Here is a truly scary list: 25 brutal serial killer families! When you think “serial killer,” it’s likely a sociopathic and anti-social loner comes to mind. But, that’s not always the case. Over the years, there’s been a number of brutal serial killer families, working together toward one nefarious goal.
There’s something even more terrifying about this fact. It’s one thing for a single psychopath to buy into their own insanity, but quite another for several others to buy into it, too. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Whether it was a couple agreeing to do heinous acts against their fellow man or an entire family conspiring to torture, rape, and murder, these 25 brutal serial killer families were the lowest of the low. Fair warning, this list is not for the faint of heart.
Loren Herzog And Wesley Shermantine
Named “The Speed Freak Killers,” these two grew up as childhood friends in Linden, California, doing pretty much everything together. As adults, they developed a serious methamphetamine addiction, and may have started murdering people around 18 years old. From 1984 to 1999, they went on a meth-induced killing spree, murdering friends and strangers and anyone that got in their way. Sometimes they’d go on a hunt merely for the thrill of it. Once apprehended, their friendship disintegrated and they turned on each other. Shermantine was put on death row and Herzog ended up committing suicide. Authorities believe they killed at least 24 people, but Shermantine claims 72.
John Duffy And David Mulcahy
These two also became friends at a young age, bonding together after being heavily bullied in school. Soon, they became the bullies, terrorizing others for sport and committing burglaries and minor arson. As adults, in 1982, they led seemingly normal lives. However, at night, they would go out “hunting,” singing the song “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. At first, they preyed on women to threaten them with violence and rape them, but the violence increased with each attack, and eventually they committed several murders. They weren’t caught until 1999.
Kenneth Bianchi And Angelo Buono Jr.
Before being caught, these two men were known as “The Hillside Strangler” from 1976 to 1978 (originally, authorities thought the killer was only one man). In 30 days, they left the bodies of five women in the hills of L.A. and by the very end, they had murdered ten women and girls, ages 28 to 12. It started when Kenneth, Angelo’s cousin, came to live with Angelo. As the older cousin, Angelo acted as an authority to the wayward Kenneth, but Angelo was no role model. He convinced Kenneth to become pimps of teenage girls no one cared about. This idea led to their infamous murder spree. When the murders stopped in 1978, Bianchi left for Washington State and murdered two more women but was caught by police. He gave up his cousin, Angelo, during the interrogation. Buono died behind bars in 2002. Bianchi is still currently living out his sentence.
Wolfgang Abel And Marco Furlan
Part of a neo-Nazi group called “Ludwig” which carried out ritual murders, these two men became friends in Italy where they murdered at least ten people (though it’s likely fifteen). Their activities started in 1977, killing homosexuals, prostitutes, drug addicts and friars. They were arrested in 1984 for trying to burn down a disco club.
Inessa Tarverdiyeva and Family
Also called “The Gang of Amazons,” this family from Stavropol, Russia, led by Inessa Tarverdiyeva and Roman Podkopaev, murdered 30 people in over six years. They brought their two daughters, one that was only thirteen years old, on their murderous raids. They were brutal, often doing horrendous things to their victims, like gouging out their eyes. Their killing spree lasted until 2013 when they were apprehended.
Lawrence Bittaker And Roy Norris
These two started their murder spree around the same time as the Hillside Strangler in 1979. They met in California State Prison and fantasized about kidnapping, torturing, raping, and killing a girl for each teenage year. While outside, they acted on their fantasy, roaming the area for potential victims. In the end, they brutally carried out their plans, killing five girls, ages ranging from 13 to 18. Norris bragged to a friend about his murder spree which led to their eventually arrest. Bittaker was sentenced the death and the judge even put on a 199-year sentence just in case his sentence was commuted to life. Norris was given 45-years for his cooperation with the investigation.
Dean Corll, Elmer Wayne Henley, and David Brooks
These three men lured teenagers and young men into Dean Corll’s home in the ’70s before he tortured, raped, and murdered them. Corll was the ring-leader, known to many in the neighborhood as “The Candy Man,” because he would give out candy to the kids. The murders lasted for three years, ending in 1973 when Henley fatally shot Corll while he was trying to rape one of his victims. Henley confessed to 28 murders, showing them the locations of the unmarked graves. He and Brooks were both given life sentences.
Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate
In the late ’50s, James Dean wannabe Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, went on a shocking killing spree in Nebraska. They went from place to place, breaking into houses, and killing anyone that got in their way. When they were finally caught, Starkweather claimed it was all his idea and Fugate was his captive. Authorities didn’t buy it, claiming they made up a story to help Fugate receive a lighter sentence. Starkweather got the death penalty while Fugate was given life in prison. She was released after 18 years and lived a quiet life afterward.
