Joe Berlinger's Netflix Crime Scene Doc Series Renewed For Three More Seasons, New Season Coming In December

Netflix has quite a few true crime documentaries and series in its roster, and Joe Berlinger's "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel" is one of its crowning jewels. The documentary series followed the mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam at the infamous Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles in 2013, providing insight into both the cultural reaction to the story and what most likely happened on that tragic night. The series eschewed shock tactics and melodrama to tell the story with compassion, highlighting the way online sleuths took some of their search to potentially dangerous conclusions. 

Now, Netflix has announced that "Crime Scene" will return for three more seasons. The first of these is "Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer," and it will stream exclusively on Netflix on December 29, 2021. 

Returning to the Scene of a Different Crime

Berlinger is no stranger to Netflix or to true crime, having created both "Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich" for the streamer in 2020 and "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" the year before. He first became known for his murder documentaries "Brother's Keeper" in 1992 and "Paradise Lost" in 1996. The documentarian is Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning, and now he's set to bring even more of his deftly handled documentaries to Netflix. 

In the first 28 days after the premiere of "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel," 45 million viewers tuned in to watch the tragic tale. In the press announcement, they note that they always saw potential for "Crime Scene" to be an ongoing series "about how certain locations became accomplices to crimes that took place there." 

The second installment will dig into the horrifying story of Richard Cottingham, the Times Square Killer, who killed and dismembered a number of women near Times Square in the 1970s and early 1980s. The three-episode season will take a hard look at how those crimes went unsolved for so long, and how his killing spree was able to continue in a "nearly-lawless area rife with drugs and sex work." Cottingham confessed to over 100 murders, though he was only convicted of around a dozen. Cottingham has also been called "The Torso Killer," because he often removed the arms and heads of his victims. His spree of murder, which ended when he was arrested in 1980, was likely part of the inspiration for the 1982 Lucio Fulci film, "The New York Ripper."

Berlinger is already at work on the third and fourth seasons of "Crime Scene," along with a recently announced documentary series about ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. There's no announcement yet regarding the subjects of seasons 3 or 4, but there are plenty of crimes with contributing locations to choose from.