Making a Murder: 8 true crime documentaries to feast on next

You may have finished watching the story of Steven Avery, but here are some more true crime stories to sink your teeth into 

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The Independent Culture

Netflix true crime documentary Making a Murderer has proved to be a huge hit, with fans worldwide calling for the exoneration of Steven Avery, who was convicted for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

The series has turned most fans into wannabe detectives, pouring over the evidence shown across the eight-episode series, looking for legal loopholes and gaps in the evidence against Avery.

But before you give up the day job, buy a beige trench coat and take up investigative work, you can fill the Making a Murderer shaped hole with some of these other true crime documentaries.

1. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hill (plus the sequels Revelations and Purgatory)

These three documentary films, created by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, follow the story of Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, three teenagers from West Memphis, Arkansas who were accused of murdering three 8-year-old boys, who were found dead and tied up in a ditch.

The documentaries follow the trial of the three boys, and the families of the murdered boys as they seek justice. The three teenagers claim their innocence and cite that they’re being picked on for the crime of being ‘outcasts’ in the neighbourhood. They are eventually convicted of the crimes, and the final film in the series’ follows their attempts to clear their names.

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The West Memphis 3 were convicted for murders they claim they didn't commit

2. West of Memphis

If you watched, or have watched, the Paradise Lost series’, West of Memphis is worth adding to the pile. Again, it follows the trials of Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin, however this documentary looks at another possible suspect in the murders that was previously overlooked.

The film was produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who was a strong supporter in helping Damien Echols seek his release from death row, and directed by Amy J. Berg.

3. The Staircase

This miniseries follows the defence team of Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their family home in 2001. During the case, it was discovered that another woman from Peterson’s past was also found dead at the bottom of the staircase, throwing doubt onto his protests of innocence.

Making A Murderer- Where are they now?

Oscar-winning Jean-Xavier de Lestrade wrote and directed the film, which focuses as much as the effect of the trial on Peterson’s family as it does on the trial.

4. The Thin Blue Line

Directed by Errol Morris, The Thin Blue Line delves into the case of Randall Dale Adams, who was convicted for shooting a police officer after the car he was travelling in was pulled over late at night. The film reviews the case, using interviews from key figures and re-enactments of the night of the crime.

It looks at what happens when a case comes down to one person’s word against the other, as Adams was accused by someone who was in the car with him at the time of the murder.

5. Serial

Not a film, but this podcast took the Internet by storm last year. The first series, hosted by This American Life producer Sarah Koenig, followed the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999. Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend, was promptly arrested after her murder. After his first trial ended in mistrial, he was sentenced to life in prison following his second, despite his innocent plea.

The series was downloaded more than 68million times and the podcast has led to Syed being able to appeal his conviction. Season 2 has just started.

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Adnan Syed, the focus of Serial season 1

6. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The HBO series investigates Robert Durst, an American real estate heir, accused of murdering his wife Kathie, writer Susan Berman and neighbour Morris Black. Durst approached the film’s director Andrew Jarecki and offered himself up for interview, clips of which are used as part of the documentary.

Mr Jarecki had previously directed All Good Things, which was inspired by Durst’s biography. The film stars Ryan Gosling as David Marks, a character loosely based on Durst.

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Serial suspect: the property heir who was charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst

7. The Central Park Five

Trisha Meili was violently attacked and raped, leaving her in a coma for 12 days, as she jogged through Central Park in April 1989. Five teenage males were arrested, tried and jailed for assault, rape and attempted murder – all five were later acquitted. Four of the males arrested were black; one was Hispanic.

Sarah Burns, one of the directors of the documentary, was inspired to make the film after writing her undergraduate thesis on racism in media coverage. The Central Park Five covers the case from the background to interviews and the conviction of the five boys.  

8. Cropsey

This 2009 documentary looks into the urban legend of Cropsey, a New York boogeyman, whose name was used to frighten children in the area. However, the documentarians soon reveal that the real “urban legend” in the area.

The film looks into the disappearance of several children from the Staten Island area and Andre Rand, a convicted child kidnapper, who had also worked at a nearby school for disabled children, which was closed after the discovery of widespread abuse within.  

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