I’ve ranked these in order of, in my opinion, depravity. A high body count a good serial killer does not make, it’s their warped logic or despicable acts that count in my top ten list. The information below is taken from Wikipedia, so if it’s wrong, don’t blame me! Anyway, without further ado, I present my number ten:
10 – Harold Shipman – (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was a convicted English serial killer. A doctor by profession, he is among the most prolific serial killers in recorded history with 218 murders being positively ascribed to him, although the actual number is likely much higher.
On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman guilty of 15 murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that he never be released. The whole life tariff was confirmed by the Home Secretary a little over two years later.
After his trial, the Shipman Inquiry, chaired by Dame Janet Smith, investigated all deaths certified by Shipman. About 80% of his victims were women. His youngest victim was Peter Lewis, a 41-year-old man. Much of Britain’s legal structure concerning health care and medicine was reviewed and modified as a direct and indirect result of Shipman’s crimes, especially after the findings of the Shipman Inquiry, which began on 1 September 2000 and lasted almost two years. Shipman is the only British doctor found guilty of murdering his patients.
Shipman died on 13 January 2004, after hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire.
09 – Albert Fish – (May 19, 1870 – January 16, 1936) was an American serial killer. He was also known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, and The Boogeyman. A child rapist and cannibal, he boasted that he “had children in every state,” and at one time put the figure at around 100. However, it is not clear whether he was talking about rapes or cannibalization, less still as to whether he was telling the truth.
He was a suspect in at least five murders in his lifetime. Fish confessed to three murders that police were able to trace to a known homicide, and he confessed to stabbing at least two other people.
He was put on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd, was convicted and executed by electric chair.
08 – Richard Ramirez – also known as The Night Stalker (born as Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez; on February 28/29, 1960) is an American serial killer awaiting execution on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Prior to his arrest, the media dubbed the unknown serial killer active in Los Angeles, California, the “Night Stalker”; following his arrest, sensationalist reporting of his apparent interest in the occult and Satanism was common.
On September 20, 1989, Ramírez was found guilty of 13 counts of murder, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.
During the penalty phase of the trial on November 7, 1989, he was sentenced to death in California’s gas chamber. The trial of Richard Ramírez was one of the most difficult and longest criminal trials in American history. Nearly 1,600 prospective jurors were interviewed. More than one hundred witnesses testified, and while a number of witnesses had a difficult time recalling certain facts four years after the crimes, others were quite certain of the identity of Ramírez.
07 – Ted Bundy – (November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989), was an American serial killer active between 1974 and 1978. He escaped twice from county jails before his final apprehension in February 1978. Bundy was executed by electric chair for his last murder by the state of Florida in January 1989.
After more than a decade of vigorous denials, he eventually confessed to over 30 murders, although the actual total of victims remains unknown. Estimates range from 26 to over 100, the general estimate being 35.
Typically, Bundy would bludgeon his victims, then strangle them to death. He also engaged in rape and necrophilia.
Ted Bundy was electrocuted by the state of Florida at 7:06 a.m. on January 24, 1989.
06 – John Wayne Gacy – (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994) was an American serial killer also known as the Killer Clown who committed the rape and murder of 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. Twenty-six of Gacy’s victims were buried in the crawlspace of his home, three others elsewhere on his property and four victims were discarded in a nearby river.
Gacy became known as the “Killer Clown” due to his charitable services at fundraising events, parades and children’s parties where he would dress as “Pogo the Clown,” a character he devised himself.
Gacy was incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center in the town of Chester, Illinois, where he spent 14 years on death row.
In prison, Gacy began to paint. The subjects Gacy painted varied, although many were of clowns — some of which depicted himself as “Pogo”. Many of his paintings were sold at various auctions for prices ranging between $200 and $20,000 apiece.
John Gacy spent much of his time on death row studying books on law and filing numerous, exhaustive appeals and motions — none of which were successful. Gacy contended that he only had “some knowledge” of five of the murders: those of McCoy, Butkovitch, Godzik, Szyc and Piest and contended the remaining 28 murders had been committed by employees who were in possession of keys to his house while he was away on business trips.
