Serial Killers Fast Facts | CNN (2023)


Here’s a select list of convicted American serial killers and notable open or unsolved cases.

Serial murder is defined by the FBI as two or more killings separated by a span of time.

Serial murders are relatively rare. Fewer than one percent of homicides during a given year are committed by serial killers, the FBI reports.

Nickname: Son of Sam

Number of confirmed victims: 6

Years and location: 1970s, New York City

Characteristics: Initially claimed a neighbor’s dog was possessed by an ancient spirit that commanded him to shoot people. The dog owner’s name was Sam. Berkowitz later said the dog story was a hoax.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on August 10, 1977. Pleaded guilty to murdering six people and sentenced to 25-years-to-life for each murder. Currently incarcerated at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

Number of confirmed victims: Unknown, confessed to more than two dozen murders before he was executed but he may have been linked to additional slayings.

Years and locations: 1970s, multiple states including Washington, Utah, Colorado and Florida

Characteristics: Preyed on young women and sometimes lured victims by pretending to be injured. Bundy had studied psychology in college, worked as a suicide hotline volunteer while at school and served at one point as assistant director of the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commission.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested for the final time on February 15, 1978. He had been previously arrested for murder in Colorado but escaped from custody, before being captured in Aspen a few days later. Months later, Bundy escaped again, prompting a nationwide manhunt. While a fugitive in Florida, he killed two college students and a 12-year-old girl. Bundy was apprehended a third and final time in Pensacola in a stolen car. He was convicted on three counts of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Executed on January 24, 1989.

Nicknames: The Hillside Stranglers

Number of confirmed victims: At least 9

Years and locations: 1970s, Los Angeles, Washington state

Characteristics: Buono and Bianchi were cousins who posed as police officers to trap teenage girls and young women, some of whom worked as prostitutes. Bianchi claimed that he suffered from multiple personality disorder but later admitted that he faked the condition. Buono owned an auto upholstery shop and was not a suspect until Bianchi was caught, confessed and identified his cousin as his accomplice.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Bianchi was arrested on January 12, 1979; Buono was arrested on October 19, 1979. Bianchi was arrested in Bellingham, Washington, as a suspect in the murders of two college students at Western Washington University. He pleaded guilty to the slayings in Washington and confessed to five of the Los Angeles murders. He was sentenced to five life terms for murder and one additional life sentence for conspiracy. Bianchi is incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Buono was arrested at his home in Glendale, California, the same day Bianchi admitted he participated in five of the Hillside killings. Bianchi testified during Buono’s trial. Buono was convicted of nine murders and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He died in prison in 2002.

Number of confirmed victims: 25

Year and location: 1971, Yuba City, California

Characteristics: A farm labor contractor, Corona was convicted in the stabbing deaths of 24 workers. His 25th victim was shot. During a 2011 parole hearing, he confessed to killing the men. Corona, who was 77 and suffering from dementia at the time of the hearing, described his victims as alcoholics who had trespassed in the orchards.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on May 26, 1971. Corona was arrested after a neighbor reported suspicious activity in a peach orchard. Police found 25 bodies buried in shallow graves in orchards surrounding the Feather River and traced the bodies to Corona. Four victims were never identified. After being convicted in 1973, Corona was sentenced to 25 life terms in prison but an appeal led to a new trial in 1982. Corona was again convicted at the second trial and sentenced to 25 concurrent terms of 25-years to life. He died of natural causes on March 4, 2019.

Number of confirmed victims: 16 (Dahmer confessed to 17 murders but prosecutors lacked evidence to convict him in the additional killing)

Years and locations: 1970s-1990s, primarily in the Milwaukee area

Characteristics: A former chocolate factory worker, Dahmer picked up young men at bus stations, bars, shopping centers and other locations. He got them to visit his apartment by offering them money to pose for photos or by promising them alcohol. He drugged them and strangled them. He ate parts of at least one of his victims and kept the remains of others in his apartment.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on July 22, 1991. Dahmer was apprehended after one of his captives escaped and went to the police, still wearing handcuffs Dahmer shackled to one of his wrists. Charged with 15 counts of murder, he pleaded guilty but insane. A Milwaukee jury ruled against Dahmer’s insanity claim, and he was sentenced to 15 life terms in February 1992. Dahmer pleaded guilty to a 16th murder in Ohio and was sentenced to an additional life term in May 1992. He was beaten to death in prison in 1994.

