The First 48 is a hit true crime docu-series that follows detectives during the hours immediately following a homicide. It is available to watch on A&E and first aired back in 2004. After 24 seasons, The First 48 has created some unforgettable episodes. Below, we’ll be ranking the best episodes of The First 48 and why they have earned their spots on the list.
From the shocking twists and turns of the case, to the heartbreaking stories of the victims and their families, the show has created some truly moving and captivating episodes. Each episode is filled with intense moments that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right into the ranking and see which episodes made the cut as the best of the best of The First 48.
Written by Sophie and last updated on feb 13, 2023.
PS: The following content contains spoilers!
PPS: I will admit that parts of this page was written with the help of AI - it makes my work so much easier to not start from a blank page!
The First 48's episode A Serial Killer Calls follows the Homicide detectives of Sgt. Doug Niemeier as they engage in a deadly game of hide and seek with a serial killer who has been calling 911 to direct them to his hidden victims around Kansas City. As the detectives rush to stop this elusive killer before he strikes again, they must balance the pursuit of justice with the challenge of the unknown.
The episode highlights the complex and often dangerous work that goes into solving a murder mystery. The detectives must rely on their skills and experience to find the killer before he carries out any more of his sinister plans. With the lives of innocent people at stake, Sgt. Niemeier and his team must work tirelessly to bring the killer to justice. The episode offers a thrilling yet sobering glimpse into the world of homicide investigation and the risks that come with it.
The episode was rated 7.97 from 94 votes.
In Dallas, a young father is shot dead outside a bar, and the killer is caught on video. But can detectives find someone to ID him? Then, in Cleveland, a mother of six is gunned down on her birthday, leaving her family devastated and the homicide team desperate to figure out who pulled the trigger.
The episode was rated 8.00 from 24 votes.
In the thrilling episode of The First 48, "Wild Ride", Cleveland homicide detectives pursue an enigmatic case of a father of five who was stabbed over 50 times. It's a wild ride full of bizarre twists and turns as the detectives investigate every detail of the crime. The audience follows the police officers as they uncover leads and analyze evidence to unravel the mystery of the victim’s death.
The detectives are able to piece together a trail of clues with the help of witnesses, surveillance footage and other evidence. As the case progresses, the audience is kept on the edge of their seats as the story slowly reveals itself. Ultimately, the detectives are able to identify the suspect and bring justice to the victim’s family. This episode of The First 48 provides a unique perspective into the world of criminal investigation and will keep viewers guessing until the very end.
The episode was rated 8.00 from 26 votes.
The First 48 episode "The Ring/Last Drive" follows two separate homicide investigations: one in Birmingham, Alabama, and one in Harris County, Texas. In Birmingham, lead Detective Henry Lucas is investigating the brutal stabbing of a young mother killed in her own bedroom. With no obvious motive, the investigation hits a wall until Lucas discovers the victim is missing a diamond ring. In Harris County, the Harris County Homicide squad and lead investigator Sgt. James Dousay are hunting the killer of a man found shot to death in his car. With no witnesses, Dousay hopes the last messages on the victim's phone and the victim's family and friends can lead them to their suspect.
This episode of The First 48 dives deep into two complicated and tragic cases, as the detectives attempt to find justice for the victims and their families. With the lack of witnesses in the Harris County case, Sgt. Dousay must rely on the victim's last messages and connections to his family and friends to track down the killer. In Birmingham, Detective Lucas is determined to find the missing diamond ring to help solve the case. Without the help of these two hardworking and dedicated detectives, these cases might remain unsolved.
The episode was rated 8.00 from 15 votes.
The First 48 Body of Evidence follows Miami homicide detective Orlando Silva and his team as they investigate one of the most violent murders South Florida has ever seen. After body parts are discovered floating in Biscayne Bay, the team is determined to find the killer and bring them to justice. As the detectives search for clues, they must piece together the evidence to solve the case.
The team faces many challenges in their pursuit to uncover the truth. With a limited amount of witnesses and evidence, the detectives must think outside the box to capture the perpetrator. As the investigation continues, they must race against the clock to get justice for the victim and their family. With the help of their expertise and dedication, the team hopes to bring the killer to justice and provide closure to the victim's family.
The episode was rated 8.00 from 14 votes.
The First 48's episode "Mother and Child" follows Miami detectives Det. Kevin Ruggiero and Sgt. Ervens Ford as they investigate the murder of Ciara Lee, a young corrections officer, and her two-year-old son. While the death of her baby boy hits them emotionally, they must remain focused on uncovering the intended target, the motive, and the suspected killers. With only ten days left before Christmas, they manage to make an arrest two days before the holiday. However, a surprise twist at the end leaves them frustrated and determined to get justice for the victims.
The tragedy of this episode resonates with many viewers on an emotional level. Ciara Lee was a dedicated public servant, and the loss of her son is heartbreaking. Ruggiero and Ford take this case personally, as they consider Ciara to be "on their team". Despite the odds and the looming holiday, they remain determined to bring justice for the victims and their families.
The episode was rated 8.05 from 42 votes.
The First 48 episode "Snake Eyes/No Way Out" features two cases of murder and a crossfire shoot out. In Birmingham, Alabama, Detective Jerry Williams and his team investigate when an innocent man is shot and killed in the crossfire of a friendly dice game. Harris County, Texas Deputy Jason Brown and the Homicide Unit investigate the murder of a 17-year-old student in a flea market parking lot, which also left his 14-year-old cousin wounded.
