When you’re a child, your parents tell you there is no such thing as ‘The Boogeyman.’ That may be true as far as the actual ‘Boogeyman’ character goes, but Boogeymen are walking the earth, they come in the form of the deranged serial killers who haunt real live people.
Though these people commit these terrifying acts, society has a fascination with the serial killer. What causes them do these things? Are they sick, or just evil? Do they commit multiple murders so they can be assigned a nickname and become famous? What makes them tick? Why did Dahmer eat his victims? We may never know for sure, but what we do know is humans can commit some gruesome acts, and though repulsive, we want to know why.
Body Count : 6
Nickname : The Son of Sam or the .44 Caliber Killer
In the summer of 1976, David Berkowitz (a.k.a. the Son of Sam or the .44 Caliber Killer) shot six people dead and wounded seven others Using a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver. After committing the heinous act, he taunted the police and the press with letters promising further shootings, which terrorized the people of New York City.
In August 1977, he was captured and then confessed to all of the killings. Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for each murder, likely to never see the light of day again.
Body Count : 10
Nickname : “The Co-ed Killer”
Edmund Kemper a.k.a. “The Co-ed Killer” is an American serial killer and necrophile who, in the 1970s, carried out a series of brutal murders in California. At just 15-years-old, he murdered his grandparents to “see what it felt like.” He then went on to kill and dismember six female hitchhikers in the Santa Cruz area in 1970. Then after confessing his sins to his mother, he murdered her and one of her friends. After those murders, he turned himself into the police days later. He was found guilty in November 1973 receiving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for eight counts of murder.
Larry Bittaker and Roy Norris
Body Count : 5
Nickname : “The Tool Box Killers”
‘The Tool Box Killers,’ Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris, are American serial killers. Together, they murdered five young women in California in 1979. Luring victims into their van, they would drive them to secluded areas and the two raped and tortured them before murdering them. The pair were charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in 1981 Bittaker received a death sentence and remains on death row to this day. Norris however, was spared execution in return for his testimony against Bittaker and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Body Count : 5
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were child murderers. The pair killed five children between 1963 and 1965, in Greater Manchester, England. The ages of the victims ranged between 10 and 17 years old. Each of the victims was sexually assaulted before being murdered. They found three of the victims in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor. The last victim found was at Brady’s house. Keith Bennett, the fouth victim, has yet to be found. The pair were later sentenced to life imprisonment. Hindley died in prison in 2002. Brady resides in the maximum security Ashworth Hospital.
Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono
Body Count : 10
Nickname : “The Hillside Stranglers”
“The Hillside Stranglers,” Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono unleashed their reign of terror in California between late 1977 to early 1978. The two cousins kidnapped, raped and strangled ten girls who ranged in age from 12 to 28. They carried out their crimes in the hills above Los Angeles. The pair were infamously dubbed ‘the Hillside Stranglers.’ After being caught, Bianchi tried to plead not guilty by way of insanity. When this didn’t work, and he was said to be faking mental illness, he agreed to plead guilty and testify against Buono. The pair were sentenced to life imprisonment. Buono eventually would die of a heart attack in his cell in 2002.
Body Count : 10
Nickname : “the BTK Killer”
Dennis Raider murdered ten people in Sedgwick County, Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. Obsessed with notoriety, Raider sent taunting letters to police under the name BTK which stood for ‘Bind, Torture, Kill.’ Rader would stalk his victims then break into their homes. He would then, bind their limbs and strangle them. In 1988 BTK disappeared but reemerged in 2005 after he sent a floppy disc to the press. They were then able to trace him via the floppy disc; Rader was arrested and charged upon which he immediately confessed. He is serving ten consecutive life sentences with an earliest possible release date of February 26, 2180.
Donald Henry Gaskins
Body Count : 80-90
Gaskins began his killing spree in 1969 by picking up a series of hitchhikers while driving around the American South’s coastal highways, torturing and mutilating his victims. He was arrested in 1975 when a criminal associate confessed to police that he had witnessed Gaskins killing two young men. Gaskins claimed to have killed 80 to 90 people. Though he was only convicted of eight murders, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment without parole. Remarkably Gaskins went on to commit another murder within the high-security prison when he killed another inmate. He is, to this day, the only man to have ever killed an inmate on death row.
Body Count : 9
Peter Manuel is an American-born Scottish serial killer. He was proven to have killed nine people across southern Scotland between 1956 and 1958 and is suspected of killing as many as 18 people. Police were unable to prove his guilt until his last murders. Manuel had been using banknotes to pay for drinks in Glasgow pubs that were proven to be stolen from one of his victims. After being confronted by his mother at the police station, he confessed to the murders. He was hanged at Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison for his crimes in July 1958 and was one of the last prisoners to be hanged in Scotland before they ended capital punishment.