Nicknames: The Golden State Killer, Visalia Ransacker, East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker

Number of confirmed victims: At least 13

Years and location: 1970s-1980s, California

Characteristics: DeAngelo, a former police officer, began with a string of burglaries, then grew more violent with a series of killings, rapes and assaults in the 1970s and 1980s, as he moved from one county to the next. Two of his earliest known homicides were the murders of a couple in Rancho Cordova who may have witnessed him breaking into a home. After the Rancho Cordova slayings, DeAngelo started a series of murders in the Santa Barbara area, more than 300 miles south of Sacramento. Investigators at the time didn’t see a connection between the attacks in Santa Barbara and Sacramento. Decades after the killings, true crime author Michelle McNamara drew attention to the case with blog posts and a book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” published two years after her sudden death in 2016.

Arrest, guilty plea and sentence: DeAngelo was arrested on April 24, 2018. Detectives used a public genealogy website to narrow down their list of suspects and then collected DNA samples from DeAngelo’s trash and the door handle of his car. Hours after they confirmed two DNA matches, DeAngelo was arrested. On June 29, 2020, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances – including murder committed during burglaries and rapes – as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, and he acknowledged more than 50 rapes he was not charged for because of California’s statute of limitations. DeAngelo avoids the death penalty with his guilty plea. On August 21, 2020, DeAngelo was given 11 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Nickname: The Grim Sleeper

Number of confirmed victims: 10

Years and location: 1980s-2000s, Los Angeles

Characteristics: Franklin targeted prostitutes and female drug addicts. Franklin was called the Grim Sleeper because he was believed to have stopped killing for more than a decade before he began a second murder spree during the 2000s. Franklin, a married father of two, is a former city sanitation worker and garage attendant.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on July 7, 2010. Undercover Los Angeles police officers obtained a sample of Franklin’s DNA from a leftover pizza slice and matched it to the killer’s DNA. He was convicted of slaying 10 people and was sentenced to death in 2016. He died in prison in 2020.

Number of confirmed victims: 33

Years and locations: 1970s, Chicago area

Characteristics: A construction company owner who moonlighted as a children’s party clown, Gacy abducted young men and boys or lured them to his home. He was twice married and divorced with two children.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on December 21, 1978. Police investigating the disappearance of a teenage boy discovered the remains of victims in a crawlspace under Gacy’s house. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection on 33 counts of murder. Executed on May 10, 1994. In 2011, Sheriff Tom Dart and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office began to identify the last eight unnamed victims of Gacy. As of October 2021, only 5 remain unidentified.

Number of confirmed victims: Convicted of 16 murders in Orange County, California but linked to at least 29 additional slayings nationwide, according to prosecutors. Detectives found a notebook in Kraft’s briefcase that contained a list with more than 60 entries. Prosecutors said the journal chronicled Kraft’s killings. Defense attorneys argued the diary included ambiguous entries like “New Year’s Eve,” referencing events unrelated to murder.

Years and locations: 1970s-1980s, California, Oregon, Michigan

Characteristics: Kraft, a computer consultant, picked up young hitchhikers on the interstate. He targeted men with military backgrounds.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on May 14, 1983. Kraft was pulled over by California Highway Patrol for weaving, and officers found a dead body in the front passenger seat. He was convicted on 16 murder counts and sentenced to death. He is incarcerated awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison.

Number of confirmed victims: Convicted of eight murders. In 2018, Little confessed to a total of 93 murders during an interview with FBI crime analysts and James Holland of the Texas Rangers. Investigators have confirmed at least 60 of the confessed killings. The FBI describes him as America’s most prolific serial killer and has asked for the public’s help in identifying more of his victims.

Years and locations: 1970s-2005, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas

Characteristics: A nomadic drifter, Little began traveling state-to-state and committing crimes after leaving Ohio in the late 1950s. Little often targeted vulnerable women involved in prostitution and addicted to drugs. A one-time competitive boxer, Little would punch and stun his victims before strangling them. Without bullet wounds or stab marks, most of these deaths were attributed to accidents or drug overdoses.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on September 5, 2012, at a Kentucky homeless shelter. Little was extradited to California on a narcotics charge. Once Little was in custody, the Los Angeles Police Department matched Little’s DNA to victims in three unsolved homicides from 1987 and 1989. He was indicted on three counts of murder, and in 2014, he was convicted and sentenced to three life sentences with no possibility of parole. In 2018, Little was extradited to Texas where he plead guilty to the 1994 murder of Denise Christie Brothers and given a life sentence. In 2019, Little received four additional sentences of life for the murders of four women in Ohio. Little died in prison in 2020.

