The 12 Best Documentaries About Kidnapping

Aug 10, 2023 | Best Of, Crime

Kidnapping is an act of violence that can be difficult to comprehend or even discuss. It’s a crime which often has long-lasting effects for the victims and their families. However, despite its grim reality, documentaries about this subject have been made to shed light on some of the more complex topics surrounding kidnapping cases. The following list contains some of the best documentaries about kidnapping, featuring interviews with victims, perpetrators, and even police personnel. From stories of international hostage-takings to local abductions, these films offer a glimpse into the lives of those affected by this crime and highlight its devastating consequences. So sit back and take in a powerful narrative about a complex issue that has captivated audiences for decades.


Kidnapped: Natascha Kampusch (2017)

This gripping documentary delves deep into Natascha Kampusch’s unimaginable story, told from her own perspective after being held captive for over eight years. Through never-before-seen footage taken from the kidnapper’s home, including the chilling basement dungeon where she was imprisoned, we gain a harrowing insight into Natascha’s traumatic experience.






The Unsolved Kidnapping of Madeleine McCann (2022)

A peaceful vacation took a tragic turn when a 3-year-old girl, Madeleine McCann, vanished from her bed in the holiday apartment her family was staying at in Praia De Luz, Portugal. This documentary captures the events and aftermath of this heartbreaking incident.





The Cleveland Kidnappings (2021)

In the bustling city of Cleveland, Ohio, two young girls go missing without a trace. Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry’s families are left to grapple with the heart-wrenching reality that their loved ones have simply vanished into thin air. Little do they know, these two disappearances are just the beginning of a harrowing tale that will shake their community to its core.




Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini (2023)

In the fall of 2016, Sherri Papini’s daily run became a nightmare. It was a story that captured the nation’s attention when she mysteriously vanished and later reappeared with a harrowing tale of abduction. But as details emerged, her account of events raised more questions than answers.







The 12 Best Free Kidnapping Documentaries


1. The Girl in The Wall

9 year old Katie Beers had a special place in her heart for Spaceplex, and it was the last place she visited before being kidnapped in December 1992. The investigators were determined to find her, despite each lead that turned out to be more suspicious than the last. After 17 days of searching, they eventually found her trapped behind a wall – but her strength and resilience saw her through to justice. Katie’s story has gone down in history as a warning of the danger we face when confronted with kidnappers, and how one person can find courage when faced with such adversity.



John Jamelske was the mastermind behind a 15-year kidnapping spree near Syracuse, NY. He constructed a dark and disturbing dungeon on his property for the sole purpose of trapping innocent women. How did he get away with this for so long? And what horrors were these women forced to endure during their captivity? It’s important to explore this disturbing case in order to learn from history and ensure no one else ever has to suffer this fate. With a closer look, we can uncover the motivations of Jamelske, the events that occurred during his kidnapping spree, and how he was eventually caught. By understanding why it happened, we can prevent something like this from happening again.


3. The Kidnapping Of Elizabeth Smart

In the summer of 2002, a strange crime was committed in Salt Lake City. Elizabeth Smart, a young girl with an angelic face and from a wealthy Mormon family, was kidnapped right out of her bedroom late at night. Despite having no discernible motive for the crime, it would take two years to uncover the story behind this shocking abduction. It is a tale so incredible, it was almost too hard to believe. This film dives into the details of Elizabeth’s kidnapping and reveals what really happened that fateful night. From the perpetrator’s motives to the emotional journey of the victim and her family, this is a story unlike any other.


4. The Abduction of Daniel Handley

It was a dark and wintry Sunday in Beckton, East London. Daniel Handley, an enterprising nine-year-old who loved helping out at the local supermarket, had just returned home with his pocket money from assisting shoppers load their cars. With permission from his mother Maxine, he asked if he could go to play at his best friend Alan’s house. Little did they know, danger was lurking in the shadows as Maxine granted his request with a firm reminder to return home by 6 pm. The streets were silent and empty – it seemed like any other Sunday evening until Daniel disappeared without a trace. The whole town scrambled to search for him and soon, news of the kidnapping spread throughout the neighbourhood. Maxine’s heart sank, as she frantically ran in and out of the streets – desperate to bring her son back to safety. The local police were quick on the scene, but after weeks of tireless investigation, they had still been unable to locate Daniel Handley. Everyone was at a loss and no one knew what happened that fateful night.


