According to the Radford University Serial Killer Database, as of September 16, 2014, there have been 3,873 known serial killers and 11,187 victims. Statistics indicate that 41.74 percent of those victims were shot, and 23.34 percent were strangled. It should come as no surprise that the U.S. has had the most serial killers: 2,625, according to Radford University. The report, however, comes with the following note: “the numbers for 2013 and 2014 should be interpreted with caution as there is normally a lag between a murder and the identification of the serial killer.” And this statement brings us to the question: What about the unsolved serial killer cases, the murders that have stymied investigators and authorities for years. Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler are the most famous unidentified serial killers, but there are numerous unsolved serial murder cases in America and abroad.
10. The February 9 Killer
In 2006, Sonia Mejia was raped and strangled in her apartment in Taylorsville, a city in Salt Lake County, Utah. In 2008, Damiana Castillo was strangled in her apartment in West Valley City, which is about a mile away from Taylorsville. Both murders occurred on the same day: February 9. At first police believed it was a grisly coincidence, but the crimes were eventually linked by DNA analysis. In a good example of if it bleeds, it leads journalism, the press dubbed the perpetrator the February 9 Killer. An eight-man task force was created to solve the case but police turned up few clues. In 2011, the February 9 Killer was classified as a cold case.
9. Bible John
Between 1968 and 1969, three young women were murdered in Glasgow, Scotland. The killer met his victims at the Barrowland Ballroom, and then strangled them with their own stockings. Jean Puttock, who was the sister of Helen Puttock, one of the three victims, provided a description of the killer after she and her sister shared a taxi with him. According to Ms. Puttock, the man identified himself as John Templeton and had quoted extensively from the Bible, referring to dance hall as “dens of iniquity.” The following day Jean Puttock’s sister, Helen, was dead, and the man had disappeared. It’s been suggested that convicted Glaswegian serial killer Peter Tobin was responsible for the murders, but the case remains unsolved.
8. The Alphabet Murders
In the early 1970s in Rochester, New York, three girls were raped and strangled. The case was originally called the “Double Initial Murders” because each of the girls’ first and last name started with the same letter. If that wasn’t strange enough, each body was found in a town that had a name starting with the same letter as each girl’s name: Carmen Colon was murdered in Churchville; Wanda Walkowicz in Webster; and Michelle Maenza in Macedon. The media later revised the name of the case to “The Alphabet Murders.”
In California, in the late 1970s, four girls were also killed with double initials –Roxene Roggasch, Pamela Parson, Tracy Tofolya, as well as another girl named Carmen Colon. Investigators initially believed the California murders were linked to those in Rochester. However, in 2013, Joseph Naso was tried for the murders in California and sentenced to death. While Naso was a person of interest in the New York murders, he was never tried for the crimes and most investigators believe he was a copycat killer.
7. The Oakland County Child Killer
Over a 13-month period between 1976 and 1977, in what became the largest murder investigation in U.S. history at the time, a serial killer abducted and murdered four children in Oakland Country, Michigan. The children, two boys and two girls, were held from four to 19 days before being killed and left at various locations around the country. There have been numerous suspects and persons of interest over the years, including the possibility that serial killer John Wayne Gacy was also the Oakland County Child killer. The crime remains unsolved.
6. The Chicago Tylenol Murders
The horror began on the morning of September 29, 1982, when twelve-year old Mary Kellerman died after taking a capsule of Extra-Strength Tylenol laced with potassium cyanide. Six more deaths in the Chicago Metropolitan area followed. Investigators soon discovered the Tylenol link. They ruled out production sabotage as the bottles of Tylenol all came from different factories, and believed the culprit had in fact taken the bottles off supermarket and drug store shelves, laced the capsules with cyanide, and then returned the bottles to different stores. In October 1982, Johnson & Johnson issued a nationwide Tylenol recall, and the incidents led to reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter drugs and anti-tampering laws.
5. The New Bedford Highway Killer
Active Between 1988 and 1989, the New Bedford Highway Killer is responsible for the deaths of nine women in New Bedford, Massachusetts. All of the victims were prostitutes or substance abusers, and their remains were discovered along highways and exit ramps in southern Massachusetts. Daniel Taveres Jr., a convicted killer, claimed responsibility for the murders in a letter to a prison staff member, but evidence tying him to the New Bedford murders is circumstantial.
4. The Long Island Serial Killer
Also known as the Gilgo Beach Killer or the Seashore Serial Killer, the unidentified suspect is believed to have murdered at least 10 people over a 20-year period. All of the victims were associated with the sex trade, and they advertised their services on Craigslist. The bodies were dumped along Ocean Parkway, near the Long Island beach towns of Gilgo Beach and Oak Beach. In 2010, a police officer and his dog on a routine training exercise discovered “the skeletal remains of a woman in a disintegrated burlap sack.” Four more victims were unearthed in December, and six more sets of remains discovered in March and April 2011.
3. The West Mesa Bone Collector
In 2009, a woman walking her dog discovered a human bone on the West Mesa in Albuqrque, New Mexico. As a result of the discovery, authorities uncovered the remains of 11 women and a fetus buried in what became one of the largest crime scenes in U.S. history. All of the victims were young, involved in drugs or prostitution, and had disappeared between 2003 and 2005; many were Hispanic. No evidence as to who committed the murders has ever been discovered. Locals refer to the unidentified killer as the Bone Collector -an apt title considering what was discovered at his dumping grounds.
2. The Rainbow Maniac
Between February 2007 and August 2008, 13 gay men, ages 20-40, were killed in Paturis Park in Carapicuiba, Brazil. Police believed the same murderer may also be responsible for three deaths on Osasco, a nearby municipality. According to the Brazilian media, Paturis Park was a popular spot for prostitution and a well-known hook-up destination for gay men. The press dubbed the perpetrator the Rainbow Maniac, a reference to the gay pride flag. All but one of the victims was shot. Officials announced that the killer might be a state police officer, and in 2008 Jairo Francisco Franco, a retired officer, was arrested. However, no charges or conviction have been forthcoming, and the case remains unsolved.
1. The Monster of Florence
Dubbed Il Mostro or the Monster of Florence, a serial killer stalked the streets of the Italian city between 1968 and 1985 and is responsible for 16 murders. Most of the victims were couples, and the same gun, a .22 caliber pistol, was used in all of the killings. Over the years, hundreds of suspects have been questioned. Four different men were convicted of the murders at four different times, only to be released when the killer struck again; the Italian police have been criticized and ridiculed by the media for their inept handling of the case. Independent investigations suggest that the Monster of Florence is Antonio Vinci. In 2008, Vinci went on Dateline NBC and denied these claims; he was never tried. It has been nearly 30 years since the last murder, and the police are no closer to knowing the identity of the real killer.