Nickname: The BTK Killer

Number of confirmed victims: At least 10

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Years and location: Kansas, 1970s-1990s

Characteristics: A churchgoer, Cub Scout leader and married father of two, Rader worked at the home security company, ADT, and he later became a code compliance supervisor in suburban Park City, Kansas. Two of his earliest victims were women who worked at an office with him. He also murdered a co-worker’s husband and two children. In a letter found folded into a book at the public library that was found months after the first killings, Rader described one of the crime scenes and suggested that he should be called “BTK,” short for “bind, torture, kill.” He continued mailing cryptic letters to the media and the police prior to his arrest.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on February 25, 2005. Rader was caught after he sent a floppy disk to a TV station in response to reports speculating that BTK was dead or in jail because it had been more than a decade since his last victim was found. Police traced the disk to a computer at Rader’s church and found that his DNA matched the killer’s. Rader pleaded guilty to 10 murders and was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms. He is currently incarcerated at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas.

Nickname: The Night Stalker

Number of confirmed victims: Convicted of 13 murders but linked to one additional slaying via DNA.

Years and location: 1980s, California

Characteristics: A drifter with an interest in Satanism, Ramirez typically broke into homes through unlocked windows and doors late at night, shooting any men he encountered while looking for women to attack. His victims ranged in age from nine to 83.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on August 31, 1985. Ramirez was captured and held by a mob of citizens in Los Angeles before police intervened and arrested him. He was sentenced to death on 13 counts of murder and was later linked via DNA to a killing in San Francisco. He died of complications from cancer while awaiting execution at San Quentin State Prison in 2013.

Nickname: The Green River Killer

Number of confirmed victims: At least 49

Years and location: 1980s-1990s, Washington state

Characteristics: Ridgway targeted young women who were runaways or prostitutes and left some of the bodies in or near the Green River, a waterway in the Seattle area. He was a thrice married truck painter who had a son with one of his wives. Ridgway was questioned by police in 1983, soon after the killings began, and detectives obtained a search warrant in 1987. At the time, no evidence was recovered linking him to the murders, and he had passed a polygraph test early in the investigation.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on November 30, 2001. Advances in DNA testing technology led to the arrest, as law enforcement re-tested evidence that had been collected years before. They found a match and he was charged and taken into custody. He confessed and plead guilty to 48 killings. In 2011, he was charged with a 49th slaying. Ridgway is serving a life sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary.

Number of confirmed victims: Convicted of nine murders but confessed to 17 killings

Years and location: 1990s, New York

Characteristics: An unemployed landscaper who lived with his mother on Long Island, Rifkin would drive to New York City and pick up prostitutes. He strangled his victims and took personal belongings from the women. These items were found in his bedroom, where police also discovered a book about the Green River Killer. His mother claimed that she did not go into her son’s bedroom and was unaware of the killings.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on June 28, 1993. Rifkin was pulled over for driving without a license plate, and police found a dead woman in the back of his truck. While in custody, he confessed to killing 17 women. During multiple trials, Rifkin’s attorneys argued that he suffered from mental illness, but he was convicted on nine charges of murder and was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison. Currently incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York.

Number of confirmed victims: 11

Years and location: 2000s, Ohio

Characteristics: A convicted sex offender, Sowell preyed on women struggling with drug abuse and homelessness. He would invite victims to his house and offer them beer. He told police that he became enraged with the women because they reminded him of an ex-girlfriend who abandoned him after he helped her kick drugs. The victims were strangled and buried on his property.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on October 31, 2009. Police issued a warrant for Sowell’s arrest after a woman told them that he had hit her and sexually assaulted her. Officers found two bodies in the house and discovered more remains in the backyard. After a 25-day trial, Sowell was convicted of 11 murders and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Sowell died in prison in 2021.

Number of confirmed victims: At least 14, including a pregnant woman

Years and location: 1980s-1990s, Los Angeles

Characteristics: A father of four whose jobs included delivering pizza, Turner targeted female drug users in South Los Angeles.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Turner was charged with murder in 2004 while incarcerated for rape. Detectives had discovered that his DNA matched a sample from a crime scene and ultimately forensics connected him to 10 killings. During the investigation, police discovered that they had wrongfully convicted an intellectually disabled janitor named David Allen Jones, who served nine years in prison for three of Turner’s slayings before he was released in 2004. Turner was convicted of 10 murders in 2007 and sentenced to death. In 2014, he was convicted of four additional murders and again sentenced to death. He is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison awaiting execution.

