stalker”. Ramirez was a devotee of Satanism who plunged Southern California into an era of widespread fear during the summers of 1984 and 1985. He typically committed his crimes at night, when people left their windows cracked from the searing heat of California. This is how he broke into people’s houses. His victims also crossed all lines of gender, age, and ethnicity, so no one was truly safe from his reign of terror. I liked this series because I felt it really captured the acute hysteria and panic that Californians were feeling at that time. And it’s no wonder, as many other serial killers were known to have operated in the area at the time, such as the Golden State Killer and the Grim Sleeper.

crime scene: the disappearance at the hotel cecil

This one always sends shivers down your spine because of the number of questions that remain unanswered. The Cecil Hotel is a Los Angeles hotel with an extremely dark history. Murders, kidnappings and suicides are just a few of the long list of horrific events that have taken place under the roof of this hotel. Most notable is the story of Elisa Lam, a Canadian tourist who was found in the rooftop water tank after hotel residents reported a strange taste in the water. Her death was shrouded in a host of mysterious circumstances, as the coroner called it an “accidental drowning” caused by the bipolar drugs she was taking at the time. The weird part? Elisa could have removed the lid of the water tank to get in, but when the maintenance worker found her body, the lid was still in place. This action could not have been done by anyone but another person, which raises many more questions than answers. This documentary is made up of four episodes.

House of Secrets: The Burari Dead

What could make a family of 11 hang themselves? That’s what this three-episode series aims to solve. House of Secrets is set in the Burari district of Delhi, India, and details the circumstances that caused three generations of the same family to participate in a ritual mass suicide. At first glance, the Chundawat family looked like an average middle-class family. The mixed family system is common in Indian households, and in this house lived three siblings, their spouses and children, and the matriarch. On July 1, 2018, each family member was found hanging on the first floor of the house in a circular formation with their limbs tied, blindfolded and their mouths gagged. The matriarch was strangled in an adjacent room. The case sparked nationwide controversy as people called for further investigation when detectives ruled it a suicide, and family relatives said the behavior does not didn’t look like them. Do you want to know more? You will have to look and see…

American Murder: Family Next Door

I watched this documentary a while ago, but it still stuck with me. Footage taken from the responding officer’s body cameras detail the events following the 2018 disappearance and murder of Shanann Watts and her two daughters, aged three and four. This crime was reported to the police by her husband Chris. The film uses social media posts, text messages and home videos to bring viewers closer to the Watts family and depict their life at home. I think this documentary really shows that looks can be very deceiving and that all may not be what it seems when it comes to a perfect all-American family. This recommendation differs from the others on this list because it is a movie instead of a multi-episode series. In just under an hour and thirty minutes, American Murder skillfully uses its short screen time to cover all the important details of this case, as well as its shocking conclusion.

conversations with a killer: the recordings of john wayne gacy

Just listening to a killer’s voice can be a chilling experience. But hearing them talk about who they killed, why they killed, and even trying to justify their crimes are much scarier. The Conversations with a Killer The series has followed big names in the serial killer world such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and most recently Jeffrey Dahmer. The John Wayne Gacy segment is the only one I’ve watched so far, but it was 3 episodes spent on the edge of my seat when I learned of Gacy’s 33 kill streak in Chicago, Illinois. His targets were usually gay men and boys. He would lure them into his home and pretend to show them a magic trick that involved his victim putting on handcuffs. But once they got them, it became clear what happened next wasn’t going to be anything magical. One of the weirdest facts about Gacy is that he had an alter ego known as “Pogo the Clown” that he regularly slipped into for charity events and children’s hospitals. Because they still haven’t identified all of his victims, the final image in this documentary is a phone number to call if you think your loved one fell victim to his in the 1970s, a very dark note for to end.

About Jean R. Manzer

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