Throughout history, humans have committed horrific crimes, and our list 25 True Crime Stories About Serial Killers To Keep You Up At Night truly reflects this. But what exactly makes someone a serial killer? Are they the product of bad genes, environmental factors, or something even worse?
The truth is that no one really knows, and despite the efforts of modern criminology to decode the brain of a typical serial killer, we haven’t reached a concrete explanation yet. However, the one thing we know is that many serial killers have suffered early childhood trauma, such as sexual or physical abuse. Trauma is the most common element in the lives of the worst serial killers in history.
The Milwaukee Cannibal
Jeffrey Dahmer was a schizophrenic serial killer who murdered his victims for personal pleasure. From 1978 to 1991, he raped, murdered and dissected the bodies of 17 men and young boys. He preserved the body parts in his house with which he would often masturbate.
The Marrakesh Arch-Killer
Hadj Mohammed Mesfewi was a Moroccan shoemaker and trader, who also murdered 36 women during the late 1800s. Aided by a 70-year-old woman named Rahali, the “Marrakesh Arch-Killer” invited wealthy women to his house to dine with him.
He would drug them and then murder them while they were sleeping. After he stole their belongings and money, he mutilated them and buried them under his shop. Mesfewi was finally arrested and executed in 1906.
The "Stingy" Serial Killer
Gennady Mikhasevich was a Russian serial killer who took the lives of 36 women between 1971 and 1985. According to reports, Mikhasevich was bitter over an ex-girlfriend who left him to marry another man while he was serving in the military. Soon after learning about her betrayal, he began to kill.
Mikhasevich had a double life. He became a prestigious member of the Communist Party and started a family, but he kept killing. Mikhasevich sexually assaulted and strangled women in isolated locations without raising any suspicions.
The Illiterate Serial Killer
Wang Qiang is one of the most notorious serial killers in China’s history. Raised by an abusive, alcoholic father, Qiang never went to school. As a result, he was troubled, illiterate and could not hold a job.
Wang killed his first victim in 1995. By the time of his arrest in July of 2003, Quang had murdered 45 people. According to his confessions, he enjoyed raping young girls after he killed them. He was executed in 2005 at the of 30.
The Volga Maniac is Walking Among Us
An unidentified Russian serial killer that goes by the name of the “Volga Maniac” is currently living among us. He was accused of murdering 32 single elderly women (aged 75 to 90 years old), who resided in public apartment buildings in the Volga and Ural Federal Districts, Russia.
Asghar the Murderer
The Green River Killer
The Otaku Murderer
Tsutomu Miyazaki is one of the most notorious Japanese serials killers ever. His fascination with vampires and his personal issues led him to the murder and cannibalism of four young girls in Saitama and Tokyo from August 1988 to June 1989.
Miyazaki was born prematurely with deformed hands, a fact that stigmatized him for the rest of his life. It is reported that Miyazaki cut and kept the hands of his victims, from which he drank blood and ate their flesh.
The Pee Wee Killer
Donald Henry Gaskins was an American serial killer, who proudly claimed to have murdered hundreds of people. His friends and family called him “pee wee” because of his very small size. He was around 5’2 and weighed less than 130 lbs.
He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of nine people. Despite his claims, investigators never found conclusive evidence he killed others. He was executed in 1991.
Penis Envy Led Him to Crime
Francisco das Chagas Rodrigues de Brito is a Brazilian serial killer with severe inferiority complexes. Experts suggest his not-so-gifted-manhood pushed him to crime. Responsible for the murder of at least 30 poor boys in the city of Sao Luis, De Brito first sodomized his victims and then murdered them.
He would then mutilate the boys by cutting off their ears and fingers, and move onto other body parts. He enjoyed emasculating to compensate for his own shortcomings. The only good news is that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The Butcher Baker
Robert Hansen was a good family man, husband and a respected member in the local society of Anchorage. But, The “Butcher Baker” had many dark secrets. He kidnapped, sexually abused, and murdered at least 17 women from 1971 to 1983.
Hansen confessed that he enjoyed hunting down his victims in the wilderness of Alaska with his gun and knife. He also confessed that he had no respect for women. In his eyes, they were nothing but animals, to be hunted and killed. In 2014, he died at the age of 75. He was serving a life sentence for his crimes.
The Butcher of Rostov
Andrei Chikatilo is without a doubt the most prolific serial killer in Russia’s history. Spreading death and terror around him, Chikatilo raped, murdered, and mutilated at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990.
Chikatilo was a Russian language and literature teacher, and he used that outlet to capture his victims. His first victim was a student of his. Chikatilo’s rampage lasted 20 years until he was finally arrested. He was executed in 1994.
The Virgin Killer
Daniel Camargo Barbosa was a Colombian serial killer. He raped and killed more than 150 girls in Colombia and Ecuador during the 1970s and 1980s. After losing his mother at a really young age, Camargo was raised by his violent stepmother. She would often beat him and dress him in girls’ clothes in front of his friends.