Number of confirmed victims: 6 (was linked to at least one other death but the body was never recovered)

Years and location: Florida, 1989-1990

Characteristics: Wuornos had a long history of robbery, prostitution and drug abuse before she began killing men she met along Interstate 75 in Florida. She claimed that over the years, she had been repeatedly beaten and raped by the men who paid her for sex. Her first victim, Richard Mallory was a convicted sex offender.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on January 9, 1991. Wuornos was arrested after her lover, Tyria Moore, told police about the murders and agreed to cooperate. Moore was not charged with any offenses. Wuornos later gave investigators a statement admitting to the murders but she said she killed in self-defense. During her trial for the murder of Richard Mallory, three psychologists testified for the defense that Wuornos suffered from borderline personality disorder, impairing her ability to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law. After about 90 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict. At her sentencing hearing, Wuornos claimed that police coerced her into confessing. The judge sentenced her to death. She pleaded no contest to the other five slayings. She was executed on October 9, 2002, after voluntarily ending her appeals, saying that she would kill again if released.

Number of confirmed victims: At least 15

Years and location: 1970s-1990s, Washington state

Characteristics: A married father of five who flew helicopters in the Army and the National Guard, Yates predominantly preyed on prostitutes. One of the victims was buried in Yates’ yard.

Arrest, conviction and sentence: Arrested on April 18, 2000. Yates was arrested after police matched fibers found on the body of a dead prostitute to Yates’ car, which also had blood on the seatbelt and seat. DNA testing and other evidence linked Yates to at least 12 murders. He later pleaded guilty to 13 killings in exchange for a life sentence (408 years) in lieu of the death penalty. In 2002, he was convicted of two additional murders in a different county and sentenced to death. Yates’ attorneys have repeatedly appealed the ruling but he remains on death row awaiting execution at the Washington State Penitentiary.

Number of victims: 29

Years and location: 1979-1981, Georgia

Characteristics: Over the course of 22 months, 29 African-American children and teens were murdered in the Atlanta area. The FBI worked with local authorities to investigate the killings, which detectives believed were linked.

Investigation: In 1981, the Reagan administration allocated more than $2 million in federal funds to help police track leads and provide funding for youth programs to keep kids safe after school. On June 21, 1981, a man named Wayne Williams was arrested and charged with the murders of two young men whose bodies were found in the Chattahoochee River. Although prosecutors said the two murders were connected to the child killings, Williams was never charged with the other crimes. He was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. He has maintained his innocence. In 2005, the DeKalb County Police reopened their investigation into five of the killings.

Number of victims: At least 11

Years and location: 1962-1964, Massachusetts

Characteristics: During the late spring and summer of 1962, six women between the ages of 55 and 85 were found dead in Boston and its suburbs. After a few months of quiet, younger victims began turning up. Mary Sullivan, 19, was the final victim, murdered in January of 1964. Albert DeSalvo, an inmate at a psychiatric hospital, confessed in 1965 that he was the Boston Strangler.

Investigation: Although DeSalvo claimed that he killed the women, police lacked physical evidence tying him to the murder scenes. He was instead tried for a series of robberies and sexual assaults. DeSalvo was convicted on all counts and sentenced to life behind bars in 1967. Six years later, he was stabbed to death in prison. In 2013, investigators found DNA connecting DeSalvo to Sullivan’s murder. The DNA at the crime scene matched DNA collected from DeSalvo’s exhumed corpse. Investigators tried to locate DNA from the other murders but have not yet been able to find additional biological evidence.

Number of victims: At least 5

Years and location: 1960s, California

Characteristics: During a string of seemingly random killings, phone calls and letters were received by police and newspapers from a person claiming to be the murderer. The letters were laden with mysterious symbols and references to astrology. Zodiac claimed that he or she killed as many as 37 people. After the last known murder in 1969, Zodiac mailed a piece of the victim’s shirt, along with a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Investigation: In 2002, a San Francisco homicide detective said more than 2,500 people had been considered suspects in the case. In 2018, police sent two of Zodiac’s letters to a lab, hoping to find DNA on the stamps or the envelope flaps.

