By Nick Romano
August 10, 2019 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Once you dive deep into the inner workings of a serial killer’s mind, it’s hard to come back to reality. That could be why F.B.I. Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is so obsessed with his work in Netflix’s Mindhunter, and it could be why the modern resurgence of the true-crime craze can’t stop, won’t stop.

With season 2 of David Fincher’s crime drama hitting the streaming service Aug. 16, new minds will be mined. Specifically, the likes of Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, and smaller criminals like Paul Bateson and (reportedly) William Pierce Jr. All these names are sprinkled over the main mystery at the center: the Atlanta child murders.

To expand your understanding of a killer’s psyche, here’s a guide to some companion materials — podcasts, books, movies, and documentaries — with the intel you want on these subjects.

The Atlanta child murders

Netflix

From 1979 to 1981, more than 20 African-American children and young adults were kidnapped and killed in a series of murders that rocked the city of Atlanta. Wayne Williams, who was around 22 years old at the time, was arrested and eventually convicted of murdering two adults. Police then linked him to approximately 20 of the other killings, though Williams was never tried or convicted for any of those deaths. According to The New York Times, 22 of the unsolved killings were closed, leaving the identity of the perpetrator up for debate.

Evidence of Things Not Seen
Type: Book
Description: James Baldwin writes about the murders the way only James Baldwin can, bringing a reporter’s keen eye to his poignant insights. Here, he unpacks the city of Atlanta as a community that claimed to be “too busy to hate,” while tackling difficult issues, including the racial elements permeating this case.
Where to read: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Atlanta Monster
Type: Podcast
Description: Documentarian Payne Lindsey (the Up and Vanished podcast) hosts Atlanta Monster, which grapples with many of the unanswered questions surrounding the murders. Hailing from Tenderfoot TV and iHeart Media, the first season tells the tale of the first missing children, the lingering anxieties surrounding the case, the rising racial tensions, and, the bigger question, who to trust. (A second season was released that’s all about the Zodiac Killer.)
Where to listen: Mulitple podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify

The Atlanta Child Murders
Type: TV special
Description: Investigation Discovery’s three-part special on the murders premiered March 23 and delves into a two-year investigation, including theories as to who could have killed the children if not Williams. “Having lived in Atlanta for over 20 years, the story of this senseless tragedy is personally important to me, and the echoes of what happened 40 years ago still resonate in the city,” said producer Will Packer.
Where to watch: Investigation Discovery

Leaving Atlanta
Type: Book (fictionalized)
Description: Tayari Jones’ award-winning debut novel, published in 2003, is a coming-of-age story of three fifth-graders against the backdrop of the child murders. It’s a moving account of their perspectives navigating the anxieties and fears associated with this time.
Where to read: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Charles Manson

Netflix

In 1967, Charles Manson went from aspiring musician to full-fledged cult leader when he established his Manson family commune in Southern California. He appeared to preach love and peace, but in 1969 his followers committed a series of murders under the influence of Manson. They included the slayings of actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child.

Helter Skelter: The Shocking Story of the Manson Murders
Type: Book
Description: Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry delivered a guide to the story of Manson in this 1974 book. As the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, Helter Skelter is an account of the first detective work on the murders and how Bugliosi built his case. But this book may not be the whole story…
Where to read: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Chaos
Type: Book
Description: An answer to Helter Skelter, almost, comes in the form of this exposé from journalist Tom O’Neill, who wrote a magazine piece on the murders 20 years ago. In the book, he claims new evidence of a cover-up beyond the “official” story, going as far as to allege Bugliosi lied in his book. “There were peaks and valleys in doing this book, and the valleys were a lot deeper and darker and more consistent than the peaks,” O’Neill told EW.
Where to read: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Inside the Manson Cult: The Lost Tapes
Type: TV special
Description: In 2018, Fox presented a two-hour look at rare footage from inside the cult of Manson. Narrated by Ray Donovan star Liev Schreiber, Inside the Manson Cult arises from nearly 100 hours of footage, taking viewers inside Spahn Ranch, living place of the Manson family. A young filmmaker was given access to this property at the height of Manson’s hold in the mid ’60s. This director died in October 2016, but the footage he captured lives on in this special.
Where to watch: Hulu, Fox, Amazon