Camargo began raping young virgin girls after he found out that the woman he married with wasn’t a virgin. He abused and murdered mostly helpless, poor young women who were looking for a better future. In 1994, Barbosa was stabbed to death in prison by the nephew of one of his many victims.
China’s Deadliest Serial Killer
Yang Xinhai is considered to be the worst serial killer in China’s modern history. He is legally to blame for more than 67 murders and 23 rapes from 1999 to 2003. Dubbed as the “Monster Killer” by the Chinese media, Xinhai started invading the homes of his victims after a bad break up he had.
In one grisly killing, Xinhai raped a woman while her husband and their six-year-old daughter were forced to watch. Afterward, he killed them. Xinhai was arrested and executed on 14 February 2004 by firing squad.
The Express Train of Egypt
Ramadan Abdel Rehim Mansour, also known as “Al-Tourbini” (The Express Train), was an Egyptian street gang member, who killed 32 children in Egypt. His victims were mostly homeless boys aged 10 to 14 years old.
The Zodiac Killer
Nicknamed “Zodiac” because of the mysterious letters he sent to the media in San Francisco, this unidentified killer murdered five people and injured two more. However, it is believed that he killed more than 30.
His story became a movie in 2007 starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.
The ABC Murders of a Misogynist
Moses Sithole is the most violent serial killer in South Africa’s history. He committed the ABC Murders. The local media called his crimes ABC because they began in Atteridgeville, continued in Boksburg and finished in Cleveland, a suburb of Johannesburg. In the span of a year, (1994-1995) Sithole took the lives of 38 people.
Sithole targeted women and teenage girls. He lured them with promises of work. Sadly, once the victims fell for his scam, they were killed. After raping them, Sithole’s usual method was to beat the victims to death as well as strangle them using their own underwear.
The Beast of Ukraine
Anatoly Onoprienko confessed to killing 52 people when he was arrested in 1996. He lost his mother when he was four and his father abandoned him in an orphanage soon after that. As he confessed later, that pushed him to become the monster he became.
He committed several atrocious crimes, but none of them compared to the one of 1989. During one horrifying home invasion, he murdered a family of 10. Eight of them were children. Onoprienko was arrested in 1996 and died of heart failure in the prison of Zhytomyr in 2013.
The Serial Killer of Murderers and Rapists
Pedrinho Matador isn’t exactly Batman, but in his own mind, he’s doing the right thing. He killed for the first time at the age of 14 and didn’t stop until he was caught. He committed hundreds of murders since 1967, including 47 criminals inside the prisons he resided.
Son of the “Lady of the Night”
Samuel Little was born in a prison cell back in 1940, during one of his mother’s prison stints. He was raised by his grandmother, as his mother had no time for him. According to his statements, his mother worked as a prostitute, or a “Lady of the Night” as he described her.
Little claimed to have raped, tortured and murdered more than 90 women in nine different states. He’s currently linked to more than 34 murders, while investigators suggest that he’s connected to many more sexual assaults and killings.
The Real Life Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Known for dressing like a clown at children’s parties, John Wayne Gacy was hiding a truly evil face behind his clown masks. Between 1972 and 1978, he tortured and killed 33 teenagers in Cook County, Illinois. He usually killed his victims by either asphyxiation or strangulation with a makeshift tourniquet.
Gacy buried most of his victims under the basement of his home. He also threw away the bodies of his last four victims in the Des Plaines River in Wisconsin. The “Killer Clown” was arrested and executed by lethal injection in 1994.
The Werewolf of the Russian Steppes
He offered the victims free rides and then raped them. Afterward, Popkov would kill his victims in a grisly manner, using knives, screwdrivers, baseball bats and axes. He claimed that he started raping and murdering women after he caught his wife cheating on him.
The Most Cold-Hearted SOB Ever
Ted Bundy is one of the most famous American serial killers of all time, due to his charismatic personality. Despite raping and reportedly killing 30 young women and girls during the 1970s, Bundy was described as a charmer by his own victims. However, he was anything but charming. Bundy would keep the decapitated heads of his victims as trophies.
The deprived killer described himself as “the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.” Needless to say, the violent nature of his evil crimes leaves no doubt about the exactness of his statement. After spending several years in prison, he was finally executed in 1989.
The Monster of the Andes
Pedro López is a Colombian serial killer. López was found guilty in 1983 for the murder of 110 girls in Ecuador. Despite claiming to have raped and killed more than 300 girls in many different countries in South America, the government of Ecuador released him from prison in 1998 for ‘good behavior’ and believe it or not, the “Monster of the Andes” is now living somewhere among us as a free man.
The World’s Worst Serial Killer
Colombian media describe him as “the world’s worst serial killer” and not unfairly so. Luis Garavito is responsible for the rape, torture, and murder of 138 kids and teenagers. He was arrested in 1999 and was sentenced to 1,853 years and 9 days in prison.