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Tim Boyle/Des Plaines Police Department

John Wayne Gacy killed 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978. Many of his victims, mostly drifters and runaways, were buried in a crawlspace beneath his suburban Chicago home. Here's a look at some other notorious convicted serial killers.

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Jeffery Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms for the murders of 17 men and boys in the Milwaukee area between 1978 and 1991. Dahmer had sex with the corpses of his victims and kept the body parts of others, some of which he ate. Dahmer and another prison inmate were beaten to death during a work detail in November 1994.

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Law enforcement officers meet in San Francisco in 1969 to compare notes on the Zodiac Killer, who is believed to have killed five people in 1968 and 1969. The killer gained notoriety by writing several letters to police boasting of the slayings. He claimed to have killed as many as 37 people and has never been caught.

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Authorities said DNA recovered from the body of Mary Sullivan matches that of her suspected killer, the confessed Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo. After a sample was secretly collected from a relative, DeSalvo's body was exhumed in July 2013 for more DNA testing. From mid-1962 to early 1964, the Boston Strangler killed at least 13 women. DeSalvo was stabbed to death in 1973 while serving a prison sentence for rape.

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Ed Gein killed at least two women and dug up the corpses of several others from a cemetery in Wisconsin, using their skin and body parts to make clothing and household objects in the 1950s.

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In 1973, Juan Corona, a California farm laborer, was sentenced to 25 consecutive life sentences for the murders of 25 people found hacked to death in shallow graves.

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Joseph Paul Franklin was convicted in 1997 of murdering Gerald Gordon outside a St. Louis synagogue in 1977. Franklin was also convicted of at least five other murders, receiving a string of life sentences, but he suggested that he was responsible for 22 murders. He was best known for shooting Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who was paralyzed from the attack. Franklin was executed in November 2013.

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In 1977, David Berkowitz, also known as Son of Sam, confessed to the murders of six people in New York City. Berkowitz, now serving six consecutive 25-to-life sentences, claimed that a demon spoke to him through a neighbor's dog.

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Cousins Kenneth Bianchi, seen here, and Angelo Buono were charged with the murders of nine women between 1977 and 1978. Also known as the Hillside Stranglers, the cousins sexually assaulted and sometimes tortured their victims, leaving their bodies on roadsides in the hills of Southern California.

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Wayne Williams killed at least two men between 1979 and 1981, and police believed he might have been responsible for more than 20 other deaths in the Atlanta area. Williams was convicted and sentenced to two life terms in 1982.

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After serving 15 years for murdering his mother, Henry Lee Lucas was convicted in 1985 in nine more murders. Lucas was the only inmate spared from execution by Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

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Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker, was convicted of 13 murders and sentenced to death in California in 1989. The self-proclaimed devil worshiper found his victims in quiet neighborhoods and entered their homes through unlocked windows and doors.

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During a routine traffic stop, a police officer found a dead U.S. Marine in the front seat of a car driven by Randy Steven Kraft. Kraft was linked to 45 murders and sentenced to death in 1989. He would pick up hitchhikers, give them drugs and alcohol, sexually assault them and then mutilate and strangle them.

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Ted Bundy raped and killed at least 16 young women in the early to mid-1970s before he was executed in 1989. A crowd of several hundred gathered outside the prison where he was executed, and they cheered at the news of his death.

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Joel David Rifkin was stopped by police for driving without a license plate when a body was found in his pickup. Rifkin killed 17 women in New York between 1991 and 1993 and was sentenced to life in prison.

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Charles Ng, seen here, and accomplice Leonard Lake tortured, killed and buried 11 people in northern California between 1984 and 1985. After the men were arrested for shoplifting, police found bullets and a silencer in their car and took them into the police station for questioning. Lake killed himself there with a cyanide pill. Ng was later sentenced to death.

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Robert Lee Yates Jr. killed 15 people, most of them between 1996 and 1998. He buried one of them in a flower bed by his house in the Spokane, Washington, area. Most of his victims were prostitutes or drug addicts he killed in his van. He is on Washington's death row.

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Gary Leon Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, confessed to 48 killings after his DNA was linked to a few of his victims. Remains of his victims, mostly runaways and prostitutes, turned up in ravines, rivers, airports and freeways in the Pacific Northwest.

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Aileen Wuornos was executed in Florida in 2002 for the murders of seven men whom she had lured by posing as a prostitute or a distressed traveler.

