Serial killers have been a prominent figure in crime for many centuries. From Jack the Ripper to Ted Bundy, the public has had a morbid fascination with these heinous criminals and their methods of murder. But what is it that fascinates us?
The serial killer is typically seen as someone who takes pleasure in murdering multiple victims over an extended period of time. They often use their knowledge of psychology and anatomy to devise clever ways of killing their victims without arousing suspicion, making them even more terrifying. Their motives are usually unclear, which adds to the mystery surrounding them.
But while they may seem like monsters, it would be wrong to think of all serial killers as one-dimensional psychopaths; there are many nuances behind each killer. Some may have suffered childhood trauma, while others were motivated by revenge.
In this article, we will highlight some of the most famous serial killers ever, while helping audiences better understand the factors that may help us to better understand the psychology of a serial killer and how they came to be.
20 of the Worst Serial Killers the World has Ever Seen
Serial killers have changed the way people look at crime in the world today. In an age where technology is becoming ever-more advanced, it has become easier to track down criminals who use their intelligence and cunning to evade law enforcement for years.
With all of this in mind, let’s now take a look at some of the worst murders the world has ever seen.
1. Ted Bundy
This American serial killer was active in the 1970s and is believed to have killed at least 30 people across seven states. He gained notoriety for his “charm”, which he used to seduce women before murdering them.
He also took trophies from some of his victims and attempted to fake an alibi by re-enacting the crime scenes with his own hands.
2. John Wayne Gacy
Also known as the “Killer Clown”, this American serial killer murdered 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. He lured many of his victims through promises of construction jobs or other job offers, then tortured, sexually assaulted, and strangled them after they arrived.
He was eventually convicted of all 33 murders and sentenced to death.
3. Jeffrey Dahmer
This American serial killer murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 in Wisconsin. He would lure his victims by offering them money, drugs, or alcohol before killing them.
He also cannibalized some of the bodies and kept various body parts as trophies. After being arrested, it was discovered that he had mutilated all but two of the bodies beyond recognition.
4. H. H Holmes
Also known as “The Butcher”, this American serial killer operated during the late 1800s in Chicago, Illinois and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is believed he killed at least nine people, although some estimates place the figure much higher.
He is also believed to have been a fraudster, bigamist and insurance scammer. He built the “Murder Castle”, which was a hotel that contained numerous torture chambers and secret passageways in order to facilitate his crimes.
5. The Zodiac Killer
This American serial killer operated during the late 1960s and early 1970s in Northern California. It is believed he killed at least five people, although some estimates place the figure much higher.
He became notorious for sending cryptic letters to various newspapers containing clues about future murders as well as mocking police efforts to capture him. To this day, his identity remains unknown.
6. Gary Ridgway – The Green River Killer
This American serial killer is known to have killed at least 49 women in Washington State between 1982 and 1998. He would usually choose runaways or prostitutes as his victims, picking them up near the area of the Green River before strangling them.
In 2003 he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
7. Edmund Kemper
This American serial killer murdered 10 people, including both his paternal grandparents and his mother, during the 1970s in California. He targeted young female hitchhikers as well as college students and kept some body parts as trophies after murdering them.
His mental health issues likely played a role in his crimes and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia before being convicted and sent to prison for life.
8. Richard Ramirez – The Night Stalker
This American serial killer operated during the mid to late 1980s in California and is known to have killed at least 14 people. He was notorious for his use of Satanic symbols, which he drew on the walls of his victims’ homes or wrote inside their cars as a signature.
After being arrested, he was convicted of all 13 murders plus numerous other charges and sentenced to death by lethal injection.
9. Original Night Stalker
Also known as the “Golden State Killer”, this American serial killer operated during the 1970s and 1980s in California. It is believed that he committed at least 11 killings, 45 rapes, and over 100 burglaries throughout the state.
He is known for taunting his victims with phone calls and letters after the attacks and often left behind distinct evidence at crime scenes. To this day, his identity remains unknown.
10. Dennis Rader – BTK Killer
This American serial killer operated during the 1970s and 1990s in Kansas and is known to have killed 10 people. He would typically break into homes before binding, torturing, and then killing his victims.
