Whether evil, disturbed, or just plain mental, our society seems to have both a repulsion and fascination with the lives and minds of evil serial killers. Who are these serial killers and what motivates them to take the life of another human being? We really don’t know. But what we do know is that as humans, we are capable of some gruesome things. Take these torture devices which are meant to inflict the most pain possible. What sort of mind comes up with such terrible devices for the specific reason of torture? Serial killers in desguise maybe? Who knows. These are 25 of the most evil serial killers of the 20th Century.
Known as the Son of Sam or the .44 Caliber Killer, David Berkowitz carried out a series of shootings in the summer of 1976. Using a .44 calibre Bulldog revolver, he shot six people dead and wounded seven others. Berkowitz sent a series of taunting letters to police and the press promising further shootings, terrorizing the people of New York City. Eventually captured in August 1977, Berkowitz confessed to all of the killings and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for each murder. It is unlikely that Berkowitz will ever be released.
Known as “The Co-ed Killer”, Edmund Kemper is an American serial killer and necrophile who carried out a series of brutal murders in California in the 1970s. He murdered his grandparents when he was 15 years old then later killed and dismembered six female hitchhikers in the Santa Cruz area. He then murdered his mother and one of her friends before turning himself in to the police days later. He was found guilty in November 1973 of eight counts of murder. He asked for the death penalty, but instead received life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Larry Bittaker and Roy Norris
Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris, nicknamed ‘The Tool Box Killers’ are two American serial killers who together murdered five young women in California in 1979. Bittaker and Norris lured victims into their van and drove them to secluded areas where they both raped and tortured them horrifically before murdering them. In 1981 Bittaker and Norris were charged with murder, kidnapping and rape. Bittaker was sentenced to death and remains on death row to this day.[update] Norris was spared execution in return for his testimony against Bittaker and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley killed five children between 1963 and 1965, in Greater Manchester, England. The victims where between 10 and 17 years old and were sexually assaulted before being brutally murdered. Three of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor and the last victim’s body was found at Brady’s house. The whereabouts of the fourth victim, Keith Bennett remains unknown. Both Brady and Hindley were later sentenced to life imprisonment. Hindley died in prison in 2002 while Brady has since been confined in the maximum security Ashworth Hospital.
Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono (The Hillside Stranglers)
Between late 1977 to early 1978 cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono carried out a reign of terror in California. The cousins kidnapped, raped and killed 10 girls between the ages of 12 and 28, strangling each victim in the hills above Los Angeles. The cousins’ method of killing led to them being known as ‘the Hillside Stranglers’. Bianchi attempted to plead not guilty by way of insanity but was found to be faking mental illness, so instead agreed to plead guilty and testify against Buono. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. Buono died of a heart attack in his cell in 2002.
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Dennis Rader (the BTK Killer)
Dennis Raider murdered 10 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 stalked his victims before breaking into their homes, then bound their limbs before strangling them. Having disappeared in 1988, BTK reemerged in 2005 when he sent a floppy disc to the press (this was to be his downfall). Tracing him via the floppy disc, Rader was arrested and charged upon which he immediately confessed. He is serving 10 consecutive life sentences with an earliest possible release date of February 26, 2180.
Donald Henry Gaskins
In 1969, Gaskins began killing a series of hitchhikers he picked up while driving around the coastal highways of the American South, torturing and mutilating his victims. He claimed to have killed 80 to 90 people. He was arrested in 1975, when a criminal associate confessed to police that he had witnessed Gaskins killing two young men. He was convicted of eight murders and was sentenced to death which was later commuted to life imprisonment without parole. Remarkably Gaskins went on to commit another murder within the high security prison, killing a fellow inmate. He is the only man to have ever killed an inmate on death row.
An American-born Scottish serial killer known to have killed nine people across southern Scotland between 1956 and 1958, Manuel is suspected of having killed as many as 18 people. Police were unable to prove his guilt until his final murders, when some banknotes Manuel had been using to pay for drinks in Glasgow pubs were proven to be stolen from one of his victims. He confessed to these murders after his mother confronted him at the police station where he was being held. Manuel was hanged at Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison for his crimes in July 1958. He was one of the last prisoners to be hanged in Scotland before they ended capital punishment.