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Derrick Todd Lee was accused of raping and killing six women in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, between 2001 and 2003. He was arrested in Atlanta for the murder of Charlotte Murray Pace, convicted in 2004 and sentenced to death.

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Danny Rolling pleaded guilty to the 1990 murders of five students he raped, tortured and mutilated in Gainesville, Florida. Rolling was also found responsible for a 1991 triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was executed in 2006.

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Angel Maturino Resendez, also known as the Railway Killer, was a drifter from Mexico. During the 1990s, he would rob and kill his victims near railroad tracks on both sides of the border and then hop rail cars to escape. Resendez was executed in 2006.

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Pig farmer Robert Pickton was charged with 26 counts of murder after police found the bodies of young women on his farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. He was convicted of six murders in 2007, and he is serving a life sentence.

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The BTK Strangler, Dennis Rader, killed 10 people between 1977 and 1991 in the Wichita, Kansas, area. He was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms in 2005. Rader named himself BTK, short for "bind, torture, kill."

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Police found the decomposing and buried bodies of 10 women and the skull of another woman at the Cleveland home of ex-Marine Anthony Sowell. He was convicted and given the death penalty in 2011.

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Chester Dewayne Turner was sentenced to death for murdering 14 women and one victim's unborn fetus in the Los Angeles area between 1987 and 1998. Turner was later convicted and sentenced to death for four more murders.


Who is the most insane serial killer? ›

No list of the most deranged serial killers would be complete without Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer, known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was ultimately convicted of murdering 17 young men over a 14 year period.

What are 5 common traits of a serial killer? ›

However, attendees did identify certain traits common to some serial murderers, including sensation seeking, a lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity, the need for control, and predatory behavior. These traits and behaviors are consistent with the psychopathic personality disorder.

What are the 14 characteristics of a serial killer? ›

Fourteen Characteristics of a Serial Killer
  • Over 90 percent of serial killers are male.
  • They tend to be intelligent, with IQ's in the "bright normal" range.
  • They do poorly in school, have trouble holding down jobs, and often work as unskilled laborers.
  • They tend to come from markedly unstable families.
Sep 22, 2004

What are the 4 main motivations for serial killers? ›

The motives of serial killers are generally placed into four categories: visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic, and power or control; however, the motives of any given killer may display considerable overlap among these categories.

Who is the youngest serial killer? ›

Younger than age 13
NameDate of birthKilled
Carl Newton MahanSeptember 22, 19221
Dedrick Owens19931
Amarjeet Sada19983
Carroll ColeMay 9, 193835
38 more rows

Who is the youngest killer? ›

To date, Amarjeet Sada holds the title of the youngest serial killer in the world, as he was only seven years old when he reportedly killed a baby for the first time. Born in 1998, Sada was from the village of Mushahar in Bihar in India.

Why do serial killers wet the bed? ›

Usually, late bed-wetting is due to a medical condition, or the result of emotional abuse. But there may be some connection between late bed-wetting and psychopathy. And, as mentioned above, the environment in which a child is raised can be a factor in how violent they become later in life.

Are killers born or made? ›

Genes, many argue is the answer to understanding the mind of a serial killer and the only was to stop these murders is to detect these genetic defects early in their childhood. Naturally we are all born with a different genetic make up but many argue that differences in DNA do not create a psychokiller.

What age do serial killers start killing? ›

Over the course of his work, which began in 1979, Vronsky has deduced that serial killers generally develop the personality and compulsion befitting a killer when they're young — by the time they're 14, they're basically fully formed; they generally start killing in their late twenties.

Do serial killers still exist? ›

At any one time, it's believed that there are around 25-50 active serial killers lurking in the dark corners of the USA, stalking the streets and highways for their next potential victim.

Who was the first serial killer? ›

H.H. Holmes, byname of Herman Mudgett, (born May 16, 1861?, Gilmanton, New Hampshire, U.S.—died May 7, 1896, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), American swindler and confidence trickster who is widely considered the country's first known serial killer.

What makes a child a serial killer? ›

Childhood Abuse

Many serial killers are abused – physically, psychologically, sexually – as children by a close family member. This behavior instills in the child feelings of humiliation and helplessness, feelings which they will later seek to instill in their victims.

What month are serial killers born in? ›

According to the website UberFacts: “Seventeen serial killers were born in November, compared with an average of nine for other months, out of a total of more than 100 in the study. Those born in November are most likely to believe they get a raw deal. A 2005 study found that they grow up to be the most pessimistic.”

