Hunting doesn’t necessitate skill: one can go out with a weapon of choice, selecting a target at random, pursuing it (poorly or not) and, in spite of any skill, still make out with a catch. That’s entirely possible, and for some, it really does work, but for these real-life serial killers, hunting was/is more than that.
There must be a focus, a discerning quality; a demographic of victim. They each had to properly control the situations they found their victims in so that they succeeded in capturing their prey. A good number of these hunters relied on their ability to lure victims with scams, or sweet talking, and some of these killers knew where just the right hunting grounds were to ensure success each and every time.
An interesting thing to notice is that, given their clear desire for control, most of these killers set out to hunt the weak and needy, giving them an even greater sense of power, while remaining the cowards that most of them were, in terms of having a fight.
That being said, with the exception of one on this list, each and every killer, thinking they had it made, never expecting a victim to make it away from them alive, assuming they were always covering their tracks well enough, was caught and, in some cases, put to death themselves as many a reader will think justified after reading the cases below.
15. Thierry Paulin
In 1980 at the age of 17, Paulin joined the army, but was very quickly disliked; being both of mixed race and a homosexual didn’t play well in the minds of his fellow men. Two years later, he robbed an elderly woman in her grocery store, coming at her with a knife. A regular customer of this store, Paulin was soon caught, sentenced to two years, and then had his sentence suspended. After leaving the military in 1984, Paulin began work in a nightclub, and fell in love with a drug addict. Needing a way to pay for their lavish, and excessive life of dance, champagne, and cocaine, Paulin stalked the most unpleasant and weakest-looking, and began a string of murders. He suffocated old women, beat them savagely, and sometimes forced them to drink drain cleaner, making off with whatever money they had to keep his proclivities afloat. Knowing himself to be HIV positive, Paulin held grand parties with the proceeds of the murders and became more and more reckless. A would-be victim, left for dead, identified the man, and he was caught. His boyfriend was tried for the first nine of the likely twenty one murders, and sentenced to life, but Paulin died of TB and Meningitis before he could ever be convicted of his dastardly deeds.
14. The Vampire of Tehran
Gholamreza Khoshrou Kouran Kordieh, 28 years old, found himself in a whole world of trouble after kidnapping, raping, and murdering nine girls aged 10-47, over a period of four months. Posing as a freelance taxi driver under cover of night, Khoshrou was given the nickname ‘Tehran Vampire’. Stalking the helpless and weak, who clearly needed off the street at night, Khoshrou would pick up his victims, find some dark place to drive them, rape them, stab them repeatedly with a knife, and then cover them with gasoline out in the desert and set them afire. Though one would-be victim fought him off and made it free, Khoshrou was caught simply for suspicious behaviour near a mall. The families of the victims called for him to be publicly stoned, but instead the government granted the male relatives of the victims a belt lash before Khoshrou’s public execution in front of over ten thousand citizens. After being lashed 214 times, a rope was wrapped round his neck, and Khoshrou was raised high into the air via a construction crane, until death.
13. Ted Bundy
Connected to at least 36 murders, but thought to have committed closer to 100, Bundy was a fan of knives at the age of three, and come high school was a peeping Tom and a thief to boot. After a painful break-up during university, Bundy set out to become the best him he could be: acting more confident, engaging people better, getting recommendations to law school from republican governors… Ted was doing well. That being said, he began targeting attractive students with long, dark hair (usually a very close match to his former lover), luring them to his car by faking an injury, or needing some form of help. Binding, raping, then beating them to death, Bundy’s spree went unnoticed for quite some time. However, keeping handcuffs, a mask, a crowbar, and rope in his trunk, the police, after pulling him over and searching his car, took him in and began to connect him to a great many crimes. Carrying a psychology degree, it’s very interesting that Bundy never stopped to analyze himself, and how he clearly was manifesting his anger towards his former lover through rape and murder. He was given to the Florida electric chair ‘Old Sparky’.
12. Ronald Domonique
Also known as the ‘Bayou Serial Killer’, was a gay man who, rather than seeking out men to form relationships with, decided it would be easier to frequent gay bars, looking to pick up men who would have sex with him for money. Barring that, he would find straight men, from the comfort of his car, and offer them sex with a fictional young woman. After acquiring a man, Dominique would make to tie them up. If they refused, they often found themselves, unbeknownst to them, narrowly escaping rape and murder. Allowing themselves to be tied up, Dominique would rape the men, and then murder them by strangling or suffocation to avoid jail time for having raped someone, dumping the bodies in cane fields, and similar places. Caught following an investigation after a man, refusing to be tied up, went to the police about the sexual deviant, Dominique confessed to twenty three murders, avoiding, miraculously, the death penalty, but sentenced to serve eight light sentences in prison. It’s not likely that he’ll be going anywhere soon.
