It is hard to shock people these days, as we have become essentially desensitized to all things grotesque. Television shows, movies, and even social media combined with the fact you can Google anything, has contributed to desensitizing the public. Even stories of serial killers are everywhere, which is sad, but they are nothing new.
Most of us are well-versed in our knowledge of serial killers in America. We have all heard of Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Ed Gein, and so on and so forth. This list is not one of the familiar tales of horror at the hands of madmen within America, nor is it even a list of the murderers with the highest body count. Rather, this list is a collection of the world’s most deranged stories of serial killers from other countries, killers that you likely have not heard of before. In our day and age, nothing is truly unbelievable, although these very true stories and the psychopaths who wrote them may come as close as anything could to shocking.
The following are 15 serial killers who, for one reason or another, can be considered among history’s most prolific, most horrific, or most out-there violent criminals outside of America. The U.S. has definitely had its share of lunatics too, but the rest of the world is right up there with us. You’ll see.
15. Hiroshi Maeue, Japan
A very strange and morbidly intriguing serial killer case is that of Hiroshi Maueu, who operated criminally in 2005. Although he killed only three people, he is classified as a serial killer. There are varying definitions of the label, but in general it is agreed that having three or more victims makes a person a serial killer. Hiroshi Maeue suffered from an atypical psychosexual disorder that prevented him from achieving sexual release without the act of strangulation of another person. Before the murders, he was arrested multiple times for asphyxiating people, but was always released after relatively short sentences, as none of the people had died as a result. He met his three not-so- lucky victims (a 14-year-old student, a 21-year-old college student, and a 25-year-old woman) in an online suicide club. Claiming he wanted to “watch a face in agony”, Maeue and each victim made a pact to commit suicide together. When they met, he suggested mutually ending their lives using a charcoal burner in a sealed car, but he strangled them instead. He was convicted of the murders in 2007, and rejected his lawyers’ attempts to appeal, saying that he wanted to pay for his crimes with death. He was hanged in 2009.
14. Alexander Pichushkin, Russia
Dubbed the “Chessboard Killer” for his goal of killing 64 people because there are 64 squares on a chessboard, Russian killer Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin murdered between 48 and 63 people over a 14-year period beginning in the early 1990’s. This man who declared that “life without murder is like a life for you without food” lured his victims, who were primarily elderly homeless men, with vodka, saying he needed to mourn the death of his dog. They would drink together and then Pichushkin would bludgeon them in the head with a hammer. After the attack, he would stick the vodka bottles in their heads to ensure they would not survive. The above was his norm, although he also killed regular men, women, and children, and sometimes not with a hammer, but by throwing them into the sewers beneath the park. When he was ultimately caught in 2006 and convicted in 2007, he was found guilty of 48 of the 49 murders he was charged with, but asked the court to add an additional 11 victims to his total. Since capital punishment in Russia was abolished in 1996, Pichushkin received life in prison with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.
13. Yang Xinhai, China
With what the world knows about China’s swift and severe punishments, it is a wonder anyone would ever break the law there. Then again, if you are a serial killer, it only makes sense that your brain does not think logically, or care about repercussions. Which brings me to Yang Xinhai, who is arguably China’s worst serial killer. Motivated by his girlfriend dumping him after learning of his previous stint in prison for rape, Xinhai took his anger out on society in the form of murder. He’d been a writer of murder stories since his youth, and people speculated that he had no motive, at all, except that he “felt like” killing. In any case, he took 67 victims in central China between the years of 1999 and 2003. Entering his victims’ homes at night, he would kill everyone with axes, meat cleavers, hammers, and shovels, leaving behind a bloody mess. He would rape the females. After finally being caught during a routine inspection of entertainment venues, the migrant worker turned serial killer was found guilty after a one-hour long trial, and executed by a gunshot to the head two weeks later at the age of 36.