5. The Most TWISTED Case

The case of missing 11-year-old Carlie Brucia is a heartbreaking story that remained unsolved for years. In February 2004, the young girl was walking home from a friend’s house in Sarasota, Florida when she was abducted by an unknown suspect. Her abduction was captured on security cameras and circulated widely throughout the media, but unfortunately her body still has never been found.The case sparked an outpouring of public outrage and inspired a wave of protests from the community, who joined forces to make sure that justice was served. It’s a story with many moving parts, full of heartbreaking details and captivating moments that will leave viewers moved and desperate for answers.


6. True crime case

The story of Cleo Smith is one that has gripped the hearts and minds of people across the world. A little girl, plucked away from her family in a moment of darkness, her fate uncertain. For 18 days, nobody knew what had become of her and emotions ran high as police forces searched tirelessly for any clues as to where she was – or if she was even still alive. But through determination, luck and sheer grit she was eventually located – safe and sound in the end – thanks to an incredibly thorough investigation by the police forces involved. The incident has since been made into a documentary that tells her story of resilience and bravery in the face of such adversity.


7. The Kidnapping Of Elizabeth Smart

In the summer of 2002, Salt Lake City was rocked by a disturbing crime – the abduction of an innocent young girl. Elizabeth Smart, a mere 14 years old at the time, was taken from her bedroom in the middle of the night with seemingly no motive. The unique and mysterious circumstances of her kidnapping had America transfixed while law enforcement scrambled to piece together what had really happened. This tragic event is now the subject of many documentaries that explore what went wrong and how Elizabeth was reunited with her family. These films offer a glimpse into this crime, its impact on Elizabeth and her family, as well as the long-term repercussions it has had on society today.


8. Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

In the wilds of Kyrgyzstan, a curious tradition still continues to this day – that of bride kidnapping. As the days of Communism have come and gone, it appears as if so too has the idea that young men should still rely on custom when it comes to marriage. Nearly half of all marriages in some parts are now conducted via bride kidnapping – an ancient custom that has seen a major comeback. To get an inside view of this practice, we went to the Kyrgyz countryside, where we found Kubanti – a young man who was about to surprise his teenage girlfriend Nazgul with the gift of marriage/kidnapping. Taking this journey alongside him, we were able to explore and document first-hand how bride kidnapping is still used as a way to tie two souls together in rural Kyrgyzstan. Join us as we explore this unique and fascinating take on matrimony.


9. The Case of Shasta Groene

On the morning of May 16th 2005, an anxious neighbor calls the police after not seeing any sign of life in the Groene family home for days. The cops burst into the house to find a devastating scene; the whole family had been murdered and all that was left were two missing children – Dylan (9) and Shasta (8). The authorities raced against time to locate the missing kids, as Shasta found herself in a terrifying situation with her family’s killer miles away from home and had to devise her own plan for escape. She bravely opted for a daring attempt at freedom that would make for an unforgettable episode of this real-life thriller.


10. The New Detectives

This gripping docudrama, The New Detectives, follows the work of world-renowned forensics experts and criminal investigators as they hunt down a variety of criminals and solve complex cases. As this show is extremely sensitive in nature, viewer discretion is strongly advised when watching. Through an intense combination of reenacted scenes, compelling evidence, and striking narration, viewers are taken on a gripping journey that is sure to leave them questioning the world around them. With its captivating insight into the darkest corners of crime, The New Detectives presents an unmissable look at the dangerous lengths some people will go to achieve their goals.


11. The Kidnapping of Schanda Handley

The Schanda Handley case is one of the most notorious and heartbreaking kidnapping stories to date. In 1995, an 11-year-old girl disappeared from her small town in Oklahoma without a trace. Her parents never had closure as no arrests were ever made. Today, this story has been immortalized in the Best Documentaries About Kidnapping list. This movie takes us through the horrifying events of Schanda’s disappearance, as well as her parents’ desperate search for answers. Through interviews with family and law enforcement, we get a glimpse into what life was like during those trying days and weeks following her abduction.


12. Kidnapped in broad daylight

Denise Amber Lee was a young mother of two who, tragically, had her life cut short when she was kidnapped and murdered by Michael King in North Port, Florida. Her family desperately searched for her and law enforcement worked tirelessly to find her after she disappeared. Sadly, after several days the search ended with the discovery of Lee’s body in a shallow grave. Michael King, who had a history of mental illness and a criminal record, was eventually apprehended, put on trial and sentenced to life without parole. The Lee family has been seeking justice since this tragic event occurred in 2008 and continue to honor Denise’s memory with the Amber Alert system.


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David B