John George Haigh
Body Count : 6-9
Nickname : “Acid Bath Murderer”
John George Haigh, known as the “Acid Bath Murderer,” was an English serial killer during the 1940s. He claimed to have killed nine people but was only convicted of murdering six people. Haigh was a professional con man. He would target wealthy people and convince them into believing he was a successful businessman. He would lure his victims to a derelict warehouse where he would shoot them. After the died, he would dissolve their bodies in sulfuric acid. Then he would forge papers to sell their possessions and collect their life savings. Since he would dissolve his victims’ bodies in acid, the authorities relied on forensic evidence to convict Haigh of murder. He was sentenced to death and hanged at Wandsworth Prison in 1949.
Fred & Rose West
Body Count : 11
The West’s raped, tortured, and murdered at least 11 young women and girls between 1967 and 1987. The pair were caught and charged in 1994 after police obtained a search warrant and located several human bones buried in the garden and under the floorboards of their home. During his trial, Fred West hanged himself before being convicted. Rose West was found guilty and jailed for life on ten counts of murder in 1995.
Body Count : 14
Nickname : “Genesee River Killer”
Arthur Shawcross or, the Genesee River Killer, first killed in 1972. He sexually assaulted and murdered a 10-year-old boy after he lured him into a wooded area in Watertown, New York. He then moved on to rape and kill an eight-year-old girl, which led to his capture. He was then convicted of manslaughter. Shawcross served 14 years in prison until he was released in 1988. After his release, he killed 12 female prostitutes ranging in age from 22 to 59. Shawcross was eventually captured at the scene of his last murder. He confessed to all 12 murders and was sentenced to 250 years, dying in prison of cardiac arrest in 2008.
Body Count : 13
Nickname : “The Yorkshire Ripper”
Peter William Sutcliffe or “The Yorkshire Ripper,” is a British serial killer convicted of the murders of 13 women and attempted to murder seven others in 1981. He would target prostitutes in the Leeds and Bradford area, causing a climate of fear across northern England. When he arrested in January 1981 (for driving with false license plates), police questioned Sutcliffe about the brutal killings and he confessed. Sutcliffe would plead not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but this defense was rejected by the jury. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and remains in Broadmoor Maximum Security Mental Hospital to this day.
Body Count : 13
Nickname : “Night Stalker”
Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez or the “Night Stalker,” terrorized Los Angeles between 1984 and 1985. He was a Satan worshiper and serial killer who broke into the homes of many of his victims and then shot, stabbed, raped and mutilated them. His victims ranged in age from a nine-year-old girl to a married couple in their late sixties. After the murders, he smeared pentagrams on the walls of his crime scenes. After he had been captured in 1985, he was sentenced to death where he remained on California’s death row. He was there for 23 years until he died of complications from B-cell lymphoma in June 2013.
Body Count : 17
Nickname : “Milwaukee Cannibal”
Jeffrey Dahmer, known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, may be one of the most famous American serial killers. Between 1978 and 1991, he raped, murdered and dismembered his victims, which totaled 17 men and boys. He also committed necrophilia, would eat parts of his victim’s by dismembering and cooking different parts of their bodies. He was eventually caught after one of his would-be victim’s managed to escape and alert police. Dahmer was convicted of 15 of the 17 murders and sentenced to 15 terms of life in prison in 1992 . However, at two years into his conviction, he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution.
Body Count : 15
Dennis Nilsen is the British equivalent of Jeffrey Dahmer. He was a homosexual killer who between 1978 and 1983, murdered 15 gay men in London, England. He would dissect his victims’ bodies, then burn or flush the remains down the toilet. This flushing would lead to his capture after human flesh was discovered in his sewage system. He was convicted in 1983 of six counts of murder and two attempted murders and was sentenced to life in prison. Nilsen remains in Yorkshire, England, imprisoned at Full Sutton maximum security prison without the chance of release.
Body Count : 15
Ted Bundy is another famous American serial killer and rapist and is one of the most widely known murderers of the 20th century. Bundy would kidnap or overpower young women and girls during the 1970s. He typically approached his victims in public places and would lead them to secluded areas. His victims were the, sexually assaulted and murdered. 12 victims were decapitated, and he kept their severed heads in his apartment as trophies. Bundy was repeatedly captured and twice managed to escape from police and courthouses. He then went on to commit three more killings. Bundy was Convicted of multiple murders, and sentenced to death. He was executed via the electric chair in 1989.