Charlie Says
Type: Movie (fictionalized)
Description: Matt Smith (Doctor Who) stars as Manson, but that’s not the indie film’s focus. Using Ed Sanders’ book The Family (there’s another book recommendation) as loose inspiration, director Mary Harron and screenwriter Guinevere Turner take a look at Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon), and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón), three women held in prison for their part in the Manson family killings.
Where to watch: Amazon, iTunes

David Berkowitz (a.k.a. Son of Sam)

Netflix

David Berkowitz, a.k.a. Son of Sam, a.k.a. the .44 Caliber Killer, was a serial murderer with slayings that began in late 1975 and continued through 1977. He confessed to eight shootings and claimed to have been following orders from a demon in the form of a dog belonging to his neighbor Sam, which he later admitted to being a hoax. Following widespread media coverage of Berkowitz, “Son of Sam” laws were implemented to keep criminals from profiting financially from the publicity drummed up by their crimes.

Son of Sam | The Killer Speaks
Type: TV special
Description: In 2017, Berkowitz sat down with CBS News to give his first interview in more than a decade and the first interview about the 40th anniversary of his arrest. Here, he speaks about his life before the killings, what compelled him to kill, and his life in prison.
Where to watch: CBS

The Last Podcast on the Left
Type: Podcast
Description: From the podcast that delves into “all things horror” from this earthly plane, hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski dropped a two-parter on Son of Sam, starting with his early life as a kid from the Bronx who was prone to arson.
Where to listen: Multiple podcast platforms, including SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

Summer of Sam
Type: Movie (fictionalized)
Description: Spike Lee gave his fictionalized take on Son of Sam with a story about an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx grappling with the heightened backdrop of these slayings. Released in 1999, the film features actor Michael Badalucco as Berkowitz, among a cast that includes John Leguizamo, Arien Brody, and Mira Sorvino.
Where to watch: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play

Dennis Rader (a.k.a. BTK Killer)

Netflix

Beginning in 1974, Dennis Rader tortured and murdered 10 people across Wichita, Kan. For years, he elluded police, leaving taunting messages for the media and police that detailed how he killed his victims. Rader gave himself the moniker “BTK,” which stood for “Bind. Torture. Kill.” Rader was arrested in 2005 and is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences.

My Father BTK
Type: Documentary
Description: Kerri Rawson, the daughter of Rader, broke her silence with her first television interview for ABC’s 20/20, which aired in February. The two-hour documentary approaches the crimes from her perspective. Rawson recalls her childhood and the traumatic realization that her father committed these crimes when an FBI agent showed up at her door. She also released a tell-all book, A Serial Killer’s Daughter.
Where to watch: ABC

Snapped
Type: TV special
Description: A two-hour episode of Oxygen’s Snapped that aired in 2018 focused on the BTK Killer. With it came never-before-heard audio of Rader himself. “I can live a normal life and quickly switch from one gear to the next. I can become emotionally involved,” he said. “I can be cold at it. I guess that’s why I survived all those 30 years or 31 years.”
Where to watch: Oxygen, NBC, Amazon,

Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door
Type: Book
Description: Crime reporters Roy Wenzl, Tim Potter, L. Kelly, and Hurst Laviana from The Wichita Edge covered the story of the BTK Killer for more than 20 years. In their book, released in 2018, they compiled an extensive account of the criminal plague with the support of the Wichita Police Department’s BTK task force.
Where to read: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Paul Bateson

Netflix

Paul Bateson was a radiology technician who briefly appeared in 1973’s The Exorcist. Director William Freidkin saw him involved with an angiogram performed at NYU’s Tisch Hospital in 1972 and wanted to recreate that for his horror film. Bateson was later convicted of murdering a film journalist, and police implicated him in the slayings of gay men in Manhattan.

It Happened in Hollywood
Type: Podcast
Description: In the October 2018 episode “The Exorcist” of The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast, Friedkin mentioned Paul Bateson, who notably had a role in his 1973 horror hit. “About four or five years later after the film, I see the front page of The New York Post and The Daily News, and he’s accused of five or six murders,” the filmmaker said.
Where to listen: Multiple podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts.

Cruising
Type: Book and movie (fiction)
Description: Bateson’s killings of gay men were used as inspiration first for New York Times reporter Gerald Walker’s 1970 novel, Cruising, which was then used to adapt Freidkin’s 1980 film of the same name. In the movie, Al Pacino plays a detective who goes undercover in the S&M leather scene in NYC to catch a serial killer targeting gay men.
Where to read: Amazon
Where to watch: Amazon, YouTube Movies, iTunes

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