December 23, 2020

With Christmas only a few days away, I’ve decided to give you all a complete list of my personal true crime favorites that I suggest using as a gift guide for those of you who know a morbid family member… or yourself because you’re probably morbid if you’re reading this column.


You need to stay in the house anyways, so why not ensure it with reading books on the disturbing side of the human race?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

When the lovable Clutter family are murdered in their own house without any evidence left at the scene, the Kansas police are scrambling to find the culprits before they get too away while the once welcoming city of Holcomb descends into suspicion and fear. Once the killers are apprehended, the case takes an interesting turn as there’s more that meets the eye. (Be sure to do research because not all information in the book is completely accurate.)

Sons of Cain by Peter Vronsky

From a theory as to why they exist, to personal experiences with one, and the history of their crimes, Vronsky takes a look at serial killers and their psychology. I will warn you, it’s pretty graphic and doesn’t censor everything that’s graphic, so proceed reading this book with caution.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

After the killings of the nation’s most famous heirs, heiresses, and entertainers, the Los Angeles police track the murders to the strange mind of Charles Manson, a cult leader who claims to be Jesus Christ and convinced many women to spread his ways. Told from in great detail from the perspective of defense attorney Vincent Bugliosi, this book tries its best to describe what Manson and his followers were like and the bizarre world they created.

Fentanyl, Inc. by Ben Westhoff

As the drug epidemic continues to grow worse in the United States, Westhoff explores why experimenting with drugs has become more dangerous than it was in the past: fentanyl. Once used in the medical field, fentanyl has been proven ten times more deadly than any other drug, and Westhoff even goes onto the dark web, posing as a drug dealer, and travels to China to see how drugs are distributed from there to the United States.

Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey? by Charles Bosworth, Jr. and Cyril Wecht

One of the world’s infamous unsolved mysteries, Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey? revolves around the events surrounding the six-year-old girl’s murder and points the finger at all the possible suspects. Dr. Wecht, who performed Ramsey’s autopsy, vehemently convinces the reader who be believes killed her and why, which is a possible reality that’s so disturbing to accept.


A perfect way to bond with family and friends is to watch some of these choices… then begin to question how much you really know them.

Goodfellas dir. Martin Scorsese

Yes, this is actually based off of real events. From Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, we follow the story of mafia member Henry Hill and the struggle to be an active member of the mob while still being a loving husband and father with the pressure of both other members and his family surrounding him.

Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile dir. Joe Berlinger

I know. We’re at the point where we know Ted Bundy better than we know some of our family members that come over for the holidays, but this movie is a little different. We focus on Elizabeth Kloepfer and the emotional trauma she faces as she reluctantly comes to terms with the fact she was in a doting relationship with America’s most well known serial killer. Another reason I put it on the list is because it’s, well, shocking to see these crimes on screen, yet with Kloepfer’s perspective, it manages to make Bundy seem like anything but a sadistic man.

Capote dir. Bennet Miller

After hearing about the Clutter murders, writer Truman Capote goes to Kansas to cover the story with the help of childhood friend Harper Lee. However, their relationship soon crumbles after Capote begins to form a relationship one of the killers and struggles with getting unbiased information while taking advantage of the killer’s trust.

Richard Jewell dir. Clint Eastwood

Richard Jewell tries his best with every security job he gets, which sometimes leads him to being fired for being too ambitious. But when he uncovers a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he’s deemed a hero until he’s suspected of planting the bomb to gain fame and glory. He then has to fight for his innocence against the country he struggled so hard to keep safe.

Buzzfeed Unsolved: True Crime

Yeah, this one may be odd to suggest. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a reporter, and I can say these episodes are well reported. Some of them are cases that are less heard of, and the hosts’ dark humor and bantering back and forth makes even the most disturbing cases easy to digest. Besides, they’re all free, so why not take advantage of it?


Perhaps you or your friend have already read and watched these things, so why not give them something really unique? (Links in titles.)


If you or a loved one wishes to have an evening of deductive reasoning, then this is the game for you. It’s enjoyable yet challenging, and it’s realistic to the point where you can’t even trust those around you. Plus, there’s plenty of versions out there to cater to one’s tastes (The Office, has done this for example).

Cereal Killer Spoon

Admit it: you laughed.

Unsolved Case murder mystery game

Yeah, this is A LOT more challenging than Clue, being that you have to read look through over 50 documents and photos, making it even more like a real case.

Keith Morrison Mug

Because I know there’s Dateline fans out there… or are there?

Alibi Stickers

Let’s face it: you’re probably at the point where you’ve watched and read enough true crime to know how to get away with murder.

And last, but certainly not least, yet the most disturbing on the list:

A surprising amount of Jeffrey Dahmer fan gear

Remember those freaky serial killer fan girls from Tumblr? Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re the ones behind this, but to each their own. (Though I suggest you see a psychiatrist if you consider buying, for example, Kitchenware by Dahmer.)


Happy macabre shopping!

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About the Writer
Erin Brody is a Writing and Publishing senior from West Homestead and is the Editor-in-Chief/Director of Operations of The SIREN Media Group. She particularly enjoys investigative journalism and crime... writing and researching it, of course.

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