8 Unsolved Crime Documentaries That Will Keep You Up At Night


While some true crime shows may give viewers closure in the form of justice for the victim, there are others that continue to haunt everyone involved. Cases like the murder of a six-year-old child JonBenet Ramsay collected multiple theories, deep dives and docudramas, but to date remain open cold cases without resolution preview.

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It’s the hope and intrigue that draw people to these stories time and time again. As has been the case with recent developments in Madeleine McCanndisappearance, every day there is a possibility of waking up with breaking news of new leads or an arrest. All development brings us closer to solutions, and with the help of these documentaries and crime drama episodes, the answers may be within reach.

This article contains references to crimes against children, self-harm, violence against women and other disturbing themes

Hunt for Mr. Cruel: Where is Australia’s worst serial killer?

From 1987 to 1990, a sadistic child rapist roamed the streets of Melbourne and terrorized young families, destroying any sense of safety in the city. Wearing a disturbing conical hood, the man entered the homes of girls aged between 10 and 13, tied up their families and abducted them. Two of the girls were released after a heartbreaking ordeal at her alleged home. The body of a fourth victim was found in 1991, but police are unable to link her conclusively to Mr Cruel.

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At a time when forensic evidence was in its infancy, Mr. Cruel meticulously bathed his victims and left no trace of his presence at any of the crime scenes. He carried a knife and a gun to threaten families, and most disturbingly, documented his crimes with a camera or camcorder. It was clear to the police that the soft-spoken man had been watching homes before his attacks. Despite numerous dedicated task forces, Mr. Cruel has never been identified. Watch the documentary here.


The disappearance of Richey Manic

Manic street preachers lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards was a pioneer of Cool Cymru – a leading voice of Welsh-born politicized rock rebellion. The outspoken intellectual befriended the original lineup of the Preachers as a driver and roadie until they adopted him as their main spokesman and fourth member in 1989. lacked in musical ability, he made up for it with powerful prose, contributing 80% of the lyrics to the band’s most critically acclaimed album The Holy Bible.

Edwards was open about his struggle with severe depression, self-harm and anorexia. In 1991, he carved “4real” into his arm with a razor blade during an interview with an NME reporter Steve Lamacq. The wound required eighteen stitches. In 1994, he had twice entered the hospital and rehab for treatment. On February 1, 1995, the day he was to fly to the United States for the group’s concert Holy Bible tour, Richey Edwards has disappeared. His past behavior may have led investigators to assume he committed suicide, but those closest to Edwards (and Edwards himself) insisted he would never have gone this far. Watch the documentary here.

The Beaumont Children: What Really Happened?

On January 26, 1966, Joan, Arnaand Grant Beaumont (aged nine, seven and four), took a short bus ride from their home to Glenelg Beach, a popular hotspot for tourists and locals alike with white sand and surf music. After being dropped off there by their father the day before and getting home safely, their mother allowed them to make the short trip and waited for them at home on the midday bus.

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When the children did not return by 2 p.m., their parents scoured the area and soon after reported them missing. Several witnesses claimed to have seen the children with a “tall, thin man in his thirties in a bathing suit”. Their mother described her children as shy, but an offhand comment Arnna made the day before that Jane had “a boyfriend on the beach” suggested the man had worked to gain their trust. Despite countless suspects and investigations, the case remains unsolved and is often referred to as Australia’s loss of innocence. Watch the documentary here

The True Story of the Tylenol Murders

In September 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died suddenly. Their names were Mary Kellermann (12), Adam Janus (27), Stanley Janus (25), Therese Janus (19), Mary McFarland (31), Paula Prince (35) and Mary Reiner (27). Although only the Janus family is known to each of the victims, it was quickly established what connected them: they had all recently taken a capsule of extra-strength Tylenol.

Police found that in addition to the five bottles seized from the victims’ homes, a few other contaminated bottles were found in stores. Police speculated that someone had taken bottles from several Chicago-area stores, mixed capsules with potassium cyanide, and replaced them to be purchased by unsuspecting customers. This case led to the introduction of tamper evident packaging and security seals worldwide. The killer was never found. Watch the documentary here.

MH370 – MH370: The Lost Flight

A Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing took off on March 8, 2014 and was never seen again. The plane disconnected from air traffic control 40 minutes into the flight, but was tracked by military radar for another hour. ATC saw the plane veer off course, flying over the Malay Peninsula and the Andaman Sea before disappearing completely 200 nautical miles northwest of Penang. Although small pieces of debris were located, the aircraft was never found and all 227 and 12 crew members are presumed dead.

Devastatingly, four months later, a second Malaysian Airlines plane (MH17) suffered tragedy when it was shot down by a Russian Buk 9M83 surface-to-air missile while flying over Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers. and 15 crew members. While there is at least one explanation for what happened to MH17 (as despicable as it is), the families of MH370 passengers still don’t know why, or how, they lost their loved ones. Watch the docuseries here (soon on A&E History).

Night Shift Nightmare: The Unsolved Austin Yogurt Shop Murders

In 1991, four teenage girls, Amy Ayers, Eliza Thomas, and Jennifer and Sarah Harbison, were hanging out at a yogurt shop, two of them were working, the other two were waiting for their friends and a ride home. At midnight, a police patrolman reported that the I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt! the store was in flames. First responders soon discovered the bodies of four girls, all naked, and two had been sexually assaulted.

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Although the FBI has a Y chromosome match to DNA found on one of the victims, the fragment only narrows the search down to thousands. Several men have been linked to the crime, two of whom suffered false convictions, but to this day the crime remains officially unsolved. It is hoped that advances in DNA technology will soon reduce the pool of suspects and that justice will be served. Watch the documentary here.

The West Memphis Three: An Identity Murder Mystery

In 1993, three eight-year-old boys cycled to a nearby woods called Robin Hood Hills. They never came back. The subsequent investigation and false conviction of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwinand Jessie Misskelley has been the subject of numerous documentaries. The miscarriage of justice they suffered resulted in one of the most studied criminal trials in the world. Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released in 2011, but at the root of it all were three little boys who never got justice.

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While other documentaries have focused on the trial, The West Memphis Three: An Identity Murder Mystery also highlights the crime itself and possible forensic leads overlooked or dismissed by previous investigations. Made in 2020, it is also the most recent WM3 documentary, so it contains the most up-to-date information. Unfortunately, one fact remains – the crime remains unsolved. Available to stream on Tubi.

the impostor

Another well-documented unsolved case is the 1994 disappearance of a 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay. The teenager had been at the local basketball courts all day and used a public phone to call his stepbrother Jason for a ride when it started to get dark. Jason chided him for calling while their mother was sleeping (getting ready for her night shift) and told him to walk away. Nicholas Barclay had not been seen since.

We won’t spoil the documentary for you, because it’s a shocking watch. Whatever conclusion you may draw at the end, it should be noted that Nicholas’ teachers had reported seeing bruises on his body, leaving several unanswered questions about the days leading up to his disappearance. Available to stream on Tubi.

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