Not since the first season of the Serial podcast has a true-crime documentary gripped the public quite like Making a Murderer has unexpectedly done. The Netflix series tells the fascinating story of a Wisconsin man, Steven Avery, who was exonerated from a sexual assault conviction, only to be found guilty of murder after his release from prison.
Set in the town of Manitowoc and filmed over the course of 10 years, Making A Murderer gives unprecedented access to Avery's family, the legal proceedings and the convict himself through taped prison phone conversations. The hook of the series rests on whether Avery, along with his nephew Brendan Dassey, really did murder photographer Teresa Halbach, or whether he was the victim of a framing by the local authorities.
It is all truly gripping, and like other recent documentaries in the realm of true crime, the popularity of Making a Murderer has transcended a mere good review from critics, spawning a new wave of armchair sleuths analysing evidence themselves to determine Avery's innocence.
Thanks to the Christmas holidays, many viewers have completed the 10-part series following a mammoth binge-watching session. So for those keen to sink their teeth into another, IBTimes UK suggests some other options...
It became the most downloaded podcast in history towards the end of 2014, and continues to entice new theories today. Adnan Syed was found guilty of murdering his high school ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and was given a life sentence. Syed's conviction rested on the star witness and testimony of his acquaintance and former drug dealer, Jay Wilds. However, Syed has always maintained his innocence – so is the wrong man in prison for a crime he did not commit?
Led by Syed's family friend Rabia Chaudry, the Undisclosed podcast picked up where Serial left off – and a lot that it left out. Undisclosed delves deeper to prove Syed's innocence and dispels a lot of the common beliefs surrounding his case. If you thought Serial was gripping, wait until you hear everything broken down by legal eagles Chaudry, Susan Simpson and Colin Miller.
This miniseries, shot by filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, documents the murder trial of best-selling author Michael Peterson, who stood accused of murdering his wife Kathleen. Lestrade takes the viewer behind the scenes as Peterson works through the case to determine whether Kathleen accidentally fell down the stairs of the marital home or if she was bludgeoned over the head. Believe it or not, there is even a 'death by owl' theory thrown in the mix.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Nobody could have predicted that the story of the American property heir could have been so interesting – and even more so, bizarre. The Jinx documents the disappearance of Durst's wife Kathie, the execution-style killing of his close friend Susan Berman and the murder and dismemberment of his neighbour Morris Black. Durst is at the center of it all, and the last moments of The Jinx's final episode are some of the greatest in TV history.
The Central Park Five
A heartbreaking tale of race, rape and the affects they have on five young men wrongly accused and imprisoned for one of the most appalling crimes. Female jogger Trisha Meili was sexually assaulted in 1999 in a corner of New York City's sprawling Central Park, which a group of African-American and Hispanic men were accused of committing. The Central Park Five takes a look at the injustice of the conviction of these men and how they struggled to build their lives after being acquitted.
Not exactly documenting a murder case, but gripping nonetheless. Bart Layton's film examines what happens when a Spanish man claims to be the 16-year-old missing son of a couple in Texas. What unfolds when the young man 'reunites' with the family makes for an unbelievable story.
A dangerous online love triangle spills out into real life, but not everyone is as it seems. Thomas Montgomery is a married man who murders his co-worker over a woman, going under the name of Jessi, that they were both involved with in an online chatroom. However, there is a twist in the tale when the true identity of Jessi is revealed.