12. Karl Denke, Germany
The so-called “Cannibal of Ziebice” was also a well-liked church organ player that no one suspected of being a serial killer, cannibal, and psychopath who allegedly sold the flesh of his victims at the Breslau Market. He murdered 30-40 men and women with an axe. His victims were primarily homeless. After ending their lives, he would dismember, eat, and store the body parts in jars, pots, and tubs. He created things out of the bodies, as well, such as suspenders from their flesh and laces from their hair. He even peddled human meat at the marketplace, advertising it as pork. Said to be neither man nor woman, and indifferent to sex, there was no evidence of sexual assault that was reported, and no motivation for his gruesome crimes could ever be discerned. Denke kept a ledger detailing his murders, for which he was eventually arrested. However, he could never be tried or brought to justice, because the day after being taken into custody on December 22, 1924, he hung himself with his suspenders in his jail cell.
11. Adolfo Constanzo, Mexico
This cult leader performed ritual torture and human sacrifice in late 1980’s Matamoros, Mexico. Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo’s story largely began in 1983, when he was working as a tarot card reader and recruited two younger men to be his servants, lovers, and disciples. This was after his mother became convinced that he was psychic because he “predicted” the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981. Then,Constanzo befriended a Haitian Palo priest who tutored him. Constanzo became the leader of a cult. He charged thousands of dollars to hold private occult ceremonies, and various amounts for different animal sacrifices. For example, a boa constrictor sacrifice went for $450, while lion cubs were $3100. His followers and the rich drug dealers he charmed would pay exorbitant amounts for his “magic”, as in tens of thousands of dollars. But he committed much grislier crimes than cheating people and drug-dealing. His body count was never for certain, but at least 23 people suffered sadistic torture at his hands (things like excised sex organs, a spine ripped from the body, and a cauldron of blood), and were sacrificed. It was a 21-year-old American college student’s disappearance that led police to Constanzo. Authorities discovered the cult quite by accident while searching for missing spring breaker Matt Kilroy in 1989. Before Constanzo could be captured, the cult leader ordered one of his disciples to shoot him. He died right then and there.
10. Amelia Dyer, England
The particularly unsettling story of Amelia Dyer is harder to hear because her victims were all babies. Operating in Victorian England, she was a “baby farmer” who housed young mothers who had become pregnant illegitimately, then looked after their illegitimate children until they were found a home, or died of neglect. She was first a nurse, but then turned to “adopting” these babies because it was much more lucrative. However, when a number of the infants in her care showed signs of neglect, she spent time in mental institutions as well as six months of “hard labor” before resuming her activities. By 1896, seven tiny bodies had been discovered in the Thames River. They all had tape around their necks and were inside of parcels. Although only the seven were found, she is thought to have killed as many as 400 babies in a 20-year period, making her quite possibly the most prolific murderess ever, and one of the most prolific murderers. She told authorities that they would “know all [mine] by the tape around their necks.” The longtime opium abuser had suicidal tendencies for years, and was ultimately caught in a “sting” operation when one mother who had given her four-month old up for adoption to Dyer returned to visit, and became suspicious when she could not find her baby’s birthmark. It led to Dyer’s arrest, conviction (after the jury deliberating for just five minutes), and death sentence. She was hanged at the age of 57.
9. Vlado Teneski, Macedonia
Vlado Teneski is an interesting character study when talking about serial killers. He was a journalist and crime reporter who reported on the unsolved crimes that he, himself, had committed. When authorities saw that his articles included details that only the killer would know, they fingered Teneski, and sure enough, his DNA was a match to the semen found on his three victims. The three women he killed between 2005 and 2008 were in their 50’s and 60’s, and all were poor, uneducated cleaners who had known his late mother. He murdered them by strangling them with a phone cord. The exact type of phone cord had not been released to the public, but appeared in Teneski’s articles, along with other details. The bodies were found naked, tied with telephone cables, stuffed into nylon bags, and left in different parts of the city of Kicevo in the Balkan nation of Macedonia. A respected journalist for over two decades, Teneski’s once-decent life came to an end the day after his arrest when he killed himself by dunking his head in a prison toilet.