John George Haigh
Known as the “Acid Bath Murderer” John George Haigh was an English serial killer during the 1940s. He was convicted of the murders of six people, although he claimed to have killed nine. A professional con man, he targeted wealthy individuals and charmed them into believing he was a successful businessman. He lured his victims to a derelict warehouse before shooting them. He then dissolved their bodies in sulfuric acid before forging papers in order to sell their possessions and collect their life savings. In spite of the absence of the victims’ bodies, there was sufficient forensic evidence to convict Haigh of murder. In 1949 he was sentenced to death and hanged at Wandsworth Prison.
Fred & Rose West
Between 1967 and 1987 Fred West and his wife Rose tortured, raped and murdered at least 11 young women and girls. The pair were finally apprehended and charged in 1994 after police obtained a search warrant and located several human bones buried within the garden and under the floor boards of their home. During his trial, Fred West hanged himself prior to being convicted. In 1995 Rose West was jailed for life having been found guilty on 10 counts of murder.
Known as the Genesee River Killer, Shawcross first killed in 1972 by sexually assaulting and murdering a 10-year-old boy after luring him into a wooded area in Watertown, New York. He then raped and killed an eight-year-old girl, for which he was captured and convicted of manslaughter. Serving 14 years in prison he was released in 1988 and went onto brutally kill 12 female prostitutes between the ages of 22 and 59. Eventually captured at the scene of his last murder, Shawcross confessed to all 12 murders and was sentenced to a 250 years imprisonment. He died in prison of cardiac arrest in 2008.
Peter William Sutcliffe is a British serial killer known as “The Yorkshire Ripper”. In 1981 Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others. He targeted prostitutes in Leeds and Bradford causing a climate of fear across northern England. When arrested in January 1981 (for driving with false number-plates), police questioned him about the killings and he confessed. At his trial, he pleaded not guilty to murder on grounds of diminished responsibility, but his defense was rejected by the jury. He was sentenced to serve life in prison without parole and remains in Broadmoor Maximum Security Mental Hospital to this day.
Ricardo Leyva Muñoz Ramírez was an American serial killer and Satan worshiper who terrorized Los Angeles between 1984 and 1985. Nicknamed the “Night Stalker”, Ramirez broke into the homes of many of his victims and then shot, stabbed, rapped and mutilated them. His victims ranged between the ages of a nine year old girl to a married couple in their late sixties. Notably he smeared pentagrams on the walls of his crime scenes. Captured in 1985, Ramirez was sentenced to death and remained on California’s death row for 23 years until he died of complications from B-cell lymphoma in June 2013.
Known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer and sex offender who raped, murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He also committed necrophilia and ate parts of his later victims, dismembering and cooking parts of their bodies. Dahmer was eventually caught after a would-be victim managed to overpower him and alert police. In 1992 Dahmer was convicted of 15 of the murders and sentenced to 15 terms of life in prison. However just two years into his sentence he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution.
The British equivalent of Jeffrey Dahmer, Dennis Nilsen was a homosexual killer who murdered 15 gay men in London, England between 1978 and 1983. He dissected his victims’ bodies, then burned or flushed the remains down the toilet. This led to his capture when human flesh was discovered in his sewage system. Nilsen was convicted in 1983 of six counts of murder with two attempted murders and was sentenced to life in prison. He remains imprisoned at Full Sutton maximum security prison in Yorkshire, England without the chance of release.
One of the most widely known murderers of the 20th century, Ted Bundy was an American serial killer and rapist who kidnapped or overpowered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s. Bundy typically approached his female victims in a public place and led them to secluded areas where he would sexually assault and kill them. He decapitated at least 12 victims and kept the severed heads in his apartment as trophies. Repeatedly captured, he twice managed to escape from police and court houses before going onto commit three further killings. Convicted of multiple murders he was sentenced to death and was executed via the electric chair in 1989.
Charles Ng and Leonard Lake
Charles Ng and his accomplice Leonard Lake raped, tortured and murdered between 11 and 25 victims at Lake’s ranch in Calaveras County, California. Their crimes became known in 1985 when Lake committed suicide after being arrested and Ng was caught shoplifting at a hardware store. Police searched Lake’s ranch and found human remains. Ng was identified as Lake’s partner in crime and attempted to evade police by fleeing to Canada. After a lengthy extradition to the United States, he stood trial in 1998 on twelve counts of murder and was convicted in 1999. Ng is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy sexually assaulted and murdered 33 teenage boys and young men in a series of killings between 1972 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois. He lured victims to his home with the promise of work or money before murdering them by strangulation with a tourniquet. Gacy buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space under his home, before disposing of later victims in the Des Plaines River. Convicted of 33 murders, Gacy was sentenced to death. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.