Charles Ng and Leonard Lake
Body Count : 11-25
The murderous duo, Charles Ng and his accomplice Leonard Lake raped, tortured and murdered between 11 and 25 victims at Lake’s ranch in Calaveras County, California. In 1985 they were discovered when Lake committed suicide after being arrested. Ng was eventually caught shoplifting from a hardware store. When police searched Lake’s ranch, they found human remains. Ng attempted to evade police when he was identified as Lake’s partner in crime by fleeing to Canada. But after a lengthy extradition process, he was returned to the United States and stood trial in 1998 for twelve counts of murder. He was convicted in 1999 and is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
John Wayne Gacy
Body Count : 33
John Wayne Gacy sexually assaulted and murdered 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois. Luring his victims to his home with the promise of work or money, he would then murder his victims by strangulation with a tourniquet. Gacy buried 26 of his victims in the crawlspace under his home, before disposing of his victims in the Des Plaines River. He was eventually Convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to death. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.
Body Count : 52
Nickname : “The Butcher of Rostov”
Andrei Chikatilo or the Butcher of Rostov was a Soviet serial killer. He committed the mutilation, murder, and sexual assault of at least 52 women and children in Russia between 1978 and 1990. The police carried out surveillance on Chikatilo believing he was the killer, which eventually provided the grounds to arrest him. Chikatilo confessed to 56 murders and was later tried for 53 of these killings in April 1992. The Victims’ relatives demanded the authorities release him so that they could kill him themselves. Convicted and sentenced to death for 52 of the murders in October 1992 he was subsequently executed by firing squad in February 1994.
Tommy Lynn Sells
Body Count : 70
Tommy Lynn Sells claims to have killed at least 70 people and is considered one of the most dangerous offenders in Texas ever. He was convicted of several brutal murders between 1985 and 1999, including stabbing a 13-year-old girl 16 times. He was eventually captured after he broke into the bedroom of a 10-year-old girl and stabbed her, and left her for dead. Despite her injuries, the girl managed to survive and alert her neighbors. She provided a detailed description of Sells to police which eventually led to his capture. Sentenced to death, he remains on death row at a high-security prison in Livingston, Texas.
Body Count : 70
Nickname : “The Green River Killer”
Gary Ridgway was one of the United States most prolific serial killers. He confessed to killing at least 70 women in Washington state throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, though he was arrested in 2001 for just four murders. He provided detailed confessions and led police to the dumping sites of his victims, five of whom he dumped in the Green River avoiding the death penalty but gaining the nickname “The Green River Killer.” He was ultimately convicted of 49 murders and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Pedro Rodrigues Filho
Body Count : 71
The Brazilian serial killer, Pedro Rodrigues Filho was arrested in 1973, and later convicted in 2003 of murdering at least 71 people. He was sentenced to 128 years in prison, but the Brazilian law system prohibits anyone from spending more than 30 years behind bars. He committed his first murder at the age of 14, and began a series of burglaries, carrying out a murdering spree against local drug dealers. By the age of 18-years-old, he had killed ten people. While imprisoned, he executed his father who was also serving time for murder. Remarkably he killed at least 47 inmates while imprisoned. The murders of these inmates led to further convictions increasing his sentence to 400 years. He was later released from prison, however, in 2007 after serving 34 years but was later re-arrested in 2011.
Daniel Camargo Barbosa
Body Count : 150
Daniel Camargo Barbosa raped and killed over 150 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador during the 1970s and 1980s. Confessing to killing 72 girls in Ecuador after escaping from a Colombian prison. When arrested in Quito, he led authorities to the dumping grounds where he had buried his victim’s bodies that had not yet been recovered. He was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to 16 years in prison, the maximum penalty available in Ecuador. While in prison, he was murdered by the cousin of one of his victims in November 1994.
Dr. Harold Shipman
Body Count : 250
Trusted doctor, Dr. Harold Fredrick Shipman was one of the world’s most prolific serial killers in recorded history. The Engish doctor was proven to be responsible for up to 250 murders. Shipman was well respected in his community until colleagues, and local undertakers began raising questions over the high death rate in the area and a large number of cremation forms for senior women that had been countersigned by the doctor. Several bodies were later exhumed, and postmortems revealed diamorphine within their system. It was then established that Shipman had injected fatal doses of diamorphine in a huge number of his patients, causing their death. He would then forged their wills so he would inherit large sums of money and he completed cremation requests to destroy the victim’s bodies. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences, and the Trial Judge recommended that he never be released. Shipman hanged himself in January 2004 in his cell at Wakefield Prison.
Pedro Alonso Lopez
Body Count : 300+
The Columbian serial killer, Pedro Alonso López is accused of raping and killing more than 300 girls across South America. He would lure his victims to secluded areas or inside abandoned buildings and rape each of them before killing them with a range of brutal methods, but primarily strangulation. He was arrested when he attempted an abduction but failed. López confessed to over 300 murders, but the police only believed him after a mass grave was uncovered after a flash flood uncovered which contained many of his victims. 53 bodies were eventually discovered. He remained imprisoned from 1980 to 1988 when he was released from an Ecuadorian prison and was then deported to Columbia and rearrested and in 2002 was sentenced to life.