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Top 10 True Crime Television Movies of All Time

Updated on March 27, 2013
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I have always found true crime interesting. The reasons people commit crimes vary. Some of the reasons seem acceptable, but they never are. These 10 movies cover all types of reasons, but in the end they are much the same in that they are crimes and wrong. If you like watching true crime movies these 10 movies are my Top 10 favorites. I am reviewing them in no particular order.

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The Blue Eyed Butcher was released in 2013 on Lifetime Network. The movie starring Lisa Edelstein (House), Justin Bruening (All My Children) and Sara Paxton (Summerland) is based on the 2003 stabbing death of Jeff Wright. His wife Susan Wright was convicted of the death and is currently serving time for the crime. The film covers the trial and shows their relationship in flashbacks. I would give this movie a rating of 4 out of 5.

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The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story is a 2004 television movie based on the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn son. The movie stars Dean Cain (Lois & Clark), Sarah Brown (General Hospital) and Tracy Middendorf (Boardwalk Empire). Scott Peterson was charged with the killing of Laci, but the movie was released before the trial was even complete. Scott would not be convicted till 10 months after the movie aired. This story became a national sensation and the Lifetime Network rushed to release the movie while the crime was still in the headlines. I give this movie only 2 1/2 out of 5 because it was so rushed. The movie feels unfinished because it aired before the trial was concluded. Scott is currently on death row in California.

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The movie Small Sacrifices was a big success on NBC and based on the book by Ann Rule of the same name. Starring Farrah Fawcett (Charlie's Angels), Ryan O'Neal (Love Story, Bones) and John Shea (Lois & Clark, Gossip Girl) the murder and attempted murders of three children in 1983 are the crime this 1989 movie covers. The children were attacked by their mother Diane Downs and her lies add twists and turns to this movie that was a two night event. There are a few changes made to the movie including the names of the children and the lead prosecutor who would later adopted the surviving children. Diane is currently in prison serving a life sentence. This movie is one of the best television movies ever made. I have to give this one 5 out of 5.

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The life of a New York mafia members family is so full of crimes and drama it makes for a fantastic television movie. The 1993 movie called Love, Honor and Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage originally aired on CBS and was a two night event. The marriage and relationship of Bill Bonanno and Rosalie Profaci was the lead story in this movie starring Eric Roberts (Heroes) and Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life) the crimes of the family and Bill are a strong presence in this movie. Bill would serve 2 different prison sentences totaling 12 years for his crimes. Bill died of many years after his time in prison of natural causes and Rosalie is still alive and living in Arizona. This is one of the best mini series that I have ever watched. I would recommend this one as a must see and give it a 5 out of 5.

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Betty Broderick became one of the most famous scorned housewives in America. Betty married Dan Broderick in 1969 and supported him as he got two degrees and raised 4 children. Dan would destroy that life and begin an affair with his assistant Linda Kolkena. A nasty divorce would follow and Dan would marry Linda. 7 months later Betty murdered them both as they slept.Those events and the following trial would become the 2 part 1992 CBS movie event. A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (Part 1) and Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter (Part 2) still occasionally airs on Lifetime Network. The movie starring Meredith Baxter (Family Ties), Stephen Collins (7th Heaven) and Kelli Williams (The Practice, Lie To Me) was the perfect cast. The drama still continues for Betty who is serving time for her crimes and has not shown remorse. This caused her to be denied parole 2010 and she could remain behind bars till 2021. This movie was one of the all time best television movies and is the one that many are compared to. If you want to see a good crime movie I would see this one. I give it a 5 out of 5.

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Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield covers the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein in 1950s Wisconsin. The 2007 movie starring Kane Holder (multiple Friday the 13th movies) and Adrienne Frantz (The Bold And The Beautiful) gives a great view of the crimes of a mad man. This killer inspired many of Hollywood's classic horror movie characters in movies like Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs. Ed Gein was only charged with one murder, but body parts where also found in his barn. He was also charged with digging up over 15 graves. (There were other murders that he was accused of, but never charged.) Gein was found to be insane and placed in a mental institution for the rest of his life. He died of natural causes in 1984. This movie was one of the most creepy true crime movies I have ever watched. It has the feeling of classic horror movie and would be the perfect movie for fans of the genre. I would give this movie a 4 out of 5.