He became notorious for sending taunting letters to law enforcement as well as media outlets containing details of his crimes. In 2005 he pleaded guilty to all ten murders and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
11. Toy-Box Killer – David Parker Ray
This American serial killer operated during the 1990s in New Mexico and is known to have killed at least three people. He would kidnap, torture, and then murder his victims by dismembering their bodies with a saw.
He kept a large “toy box” of torture devices that he used on his victims as well as a soundproof bedroom for them to be held in. After being arrested, he was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to 224 years in prison.
12. Leonard Lake & Charles Ng
This pair of American serial killers are believed to have murdered between 11 and 25 people during the mid 1980s in Northern California. They targeted couples, single women, and young children before murdering them and disposing of their bodies on Lake’s property.
They were both arrested in 1985 and while Leonard Lake committed suicide before he could be tried, Charles Ng was convicted of 11 counts of murder and sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
13. The Mad Butcher – Ed Gein
This American serial killer operated during the late 1940s and 1950s in Wisconsin. He is known to have killed two women as well as numerous animals but is infamous for his numerous grave robberies, which he would use to make furniture, clothing, and other items out of human body parts.
After being captured by police he was deemed mentally ill and was sent to a psychiatric hospital where he died in 1984.
14. The Son of Sam – David Berkowitz
This American serial killer operated during the 1970s in New York and is known to have killed six people as well as injuring seven others. He gained notoriety for his taunting letters to police, media outlets, and even famous celebrities throughout the course of his killing spree.
After being arrested in 1977 he confessed to all of the murders and was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison where he remains today.
15. Boston Strangler – Albert DeSalvo
This American serial killer operated during the early 1960s in Massachusetts and is thought to have killed at least thirteen women aged between 19 and 85. He would typically break into homes before attacking and strangling his victims with their own clothing or other items found within the victim’s home.
After being captured and identified, he was sentenced to life in prison where he died in 1973.
16. Kenneth Bianchi
This American serial killer operated during the late 1970s in Los Angeles with his cousin Angelo Buono Jr. Together they are known to have killed at least 10 young women aged between 12 and 28 years old by means of strangulation or asphyxiation before dumping their bodies in the hills surrounding Los Angeles.
After being arrested, they were both convicted of nine counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
17. Aileen Wuornos
This American serial killer is known to have murdered seven men between 1989 and 1990 in Florida. She became notorious for killing all of her victims by shooting them at point blank range and then stealing their vehicles.
When eventually arrested in 1991, she was convicted of six counts of murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection which was carried out in 2002.
18. The Alphabet Killer
This American serial killer operated during the late 1960s in New York and is believed to have killed three young girls aged between 10 and 12 years old. He gained notoriety for his taunting letters sent to law enforcement as well as media outlets containing details of his crimes.
To this day he remains unidentified with the case remaining unsolved after decades of investigation.
19. Angelo Buono, Jr.
This American serial killer worked alongside his cousin Kenneth Bianchi as described above and is known to have killed at least nine young women aged between 12 and 28 years old by means of strangulation or asphyxiation before dumping their bodies in the hills surrounding Los Angeles.
After arrest, he was convicted of nine counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
20. Joseph Naso
This American serial killer operated during the late 1970s in California and is known to have murdered four women aged between 22 and 38 years old by means of strangulation or asphyxiation before disposing of their bodies in various locations throughout California.
After finally being captured he was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2013. He remains on death row to this day.
Inside the Minds of the World’s Worst Serial Killers
Serial killers are some of the most terrifying criminals in the world. They often inflict horrendous acts upon their victims, leaving them traumatized for life. But what makes these individuals so dangerous, and how do they change the way we look at crime?
Many experts believe that serial killers are driven by a deep, uncontrollable psychological urge to kill. They may have experienced traumatic events in their childhood, such as abuse or neglect, which led them to seek out victims to satisfy a sick inner craving for power and control.
Serial killers often target vulnerable people who are less likely to fight back or report the crime. This makes it easier for these individuals to continue their depraved acts without consequence.