More than 170 million people downloaded the first season of NPR’s popular true-crime podcast “Serial,” spawning widespread scrutiny over the prosecution and conviction of Adnan Syed.
Syed was sentenced in 2000 to life in prison for the 1999 kidnapping and murder of his 18-year-old Baltimore high school classmate and ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
Now, as Syed remains behind bars despite the fact that a court overturned his conviction, HBO is unveiling “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” a new four-part documentary series about the controversial trial.
“The Case Against Adnan Syed” will premiere March 10 on HBO.
True crime documentary, “Abducted in Plain Sight,” which recently became available on Netflix, initially seems to be a nightmarish but otherwise unremarkable suburban kidnapping story.
Set in the 1970s, Robert and Mary Ann Broberg and their three young daughters, Jan, Karen, and Susan, are a nice Mormon family from Pocatello, Idaho, who quickly become close pals with their new neighbor, Robert Berchtold and his wife and kids.
So close that the Broberg girls come to view Berchtold, known as “B,” like a second father, especially middle daughter Jan.
Somewhat predictably, the documentary soon reveals that in 1974, two years after befriending the Brobergs, Berchtold picked up 12-year-old Jan from school and disappeared with her for five weeks.
Not so predictable is the eventual revelation that, in 1976, Berchtold abducted Jan for a second time.
This stranger-than-fiction true story only gets more outrageous, dumbfounding, and utterly unpredictable from there.
“I’m not an animal. I’m not crazy. I’m just a normal individual,” Ted Bundy says in a snippet of an interview at the beginning of the new Netflix documentary series, “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.”
Of course, as one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history, Bundy’s self-assessment is beyond suspect. But these sorts of statements make for fascinating television, even when it seems like every channel that used to survive off sappy movies or reality TV is now careening into a constant flow of true-crime.
“I trace this explosion that we currently live in, this insatiable appetite for [crime] programming, all the way back to the Big Bang of the Ted Bundy trial,” director Joe Berlinger tells Rolling Stone.
Berlinger, the filmmaker behind the four-part Netflix series, should know.
Best known for his films, “Brother’s Keeper” and the “Paradise Lost” documentary trilogy — which focused on wrongful convictions and the broken U.S. legal system — Berlinger also directed the buzzy forthcoming feature “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” which tells the story of Bundy through the eyes of his long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer.
Watch “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” on Netflix.
“Maybe there is a serial killer that is killing all these people or something, all these missing people.”
That theory — with little support — comes about ten minutes into the new Netflix docuseries, “Murder Mountain,” which examines the high rate of missing persons in Humboldt County, California. And while Humboldt has led California in such reports, many, including the county sheriff, say the way their region is depicted on the show is highly sensationalized.
In a lengthy Facebook post last week, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office attempted to combat the narrative, saying the producers relied on “unofficial and biased sources” to depict the county where people vanish and are never found.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, which was interviewed for the docuseries, the entire premise of the show changed after filming began.
“The original plot line of this series, as presented to the Sheriff’s Office upon consideration of our participation, was to examine the changes in the county as a result of marijuana legalization, highlight the challenges of law enforcement in rural jurisdictions, and present a historic comparison of the county’s ‘green rush’ and timber rushes,” wrote the Sheriff’s Department. “At some point during their time in Humboldt County, the producers of ‘Murder Mountain’ decided to change the scope of the series to focus on the ongoing homicide investigation of Garret Rodriguez.”
California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday ordered new tests of physical evidence in the case of Kevin Cooper, whose high profile quadruple-murder conviction three decades ago has come into question in recent years.
Brown said in a statement that he was directing “limited retesting of certain physical evidence in the case and appointing a retired judge as a special master to oversee this testing, its scope and protocols.”
The case dates to 1983, when three members of the Ryen family and an unrelated boy, 11-year-old Christopher Hughes, were found hacked and slashed to death in a Chino Hills home.
Cooper has maintained his innocence throughout the case and has claimed that law enforcement planted evidence and ignored statements by witnesses that pointed to other possible suspects. He’s lost more than a dozen appeals.
Cooper’s case was featured in a 2015 episode of “Death Row Stories” and a 2004 episode of “48 Hours.”