When killers leave calling cards, it’s a special kind of disturbing. They’re obviously not ready to get caught and spend a few lifetimes in prison. Otherwise, they would have done the thoughtful thing and left behind their social security number and address along with a good time to reach them. But with twisted serial killer logic, the next best way to take the credit for the grisly murders that they seem so proud of is a signature style of killing.
Sometimes it may not be a murderer’s calling card at all but more of a compulsion or sick fetish as you’ll learn about. With any luck – regardless of the killer wanting to take credit for the horrific crimes or the connecting “style” just being a weird obsession – it will almost always be their undoing, what lands them behind bars. Professionals say that even the most masterful serial killer has some part of them, whether large or small, that’s yearning to be caught. Sometimes that’s because they are desperate to take credit for their crimes and sometimes it’s because they don’t know how else to stop killing.
Just like the fictional Francis Dolarhyde from the book/movie Red Dragon who was dubbed “The Tooth Fairy” due to the bite marks he left on every victim, here are fifteen totally true cases of chilling evidence found on dead bodies.
15. The Atlas Vampire Murderer Left A Bloodstained Gravy Ladle Behind
In 1932, a young woman named Lilly Lindeström who partook in the world’s oldest profession hadn’t been seen for a few days by others in the apartment building in Stockholm, Sweden where she lived and um, worked. So a fellow prostitute and pal named Minnie went to check on her to make sure everything was okay. Unfortunately, everything was more than not okay and poor Minnie was in for the fright of her life when she discovered Lilly in bed, dead for days and almost completely drained of blood.
The above photo is Lilly’s bedroom where she was found along with the gravy ladle that was presumably used by the killer to scoop her blood up and drink it. This case baffled police investigators as well as the local townsfolk in the 30s. A killing like this, with such sick depravity, was relatively unheard of in its time. If you visit Sweden today, you can find the bizarre evidence found in Lilly’s apartment at Stockholm’s Police Museum. Sadly, this murder remains unsolved to this day.
14. Charles Albright Removed The Eyeballs Of His Victims
Charles, otherwise known as “The Eyeball Killer”, “The Dallas Ripper” and “The Dallas Slasher”, terrified the state of Texas pretty much since he learned to walk. He is a diagnosed psychopath and as most psychopaths do, he began murdering animals at a young age. In his early teen years, he was already getting arrested for various petty crimes and later on, molestation of a young girl.
It wasn’t until the 90s (that we know of) that Charles began murdering prostitutes and removing their eyeballs. He’s serving life in prison without parole for only one of the three near-identical murders. With his first killing, Charles shot the prostitute and took her eyeballs with him as they weren’t found at the scene of the crime. When two other eye-less prostitutes’ dead bodies were found one year later, police knew they had a serial killer on their hands. While he denied the murders, his defense couldn’t adequately refute the fact that his hair was found at the scene of one of the crimes. Of course due to the nature of the three murders, Charles pretty much tied himself to all of grisly deaths.
13. Nurse From Hell Charles Cullen Left Needle Pin Pricks
Charles Cullen was a male nurse and is known as “the most prolific serial killer in New Jersey history.” He confessed to forty deaths at his trusted hands during his sixteen-year career in the nursing field. He considered himself something of an “Angel of Death” and said that he only did “mercy killings.” But police informed Cullen that’s still illegal and doesn’t add up anyway because some of the victims weren’t suffering from fatal illnesses. In fact, one was just recovering from a routine procedure when Charles injected the patient with a lethal overdose of the heart medication, digoxin. This was his go-to silent weapon on choice and his undoing.
When his victims were found with similar needle pin pricks on odd places (the thigh, etc. – places where nurses don’t typically give injections) during autopsies, staff started becoming suspicious and eventually the dots were connected that led back to Cullen. Unfortunately, it took a very long time before he was captured. Though he confessed to forty murders, he’s thought to have murdered hundreds of patients. Unless he confesses fully, we will never know.
12. “The Last Call Killer” Richard Rogers Dismembered His Victims Into Three Garbage Bags Each
Richard Rogers was dubbed “The Last Call Killer” because he met his victims at gay bars, right before the bars closed for the night in New York City in the 90s. The gay men that he murdered were typically in their forties. Rogers would stab them repeatedly, all over, then dismember their bodies, putting their heads in one garbage bag, arms and torso in another garbage bag and legs in a final bag.
What tied him to this string of awful crimes were his fingerprints found smudged around the inside of one of the bags and on part of one of the bodies. The truly chilling factor to this case is that the “why” has not been determined or disclosed by the killer. Robbery wasn’t a motive and police were unable to come up with one that made sense. It seems that he killed just to kill.