The detectives must first locate the shooters, and then decide who and what to believe from the conflicting interviews. Deputy Brown finds another student involved in the shooting and in the gang confrontation that precipitated it, which helps the investigation to move forward. It is up to the detectives to uncover the truth in both cases, and justice must be served.
The episode was rated 8.09 from 11 votes.
The First 48 episode "Moving Out/Among Thieves" follows the Memphis police department, led by Sgt. Debo Carson, as they investigate the murder of a man shot dead outside of his house. During the investigation, a man who was originally thought to be a witness, turns out to be a suspect. This case takes a dramatic turn as the evidence points to a new suspect.
In the same episode, the police in Dallas investigate a carjacking spree that left one man dead. The detectives have to work quickly to try to solve the case and bring justice to the victim. This episode of The First 48 is sure to be full of suspense and surprise as the police try to piece together the clues and uncover the truth.
The episode was rated 8.14 from 22 votes.
In Harris County Texas, a 38-year-old man is stabbed to death in his own home leaving behind two children and his wife. Investigators track down the suspect thanks to surveillance video and some good old fashion detective work. But when the defendant claims self defense, the state must put together a case that will convince the jury the dead man was in fact the victim and not a predator.
The episode was rated 8.19 from 16 votes.
Detective Rick Duggan arrested two suspects for the murder of Leonel Valle. Now the justice system needed to determine which of them was most responsible - the girlfriend, Marsela Cortez, whose fingerprints were found on his empty safe, or her jealous ex-boyfriend, Gerardo Hernandez?
The episode was rated 8.20 from 10 votes.
The First 48's "Twist of Fate" episode follows Detectives Kevin Trees and the homicide team as they investigate a double-homicide of a married couple in the Louisville community. The incident has caused an uproar of anger in the neighborhood, and the detectives are hoping that the community's reaction to the crime will be enough to force witnesses to break the code of silence. Utilizing expert interrogation techniques and a polygraph test, Trees and his team work through false leads and deceptive witnesses in order to get closer to the suspect. As the investigation goes on, an unexpected twist occurs.
The First 48's "Twist of Fate" episode is a tense and thrilling hour of television as Detective Kevin Trees and his team investigate a double-homicide. The episode is packed with suspense as the detectives use their skills and resources to work through false leads and deceptive witnesses in order to get closer to the suspect. The episode takes an unexpected turn that keeps viewers guessing until the very end, making for a gripping and satisfying hour of television. It's a must-watch for any crime-drama fan and an exciting installment in the First 48 franchise.
The episode was rated 8.25 from 20 votes.
The First 48 episode 10 pounds follows Detective Chris Anderson as he returns to his childhood neighborhood to investigate a murder. The victim was killed over the possession of just ten pounds of marijuana. Detective Anderson has to figure out what led to the altercation between the victim and the suspect that resulted in the murder. He has to look through the evidence, speak with witnesses and uncover the truth.
The episode is filled with suspense and drama as the investigation takes its course. Detective Anderson interviews witnesses and suspects to try to piece together the events of the night. He also relies on evidence and surveillance footage to get closer to the truth. With the help of his fellow detectives, they are able to build a case against the suspect and eventually bring justice to the victim.
The episode was rated 8.27 from 15 votes.
The First 48’s episode, ‘Trust No One/Risky Business’, follows the murders of two beloved neighbors in Cleveland and Dallas. In Cleveland, Detective Art Echols is on the hunt for a killer who may be closer than he thinks. In Dallas, Detective Steve David needs to track down two killers before they strike again.
This episode is an emotional roller-coaster, as the detectives try to solve the cases before the killers strike again. It is a suspenseful ride, as they unravel the clues and hunt for the perpetrator. Through interviews and evidence, the detectives uncover the truth and bring justice to the victims and their families. This episode is an example of the strength of the detectives and their dedication to their work and is an inspiring reminder of the power of justice.
The episode was rated 8.28 from 18 votes.
In the episode "After The First 48: Fool for Love/Crash," Detective Rick Duggan investigates the murder of Leonel Valle. After his arrest of two suspects, Marsela Cortez and Gerardo Hernandez, it is up to the justice system to determine who is most responsible for the crime. Marsela's fingerprints were found on Valle's empty safe, and Gerardo was her jealous ex-boyfriend.
The episode follows both suspects' trials, as well as the work of the detectives and district attorneys bringing them to justice. It examines the evidence against each suspect and the legal process that determines their fate. It also looks at the impact of the crime on the victim's family and how their search for answers can bring closure to their tragedy. Ultimately, the episode reveals the truth behind the crime and the justice system's verdicts.
The episode was rated 8.48 from 23 votes.
In the episode of "The First 48" titled "Down and Out / Room for the Night", Detective Rob Barrere investigates a case of three men meeting in a motel room in New Orleans East, resulting in one of them ending up dead. Meanwhile in Tulsa, Detective Ronnie Leatherman catches the case of a man stabbed 21 times, when a night of drinking ignites a murderous rage.
The episode starts off with Detective Barrere interviewing witnesses to understand what happened in the motel room. With the help of surveillance footage and other evidence, Detective Barrere is able to piece together that the three men had a physical altercation that resulted in one of them being killed.
In Tulsa, Detective Leatherman follows the trail of a man who was stabbed 21 times. Leatherman interviews witnesses and creates a timeline to understand what happened that night. With the help of surveillance footage and other evidence, Leatherman is able to determine that a night of drinking ended in a deadly altercation.
The episode follows the detectives as they investigate the cases and try to uncover the truth. With a combination of evidence, interviews, and careful investigation, the detectives are able to uncover the truth behind both cases and bring justice to the victims.
The episode was rated 9.30 from 10 votes.
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