1. Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO)
Gypsy Rose Blanchard is currently serving a 10-year sentence for the 2015 grisly murder of her mother Dee Dee. The mother-daughter duo’s story went viral the following year thanks to a stunning report by Michelle Dean for BuzzFeed. In 2017, it was director Erin Lee Carr’s turn to provide more insight on Dee Dee’s murder, how she managed to convince an entire community in Missouri that her daughter had suffered from chronic illness, and what led Gypsy, who wasn’t really sick, to plan her mother’s murder. Using interviews with Gypsy from prison, medical records, home videos, and text messages, Mommy Dead and Dearest will stay with you for a while.
2. Strong Island (Netflix)
How does an unarmed victim become the prime suspect in his own murder? This is the tragic story of William Ford Jr., whose 1992 death inside a Long Island body shop set off a wave of questions about race, class, and a flawed legal system. Directed by William’s brother Yance Ford, Strong Island earned a Special Jury Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
3. Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC)
The first season of Law & Order True Crime examined the real-life trials of Lyle and Erik Menendez, who in 1996 were convicted for the murder of their parents. Even if the Law & Order brand is not your usual cup of tea, take comfort in the fact that Edie Falco’s performance as the brothers’ defense attorney Leslie Abramson was one of the brighter spots on TV in 2017.
4. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (Doubleday)
The sensational murders of members of the Osage Indian tribe in Oklahoma during the 1920s – just when oil was discovered on their land – are the center of Grann’s book, which also highlights the early days of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. If you haven’t gotten to this one, pick up a copy ASAP: Leonardo DiCaprio has been in talks to make a big screen adaptation of the book with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.
5. My Favorite Murder (podcast)
Hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff have been telling you about various murders on a weekly basis since early 2016, but this year, the dynamic duo took things on the road. (They’re still out there.) It’s hard to insert humor and fun into the serious topic of murder, but if anyone can do it, it’s these two. Plus, it’s always a treat when their cats Elvis and Mimi show up.
6. Mindhunter (Netflix)
If you’ve been having sleepless nights thinking about real-life serial killers (Jerry Brudos, Edmund Kemper, and the “BTK Strangler” Dennis Rader, to name a few) featured in Mindhunter, prepare for more sleepless nights. Before the show even premiered in October, Netflix announced a second season.
7. Member of the Family by Dianne Lake (HarperCollins)
Dianne Lake was just 14 when she joined Charles Manson’s cult, making her the youngest member of the Manson Family. While she didn’t participate in the horrific murders in August 1969, Lake served as one of the key witnesses at Manson’s trial. Her memoir includes everything from growing up in Minnesota to what led her to become one of “Charlie’s girls.” Manson died at the age of 83 on Nov. 19, 2017.
8. The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)
Journalist Jeff Guinn offers an exhaustive new take on the events leading up to the deaths of more than 900 Jim Jones followers, who were told to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their settlement in Guyana in 1978. For the book, Guinn pored over FBI files, interviewed Jonestown survivors, and visited Jones’s hometown of Crete, Indiana.
9. The Keepers (Netflix)
The seven-episode documentary series explored the unsolved murder of beloved nun and Catholic high school teacher, Sister Cathy Cesnik, whose body was discovered in a landfill outside Baltimore in 1970. The series ran on the theory that Cesnik was killed after she threatened to expose the school chaplain – Father Joseph Maskell – for alleged sexual abuse against students. Following the show’s premiere on Netflix, viewers urged for the Baltimore Archdiocese to release records about Maskell. In June 2017, the Archdiocese addressed Maskell, Cesnik’s murder, and The Keepers in a newly-added FAQs section on its official website.
10. Heavens Gate (podcast)
Glynn Washington, perhaps best known for Snap Judgment, knows a thing or two about cults: he was raised in one. Which makes him near perfect as the host of Heaven’s Gate, a 10-part series about the 1997 mass suicide of 39 people who believed their deaths would result in getting picked up by a UFO following the Comet Hale-Bopp. (FWIW, Washington once belonged to the Worldwide Church of God, but as he told USA Today, it preached a lot of “nonsense.”)
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