11. Jack The Ripper Mutilated His Victims, Leading Many To Believe He Was A Doctor
It was a bad time to be a prostitute on the streets of London in the year 1888. The legendary story of Jack the Ripper, the crazed killer who murdered four prostitutes (and one non-prostitute) and mutilated their corpses after torturing the women. Jack the Ripper’s victims were found with his signature style of deep, jagged cuts as well as pieces of their bodies removed with near medical precision, which is why many people speculate (now and then) that the murderer had a medical background.
Besides multiple stab wounds, one of his calling cards was to leave the abdomen slashed open. In one case, he removed his victim’s uterus. With another victim, he emptied almost every organ in the abdomen. Once, he removed the main artery on the left side of the victim’s neck. Finding these body parts missing with their abdomens cut open is what connected the crimes to each other. One interesting aspect about this case is that all of the murders happened within a few months of each other, from August to November then just stopped. There have been many theories but as of today, the true identity of Jack the Ripper remains unknown. But hang onto this thought for a more current model of this serial killer a little later on this list.
10. The Smiley Face Killers (Theory)
This is a little bit different. There wasn’t any chilling evidence found on these dead bodies but near them. If this theory checks out, it’s extremely disturbing. The theory started in 2008 when two New York City detectives named Anthony Duarte and Kevin Gannon started looking into similar cases where young men drowned going back to the late 90s. These deaths could have been easily swept under the rug as they happened over several states in the midwest and in many of the cases, the young men were out in social situations. For example, one drowning death occurred when the young man was walking home from a Halloween party and he was intoxicated. In each case, the detectives noted that there was a smiley face in near proximity to the body. It might have looked like just any old piece of graffiti to the initial investigators but Duarte and Gannon thought otherwise. Reception of the theory has fallen largely on deaf ears to law enforcement but plenty of citizens think there is something to it as it seems to be too much of a coincidence.
9. The Molalla Forest Murderer Would Have A Drink Before Killing His Victims
Here’s another Mr. Rogers that you’d never want to be your neighbor… if you were a prostitute that is. Dayton Leroy Rogers otherwise known as The Molalla Forest Murderer, killed at least seven women that we know of but police investigators suspect the number could be much higher.
Like some of the other killers on this list, he tended to target prostitutes and drug addicts and was given his murderous moniker because he would dump the bodies in the private Molalla Forest which was local to him. The murder occurred from 1983 to 1987 but his seventh victim’s body wasn’t identified until recently in 2013. His undoing was his love for screwdrivers. He would mix a mini bottle of vodka with a bottle of orange juice to create the mixed drink before or after the murders and left the empties with the dead bodies.
8. British Serial Killer Dennis Nilsen’s Victims’ Remains Were Found In His Building’s Plumbing
Dennis Nilsen, who has been called “The British Jeffrey Dahmer” among other hideous nicknames (“The Muswell Hill Murderer” and “The Kindly Killer”) killed twelve young men from 1978 to 1983. Some of them were runaways and male prostitutes and they ranged in age from 14-28. Nilsen would apply makeup to the young men’s bodies in order to enhance their appearance and ward off the effects of decomposition.
In between makeup applications, he would stow the bodies under the floorboards in his apartment. He was caught when the tenants of his apartment building called a plumbing company due to clogged pipes. The plumber was naturally horrified to find human flesh and waterlogged body parts causing the problem. The really weird part of his capture? Nilsen himself was one of the tenants who complained to the plumber about the issues knowing that he flushed down some of the body parts. See what I meant earlier about wanting to be caught?
7. “The Gay Slayer” Colin Ireland Adorned His Victims’ Bodies With Teddy Bears And Dolls
Colin Ireland terrorized the population of gay men in England during a few grisly months in 1993, earning him the nickname “The Gay Slayer.” However, Ireland claimed that he was straight (he was married twice… to women) and only pretended to be a gay man to gain the trust of his victims. Not only did he pretend to be a gay man but he played the role of a gay man who was into S&M, preferring the dominant role. He later confessed that this was the easy way to get his victims, who preferred the passive role, tied up so he could then kill them. What a clever psychopath. Clever… and creepy. The chilling evidence he left on the bodies of his victims included a pair of teddy bears posed in the 69 position, a doll left on the chest of his victim and once he even stuffed a condom in his victim’s mouth. Creepy. Chilling. Evil. Check. Check. Check.
6. “The Dating Game Killer” Brought His Victims Near Death So He Could Strangle Them Repeatedly
Rodney Alcala, “The Dating Game Killer” earned his nickname because he was not just on a popular televised dating gameshow in the 70s – he was a memorable guest and he won the show! But a happily ever after future was not in the cards for Alcala. The girl he won the date with (pictured) actually refused to go out on a date with him when the show ended because she felt he was too creepy. The other male contestants agreed that he was bizarre. Some experts speculate that this rejection sent him over the edge. There might be something to this theory because this is when the murders began.
