It’s hard for us to understand what goes on in the minds of serial killers. That’s what makes them so morbidly fascinating to us. We want to understand how they could be so different from the rest of us while at the same time we find ourselves appalled and sickened by their crimes.
They say that death brings enormous clarity to most people, sometimes even for killers as well. Some serial killers manage to leave the world peacefully, but for the most part, they are still full of rage and hatred for humanity. Their final words are often a clue that gives us a little insight into their last thoughts.
The killers we are looking at today mostly died by execution, but there are a few who were themselves murdered or committed suicide instead of facing justice. Some of them remained ice-cold right up to the end, still feeling no empathy and no guilt. Others found religion on death row and finally showed remorse, but every single one of them had last words that were quite chilling.
When a killer dies, they are no longer a threat to anyone and the families of the victims feel that justice has been served, but even their death doesn’t take away the heartache and pain they caused. And their final words can sometimes be haunting. Let’s look at a few of the most chilling last words of the world’s most infamous serial killers…
15. John Wayne Gacy – “Kiss My Ass”
Between 1972 and 1978 John Wayne Gacy sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 boys and young men, killing mostly by strangulation. He buried 26 of the bodies in the crawl space underneath his house which he shared with his family. Gacy was an active and well-liked member of his community and often performed for parties and events as a clown, hence the nickname The Killer Clown.
Gacy was found guilty on 33 counts of murder and sentenced to death on March 13, 1980. He spent 14 years on death row before he was finally executed by lethal injection on the 10th of May 1994 at the Statesville Correctional Center. Cold and heartless to the end, Gacy’s final words to the world were “Kiss my ass”.
14. The Vampire Of Dusseldorf – “A Pleasure To End All Pleasures”
Serial killers don’t get any creepier than Peter Kurten AKA “The Vampire of Dusseldorf”. Kurten was a German serial killer who murdered between 9 and 60 adults and children. He was also a sexual predator and drank the blood from his victim’s wounds. He was found guilty of nine murders as well as seven counts of attempted murder and sentenced to death by beheading.
He was executed by guillotine on the 2nd of July 1931 and his last words were particularly chilling. He said, “Tell me. After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be a pleasure to end all pleasures.”
13. Albert Fish – “I Don’t Even Know Why I’m Here”
Albert Fish was every parent’s absolute worst nightmare. He was a monster that preyed on children – abducting them, abusing them, killing them, and worst of all cannibalizing their remains. Between 1928 and 1934 he killed at least 3 children, although he claimed that he murdered at least 100 children during his lifetime.
He was arrested in 1935 for the murder of 10-year old Gracie Budd after he sent a letter to her mother describing the murder. During the 10 day trial, he pleaded insanity, claiming that the voice of God had instructed him to kill children, but the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to death. He was executed in Sing Sing’s electric chair in 1936 and his last words were reportedly, “I don’t even know why I’m here”.
12. Peter Manuel – “Turn Up The Radio And I’ll Go Quietly”
Peter Manuel was just 31 years old when he was sent to the gallows for the murder of seven people over a 2-year period. His last three victims were the Smart family who he shot in their own home. He then stayed in the house for some time afterward eating leftover food and even feeding their cat.
The trial, conducted in 1958 was sensational and in an unexpected twist Manuel fired his lawyer and represented himself. His defense for the Smart family murders was that the father had killed the family and then himself. Although the judge was impressed with his courtroom skills he was unable to convince the jury of his innocence. They found him guilty and a few short months later he was hanged.
11. Israel Keyes – “Your Petals I’ll Crush”
We will never know the true number of victims of serial killer Israel Keyes because that secret died along with him. In the late 90s and early 2000s Keyes traveled around America and it’s suspected that he killed between three and eight people. He was caught when he used the credit card of one of his victims in 2012. While in custody, awaiting trial for the murder of this victim, Keyes committed suicide by strangling himself.
Keyes left behind a suicide note that ended with this disturbing line, “Okay, talk is over, words are placid and weak. Back it with action or it all comes off cheap. Watch close while I work now, feel the electric shock of my touch, open your trembling flower, or your petals I’ll crush”.
10. Aileen Wuornos – “I’ll Be Back”
Female serial killers are very rare, that’s why the case of Aileen Wuornos was so fascinating. Aileen was a prostitute who killed seven men in just over a year. Most of them were shot at point blank range. Aileen’s defense was that all the men had either raped or attempted to rape her, forcing her to act in self-defence. This defense was rejected and Aileen was sentenced to death. She spent ten years on death row and in 2002 she became the tenth woman to be executed in the United States since 1976.
9. Marcel Petiot – “Look Away”
Marcel Petiot was a French serial killer who also happened to be a doctor. It’s estimated that he killed around 60 people between the 1920s and 1940s. During WWII he set up a false escape network, promising to get people out of France. But instead of helping desperate people, he killed them by injecting them with cyanide and then stole all their money and belongings. The remains of 23 bodies were found in his home in Paris after neighbors reported a foul stench and smoke coming from his chimney as he attempted to destroy the evidence of his grisly crimes.
Petiot went on trial in March 1946, facing 135 criminal charges and was put to death by guillotine in May. His final words were, “Gentleman, I have one last piece of advice: Look away. This will not be pretty to see”.