Is there a serial killer gene? ›

As I said before, there's no “serial killer” gene—there's a gene that can influence someone's level of aggression and emotional control. Classifying people as “serial killer gene carriers” is a terrible idea for several reasons.

What were serial killers called before? ›

In the 1930 publication “Die Düsseldorfer Sexualverbrechen” about Peter Kürten he used the term “Serienmörder” which directly translates as “serial murderer” but is generally translated into 'Serial Killer'. So Ernst Gennat used the term Serial Killer for the first time with the same meaning it has today back in 1930.

Who is the shortest serial killer? ›

Donald Henry Gaskins was born in Florence County, South Carolina, to Eulea Parrott, the last in a string of illegitimate children. Gaskins was small for his age and immediately gained the nickname "Pee Wee." As an adult, he was between 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m) and 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) and weighed approximately 130 lb (59 kg).

Who is the first female serial killer? ›

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Lavinia Fisher (1793 – February 18, 1820) was an American criminal who, according to urban legends, was the first female serial killer in the United States of America.

Who is the youngest female serial killer? ›

Mary Flora Bell (born 26 May 1957) is an English woman who, as a juvenile, murdered two preschool-age boys in Scotswood, an inner suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1968. The first murder happened when she was 10 years old.

Can an 11 year old go to jail? ›

Some states allow children to be prosecuted as adults at 10, 12, or 13 years old. Children as young as eight have been prosecuted as adults. Each year, judges transfer dozens of children under 14 to adult court. Prosecutors charge other young kids directly in adult court.

Who is the youngest kid in jail? ›

Mary Bell is the youngest person to go to jail.

She committed her first murder in 1968 when she was 10. Both of her murders targeted pre-school boys, who died at Bell's hands by strangulation. Before killing her victims, she told them that they had sore throats and that she would massage them.

How old is the oldest killer? ›

Sadamichi Hirasawa died on death row in Japan in 1987, nearly one year older with a full 95 years and three months.
Leroy Nash
DiedFebruary 12, 2010 (aged 94) Florence, Arizona
Known forBeing one of the oldest prisoners ever
Criminal chargeArmed robbery, murder
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What is the average IQ of serial killers? ›

The mean IQ of serial killers (N = 303) was M = 93.21 versus the normal adult population of M = 100 (Wechsler, 1997). The actual test result was t (302) = -4.695, p<.

Do serial killers have mommy issues? ›

There seem to be a high number of serial killers who hated their moms. From unnaturally close mother/child relationships to childhood abandonment, bad mothering can have some deadly consequences.

Do serial killers love their families? ›

It may be impossible to get inside the mind of another, but Ramsland said there have been serial killers who have exhibited “loving and protective behavior over their own families even as they are killing the children of other families.”

Do serial killers have feelings? ›

Serial killers characteristically lack empathy for others, coupled with an apparent absence of guilt about their actions. At the same time, many can be superficially charming, allowing them to lure potential victims into their web of destruction.

What makes a serial killer scary? ›

One thing (of many) that makes serial killers so scary is that anyone can fall victim to them - and that the culprits are typically elusive and unknown. Many of the worst serial killers appeared to be friendly neighbors or easy-going coworkers that one would never suspect of killing numerous human beings.

What serial killer had a good childhood? ›

Furthermore, though serial killers like Charles Manson were abused and neglected as children, the list of serial killers with a normal childhood is long. Famous serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeff Dahmer and Dennis Rader grew up in healthy households with supportive family members.

How do serial killers think? ›

Although psychological gratification is the usual motive for serial killing, and most serial killings involve sexual contact with the victim, the FBI states that the motives of serial killers can include anger, thrill-seeking, financial gain, and attention seeking.

Do serial killers get PTSD? ›

PTSD, in this view, is like regret on steroids, an overwhelming sense that the traumatic event could have been avoided or dealt with better to avoid the really horrible things that happened. So, do psychopathic serial killers experience regret from their acts? The answer seems to be yes.

What country has most serial killers? ›

Countries That Produced The Largest Number Of Serial Killers
RankCountrySerial Killer
1United States3,204
3South Africa117
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Dec 22, 2020

How many serial killers per year? ›

Serial murder is rare, comprising less than 1 percent of all homicides in the FBI's estimate. With the annual homicide rate hovering around 15,000 in the U.S., that equates to fewer than 150 serial murders a year, perpetrated by perhaps 25 – 50 people.

