Got a thirst for binging on dark content? If so, the shows, documentaries, and podcasts of 2017 about true crime stories should be more than satisfactory.
From unsolved mysteries to stranger-than-fiction revelations, we look back at some of the best shows this year about true crime:
1. Dirty John (Podcast)
Dirty John, a six-part podcast from the Los Angeles Times and journalist Christopher Goffard, tells the riveting story of how one woman and her family were affected by a diabolical man she met from an online dating site.
The podcast moves like a mystery thriller. One aspect of the story opens the door to another; you know something terrible is going to happen, but you’ll never predict what and when.
It’s a chilling warning to anyone looking for love online that sometimes, that “great guy” is really your worst nightmare.
To find out the shocking details and ending of the story, listen to the podcast. And if you’re in a situation in which you believe that someone you care about is dating a toxic, shady or otherwise creepy person, here are a couple of things you can do to try to help.
2. The Confession Tapes (Netflix)
The idea that someone would admit to a crime he or she didn’t commit may seem unbelievable until you take a closer look at the psychological effects of interrogations.
As The Confession Tapes reveals, innocence can look worse than guilt, a lie detector isn’t a foolproof way of detecting deception and suggestive interview techniques can actually create vivid and complex – false – memories in someone.
This fascinating documentary not only reveals some of the failings of the justice system but also emphasizes that “all of us could falsely confess to something.”
It’ll make you think twice before talking to the police without a lawyer.
3. Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO)
This chilling documentary goes to show that not everything is what it seems.
Mommy Dead and Dearest tell the true story of Dee Dee Blancharde, a (seemingly) supportive single mother and Gypsy, her (apparently) terminally-ill daughter.
Everything seems normal – loving, in fact – about this mother-daughter duo until Dee Dee is found murdered in her home and Gypsy goes missing.
It turns out, Gypsy was never really sick at all. For years, Dee Dee had told her daughter and others, including doctors, that Gypsy suffered from a long list of illnesses. In reality, all signs pointed to a syndrome called Munchausen by proxy, wherein a person induces or claims illness or injury for no obvious benefit than attention and sympathy.
At 23-years-old, Gypsy realized the condition of her life and plotted to have her mother killed. With the aid of a man she met online, she did just that.
She’s currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
4. The Keepers (Netflix)
Some crimes take years to solve. Others remain a mystery.
The case of the 1969 murder of Catholic school teacher, Cathy Cesnik is among those still unsolved. The Baltimore County Police are still working on figuring out who killed her, calling it “one of our most active cold cases.”
At the time, no arrests were made. It wasn’t until the 1990s that speculation about a suspect and a motive came to light, as several students came forward with sex abuse claims against the school chaplain, Anthony Joseph Maskell.
Maskell denied the accusations until his death in 2001. Many believe Sister Cathy, as she was called, knew about the abuse and that Maskell either killed her or had a responsibility for her death to silence her.
The Keepers explores this theory through interviews with those closest to the investigation.
5. Heaven’s Gate (Podcast)
In March 1997, 39 people killed themselves in what would be the largest mass suicide in American history. And it left the country asking, “Why?”
The cult was called Heaven’s Gate and is recognized as one of the most notorious cults of the 20th century. It started in the 1970s and gained traction in the 1990s by using the Internet to share their beliefs.
Heaven’s Gate, the podcast, is narrated by Snap Judgement host, Glynn Washington, who is a former cult member himself.
As he said, Heaven’s Gate is “what would happen if my own background went really crazy off-the-rails, if I had made a couple extra right turns and ended up in something a lot different.”