8. John George Haigh – “Now I Must Leave You”
John George Haigh murdered purely for profit and thought that if the bodies of his victims could not be found he could not be convicted of murder. So he decided that he would dissolve his victim’s bodies in acid and experimented by using mice. His gruesome method of disposal earned him the nickname “the Acid Bath Killer”. After he had dispatched his victims he would forge papers to sell their possessions and then pocket the cash. During the 1940’s he killed six women this way.
In a final letter to his girlfriend, written before he was executed, he said, “It is difficult to say farewell under these circumstances, but you will understand that you will always be in my thoughts. You know I have been proud of our association: it has always been an honorable one. I shall remember your great kindness and devotion. Now I must leave you”.
7. Donald Gaskin – “I’m Ready To Go”
Most people have never even heard of the American serial killer Donald Gaskin but his story is truly frightening. Gaskin was a career criminal and gun for hire who claimed to have killed at least 100 people during a nearly thirty period between the 1950s and the 1980s. He killed for pleasure and for money, and often raped and tortured his victims too. Most of his victims were hitchhikers, both male and female.
He finally received the death penalty for killing another inmate (with explosives!) while incarcerated. A week before his execution, he tried to commit suicide but was unsuccessful. Moments before he was put to death in the electric chair, he said, “I’ll let my lawyers talk for me. I’m ready to go”.
6. Kenneth McDuff – “Release Me”
In 1966 Kenneth McDuff killed three teenagers and received three death sentences for his crimes. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison and McDuff hired a lawyer who managed to get him paroled in 1989. The parole board felt that he was reformed and that he could still “contribute to society”.
Within three days of his release McDuff started killing again and over the next 3 years, he claimed between 3 and 10 more lives before he was finally apprehended again. He was found guilty and received the death sentence once more. But this time he couldn’t escape and was executed in November 1998. For his last meal, he requested a steak and his last words were, “I am ready to be released. Release me”.
5. Dr. H.H. Holmes – “Take Your Time. Don’t Bungle It.”
Dr. H.H. Holmes was one of the first documented American serial killers. His crimes, which included fraud, bigamy, larceny, and of course, murder, created a media stir when they came to light following his capture in 1895. He was found guilty of the murder of one man and subsequently confessed to 27 more, although some of the people he claimed to have killed were found to still be alive. His defense was that he was possessed by Satan. The fact that the newspapers were paying him for a confession may have been the reason that he elaborated.
He was given the death sentence for the one count of murder and hanged on the 7th of May 1896. He remained calm up to the moment of his death and his last words to his executioners were, “Take your time. Don’t bungle it”.
4. The Railroad Killer – “I Deserve What I Am Getting”
Angel Maturino Reséndiz was also known as the Railroad Killer because most of his crimes were committed close to the railway lines. The Mexican serial killer used trains to travel across the United States and Mexico during the 1990s and was responsible for as many as 15 murders. Even though he was clearly delusional (he believed that he was half angel and half man and therefore couldn’t be killed) he was given the death sentence and executed by lethal injection in 2006.
His final statement was, “I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don’t have to. I know I allowed the Devil to rule my life. I just ask you to forgive me and ask the Lord to forgive me for allowing the devil to deceive me. I thank God for having patience in me. I don’t deserve to cause you pain. You do not deserve this. I deserve what I am getting.”
3. Jeffrey Dahmer – “Go Ahead And Kill Me”
Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer, and necrophile didn’t receive the death penalty for his crimes. He was sentenced in Wisconsin which abolished capital punishment in 1853 so he was given 12 life sentences instead. Initially, he was kept in solitary confinement as authorities feared for his safety among other prisoners. A year into his sentence he was assigned a two-hour work block cleaning toilets each day which brought him into contact with other prisoners.
On the morning of the 28th November 1994, he and two prisoners were left unsupervised for approximately twenty minutes. During that short time, they beat Jeffrey to death with a 20-inch metal bar. According to them, he didn’t cry out for help during the attack and simply said, “I don’t care if I live or die. Go ahead and kill me”.
2. Amelia Dyer – “I Have Nothing To Say”
Amelia Dyer was one of the most prolific serial killers in history and certainly among the worst female killers that ever lived. Her victims were truly innocent and defenseless but she preyed on them all the same for more than twenty years in Victorian Britain.
Dyer had trained as a nurse, but after she became widowed, she found another way of making money. She became a “baby farmer”; she would look after unwanted babies in exchange for a monthly fee. But caring for them became too tiring so she began to murder them instead and kept pocketing the cash.
1. Carroll Cole – “It’s All Right”
When anti-death penalty activists tried to help Carroll Cole escape the lethal injection he turned them away. By that stage, Cole was ready to leave the world. This American serial killer murdered at least 16 women between 1971 and 1980, mostly by strangulation, and suffered from mental health problems that often landed him in hospital. As a teen, he had intrusive violent fantasies about strangling women and was diagnosed with an antisocial sociopath personality.
His true body count still remains unknown as he confessed that he was often so drunk during the murders that he couldn’t remember very much.
When he finally received the death sentence he thanked the judge and was executed at Nevada State Prison on the 6th of December 1985. His final words were, “It’s all right”.