These True Crimes Would Make Really Compelling TV Shows

Ryan Murphy, please read.

If you’re hooked on American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, we don’t blame you. The Ryan Murphy-produced show is one of the most in-depth looks into the O.J. Simpson trial (for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman) that we’ve ever seen. The fact that everything we’re watching actually happened is what makes the show so compelling. The next season of the show will focus on Hurricane Katrina, but we have some suggestions for ACS’ third–if we get one, of course. We strongly urge Murphy and his team to consider these eight gripping–and culturally potent–crimes for the small screen treatment.

  • 1 The Manson Family Murders
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    Lifetime just aired a retelling of the nine gruesome murders committed by Charles Manson and his cult of followers, but we think this story is worth the Murphy treatment. There are the actual killings, yes, but so much more is at play here: religion, manipulation and sex. Similar to Simpson’s trial, there is a natural theatricality to the case that would work well on television.

  • 2 The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway
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    America was gripped by Holloway’s story. (The then-18-year-old disappeared while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba.) The case remains unsolved, but it was reported Holloway died and/or was sold into slavery. (The legitimacy of these conclusions has since been questioned.)

  • 3 Lyle and Erik Menendez
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    In 1994, the Menendez brothers captured national attention when they murdered their wealthy parents with shotguns in their ritzy Beverly Hills home. Why two brothers who seemingly have everything would do this is a big question that fueled people’s interest in this case. A TV movie about the case came out in 1994, but we think it’s time for a series.

  • 4 The Disappearance of Nicholas Barclay
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    This one is strange: In 1994, a young Texas boy, Barclay, disappeared. In 1997, police found Frédéric Bourdin in Europe, but he claimed to be Barclay. And get this: The cops believed this con-artist and sent him to Texas to live with the family. Five months later, everything came to a head. You can watch The Imposter, a documentary about the case, on Netflix.

  • 5 The Murder of Trayvon Martin and Trial of George Zimmerman
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    In February 2012, Martin–an unarmed 17-year-old kid–was shot by Zimmerman, who spotted the teen on a neighborhood watch. Zimmerman was eventually acquitted of all charges, creating a cultural and racial firestorm that captivated the United States. Adapting the story into a television show could help keep the conversation going and, maybe, create some impactful change.

  • 6 The Fritzl case
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    This true Austrian crime story is too difficult to fathom. Josef Fritzl kept his daughter Elisabeth captive for 24 years in his basement where he both physically and sexually abused her. The Oscar-nominated film Room is partially inspired by this case. However, something about telling a story that really happened is more harrowing. (This didn’t technically have anything to do with America, but we can fudge a little, right?)

  • 7 The Central Park Jogger Case
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    Four Black teenagers and one Hispanic teen were convicted of assaulting, raping and sodomizing 28-year-old Trisha Meili, a woman who was jogging through Central Park in 1989. The crime was a racially explosive case that divided the city. Following the convictions of the five teens, a serial rapist, Matias Reyes, eventually came forward and claimed he committed the rape…alone.

  • 8 The Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping
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    In the wee hours of the morning on June 4, 2002, Brian David Mitchell broke into the Smart’s Salt Lake City, Utah home and kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth. Nine excruciating months later, she was found. Between those dates, America waited breathlessly for updates. The physical kidnapping–and its subsequent media sensation–has the makings of a great TV show, one we’re certain Smart would approve of.