11. Robert Hansen
This man, “spurned” by women in his youth, is perhaps the most terrifying hunter on the list, if for no other reason than he would hunt his victims like he was hunting for deer. During pipeline construction in Alaska, the “Butcher Baker” (Hansen the owner of a bakery) took stock of how often people appeared for money, then disappeared after making a killing (no pun intended). Focusing on strippers and hookers, Hansen, unbeknownst to his wife and kids, would kidnap the poor girls, rape them, then fly them over the Alaskan wilderness, leave them in the middle of nowhere, then return to hunt them down with his rifle. In and out of the legal system for arson, larceny, and kidnapping, it’s amazing that Hansen was not sooner picked up, but given strippers and hookers are clearly looked at as less important in terms of missing persons, he got away with seventeen murders, and many, many more rapes. Only twelve of the seventeen women he murdered have been found, and though it’s likely not the way the families of victims hoped him to go, Hansen died in prison not very long ago.
10. Pedro Lopez
Known as the “Monster of the Andes” Lopez is said to have killed more than three hundred people. From a young age, Lopez found himself homeless, and engaged in a life of violence and sexual abuse in his home country of Columbia. After being released from jail for his early criminal life, Lopez embarked on a killing spree between Columbia, Peru, and Ecuador. Targeting young girls of little means, Lopez would rape and murder these children, eventually getting caught by a local community, having tried to abduct a nine-year-old girl. Tribal law of the area sentencing him to be buried alive, a Western missionary convinced the people to turn him in to the Peruvian authorities who then deported him to Ecuador where he was charged with the murder of one hundred and ten girls, and sentenced to only sixteen years of prison time (their maximum sentence at the time). Released two years early for good behaviour, he was sent to Columbia, institutionalized for a year before deemed sane, and then he disappeared. One can’t help but wonder if, after likely killing near three hundred women, he should have been buried alive in Peru after all.
9. Moses Sithole
Thirty eight murders, and forty rapes under his belt, Moses Sithole is perhaps the most infamous serial killer in South Africa. The horrifying connection between so many of these killers is their insane desire to lay waste to women, as if they were hard put upon by them, and felt deserving of their attention simply be existing. Disgusting. Telling his first rape victims, whom he didn’t murder, stories about how hard done he was by his former girlfriend, Sithole joins the pantheon of insecure, and sexually frustrated idiots. Enticing his victims by offering them work, with the exception of a two-year-old that the man also murdered, Sithole was captured by way of his setting up interviews for his “applicants”. Finding mass graves and corpses bound to their beds via their underwear, the case was clear and, though the death penalty was abolished, Sithole was sentenced, HIV positive as he was, to 2,410 years in prison, with no chance of parole for 930 years. Though the meds made available to him in prison will keep him alive longer than the average citizen suffering from HIV, it’s unlikely he’ll make it to year 930.
8. Juana Barraza
The “Old Lady Killer” was once a professional wrestler, currently serving a sentence of 759 years, though Mexico’s maximum prison sentence is 60 years and she is not likely to see a life outside of prison ever again. Harbouring a great deal of disdain and hatred for her mother for trading her daughter’s body for beer, leading to her being reportedly raped many times, Barraza hunted women sixty years or older, bludgeoning them to death after having scoped them out on the street, gaining their trust and access to their homes by helping them with groceries, offering cleaning services, or posing as a nurse or social worker offering check-ups and welfare programs. Barraza did indeed rob her victims, but it seems that was very much a secondary purpose, caring more about the incredible pain she inflected on helpless old women than what she could make from them after the fact. Accused of forty deaths, and only admitting to one, Barraza was found guilty of sixteen charges of murder and aggravated burglary, including eleven separate accounts of murder.
7. Jeffrey Dahmer
A raging alcoholic by the age of eighteen, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer killed his first victim, hitchhiker Steven Hicks, just before shipping off to Germany after enlisting. Alleged to have murdered again in Germany, nothing was ever proven, and only just over two years into his service, Dahmer was discharged for his drinking. Several years after, taking a man with him to a hotel room to get plastered, Dahmer woke to his dead partner, not recalling the actions of the night. Dismembering, and masturbating over the corpse, Dahmer then disposed of the body, and for the next thirteen years, engaged in a killing spree. Murdering seventeen men and boys, predominantly African-American, Dahmer would select his victims from the fringes of society so as to minimize his chances of being caught for raping, lobotomizing, murdering, dismembering, ejaculating over, and even eating his victims. Keeping parts of the bodies for trophies, Dahmer also engaged in necrophilia before dismemberment, and though it took many close calls to finally catch him, he was convicted, and sentenced to sixteen life terms, though he was murdered by an inmate who didn’t like listening to Dahmer’s stories…
6. The Green River Killer
Gary Ridgway, also known as the “Green River Killer”, sought out predominantly non-white prostitutes, raped them, murdered them, then disposed of them in the now infamous Green River area. A married man who held the same job for thirty years, felt he was doing the authorities a favour, picking hookers not only because of the unlikely missing persons ad to follow them, but also because of his personal hatred of hookers, not wanting to pay for sex (even though he was married), and thinking he was cleaning the streets for the authorities who could clean up near as quickly or in the same way. Pleading guilty to forty eight counts of aggravated, first-degree murder, Ridgway went to serve his life sentence (avoiding the death penalty for his cooperation in pointing out the locations of bodies), holding his head high, loving what he called his job, ridding the world of filth. Claiming to have murdered seventy five to eighty women, Ridgway raped and murdered girls as young as fifteen years old. Another body surfacing in 2011, the “Green River Killer” was handed another life sentence.
