7 of the most famous serial killers in history

7 of the most famous serial killers in history
7 of the most famous serial killers in history

Strictly speaking, a serial killer is someone who kills at least two people in different events that happen at different times. Although “serial murder” is not formalized by any legal code, the crimes of serial killers have often caught the attention of the media and public consciousness – especially in cases where there are many victims or the killings are carried out in a gruesome manner. The following list examines some of the most famous serial killers the world has ever known.

Jack the Ripper

We call him “Jack the Ripper,” but we don’t really know who the man behind one of the oldest and most famous murders is. The killer appeared in the London borough of Whitechapel in 1888 and killed five women – all prostitutes – and mutilated their corpses. Police suspect the killer was a surgeon, butcher or someone who could wield a scalpel. The killer taunts the community and the police by sending letters describing the acts. Although many suspects have been named over the years, the killer has never been identified.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer began killing in 1978, aged just 18, and was not arrested for murder until 1991, after a would-be victim ran away and led police back to Dahmer’s home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was there that some of the gruesome details of his life of murder were seen through photographs of mutilated bodies and body parts strewn around the apartment. He even has a tub of acid that he uses to dispose of victims. In total, Dahmer killed 17 people, mostly black men. He was imprisoned twice – the first time for harassment and the second time for murder – and was killed by a cellmate in 1994.

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Harold Shipman

Harold Shipman aka “Dr. Death’ is believed to have killed at least 218 patients, although the total is likely to be closer to 250. This doctor practiced in London and between 1972 and 1998 worked in two different the cabinet, having killed all the time. He was not caught until a red flag was raised by several people, including an undertaker who was surprised by the large number of cremation certificates Shipman was involved in, along with the fact that most of the cases were elderly women who were found to be that they died in bed not at night but rather during the day. The police have lapses in the investigation and Shipman continues to kill until he becomes greedy and tries to draw up a will for the victim naming him as the beneficiary, causing the victim’s daughter to become suspicious. He was finally convicted in 2000 and committed suicide while in prison in 2004.

John Wayne Gacy

A construction worker known to his suburban neighbors as gregarious, John Wayne Gacy dabbled in politics and even performed as a birthday clown. He’s not a clown. Gacy became a suspect in 1978 when a 15-year-old boy last seen with him disappeared. It’s not the only time families of missing boys have pointed the finger at Gacy, but it’s the first time authorities are taking him seriously. Soon after, a search warrant granted police access to Gacy’s home, with the smell of nearly 30 bodies buried in a four-foot space beneath his home. He was convicted of 33 murders, with additional charges of rape and torture, and was executed by lethal injection in 1994.

H. H. Holmes

Chicago has had its share of killers, but perhaps none more haunted than H.H. Holmes, the pharmacist who turns a hotel into a torture castle. Prior to the 1893 World’s Fair, Holmes moved to Chicago and began outfitting a three-story hotel with all manner of criminal paraphernalia, including gas lines, secret passages and hatches, corridors to dead ends, chutes to the basement, a soundproof pad, and torture devices scattered throughout a maze . The gas allows Holmes to knock out his guests before the worst comes to pass, often on his surgical tables. He then burns the bodies in the building’s furnace, selling skeletons to medical schools and committing life insurance fraud. In all, he managed more than 30 murders – only discovered after a fellow con man turned him in for breach of financial agreement – before he was hanged in 1896.

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Pedro Lopez

One of the world’s most prolific serial killers may still be out there. Pedro López has been linked to more than 300 murders in his native Colombia and in Ecuador and Peru. At least a third of these murders were of tribal women. After Lopez’s arrest in 1980, police discovered the graves of more than 50 of his pre-teen victims. He was later convicted of killing 110 girls in Ecuador and confessed to another 240 murders in Colombia and Peru. The “Monster of the Andes” didn’t even spend 20 years in prison, as he was released in 1998 for good behavior. For more than 20 years since then, his whereabouts have remained unknown.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy loved the attention his murders brought, and many in the United States were more than happy to give him that attention. The western United States was his hunting ground, with an unknown number of murders piling up — mostly college-aged women — from Washington and Oregon across the globe to Utah and Colorado. Bundy was once arrested in Colorado and convicted of kidnapping, but he escaped from custody, moving to Florida, where he killed many times more. Bundy’s eventual arrest and its aftermath captured the nation’s attention as the accused killer acted as his own lawyer during what is believed to be the first televised murder trial, welcomed interviews and boasted about the fan base he had built. He was eventually executed by electric chair in 1989.


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