Throughout the ages, there have been a great many killers around the world. Indeed, serial killers have been active for centuries now, and there seems no real way to put a finger on just who might become one (many killers leading such diverse, and often seemingly happy and normal lives).
If that notion is not terrifying enough, in the United States alone, it is likely that there are twenty-five to fifty active serial killers at any one time. That might not seem like a lot in a country with a population over near 320 million, but take into account the math… A number of serial killers have been accused of upwards of 300 deaths. Even just taking the middle of the road approximation, that means that there could be over five thousand victims in total from serial killers all across the U.S. That’s just one country, and with fewer than fifty people committing the crimes.
Thankfully, there are the brave, and/or lucky few who have escaped the clutches of their would-be killers, who have gone on to help convict these monsters or lecture about personal safety and the importance of awareness. Below are fifteen survivors who went through hell, and had terrifying stories to tell.
15. He Hid From Richard Beasly In The Woods Bleeding For 7 Hours
This villainous-looking Santa Claus is Richard Beasley. This man was convicted for the murders of three men, which he committed with the aid of his teenage accomplice Brogan Rafferty (who was only sixteen years old). Luring men into the woods via a Craigslist ad regarding caring for a large piece of property, it was easy enough for Beasley to get the guys alone and away from earshot.
Scott Davis, hooked by the same ad and seeking a peaceful job in the middle of nowhere, met with Beasley and Rafferty, and hopped in their vehicle to supposedly go and see the property. On the pretense of checking for some equipment on the side of the road, Beasley manages to get behind Davis and…
“The hair just stood up on the back of my neck and I said, man something definitely just went wrong, when I heard that click. I spun around immediately and when I spun around he already had that gun back up.”
By sheer chance, the gun jammed on the first shot. The second would shatter Davis’ elbow, but he still managed to flee into the woods (terrified in knowing that the man hunting him would know the place better than he). Hiding in a creek for seven hours so as to stop the trail of blood (in case of hunting dogs), Davis realized he would bleed out if he didn’t seek help. Trudging seven miles, bleeding the whole time, he at last made it to a country home, where everyone came out of the woodwork to help. To make up for the nightmares Beasley has caused him since, Davis had this to say to his would-be killer: “I will be there if you get the death penalty, smiling with last words. ‘You’ll remember this face.'”
14. Ted Bundy Did It All So Quickly
Anyone who is even slightly versed in serial killer history, has at least heard the name Ted Bundy. This dashing man had the world in the palm of his hand…for a time. After he was imprisoned the first time, he actually managed to escape and went about a brief rampage before finally being brought to justice…again.
Having stolen a car, Bundy headed for a sorority house to have some fun. In less than fifteen minutes, Bundy had entered the house, assaulted four women, and made a break for it (to eventually murder a twelve-year-old girl, before capture). One of the sorority sisters was Kathy Kleiner. So fast, and forceful was Bundy in this assault that he managed to shatter her jaw, and deeply cut into her shoulder. This might not seem so terrifying, given the brevity and relatively minor injuries in comparison to death, but add to this fifteen minutes of horror the fact that two of the other women were murdered in front of her, and that she now had to live with not only her injuries, but also the nightmares of an incident that came like a bolt from the blue…One is inclined to say both the incident and the remainder of her life, will be lived with some degree of horror.
13. The Railway Killer Smashed Her BF’s Head With A Rock In Front Of Her
Having strayed from a university party with her boyfriend Chris, Holly Dunn and her sweetheart took a stroll along the nearby railroad tracks. If only they had known they’d come across the ‘Railway Killer’. Angel Resendiz stepped onto the tracks in front of the couple, ice pick in hand, and demanded their money. Not satisfied, Resendiz bound both Chris and Holly, and tossed them into the ditch alongside the tracks. “It seemed unreal. Five minutes earlier I’d been laughing and flirting. Now I was frozen with terror.”
It didn’t take long for Resendiz to join them in the ditch, with a very large rock. He used this to cave in the head of Dunn’s boyfriend. She begged him to turn Chris’ head to the side to prevent him from choking on the blood he was then gurgling, but Resendiz simply said, “He’s gone.” The murderer then stabbed Dunn in the neck with the ice pick and raped her.
Once he’d had his fill, he repeatedly struck her head with a chunk of wood and left her there to die. Luckily, Dunn awoke some time later, eye smashed in, bleeding from the neck, with cuts and bruises all about her. She found her way to safety, and though she did transfer school to study abroad and away from the killer-at-large, she did eventually face him in court. So stricken by terror was she when she saw Resendiz again, Dunn had to be carried from the witness stand, shaking uncontrollably. She is now married with children, but still keeps a photo of her deceased boyfriend close at hand. Resendiz was executed, but though he may be gone, “the sound of that rock hitting Christopher’s head” will never leave Holly Dunn.