David Alan Gore And Fred Waterfield
Called “The Killing Cousins,” these two men committed a series of brutal attacks against women in the early ’80s. They kidnapped, raped, and murdered them before dismembering their bodies and burying them in unmarked graves. Gore was convicted of killing six women and he implicated Waterfield as being part of all of it, too. Despite evidence to the contrary, Waterfield maintained his innocence, claiming to be a hostage. Gore was executed in 2013, 30 years after the murders, and Waterfield is serving a life sentence.
The Briley Brothers
Linwood Briley, James Briley Jr. and Ray Briley killed 11 people in seven months in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Unlike many of the other killers on this list, these boys grew up in a well adjusted family, were treated well, and overall were well regarded in their neighborhood. At school, however, when they weren’t under the watchful eye of their father, they bullied kids and didn’t listen to authority.
As adults, they grew even more bold and violent, resulting in the serial murders. Of course, they were eventually caught. Linwood and James were given the death penalty while Ray was given a life sentence. In 1984, they all led a successful escape attempt, staying free for some time, but were eventually captured and fast tracked to the electric chair. Linwood and James were both executed in 1985. Ray is still serving his life sentence.
Amelia Sach And Annie Walters
Also known as the “Finchley Baby Farmers,” these two women in late-Victorian era England offered to collect unwanted babies from mothers for a price. They claimed the babies would be adopted, but in actuality, both Sach and Walters murdered the babies by strangling them. Once caught and arrested, they stood convicted of murdered and were sentenced with the death penalty (even though many tried to have their sentence commuted to life). They were the first women to ever be executed by hanging in Holloway Prison.
Christopher Worrell and James Miller
40-year-old James Miller and his homosexual partner Christopher Worrell, age 23, first met in prison and once they got out, stalked South Australia for hitchhikers. From 1976 to 1977, they kidnapped the hitchhikers, raped, and murdered women by strangulation with a cord; though, it’s thought one might have been buried alive. When Worrell died in a car crash, the murders stopped and Miller fell into a deep depression and confess to a friend about his serial killings. The friend tipped off the police and Miller was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.
Micajah “Big” Harpe and Wiley “Little” Harpe are considered the first recorded serial killers in the United States, hunting people down for the pure enjoyment of it. They got their first taste for blood in the American Revolutionary War, joining a Tory rape game where they raped, stole, committed arson, and murdered innocents. After the war, their murder spree only grew more violent and grisly, not discriminating between man or child. At one point, Big Harpe killed his own baby daughter by smashing her head against a tree. They were eventually hunted down. Big Harpe was killed in action and Little Harpe was executed years later. Authorities supposedly put Little Harpe’s head on a pole as a warning.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
From July 1963 to October 1965, this couple prowled the neighborhood of Manchester, England for unsuspecting children. They kidnapped, tortured, raped, and killed five children in total, ages ranging from 10 to 17. They were caught a year after the death penalty was abolished in England so both were given life sentences. Hindley Died at the age of 60 in 2002 and Brady died in Ashworth Hospital at 79 in 2017.
Gerald and Charlene Gallego
This couple terrorized Sacramento, California from 1978 to 1980, killing a total of 10 victims. They kidnapped women, kept them as sex slaves, and then would murder them before moving on to their next victims. They were caught after Gerald kidnapped Craig Miller and Mary Elizabeth Sowers with a gun, forcing them into his van. Miller and Sowers’ friends saw the kidnapping and wrote down the vehicle license plate. Unfortunately, Gerald murdered both before authorities could apprehend him. Gerald received the death penalty in both California and Nevada while Charlene received a lighter sentence of sixteen years for helping the police investigation against Gerald. She was released from prison in 1997 while Gerald died of rectal cancer in 2002.
Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
These infamous Canadian serial killers did absolutely deplorable acts together, feeding off their evil desires. Surprisingly, Karla Homolka grew up in a loving family and showed no sign that she had disturbing and psychotic machinations. Once she dated Bernardo, things took a turn for the wicked. She assisted him in kidnapping women and helping him rape them. Eventually, Homolka offered her little sister as a surrogate virgin for him. They spiked her drink and Bernardo raped her. She died from the drugs. Afterward, they continued kidnapping, drugging, raping, and killing their victims. When Bernardo’s violent attacks against Homolka put her in the hospital, she left him and went to the police, leading to his arrest. Controversially, she got a plea bargain of 12 years in prison while Bernardo got life. She was released in 2005.