8. Tamara Samsonova, Russia
Tamara Samsonova was nicknamed the “Granny Ripper” for her crimes that included the murder, dismemberment, and beheading of her victims. She detailed her gruesome activities in her diary. Now residing in a Soviet-era psychiatric hospital once used by Josef Stalin’s secret police, the 68-year-old refuses to tell anyone the details of her other murders. She was caught on film carrying the boiled head and hands of her friend in a saucepan from her flat in St. Petersburg, Russia. She had poisoned her salad, killed her, and cut her up with a hacksaw. Then she made seven trips in and out of the flat, each time carrying different body parts in the pan. This was all allegedly because of an argument over unwashed cups. Samsonova butchered several of her lodgers, as well as her husband and mother-in-law, all of whom vanished into thin air and were never seen again. It is feared that apartment blocks have now been erected where she buried previous victims, but Samsonova, who suffers from schizophrenia, isn’t talking. She is suspected of 11 murders altogether, and is thought to also be a cannibal.
7. Moses Sithole, South Africa
Moses Sithole of Pretoria, South Africa, was called “The ABC Killer”, because the cities of his killings began with A, B, and C, and in that order. Born in apartheid-era South Africa, as an adult Sithole would pretend to be a businessman, offer his victims work with his fake charity organization, and walk them through a veld (Afrikaans for “field”) to get to the “business headquarters”. It was in the veld that he would overpower, beat, rape, and strangle them with their own clothing, all in broad daylight. Afterward, he would sometimes call and taunt the victims’ families. He even called a reporter multiple times to brag about his killings. There were 38 murders altogether, and when police were closing in on him, he charged toward them with an axe, only to be shot and wounded. He later confessed to his crimes and was sentenced to 2,410 years behind bars. After 930 years, he would be eligible for parole (why bother even figuring that out?).
6. Robert Pickton, Canada
Back in the western hemisphere, Canadian serial killer and pig farmer Robert Pickton killed as many as 49 women, although he said to an undercover officer that he wanted to get one more to make it an even 50. When executing a search warrant for illegal firearms on Pickton’s property, they found personal items belonging to a missing woman, and from there they ended up excavating his property and demolishing the buildings on it to find more and more women. Estimates put the cost of excavation at $70 million. But the really cringe-worthy thing about this case is that once he killed a woman, he fed the bodies and their parts to his pigs, allowed insects to fester on them, and even grounded up the human flesh with pork from his farm, which was not sold commercially, but was given to friends and visitors. He was convicted of six women’s deaths, and accused of the murders of 21 more until the charges were stayed due to issues at trial. The remaining 22 deaths are women Pickton claimed to have killed. He murdered them by strangling them with wire, or by shooting them.
5. Mary Ann Cotton, England
It often seems, when learning about different serial killers, that the women act more evilly than the men. Mary Ann Cotton is no exception. She was a serial killer who poisoned the husbands she married with the intent of killing them to then collect the insurance money. However, she also killed eight of her own children, seven step-children, one lover, and a friend, in addition to three of her husbands. They were all poisoned with arsenic, which in the 1800’s was harder to recognize or diagnose. When people close to Cotton kept dying so suddenly, she ended up being caught, and her lie about possessing arsenic (the same arsenic found in large quantities in the exhumed body of her last victim, a child) to kill bedbugs was not believable enough to the judge, who sentenced her to death by hanging. Pregnant at the time, Cotton was hanged five days after giving birth in jail.
