From Making a Murderer to The Keepers, Netflix has made a name for itself in the true crime genre, with shows so addictive they could turn any skeptic into an amateur sleuth. On Wednesday, Netflix announced two new true crime series: Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist, and three new Netflix original episodes of The Staircase. The network also released a sizzle reel with clips from both both shows.
Evil Genius is a four-part documentary series, co-produced by Mark and Jay Duplass — who also executive produced the network's hit docu-series Wild Wild Country — that follows the bizarre story of an attempted bank robbery gone bad in Erie, Pennsylvania.
In 2003, security cameras at caught 46-year-old pizza deliveryman Brian Wells allegedly trying to rob a bank with a homemade bomb clasped around his neck, according to CNN. Police arrived on the scene, where Wells claimed some people had fastened the bomb to him and instructed him to rob the bank and complete certain tasks before it would be disarmed. However, the bomb went off before the authorities could intervene. The explosion killed Wells, leaving lingering questions regarding his role in the crime and sparking debate about how much he knew and whether he was innocent or guilty. His family has said they believe he was a victim, according to the New York Times.
In 2007, a woman named Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong was convicted for this crime, but Evil Genius, which premieres on May 11, will shine a new light on the case, reporting years of stories and conspiracies and exposing details not previously known. The sizzle reel features disturbing footage from the scene, and Wells can be heard saying, "I'm not lying. It's gonna go off."
The Duplass brothers have been making independent films for years, including The Overnight, starring Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott, and Jeff Who Lives at Home, with leads Judy Greer and Susan Sarandon. In February, Netflix announced that the siblings had signed on to do four films with the streaming network.
Netflix also revealed that they would release three new episodes of of critically acclaimed series The Staircase, which originally aired on the Sundance Channel in 2005. The show explores the death of Kathleen Peterson, who was found at the bottom of a staircase at home in Durham, North Carolina. Her husband, crime novelist Michael Peterson, was accused of the crime, and a 16-year legal battle followed. Peterson has maintained his innocence.
Oscar-winning documentarian Jean-Xavier de Lestrade was given special access to follow the case in 2001, and captured footage of Peterson at home during the investigation, his subsequent arrest, and the trial.
In clips from the show, Peterson can be seen telling someone on the phone, "There's no motive, there's no murder weapon," shortly before a prosecutor tells the jury, "They say it's an accident and we say it's murder."
Netflix will release the new episodes, alongside the original 10, this summer following a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28.
In case you haven't seen it yet, Wild Wild Country was the latest crime show to earn the streaming platform serious buzz. The 6-part series tells centers on Rajneesh movement, a religious group who followed the guidance of a spiritual leader named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and built a community in a rural Oregon town.
The show documents tensions that arose between members of the Rajneesh community and the people that lived in the surrounding area, as well as various incidents that occurred throughout the 1980s, including a hotel bombing and bio-terror attack.
Thanks to these shows, Netflix is solidifying its status as a home for in-depth studies of the most confusing and compelling cases in recent memory. If you like unsolved mysteries and and collecting clues, have your favorite snacks on hand because you'll want to watch both this summer.