Given the enormous success of true crime documentaries such as Abducted in Plain Sight, The Staircase, Inventing Anna, The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel and The Imposter, it makes sense that there’s a big presence of true crime on TikTok.
There have been over 12.4 billion uses the of the #truecrime hashtag on the app, comprised of accounts committed to covering cases in all shapes and sizes, albeit in a much smaller, breezier way.
Some of the TikTok true crime accounts include Crime Scene Cleaning, Mystery Team Inc and True Crime Cam. It’s not uncommon for these accounts to get millions of views each, no matter what historical or ongoing case they are delving into with their fans.
If this is all news to you, worry not. We’ve got you covered with a selection of TikTok accounts you need to check out if you’re true crime crazy. But first of all…
Why do we love true crime?
Afraid that your obsession with true crime is unhealthy? Don’t be. “It says that we’re normal and we’re healthy,” Dr. Michael Mantell, former chief psychologist of the San Diego Police Department, said in 2009. “I think our interest in crime serves a number of different healthy psychological purposes.” Of course, there are limits: “If all you do is read about crime and … all you do is talk about it and you have posters of it, and you have newspaper article clippings in your desk drawer, I’d be concerned,” he said.
We love true crime because we have a fascination with evil. Dr. Elizabeth Rutha, a licensed clinical psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, said that our fascination begins when we’re young. As children, we’re drawn to the tension between good and evil, and true crime embodies our fascination with that dynamic.
We also likely have the media to thank for the surge in true crime popularity. “Since the ’50s, we have been bombarded … in the media with accounts of crime stories, and it probably came to real fruition in the ’70s,” Mantell says. “Our fascination with crime is equalled by our fear of crime. The media understands, if it bleeds, it leads. And probably 25 to 30 percent of most television news today [deals] with crime particularly personal crime and murder. Violent predatory crimes against people go to the top of the list.”
A study published in 2010 found that women were more drawn than men to true crime books that contained tips on how to defend against an attacker. That they were more likely to be interested in books that contained information about a killer’s motives than men were, and that they were more likely to select books that had female victims. “Our findings that women were drawn to stories that contained fitness-relevant information make sense in light of research that shows that women fear becoming the victim of a crime more so than do men,” the researchers concluded. “The characteristics that make these books appealing to women are all highly relevant in terms of preventing or surviving a crime.” Amanda Vicary, the study’s lead author, said that “by learning about murders - who is more likely to be a murderer, how do these crimes happen, who are the victims, etc. - people are also learning about ways to prevent becoming a victim themselves.”
8. True Crime All The Time
With over 580,000 followers and 15.1 million likes, True Crime All The Time’s Jackie is enjoying enormous success with her narration of gut-wrenching real life stories.
One of her latest videos focuses on the true tale behind the film Apartment 407 which sees a fitness instructor meeting a man who invites her for a modelling job interview only to be abducted, drugged and held captive in a room by the man and his unseen associates who sell her as a sex slave of various high-paying clients.
7. True Crime Cam
Any true crimer worth their salt knows True Crime Cam like the back of their hand. With 1.4 million followers on TikTok, TCC has become a stalwart focus of all things crime. The account goes deep into famous cases and gives updates on popular legal battles.
Known for her straight-talking approach to telling true crime stories, the host is also known for narrating clips called ‘states with the worst rates’, which explains US homicide rates in each of its worst-affected areas.
6. When Killers Get Caught
Brittany Ransom Brian Joyner are the hosts of this true crime podcast which garnered 200,000 gross listeners in it’s inaugural year. Ransom’s TikTok videos have attracted 850,000 followers, 127 million views, 18 million likes, and an invitation to discuss crime on ABC’s prime time crime broadcast 20/20 as well as commentating on the Fox-Tubi Documentary Sins Of the Father: The Green River Killer.
On the podcast’s website, Ransom says she’s been “studying” crimes since she was a child, despite now working as a teacher. “I’ve been studying true crime since I was about 10 years old because both of my parents are attorneys and it was just common for them to discuss the world around us and give their opinion on landmark trials that were happening. I haven’t ever considered it weird that most of my adolescence and adulthood have been me interested in the human experience as it relates to crime.”
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been interested in the things that go bump in the night,” Joyner adds on the website. “The monsters that hide in your closet, and other worldly entities. My first paranormal experience had to have been when I was around the age of 7, the ghost of my grandmother kinda haunted the house we lived in. I’m also living with a little ghost hunter in the making, there are some creepy stories about my daughter I can share.”
This is definitely one podcast and TikTok account to hit up.
5. Mike Mandel
This one’s a little bit different. First of all, Mike Mandel is a lawyer. He uses his TikTok account not to create random true crime content, but to provide legal advice to viewers who may need some. @lawbymike first got attention after his video about identifying liars through their body language went viral.
These days, Mandel guides users through common legal scenarios and offers an extensive look into the legal system so that they know what their rights are in a worst case scenario. Mandel tells you what to do if pulled over without a driver’s license, whether or not you can legally film the police, even how to find a good lawyer – besides himself. He has done popular run downs on famous cases like Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle and Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney.
4. Mystery Team Inc
Mystery Team Inc, AKA Kayla and Maggie, are podcasters and TikTok creators, who describe themselves as ‘A True Crime Comedy Podcast about Mysteries and the Magic of Friendship’.
Posts on their TikTok, which has over 350,000 followers, cover crimes like the Chicago Tylenol Murders and the mystery surrounding the 1965 death of American journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, to name but a very few.
3. Crime Scene Cleaning
Here’s another niche account for you. It’s often that you see true crime documentaries and podcasts that highlight the investigators, the psychologists, the lawyers, potential eye witnesses. But there’s a while industry involved in this grim line of work that is overlooked: crime scene cleaners. It’s bad enough having to take pictures at the scene of a crime, but how do those who have to clean it up feel?
Crime scene cleaning company Spaulding Deacon gives users a look at the work it does with its TikTok account Crime Scene Cleaning. The Florida-based company shares gruesome stories and explain what exactly goes into crime scene clean up, from odour removal to wiping bloodstains. Not for the weak-stomached, it’s safe to say.
The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children’s main focus is providing assistance to victims, families, law enforcement and social service agencies when they need help with a missing, exploited, or recovered child. To better improve that focus, the organisation has launched the TikTok account @missingkids.
The account highlights missing children’s stories, but it also provides useful safety tips, explains terms like “grooming,” and walks viewers through issues such as how to get intimate photos of yourself taken offline. Viewers are also taught how to spot warning signs their children is being groomed online, how to talk about safety with kids, and much more. A very important account to keep an eye on.
1. Kara Robinson Chamberlain
Kara Robinson Chamberlain went viral after telling her story on TikTok. Kidnapped by Richard Evonitz while watering plants in a friend’s garden in 2002 at the age of 15, Kara was held captive in Evonitz’ South Carolina apartment and sexually assaulted. When he fell asleep, Kara was able to get out of her handcuffs and run for help. After she escaped, investigators discovered Evonitz was a serial killer and linked him to the murders of three women in Virginia.
Kara went on to work in law enforcement, although these days she is a motivational speaker and a mother of two sons. Her TikTok is full of advice for overcoming trauma, her own personal struggles with PTSD, and specific safety tips such as how to escape restraints.