4. Charles Sobhraj, Southeast Asia
Infamous in the 1970’s for murdering ten people throughout southeast Asia, Vietnamese-born con-man, jewel thief, drug-dealer, and murderer Charles Sobhraj was known as “The Serpent” and “The Bikini Killer”. He spent his youth in and out of jail in numerous countries in Asia and Europe before taking his first victim, a Pakistani chauffeur he injected with a lethal drug. Sobhraj’s motive was unclear, but the murder would only be his first. He went on to kill in Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Bombay, and several other cities in the Far East. He poisoned, drowned, and strangled his victims. Often the women were wearing bikinis when he killed them, hence his nickname. He killed men too, mostly European and American tourists. He spent two decades in India’s notoriously corrupt Tihar Prison, with an offer of $15 million to make a movie of his life story when he got out. He originally received only 12 years, but purposely wanted to prolong his sentence to avoid the 20-year Thai arrest warrant against him that would lead to his deportation and almost certain execution. His other motivation was that he lived a life of luxury in prison, having befriended and bribed the guards with precious gems hidden inside his body. He received TV, gourmet food, and was able to walk in and out of jail as he pleased. Sobhraj achieved his goal when, in his 10th year in prison, he drugged his prisoner and guard friends, simply walked out of jail, and was soon caught and given 10 more years. At the end of his sentence at the age of 52, with no country to deport him to, Indian officials returned him to France, where he held citizenship.
3. Anatoly Onoprienko, Ukraine
“The Beast of Ukraine” is also known as “The Terminator”, and is also known as Anatoly Onoprienko, who is a Soviet serial killer with 52 victims to his name (43 of which were killed within the six months before his capture). Inner voices plagued Onoprienko, and according to him, these voices were what led him to kill from 1989-1996. His modus operandi was this: he would choose an isolated house, create a commotion to attract the attention of the occupants, then shoot them all, starting with the adult male, then his spouse, and then the children. Finally, in an attempt to cover his tracks, he would set the home on fire. Any unlucky witnesses that happened to be around were also killed. Onoprienko targeted families as a result of his youth that was spent in orphanages after his mother passed away when he was a baby. It is possible that he killed more than 52, and he was also known to have robbed his victims; his girlfriend was wearing an engagement ring he had stolen after cutting off one of his victim’s fingers. He later stated that he took no pleasure from the killings, that corpses are ugly, and that during those years he felt like a robot controlled by dark forces. With the efforts of 2,000 police officers and 3,000 troops, Onoprienko was eventually caught, but only after a different suspect was tortured to death because they thought he was the guy. Ukraine has banned capital punishment, although the president is considering lifting the ban specifically to execute Onoprienko, to which he says, “If I am ever let out, I will start killing again. But this time, it will be 10 times worse… Seize this chance because I am being groomed to serve Satan.”
2. Tsotumu Miyazaki, Japan
Known as “Dracula”, and “The Little Girl Killer”, Tsotumu Miyazaki is both of those things. In 1988 and 1989 in a prefecture of Tokyo, he kidnapped, molested, photographed, strangled, and drank the blood of four little girls between the ages of four and seven. He ate one of the girls’ hands, probably because of something having to do with his own hands, which were deformed. After killing a child, he would terrorize her family with phone calls, gruesome postcards, and in one case, even a box on a family’s doorstep containing their missing daughter’s teeth, clothing, and bone fragments. He was caught when he approached two sisters, one of whom ran to get help. Their father interrupted Miyazaki photographing his daughter’s genitals, and the police arrested him before he could get away. He was found to have multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia, but was declared responsible for his actions and he was executed in 2008.
1. Nikolai Dzhumagliev, Kazakhstan
Soviet serial killer Nikolai Dzhumagliev did his dirty business in the Kazakh SSR, which is now Kazakhstan, in 1979 and 1980. At that time, he murdered nine women (probably more). He was a misogynist who was known as “Metal Fang” for his unusual white metal teeth, which he used to eat his victims. He would rape them, kill them with an axe, carve up their bodies, and serve it to his unsuspecting friends at dinners he hosted, usually advertising his dinner as ethnic dishes. It was those friends that led to his capture, as they found a human head and intestines in his fridge. After being sent to an insane asylum in Tashkent in 1981, having been found to be insane, he escaped in 1989, and for two years he remained on the loose. No announcement was made to the public because authorities did not want to alarm the citizens of the region. In 1991, he was re-captured in Uzbekistan and remains there to this day.