Nilsen confessed to more than a dozen counts of murder in 1983, having committed all of his crimes within just a five-year span. He was found guilty of six murders and one count of attempted murder, and was given a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in fall 1983. While he died in 2018, Nilsen’s crimes and his decision to ultimately turn himself in have fascinated true crime enthusiasts for decades.
Memories of a Murderer aims to be the definitive account of Nilsen’s misdeeds by utilizing audio recordings found in his prison cell after his death. According to Netflix, there are “over 250 hours” of tapes, which the documentary supplements with the standard interviews of the police officers involved in the case, families of the victims, and a selection of journalists.
Dennis Nilsen’s story has been the subject of several previous true crime programs, as well as the 1989 film Cold Light of Day and the critically acclaimed TV miniseries Des, which aired last year with David Tennant as Nilsen and Daniel Mays as investigator Peter Jay. For U.S. viewers, Des is still available for streaming on Sundance Now.
The release date of Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes also means that it will coincide with A&E’s True Crime Week; the cable channel has planned that, including its own serial killer programming, from August 15-21. It should be a chilling companion to those TV shows as audiences have another chance to hear directly from one of the most infamous true crime figures—something that’s become more and more popular in the genre.
Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes premieres Wednesday, August 18 at 3:00 a.m ET/12:00 p.m. PT on Netflix.
Brittany Frederick has worked 20 years as a professional journalist, reaching millions of readers worldwide with thousands of articles. Her one goal is to meet Jonathan Groff, but she’s sung with Adam Levine and gone 200 MPH with Mario Andretti. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @tvbrittanyf.