In the summer of 1984, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld Gacy’s conviction, ordering him to be executed by lethal injection on November 14. Gacy appealed against this decision, although on March 4, 1985, the US Supreme Court denied Gacy’s appeal.
On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, by lethal injection.
05 – Zodiac Killer – a serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970’s. The Zodiac killer’s identity remains unknown. The Zodiac killer coined the name “Zodiac” in a series of taunting letters sent to the local Bay Area press. These letters included four cryptograms (or ciphers), three of which have yet to be solved. The Zodiac murdered victims in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco between December 1968 and October 1969. Four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29 were targeted. Numerous suspects have been named by law enforcement and amateur investigators but no conclusive evidence has surfaced.
In April 2004, the San Francisco Police Department marked the case “inactive”, yet re-opened the case at some point prior to March 2007. The case also remains open in the city of Vallejo as well as in Napa County and Solano County. The California Department of Justice has maintained an open case file on the Zodiac murders since 1969.
In 2002, SFPD submitted DNA evidence from Zodiac’s letters for analysis, which resulted in a partial genetic profile. The test seems to have conclusively ruled out the Vallejo Police Department’s lead suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen. During a photo line up over twenty years after Mike Mageau—one of only two survivors of the Zodiac murders—was shot, Mageau identified Allen as the man who shot him on July 4, 1969. Mageau stated he had never been shown a photo line up prior to that appointment in 1991. Allen died shortly after Mageau’s identification. Even though DNA samples taken from the letters sent by the Zodiac ruled out Allen as the person who handled them, neither the Vallejo nor the San Francisco Police Departments have ruled out Allen as a suspect.
In April 2004, the SFPD marked the case “inactive”, citing caseload pressure and resource demands.
In 2007, Jack Tarrance’s stepson, Dennis Kaufman, claimed that his stepfather was the Zodiac. Kaufman turned several items over to the FBI including a hood similar to the one worn by the Zodiac. According to news sources, DNA analysis conducted by the FBI on the items were deemed inconclusive in 2010.
In 2009, Deborah Perez claimed that her father, Guy Ward Hendrickson, was the Zodiac. However, Perez also allegedly previously claimed that she was the illegitimate daughter ofJohn F. Kennedy, so her claim that her father was the Zodiac is no longer considered to be very credible.
Retired police detective Steve Hodel makes a case in his book The Black Dahlia Avenger that his father, George Hill Hodel, was the Black Dahlia suspect whose victims includeElizabeth Short. The book caused the release of previously suppressed files and wire recordings by the LA district attorney’s office of his father which showed that he was a prime suspect in Short’s murder. The LA District Attorney subsequently wrote a letter which is published in the revised edition stating that if he were still alive he would be prosecuted for the crimes. In a follow up book, Hodel makes a circumstantial case that his father was also the Zodiac Killer based upon a police sketch, the similarity of the style of the Zodiac letters to the Black Dahlia Avenger letters and questioned document examination.
04 – H. H. Holmes – (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the alias of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, was one of the first documented American serial killers in the modern sense of the term. Holmes opened a hotel in Chicago for the 1893 World’s Fair, which he built himself and which was the location of many of his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders, of which nine were confirmed, his actual body count could be as high as 250, because he took an unknown number of his victims from the 1893 Chicago world’s fair which was less than 10 miles away from his “World’s Fair” hotel.
The case was notorious in its time and received wide publicity through a series of articles in William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers. Interest in Holmes’s crimes was revived in 2003 by Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, a best-selling non-fiction book that juxtaposed an account of the planning and staging of the World’s Fair with Holmes’s story.
Holmes was put on trial for the murder of Pitezel and confessed, following his conviction, to 27 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto, and six attempted murders.