How many killers have not been caught? ›

The results make for interesting reading. Out of these million killers, 659,684 were caught after the first murder. But 539 died without being caught. Of the rest, 337,729 went on to commit two or more murders and of these 2048 went uncaught.

When did serial killing start? ›

The term serial murder was popularized in the 1970s by Robert Ressler, an investigator with the Behavioral Science Unit of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Who was the first cannibal serial killer? ›

Jeffrey Dahmer
DiedNovember 28, 1994 (aged 34) Portage, Wisconsin, U.S.
Cause of deathHomicide by bludgeoning (severe skull and brain trauma)
Resting placeCremated, ashes given to parents
Other namesThe Milwaukee Cannibal The Milwaukee Monster
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Is it normal to think about killing? ›

At the Cheltenham Science Festival, Dr Julia Shaw (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) explained that fantasies about killing people are a common and entirely human reaction.

Are serial killers psychopaths? ›

While not all psychopaths are serial killers, psychopathy — or at the very least, the possession of psychopathic traits — is a common denominator among serial killers, sex offenders and most violent criminals.

Are most serial killers left or right handed? ›

Needless to say, some lefties can be found in the world of criminal activity too. Several of the most notorious serial killers of all-time were believed to have been left-handed.

What zodiac signs are serial killers? ›

The Zodiac Sign Most Likely to Be a Serial Killer, Astrologers...
  • Capricorn. Calculated and obsessive, Capricorns will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. ...
  • Cancer. Sensitive cancers find regulating their emotions a difficult task. ...
  • Gemini. ...
  • Scorpio. ...
  • Sagittarius. ...
  • Pisces.
Feb 6, 2022

Which state has the most serial killers? ›

The states with the most serial killers are:
  • California (1,777)
  • Texas (984)
  • Florida (933)
  • Illinois (680)
  • New York (677)
  • Ohio (505)
  • Pennsylvania (462)
  • Michigan (425)

How many times in your life do you walk past a serial killer? ›

It's estimated that there's somewhere around 25-50 serial killers that are active each year in the US. 2… You will walk past 36 murderers in your lifetime. On average, you will walk past 36 murderers in your lifetime.

Is MAOA CDH13 real? ›

First things first: are the MAOA and CDH13 genes even real? Actually yes! According to the Genetics Home Reference, MAOA is an enzyme that breaks down molecules called monoamines. Included in those monoamines are chemicals that act as neurotransmitters, like serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

What do all serial killers have in common? ›

The most serial killer traits are:
  • Lack of Empathy.
  • Lack of Remorse.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Grandiosity.
  • Narcissism.
  • Superficial Charm.
  • Manipulation.
  • Addictive Personality.
Dec 19, 2020

Are there any female serial killers in criminal minds? ›

The lack of female unsubs on "Criminal Minds" actually points to the show's commitment to realism. According to data from Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University, as reported by Discover Magazine, female serial killers account for just over 11% of all cases in the past century.

Who discovered serial killers? ›

FBI investigator Robert Ressler pioneered the practice of criminal profiling and is credited with coining the term "serial killer." He died on May 5. If you've heard the phrase "serial killer," then you're familiar with the work of Robert Ressler.

Who invented serial killer? ›

He played a significant role in the psychological profiling of violent offenders in the 1970s and is often credited with coining the term "serial killer", though the term is a direct translation of the German term "Serienmörder" coined in 1930 by Berlin investigator Ernst Gennat.

Who is the craziest person in history? ›

Diogenes Was A Crazy, Homeless Philosopher

What we know for sure though, is that the ancient thinker was one of history's weirdest people. Diogenes was born in either 412 or 404 B.C., in the very remote Greek colony of Sinope. As a young man, he worked with his father minting currency for the colony.

Who is the most famous psychopath? ›

Ted Bundy is one of those names that is practically synonymous with “serial killer” and “psychopath.” He was known to be very sly and charming, which was the shiny veneer he used to lure his many victims.

Who are the most evil serial killers in America? ›

Ted Bundy: America's Most Evil Serial Killer.

Who was the first serial killer? ›

H.H. Holmes, byname of Herman Mudgett, (born May 16, 1861?, Gilmanton, New Hampshire, U.S.—died May 7, 1896, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), American swindler and confidence trickster who is widely considered the country's first known serial killer.


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