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The 2000 movie based on the story of Mary Kay Letourneau and her victim originally aired on Lifetime. All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Latourneau Story starring Penelope Ann Miller (Men of A Certain Age, Saving Lincoln) and Mercedes Ruehl (Frazier) would be a big success for the network. The elementary school teacher's relationship with a 13-year-old student became a national scandal and tear a family apart. The married mother of 4 became pregnant by Vili Fialaau two times and was imprisoned for 7 years. The biggest shocker came after her release when the two married. They are now raising the two children who were raised by his mother till Mary Kay finished her parole. This movie was a 5 out of 5 for me. I watched it more then once because there were so many great details.

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The 2002 movie based on the 1998 book by former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman would bring new light to the 1975 murder case of Martha Moxley. Murder In Greenwich brought the cold case back to the attention of the police in Greenwich, Connecticut. The movie starring Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU) and Maggie Grace (Taken) finally helped solve the crime after a terrible investigation. Kennedy cousin, Michael Skakel was finally tried in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years. He was denied parole in 2012. This movie could at times be a little hard to follow if you were not knowledgeable of the case. I would give it a 3 out of 5.

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The television movie Amish Grace starring Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Father of the Bride), Tammy Blanchard (Guiding Light) and Matt Letscher (The Carrie Diaries) premiered on Lifetime in 2010. Based on the 2006 Amish school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania where 10 girls where shot by a lone gunman and 5 of them died that movie showed how it shocked the nation. The shooter committed suicide when the police arrived leaving the families not get true justice. This movie was done very well, but because the killer died the answers never really made clear. This is why I give it only a 3 out of 5. It leaves you to frustrated.

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The 1994 movie Lies of the Heart: The Story of Laurie Kellogg is the story of Laurie and Bruce Kellogg. Laurie was just 16-years-old when her stepfather sold her to 32-year-old Bruce Kellogg for $500. After 11 years of marriage Laurie decides the abuse at the hands of Bruce had become too much and enlists teenage friends to kill him. They sht and kill him while he slept in the couple's vacation home. The movie starring Jennie Garth (90210, What I Like About You) and Gregory Harrison (One Tree Hill) also showed Laurie being charged with multiple crimes and sentenced to 25 years to life in 1992. Many viewers of the movie believed her sentence was too harsh considering the abused that she had suffered at the hands of Bruce. However, she is still serving time for her crimes. This movie is a quintessential 1990s television movie with all the perfect elements. This one is a 5 out of 5 for this genre.

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These movies may be entertainment, but I believe some are also educational. They teach people about the mistakes others make and how they pay for those events in the end. Maybe if people know about these terrible acts and what led to them they could be prevented in the future. I hope you are able to view these movies and examine these cases yourself.

*Chiller and Lifetime are two of the networks that show many of these movies.

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    • Jeff Lane profile image

      Jeff Lane 4 years ago from Evansville, IN

      I remember one where a kid was kidnapped as a baby. When his kidnapping mother died, a friend found his real parents. It had something to do with a toy fire truck. Can't remember what it was called, but it was good! The Elizabeth Smart movie was OK too.

    • wvugirl2007 profile image
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      wvugirl2007 4 years ago from Virginia

      I will try to do some research on the kidnapped baby. The Elizabeth Smart movie was good. It just didn't make my Top 10.

    • Brendan Arnold profile image

      Brendan Arnold 2 years ago from Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia

      Hi did you ever discover the name of the movie about the kidnapped baby. I too have seen that movie and would love to know the name?

    • wvugirl2007 profile image
      Author

      wvugirl2007 2 years ago from Virginia

      Brendan Arnold-

      I'm sorry. I had to step away from my hubs to deal with some medical issues and I am just starting to get back to writing. I will try to do some research on the movie you are looking for.

    • profile image

      naomi 2 years ago

      Hiya. The movie you guys are talking about is "I know my first name is steven".

    • wvugirl2007 profile image
      Author

      wvugirl2007 2 years ago from Virginia

      Naomi, thank you for sharing that!

    • profile image

      naomi 2 years ago

      Your welcome :-)

    • profile image

      naomi 2 years ago

      Thank you for introducing me to more movies to watch!

      If you get a chance you should check out;

      A cry for help: the tracy thurman story

      Too young to die

      A killer among friends

      A friend to die for-death of a cheerleader

      Stalking laura

      These are really good and some of my favourite true crime movies! :-)

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      Wilbur 6 months ago

      These are the Top 10? 2.5 and 3 out of 5?

      I think the article needs a different headline.

      Fatal Vision and Cruel Doubt should be there along with the obvious Helter Skelter.

      Talhotblonde is also very good

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