On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison. Until the moment of his death, Holmes remained calm and amiable, showing very few signs of fear, anxiety or depression. Holmes’s neck did not snap immediately; he instead died slowly, twitching over 15 minutes before being pronounced dead 20 minutes after the trap had been sprung. He requested that he be buried in concrete so that no one could ever dig him up and dissect his body, as he had dissected so many others. This request was granted.
03 – Leonard Lake & Charles Ng – Leonard Lake (October 29, 1945 – June 6, 1985) was an American serial killer. He often used the alias Leonard Hill. The crimes he committed with Charles Ng became known when Lake committed suicide by taking a cyanide pill shortly after being arrested for a firearms offense.
Charles Chi-Tat Ng (born December 24, 1960) is a Chinese-American serial killer. With Leonard Lake, he is suspected of murdering between 11 and 25 victims at Lake’s ranch in Calaveras County, California.
On June 2, 1985, an Asian man—later identified as Charles Ng—was seen shoplifting in South San Francisco. He fled by the time police arrived, but Leonard Lake, who was with him, was arrested when his car was searched and found to contain a .22 revolver illegally equipped with a silencer.
While being interviewed at the police station, Lake asked for a glass of water and used it to swallow a cyanide pill hidden in the lapel of his shirt. He collapsed and was rushed to a hospital, where he went into a coma, and survived on life support machines for four days before being pronounced dead.
The police searched Lake’s ranch in Wilseyville. It was clear Lake was a survivalist, his ranch fitted with a bunker and a stash of weapons. In a diary, Lake had written how he was convinced there was going to be a global nuclear war, and he planned on surviving in his bunker and rebuilding the human race with a collection of female slaves. The police also found videos showing Lake and Ng torturing and raping women.
The grounds of the ranch were dug up and 12 corpses were uncovered in shallow graves. Among these victims were two families: Harvey Dubs and his wife, Deborah, and baby son, Sean; and Lonnie Bond and Brenda O’Connor and their baby son, Lonnie Bond Jr. The women had been sexually abused, and killed after their husbands and infants were disposed of. Five of the bodies were of men lured to the ranch to be robbed and killed — including Robin Stapley and Paul Cosner — and the 12th was identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, who knew Ng because her boyfriend had once been his cellmate in prison. Police also found charred fragments of human bones (in excess of 45 pounds in total), but they were unable to determine the identity of the victims or their number. It has been postulated the number of unknown murdered persons could be as high as 25.
Lake’s younger brother, Donald, had vanished in 1983 and was presumed dead, as had Charles Gunnar, a friend of Lake’s from his military days; the latters’ remains were discovered at the ranch in September 1992.
02 – Jeffrey Dahmer – (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994) was an American serial killer and sex offender. Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys – many of whom were of African or Asian descent – between 1978 and 1991, with the majority of the murders occurring between 1987 and 1991.
His murders were particularly gruesome, involving rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism. On November 28, 1994, he was beaten to death by an inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution, where he had been incarcerated.
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer lured another man, Tracy Edwards, into his home. According to the would-be victim, Dahmer struggled with Edwards in order to handcuff him, but ultimately failed to cuff his wrists together. Wielding a large butcher knife, Dahmer forced Edwards into the bedroom, where Edwards saw pictures of mangled bodies on the wall and noticed the terrible smell coming from a large blue barrel. Edwards punched him in the face, kicked him in the stomach, ran for the door and escaped. Running through the streets, with the handcuffs still hanging from one hand, Edwards waved for help to a police car driven by Robert Rauth and Rolf Mueller of the Milwaukee police department. Edwards led police back to Dahmer’s apartment, where Dahmer at first acted friendly to the officers. However, Edwards remembered that the knife Dahmer had threatened him with was in the bedroom. When one of the officers checked the bedroom, he saw the photographs of mangled bodies, and called for his partner to arrest Dahmer. As one officer subdued Dahmer, the other opened the refrigerator and found a human head. Further searching of the apartment revealed three more severed heads, multiple photographs of murdered victims and human remains, severed hands and penises, and photographs of dismembered victims and human remains in his refrigerator.
