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List of Famous Serial Killers

A serial killer is defined as someone who commits multiple acts of murder, in a seemingly random
fashion. However, all of the killer's victims share a common trait, activating a psychological trigger
in the killer's mind, or possessing similar qualities that interest a killer. The modus operandi or the
method of killing victims is usually the same.
Many serial killers are found to have come from a dysfunctional family. Often they may suffered from
complex emotions such as feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. Some of them kill compulsively
because of a sense of power, or because of certain sexual urges. Most of these serial killers have a
rampant imagination where they are superior and powerful, women are attracted to them, and they
are successful people.
Male Serial Killers
Jack the Ripper: Responsible for the murders of prostitutes from the Whitechapel Area of London in
1888, Jack the Ripper's identity was never discovered. However, he is one of the most famous serial
killers in history. His victims were prostitutes who were brutally murdered. Their internal organs
were surgically removed by the killer.
Ed Gein: He was a famous serial killer and proved to be an inspiration for Thomas Harris for
creating the infamous character of Buffalo Bill in the movie, "The Silence of the Lambs". Ed Gein
would skin his victims, exhume corpses and then decorate his home with parts of their bodies. He
would also use human skin to make clothes and furniture items. He died on the 26th of July, 1984, in
a mental institution.
The Zodiac Killer: He was responsible for five known murders in North California in the 1960s. His
identity remains unknown till date. He would target men and women between the ages of 16 and 29,
and would leave a taunting sign of a cross hair sort of symbol in subsequent letters to the police. A
few of his cryptic messages are still not decoded.
Charles Manson: This serial killer had redefined evil. He was the leader of a hippie cult in San
Francisco known as "The Family" formed around 1967. Members were mostly men and women who
were rebelling against their parents and were in deep emotional trouble. He used drugs and
convinced them to go on killing rampages to rob the wealthy to provide for "The Family". They would
then write taunting messages soaked in the blood of the victims on the walls of their house.
Ted Bundy: One of the most notorious serial killers in history, he was responsible for the rape and
murder of as many as 35+ women between 1974 and 1978. An educated and charming young man,
he either raped and then killed the women, or killed and then raped them. His method of killing was
either by strangulation or by bludgeoning the victim. He was arrested on the 16th of August, 1975,
but escaped within 17 hours of his capture. He was subsequently arrested on the 15th of February,
1978. On the 24th of January, 1989, Ted Bundy was sent to the electric chair.
David Berkowitz: Known as the "Son of Sam", he was responsible for killing six women and
wounding several others in shootings using a .44 caliber pistol in the 1970s in New York City. He
was arrested by the Police on the 10th of August, 1977, outside his apartment in New York.
Apart from these, there are many other infamous serial killers in America and other parts of the
world. The following is a brief list.
Albert Fish: American kidnapper, child rapist, sadomasochist, cannibal with a long familial history of
insanity. Convicted for at least five murders.
Monikers earned: The Boogey Man, Brooklyn Vampire, Gray Man, Moon Maniac, Werewolf of
Andrei Chikatilo: Soviet murderer who killed for sexual pleasure. Confessed to have committed 56
murders, was tried for 53 and convicted for 52 of them. He killed members of both the sexes the
youngest of his victims being 7 years of age and the oldest being a 45-year-old woman.
Monikers earned: The Butcher of Rostov, The Forest Strip Killer, The Red Ripper, The Rostov Ripper
Carl Eugene Watts: Soviet murderer who killed with the intent of torturing (no sexual motives). He
was detected to suffer from a mild mental retardation and his behavior was deemed strange by the
people around him from a very young age. Suspected to have killed approximately 100 women, but
was convicted for 13.
Monikers earned: Coral, The Sunday
Morning Slasher
Gary Leon Ridgway: American murderer,
necrophile. He was convicted for killing
49 girls and women but owned up to
having killed at least 71 victims who
were mostly prostitutes. Experts believe
that he may have killed more than a 90
people but may have lost count
Monikers earned: Green River Gary, The Green River Killer, The Riverman
Female Serial Killers
Mary Ann Cotton: She was an English serial killer who killed more than 20 people, including her own
children, by using arsenic. She is the most notorious female serial killers of all time. She murdered
her 3 husbands, a lover and numerous children in order to collect their insurance money. She was
hanged on the 24th of March, 1873, at the Durham County Jail.
Mary Bell: Mary Flora Bell was raised in a slum district in Scotswood, Newcastle. What triggered a
life of murderous events was Mary Bell's poor and abusive condition at home. It was stated that her
mother was a drunken prostitute, who would force her daughter to participate in lurid acts of sex.
Although a brainy child, Mary Bell showcased unfeeling behavior towards others that came into
contact with her. 10-year-old Mary Bell's two victims were four-year-old Martin Brown, and three-
year-old Brian Howe, both killed by strangulation.
Marybeth Tinning: Tinning was notorious for having killed nine of her own children by strangulating
them and taking them to the hospital almost dead. She went unnoticed by the hospital authorities for
a very long time, since they thought that these deaths were a genetic problem in the family. When
she brought her adopted son to the hospital in an unconscious state, and he was later declared to be
dead, the doctors began to suspect foul play. She was convicted on the 17th of July, 1987, and was
sentenced to life imprisonment.
Nannie Doss: Also known as the "Giggling Granny" she was responsible for the killing of 11 people
between 1920 and 1954. Her victims included her two sisters, her mother, a grandson, a nephew
and her four husbands. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1955, and died 10 years later of
Belle Gunness: Born in 1859, she was responsible for the killings of more than 20 suitors and all her
children. Belle was also famous for burning down houses and collecting insurance money for the
property and for her dead husbands. Later on, she progressed to placing an advertisement for a
husband in a newspaper and luring prospective suitors to her home and killing them. She would
bury the bodies in her farm and hog pen. She, either faked her own death, or was actually killed in
the fire on her farm.
Dorothea Puente: In 1988, this 60 year old woman was sentenced to serve two terms of life
imprisonment for the murders of at least 9 people. She would run a boarding house for elderly
people with disabilities, and rob them of their benefit money. She would also kill them and keep on
taking the government benefits by forging their checks.
Aileen Wuornos: An American serial killer, she was a prostitute and was put to death by lethal
injection on the 9th of October, 1992. She was charged for killing seven men, who (as she claimed)
attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute.
Apart from these, the female serial killers list also includes the following names:
Amelia Dyer
Amelia Sach and Annie Walters
Beverly Allitt
Countess Elizabeth Bthory de Ecsed
If we take a closer look at the early life of these serial killers, we find that certain social factors or
psychological disturbances are the root causes for the twisted mentality of these killers. Whatever
the reasons, it is a fact that the acts, or rather, crimes of these killers shook the society to the core.