Delfina and María de Jesús González
Known as “Las Poquianchis,” a nickname they hated, these two sisters ran a brothel called Rancho El Ángel in San Francisco del Rincón, Mexico. They developed a scheme where they’d put out ads for maids and waitresses, enticing young girls to come and work for them. Many of these girls were then forced into sex slavery, beaten, and eventually killed when they were ill, lost their looks, or didn’t please the customers. Wealthy customers would often be murdered as well. If one of their slaves got pregnant, they would force an abortion. When the sisters were finally caught, the authorities found the bodies of 11 men, 80 women, and many fetuses. They were both sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Leonard Lake And Charles Ng
These two are some of the worst on this list, committing horrendous acts and video taping them. Ng was born in Hong Kong to wealthy parents and became an anti-social loner consistently expelled from many schools. He came to the United States on a student visa in 1978. There, he met Leonard Lake and they grew an instant bond over their common malevolence. They built a bunker behind Ng’s cabin to kidnap people they knew and do despicable things to them. Many of their victims were young families. They would often force the men and children to watch the torture and rape of the women before killing them all. When they were caught, Lake swallowed a cyanide capsule and died days later. Ng fled to Canada but was eventually extradited. During the trial, the jury had to endure watching the many horrific and deprave video tapes they made. Ng was sentenced to death. However, due to loop holes and repeated appeals, Ng remains in San Quentin. Authorities believe they murdered 25 people or more.
Chang-shin Liao and Chang-shan Husi
Shortly after World War II in Changshow, China, these two men ran an inn off the Yangtze River. Over time, friends and family started noticing their loved ones missing and realized the connection that many of them stopped at this inn. Eventually, police led an investigation and eventually arrested the pair. They admitted that they both agreed to kill one victim a day that came into their inn. Authorities found 79 bodies and both of these serial killers were executed in 1945.
Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole
These two were not only serial killer partners, but also, lovers. They both had brutal childhoods with mothers that abused them in unspeakable ways. When the two met, they had many things in common, including being murderers. Together, they traveled across 26 states, kidnapping, raping, and murdering hitchhikers, prostitutes, and migrant workers. At times, they would cannibalize the bodies or keep the heads of the victims in their backseat for days. It wasn’t until Lucas was picked up for possession of a deadly weapon that he confessed everything to the police. This led to their eventual nickname “The Confession Killers.” Toole admitted to killing 108 people, but Lucas exaggerated the number, saying it was more like a thousand.
Sawney Bean Clan
Growing up in a poor Scottish farming family in the 15th century, Alexander “Sawney” Bean hated work and hated authority. Bean married a young girl named Agnes Douglas and they ran off together, robbing and murdering people as they went. To not leave a trail and to dispose of the bodies, both practiced cannibalism. Eventually, they lived in a nearby cave on the South Ayrshire Coast. There, they grew a family of eight sons and six daughters, all raised to live a murderous and cannibalistic lifestyle. Often, their family would travel in packs and hunt people together. Sawney, wanting to increase his family, encouraged his children to have incestuous relations with each other. Eventually, the cave was full of 48 serial killer cannibals. It’s thought they killed over a 1,000 people during the 25 years of their raids. Of the 48, 26 were captured, bound, and executed by disembowelment.
The Kelly Family
In 1887, the Kelly Family owned an inn in Kansas that regularly took in cattle ranchers and weary travelers. The family included our members, William Kelly, his wife Kate, their son Bill, and their daughter Kit. When people came in for the night, some didn’t leave. The Kelly Family built a trap door underneath a chair at a table. Trap would be sprung and the person would fall to their death. If they didn’t die from the fall, they’d go down to finish the job. Eventually, the Kelly Family took off, heading for Mexico. Authorities found several bodies beneath the house, the stable, and by the barn. It’s said that a posse hunted them down, shooting Kate and Kit, and hanging William and his son Bill.
The Staffleback Family
This family of killers from Kansas was led by the mother, Nancy Staffleback. The killings thought to have started when their sons, Ed and Mike, beat and killed two women that lived at their brothel. After that, they robbed and murdered people that came into the brothel. While they were only convicted for murdering a miner and dumping his body in a mineshaft, it’s believed they killed at least 50 people.
Fred and Rosemary West
This couple both endured severe sexual abuse and trauma as children by their parents. They married on January 29, 1972, but Fred encouraged Rosemary to have sex with other men for money and he would watch through a peephole. Rosemary eventually had seven more children and with their growing family, they moved to 25 Cromwell Street, the place of their heinous crimes. Over the next six years, they tortured, raped, and murdered at least eight women that came there, either as an employee or a customer. Fred also sexually abused his daughters. When they started to tell their friends about the abuse, Fred strangled them and had their bodies dismembered and buried in their garden. They weren’t exposed until 1992. Fred hanged himself at Winson Green Prison and Rosemary is currently serving her life sentence.
John Bender and Family
Notoriously named “The Bloody Benders,” this family also murdered people in Kansas from 1871 to 1873 in their bed and breakfast. When more and more lost travelers went missing, rumors swirled about the area and a townhall meeting in the area was announced to figure out if anything could be done. Two of the Benders also attended the townhall. Realizing the jig was up, the Benders took off and the townspeople soon realized they were behind the missing travelers. When they searched the property, they discovered several bodies. Like the Kelly Family, the Benders also used a trap door to hide them. Though stories spread of how the Benders were caught or killed, no evidence was ever presented, and many believe they all got away.