The story of Dahmer’s arrest and the inventory in his apartment quickly gained notoriety: several corpses were stored in acid-filled vats, and implements for the construction of an altar of candles and human skulls were found in his closet. Accusations soon surfaced that Dahmer had practiced necrophilia and cannibalism. Seven skulls were found in the apartment. A human heart was found in the freezer.
With evidence overwhelmingly against him, Dahmer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The trial lasted two weeks. The court found Dahmer sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder and sentenced him to 15life terms, totaling 957 years in prison. At his sentencing hearing, Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions, and said that he wished for his own death.
Dahmer was attacked twice in prison, the first time in July 1994. After attending a church service in the prison chapel, an inmate attempted to slash Dahmer’s throat with a razor blade. Dahmer escaped the incident with superficial wounds. While on work detail in the prison gym, Dahmer and another inmate, Jesse Anderson, were severely beaten by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver with a bar from a weight machine on November 28, 1994. Dahmer died of severe head trauma while on his way to the hospital in an ambulance. Anderson died two days later from his wounds. Dahmer’s brain was retained for study.
01 – Ed Gein – (August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984) was an American murderer and body snatcher. His crimes, which he committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, garnered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin.
After police found body parts in his house in 1957, Gein confessed to killing two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in 1957. Initially found unfit to stand trial, following confinement in a mental health facility, he was tried in 1968 for the murder of Worden and sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in a mental hospital. The body of Bernice Worden was found in Gein’s shed; her head and the head of Mary Hogan were found inside his house. Robert H. Gollmar, the judge in the Gein case, wrote: “Due to prohibitive costs, Gein was tried for only one murder—that of Mrs. Worden.”
With fewer than three murders attributed, Gein does not meet the traditional definition of a serial killer. Regardless, his real-life case influenced the creation of several fictional serial killers, including Norman Bates from Psycho, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.
On March 20, 1958, while Gein was in detention, his house burned to the ground. Arson was suspected. When Gein learned of the incident, he shrugged and said “Just as well.”
In 1958, Gein’s car, which he had used to haul the bodies of his victims, was sold at a public auction for $760 ($5,773 when accounting for inflation) to carnival sideshow operator Bunny Gibbons. Gibbons later charged carnival goers 25¢ admission to see it.
On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer in Stovall Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His grave site in the Plainfield cemetery was frequently vandalized over the years; souvenir seekers chipped off pieces of his gravestone before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is now in a museum in Waushara County.
Aileen Wuornos – (February 29, 1956 – October 9, 2002) was an American serial killer who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990, claiming they raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute.
She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders and […] executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. She was the tenth woman in the United States to be executed since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment in 1976, and the second woman ever executed in Florida.
She declined a last meal and instead was given a cup of coffee.
‘Jack the Ripper‘ – is the best-known name given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated in a letter, written by someone claiming to be the murderer, that was disseminated in the media. The letter is widely believed to have been a hoax, and may have been written by a journalist in a deliberate attempt to heighten interest in the story. Other nicknames used for the killer at the time were “The Whitechapel Murderer” and “Leather Apron”.
Attacks ascribed to the Ripper typically involved female prostitutes from the slums whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to proposals that their killer possessed anatomical or surgical knowledge. Rumours that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888, and letters from a writer or writers purporting to be the murderer were received by media outlets and Scotland Yard. The “From Hell” letter, received by George Lusk of theWhitechapel Vigilance Committee, included half of a preserved human kidney, supposedly from one of the victims. Mainly because of the extraordinarily brutal character of the murders, and because of media treatment of the events, the public came increasingly to believe in a single serial killer known as “Jack the Ripper”.
Extensive newspaper coverage bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the Ripper. An investigation into a series of brutal killings in Whitechapel up to 1891 was unable to connect all the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, but the legend of Jack the Ripper solidified. As the murders were never solved, the legends surrounding them became a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. The term “ripperology” was coined to describe the study and analysis of the Ripper cases. There are now over one hundred theories about the Ripper’s identity, and the murders have inspired multiple works of fiction.