5. Colin Ireland
Colin Ireland, also known as the “Gay Slayer” was criminal from a very early age, convicted of theft, burglary, and blackmail in his teenage years. In and out of marriage, unsure of his direction in life, Ireland decided to try his hand at serial murder, training his focus on homosexual sadomasochists: people who were less likely to be missed (as is so common with these cowardly criminals), and people who were more likely to be accepting of being bound, making would-be victims less likely to look for help as well, given England’s law against sadomasochistic sex acts. Making it a New Year’s resolution to become a serial killer, Colin Ireland targeted five gay men, went back with them to their homes, or hotel rooms, bound them, strangled them, cleaned the scene, leaving teddy bears or dead cats in odd sexual positions near or on the corpses (with exception to one case where he set the dead man’s apartment on fire). Seemingly wanting to be caught, Ireland continued to call and coax the authorities who failed to initially make a connection between the first two murders. Eventually turning himself in, and confessing, Ireland was sentenced to five life terms with no chance for parole… killing only once again, a child-murderer in prison.
4. The Craigslist Killer
Richard Beasley, not to be confused with the “Craiglist Killer” Philip Markoff who killed only one person, before killing himself awaiting trial, was a self-proclaimed street preacher who owned 688 acres of land, where he liked to take his victims to do the deed. Only just making the official three kills to be called a serial killer, Beasley, after asking his daughter how to use Craigslist, and enlisting the help of sixteen-year-old Brogan Rafferty (playing Beasley’s nephew), offered a job online to people who wanted to live on a ranch, taking care of cattle, living in a modest trailer, with a decent amount of pay per week. Interviewing these men through email, and meeting with men he’d hired who all happened to be single, middle-aged men looking for solitude, Beasley would drive the men out to his property, pull over on some pretense, and shoot his victims in the back of the head. Seemingly no reason for these killings, other than joy, a single shot jamming on his would-be fourth victim, Beasley lost one, and his accomplice Rafferty, came forward, earning a life sentence, while Beasley, who still denies any guilt in the murders, faces the death penalty.
3. The B.T.K. Killer
Dennis Rader, the “Bind, Torture, Kill” serial killer had a disturbing childhood fascination with hanging cats and dogs, fantasizing over bondage and torture, that was surprisingly left unnoticed. Working a job installing home alarm systems, it seemed too perfect for Rader not to take advantage of. Scouting neighbourhoods, and daydreaming of committing violence on select people, he would cut their alarm systems, sneak into their homes, then murder them one by one, preferring to bind and strangle them, sometimes ejaculating on the corpses, photographing them, and reenacting the murder scenes, himself playing the role of the victims. Sending taunting letters to the media and the authorities, Rader claimed the B.T.K. title himself. A scout leader, prominent member of his church, and dear husband and father, Rader slipped up by sending a floppy disk with his dark writings on it to the police, which was then traced to the computer of his church. Never spoken to again by his family, and charged with the murder of ten people, as young as nine years old, and as old as sixty, the B.T.K. killer was given ten life sentences, and will be eligible for parole in 2180.
2. Anthony Sowell
Also known as the “Cleveland Strangler”, Anthony Sowell was charged with eighty five counts of murder, rape, and kidnapping, including those of the eleven women found scattered about his putrid-smelling home (though the scent was blamed on the sausage shop across the street for a long time). Placing an ad online, posing as a master looking for a slave to “train”, Sowell lured African-American women, most of whom were on the fringes of society, and often had criminal records themselves (the favoured method of exercising power, and escaping capture), bound them, raped them, abused the corpses, dismembered them, and then buried them in shallow graves in his basement and backyard, as well as simply storing them in a crawlspace in his house. Having violently raped his last would-be victim, she woke up in the home, and managed to flee as Sowell was out, informed the police who then discovered the bodies of eleven women, and captured Sowell himself two days later. He currently awaits the death penalty.
1. The Highway Of Tears
The “Highway of Tears” is a 724km stretch of highway in British Columbia, where over forty alleged deaths, on the side of the highway, and elsewhere not far from the stretch, have been committed. The most frightening part of this large stretch of the Yellowhead Highway 16, is that there is no murderer to have been caught to date, and while the RCMP has only acknowledged eighteen women to have disappeared or been found murdered here (the majority of whom are first nations women), the locals plead for aid for many, many more cases. A Bobby Jack Fowler has been suspected of many of the murders, but with no evidence to convict him, followed by his subsequent death in an Oregon prison, all of these crimes remain unsolved, and more are discovered every year. Whether or not these killings have been made by the same person, hunting transient, or solitary women, or if there are a number of highway murderers along Yellowhead 16 remains a mystery, but make no mistake, this harrowing, and haunting stretch of highway remains dangerous to this day, and now over 1,200 indigenous women have been murdered or have gone missing in Canada in the past thirty years of investigation.