He’s killed a minimum of eight women and girls but the real number could be up to one hundred and thirty victims total. Police began to see Alcala’s signature style of killing with multiple strangulation marks. This is because he enjoyed toying with his victims, strangling them until they were almost dead then reviving them only to strangle them again, over and over. The investigators who witnessed the multiple strangle marks and bruises on the necks of the victims saw first hand the chilling nightmare these girls went through.
5. The Yorkshire Ripper Left Traceable Monetary Notes On The Bodies Of His Victims
Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed “The Yorkshire Ripper” (the modern version of Jack the Ripper) was yet another murderer who focused on prostitutes and destitute women in Yorkshire society for his victims. In an interesting twist, he didn’t “complete the job” on all of the women. He was convicted of killing thirteen women and trying to kill seven women. In most cases, he thought that he murdered the women but just left them for dead. Other situations involved scary pimps. Some say that his anger towards ladies of the night stemmed from one instance where he was “ripped off” thanks to a sneaky prostitute and pimp team. After a killing, Peter worried that a note he left on the body for payment could be traced back to him with the serial numbers. So he went back to find the money but couldn’t so he stabbed and mutilated the body instead. You’d think he would have learned his lesson but this happened time and time again. And in fact, eventually the notes were traced to him. Thanks to that, the ladies in the other business in Yorkshire were able to rest a little bit easier.
4. “Acid Bath Murderer” John George Haigh Mistakenly Thought That An Acid Bath Would Wash His Crimes Away
A bit of thorough research might have paid off for John George Haigh, who did not have the full, correct understanding of the term, corpus delicti, after murdering at least six individuals in England in the 40s. You see, Haigh believed that if the bodies of the missing people were not found, by law he could not be convicted of the crimes. He also believed that sulphuric acid was all it would take to dissolve his victims’ bodies and all evidence of his murders would disappear.
Unfortunately for Haigh, he did not take things like bones and other stubborn body matter into consideration and found that making his victims vanish into thin air was a lot harder than he thought. While the acid did melt most of his victims away, things like gallstones and denture pieces could not be disintegrated. Despite his best planning efforts, Haigh, who was a money motivated murderer, was sentenced to death by hanging.
3. Death Note Found Near Bodies Of Slain Couple
Last year in San José, a chilling note that was found accompanying the dead bodies of a married couple, Shamima and Golam Rabbi, puzzled police investigators at first. “Sorry my first kill was clumsy,” the note read. “I can’t be like you, telling a lie. I can’t love someone without telling them.” But after taking a closer look, investigators noticed that something seemed off about the crime scene. They began to feel that the note was purposely worded to throw them off the track of the real killer or killers and eventually issued a statement to the press that expressed they believed the killer was someone in the family. Shortly afterwards, the couples’ two sons, Omar and Hasib, were arrested for the fatal shootings of their parents.
2. Murdered Teen Found With A Recording Of The Killer On Her
Two young girls from Delphi, Indiana were found murdered and it was discovered that one of them had with a cell phone on her with video that possibly contains the image and audio recording of the girls’ killer. Abby Williams (13) and Libby German (14) were walking on a bridge near their home when they encountered the man seen in the photo taken by Libby. Libby made the brave choice to record Abby, very possibly just to get the man in the background recorded, and it was a choice that could lead police to finding the killer if someone comes forward to identify the man. Police consider it to be a strong lead and are following up on possibilities. Considering that this is a recent crime, having happened in February 2017, chances are good that the girls’ murder will be solved.
1. Serial Killer Dennis Rader Left His Infamous BTK Evidence On Victims
B.T.K. is a terrifying acronym that stands for bind, torture, kill which is how family man and serial killer Dennis Rader operated between 1974 and 1991 in Kansas. He killed a total of ten people, some were entire families. His infamous signature style of killing, as the name suggests, was to sneak into a home, bind the victim or victims with rope or tape and hang them in a way so that he could torture them for as long as he wanted to before killing them.
Rader enjoyed toying with the investigators and would send them letters along with cereal boxes containing cryptic evidence of the crimes. Police long suspected Rader but had no evidence to convict him until they discovered that his daughter had taken a PAP smear during her college years at a State university. With a warrant, they obtained her medical test that included her DNA and compared it to the DNA of the killer they found under the fingernails of a victim as she tried to defend herself. It absolutely matched and now Rader will sit in prison for the remainder of his life.