Chikatilo was a Soviet serial killer, nicknamed The Butcher of Rostov. He committed the sexual assault, murder and mutilation of at least 52 women and children in Russia between 1978 and 1990. Believing he was the killer, police carried out surveillance on Chikatilo which eventually provided adequate grounds to arrest him. He confessed to a total of 56 murders and was tried for 53 of these killings in April 1992. Victims’ relatives demanded that authorities release him so that they could kill him themselves. He was convicted and sentenced to death for 52 of these murders in October 1992 and subsequently executed by firing squad in February 1994.
Tommy Lynn Sells
Claiming to have killed at least 70 people, Tommy Lynn Sells is considered one of the most dangerous offenders in Texas and has been convicted of several brutal murders between 1985 and 1999, including stabbing a 13 year old girl 16 times. Sells was eventually captured after breaking into the bedroom of a 10 year old girl, stabbing her, and leaving her for dead. Despite her injures 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.
One of the United States most prolific serial killers, Gary Ridgway was arrested in 2001 for four murders though he confessed to killing at least 70 women in Washington state throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. He avoided the death penalty by providing detailed confessions and leading police to the dumping sites of his victims, five of whom he dumped in the Green River which lead the press to nickname him “The Green River Killer”. He was convicted of 49 murders and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Pedro Rodrigues Filho
Pedro Rodrigues Filho is a Brazilian serial killer. Arrested in 1973, he was later convicted in 2003 for murdering at least 71 people and sentenced to 128 years in prison (although Brazilian law system prohibits anyone from spending more than 30 years behind bars). Committing his first murder at the age of 14, Filho began a series of burglaries and carried out a murdering spree against local drug dealers. By the age of 18 years old he had killed 10 people. Whilst imprisoned, he executed his own father who was also serving time for murder. Remarkably he went onto kill at least 47 inmates while imprisoned. His continued killings led to further convictions increasing his sentence to 400 years. However he was later released from prison in 2007 after serving 34 years but was later re-arrested in 2011.
Daniel Camargo Barbosa
Barbosa was a serial killer who was believed to have raped and killed over 150 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador during the 1970s and 1980s. He confessed to killing 72 girls in Ecuador since escaping from a Colombian prison. After being arrested in Quito, he led authorities to the dumping grounds of those victims whose bodies had not yet been recovered. He was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to 16 years in prison, the maximum sentence available in Ecuador. In November 1994, he was murdered in prison by the cousin of one of his victims.
Dr Harold Shipman
Dr. Harold Fredrick Shipman was a English doctor and is one of the world’s most prolific serial killers in recorded history, proven to have been responsible for up to 250 murders. A trusted doctor, he was well respected in his community, however colleagues and local undertakers began raising concerns over the high death rate in the area and the large number of cremation forms for elderly women that he had countersigned. Several bodies were later exhumed and postmortems revealed diamorphine within their system. It was later established Shipman had purposely injected fatal doses of the drug in a huge number of patients, causing their death. He then forged their wills so he could inherit large sums of money and completed cremation requests to destroy the victim’s bodies. The trial judge sentenced him to 15 consecutive life sentences and recommended that he never be released. Shipman later hanged himself in January 2004 in his cell at Wakefield Prison.
Pedro Alonso Lopez
Pedro Alonso López is a Colombian serial killer, accused of raping and killing more than 300 girls across South America. He lured them to secluded areas or inside unoccupied buildings where he raped each of them before killing them by a range of brutal methods, primarily strangulation. López was arrested when an attempted abduction failed and he was trapped by market traders. He confessed to over 300 murders but the police only believed him when a flash flood uncovered a mass grave containing many of his victims. Eventually 53 bodies were discovered. Imprisoned in 1980 he served 18 years before being released from a Ecuadorian prison and was deported to Columbia where he was rearrested and in 2002 was sentenced to life.
We hope you enjoyed our list on 25 Of The Most Evil Serial Killers You Have Ever Known. Which one did you think was the most evil?