If you’re searching for your next true crime fix, look no further! We’re rounding up a list of six Hulu original docuseries that shine a light on unsolved cases spanning back decades.
The true crime genre has grown more popular than ever, from podcasts to various short documentary series on streaming platforms. Many real-life stories have gotten picked up and expanded into dramatized shows, but docuseries — always involving an investigative journalist — allow space for informational news and truth. It allows witnesses, family, and investigators to give their firsthand accounts of the story, which is especially important to cover when crimes go unsolved for years. We’re highlighting some Hulu originals from the past year and a half that focus on cold cases, which still need to spread awareness to find answers and justice for the victims.
Wild Crime is a two-season series consisting of four episodes each, the first premiering on Sept. 28, 2021, with its second airing on Oct. 24, 2022. This docuseries is the first collaboration between Hulu and ABC News, which has since become a frequent partnership on the streaming service. It follows the investigative team of the National Park Service as they are tasked with solving crimes within the wilderness, which Hulu dubs the place where “bad things are bound to happen.” Set in the Rocky Mountains, the pilot season explores the death of Toni Henthorn after a terrible “accident” happened when she fell off a cliff, according to her husband’s report to authorities. With Special Agent Beth Shott, the episodes unpack that there’s much more to the story and how it might not be an accident after all, featuring accounts from close relatives, park authorities, and reporters. The sophomore season turns to Yosemite National Park after the murder of a 20-something-year-old woman went cold for 40 years when a tourist discovered a hand in 1983. It dives into who the “Jane Doe” possibly is and the investigation into the killer. Focusing on Special Agents Don Coelho, Kim Tucker, and later, her son Cullen Tucker — who identifies Jane Doe decades later using new DNA science — it offers interviews with investigators, journalists, and the victim’s friends. Wild Crime isn’t groundbreaking in terms of true crime, as there’s a sense of familiarity with people who enjoy the genre, but it’s engaging, and informative, and watching park experts dive into these cases is worthwhile. There seems to be much potential for future seasons and stories to tell.
Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders
Award-winning actress and singer Kristen Chenoweth takes on this true crime miniseries — which premiered May 24, 2022 — by returning to her Oklahoma hometown to investigate the infamous murders that shocked the Tulsa County community. Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders has four episodes that tell the story of when three young girls who were murdered in their tents during the summer of 1977. It uncovers the tragedy, its following manhunt, and the suspected killer trial, which ended up amounting to no answers, leaving the victims’ families with no justice for decades. It’s not a happy story by any means, but as new forensic technology develops over time, it can be helpful to revisit these unsolved cases to find the solution investigators and families never could, which the show looks into in “Part 4.” Chenowith seems genuinely concerned, and while having a pretty big celebrity can bring more recognition to the matter, she has no firsthand connection to the story besides being in the same school as one of the victims. She is randomly inserted, and there are moments of her singing, which feel very out of place for this documentary, but that shouldn’t take away from the compelling true story that deeply affected many. To hear more about the three girls’ story, check out some true crime podcasts that have done an episode on it, such as Crime Junkie, Mile Higher, and Morbid.
Where is Private Dulaney?
The three-part docuseries Where is Private Dulaney? examines the 1979 vanishing of Marine Private Leroy Dulaney from the Camp Lejeune post, who was reported by the Corps to have gone AWOL. His mother, Carol knows best, and thus embarks on her own investigation into her son’s mysterious disappearance. The series goes into her account and exploration for the truth, which leads her down the path of the drug world, satanic cults, and a possible serial killer. Hulu gets real personable with accounts from Dulaney’s mother, wife Brenda, his brothers, and even a prison interview with his convicted killer. His identity is teased in previews, and the whole show starts with Carol’s reading of her letter in which she pleads to then-President Carter to help find her son. The gripping series is very recent, having just premiered on the platform on Nov. 16, and is another ABC News Studio production. The story is all about Carol finding the strength to find answers for her son, showing her inspiring determination. There’s a large amount of biographical information on Private Dulaney’s mother, which makes sense as the narrative is spearheaded by her, and her powerful story of finding strength is the primary reason to tune into this gut-wrenching experience. Many can learn something new from this, whether it’s discovering Leroy Dulaney’s story in general or taking some pointers from the unstoppable Carol.
The Murders Before the Marathon
The three-episode miniseries The Murders Before the Marathon aired Sept. 5, 2022, but takes the audience back to Sept. 11, 2011, when three men — Erick Weissman, Brendan Mess, and Raphael Teken — were murdered in Waltham, Massachusetts. Local journalist Susan Zalkind looks into the connection between the Boston Marathon bombing and the triple homicide, which is still unsolved. The series is based on her book about the case, The Waltham Murders, which is currently available for preorder. Her interest in the case was rekindled when there was a manhunt for the marathon bombing suspects, one of whom considered Mess his best friend. The docuseries presents a very thought-provoking narrative about a case that has largely flown under the radar, asking some “what ifs” regarding the connection between the two crimes while providing accounts from Boston investigators, including Ed Davis, the police commissioner at the time of the bombing. Zalkind essentially poses the question, “If police investigated this case thoroughly from 18 months later, could they have prevented the bombing at the Boston Marathon?” The journalist, who was friends with Weissman, has reported on the story since it first happened, set off when she and other people close to the victims were unhappy with the lack of answers and investigation into the case. It’s a genuine and helpful look into a horrific part of Boston history that’s still fairly recent, making it well worth the watch.
Have You Seen This Man?
Have You Seen This Man? is a three-part docuseries from March 24, 2022, that is a compiled, visual representation of runaway criminal John Ruffo, which is based on the true-crime podcast of the same name by ABC Audio. An ongoing international search made Ruffo one of the most wanted U.S. fugitives after failing to show up to his 17-and-a-half-year New Jersey prison sentence on November 9, 1998. After running a computer sales company and once being an FBI informant, nicknamed the “master manipulator,” he was convicted of a $350 million bank fraud scheme. Podcast host Sunny Hostin carries over into the documentary on the open case, which really aims to ask the audience where John Ruffo is and to come forward with any information, making this new format a potentially useful tool for finally getting the answers everyone has been searching for all this time. It’s certainly a visually engaging presentation that is the same story as the six-part podcast, which fleshes details out and is welcoming for both those new and those experienced with the case story. Watch this series to catch up on a missing person for more than 20 years, as there is now a modern-day hope that someone will reach out about the felon.
The one-season, three-episode series Sasquatch fittingly premiered on April 20, 2021, featuring investigative journalist David Holthouse. The show’s story — seemingly Holthouse’s reason for curiosity for diving into this — starts from his recollection of a 1993 story he heard where three people were killed by bigfoot on a Mendocino County cannabis farm in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California. As the show continues, his interviews with various Mendocino law enforcement and local marijuana growers uncover a larger problem of missing people in the Emerald Triangle — a region that includes Mendocino, Humboldt County, and Trinity County, nicknamed for being the U.S.’s largest cannabis-producing region. Spy Rock Road is an area for lawless marijuana growing in Mendocino, which interviewees point towards a potential connection as well as with the biker gang Hells Angels. Holthouse makes for an alluring storyteller for such a fascinating story that many do not know about. It’s an easily binge-able show that is far more complex than its simple title, incorporating enough twists on its way toward discovering the original truth.