12. She Accepted A Ride From A Stranger, Who Was Gary Ridgway
Ok, so perhaps Rebecca Garde wasn’t exactly the most straight and narrow sort of girl, but of course that does not justify any one of the actions of Gary Ridgway, who was convicted of killing forty-eight women, once he had finally been brought to justice. Garde was one of sixteen women in the same area of Seattle to be picked up by Ridgway, but she would be one of the only ones to be able to identify him and help eventually build the case against him.
Having finished work, waiting by a bus stop in the rain, she was offered a ride by who seemed to be an alright man (or at least one of relatively sound mind). Happy to hop in, Garde proceeded to offer sex in exchange for twenty dollars, so that she could purchase some weed once she returned home. Ridgway accepted the deal (though he didn’t expect her to return home, of course). Suggesting they head into the woods off the highway for some privacy, the two wandered into the forest. Ridgway then grabbed Garde from behind and made to strangle her. Garde managed to push Ridgway into a tree, and she took off in the direction of a nearby trailer to seek help. Ridgway fled and Garde kept silent for two years due to her rather illicit lifestyle and aversion to the authorities.
11. Bryan Hartnell – Would-Be Victim Of The Zodiac Killer
Anyone who knows a bit about serial killers will know the Zodiac Killer…or rather, will know that no one truly knows who the Zodiac Killer is (though there is much speculation and a few credible suspects). Bryan Hartnell was a part of one of the couples hunted by the Zodiac. Having driven out to a beautiful lake with his girlfriend Cecilia Shepard, Hartnell thought to enjoy the scenery and the solitude with her.
The hooded and armed Zodiac Killer had other plans. Brandishing a gun, the Zodiac forced the couple from the car, put them to the ground, and ten pulled a knife with which he stabbed the couple repeatedly. On what was to be her death bed, in the hospital shortly after the attack, Shephard was able to give a description of the assailant. Hartnell had not gotten the chance to see the man, and would never come to know the one responsible for killing his girlfriend. Bryan has moved on, though, and is married with children, but surely that day still haunts him and will forever be a part of his life (however normal it may be now).
10. She Was Thrown Down A Well By The Chessboard Killer
The infamous Chessboard Killer needn’t have been on the loose and suspected of forty-eight murders. Much of the pain and suffering people went through could have been avoided, had one survivor been truly listened to. Maria Viricheva had the unfortunate experience of encountering Alexander Pichushkin. Having had a dreary day, fighting with her boyfriend and unsure if she would still have a job come morning (he being the one to have gotten it for her), Maria was consoled by Pichushkin at a local metro station.
Mentioning that he had some stolen cameras hidden in a park nearby, he offered to give her some to sell. Reaching a well in said park, Maria was told to look into the well, and Pichushkin shoved her in. Managing to hold on to the edge of the well to prevent herself from falling in, Viricheva then had her head smashed on the well wall several times by Pichushkin, before she was forced to let go, into the water. Falling thirty feet into a swift current, she was pulled by the water until she barely was able to grab hold at an entrance to another well. Climbing to the exit, she could not lift the well cover, and had to scream until someone heard and helped her out. When she went to the police, for some ungodly reason, they had her sign a statement saying that she had fallen down the well all by herself, and they did not investigate. Eventually, once Pichushkin was arrested for suspicion of so many murders, Maria was brought in to identify the man.
9. She Was Almost Home When Robert Black Tried To Throw Her Into His Van
Thankfully, in this case, Robert Black actually caused little to no physical harm to the would-be victim, Teresa Thornhill. Fifteen at the time, Teresa was just walking home (and was indeed just about there) when Black, who emerged from a van right by her house asked the little girl if she knew anything about engines (pretending to have car trouble). When she came towards him, Black grabbed her arms by her sides, and covered her mouth. Struggling as Black tried to put her in the van, Thornhill managed to bite her attacker’s arm and scream so that a nearby neighbour came running to her aid.
Black dropped the girl and fled the scene. Immediately running home to call the police, they could not apprehend the attacker. After two years of seclusion (rarely daring to go outside), Teresa Thornhill testified against Black after he had killed three people. Once he was in prison for the murders and attempted kidnapping of Thornhill, Black was also convicted of the murder of a nine-year-old girl. Thornhill may have been lucky in that she managed to survive the murderer’s attack, but surely a life lived in fear of going outside is hardly a life one wants to live.
8. Richard Ramirez Beat Her With A Tire Iron And Tried To Strangle Her With A Telephone Cord
The so-called “Night Stalker”, Richard Ramirez was convicted of thirteen counts of murder, and almost just as many counts of sexual assault, and that’s not to mention attempted murder and burglary.
The unlucky Whitney Bennett, only sixteen at the time of attack, was confronted with Ramirez after he broke into her home. Beating her savagely and repeatedly with a tire iron, the Night Stalker then made to strangle the young, teenaged Bennett with a telephone cord. Thankfully, Ramirez reportedly being a Satan worshiper of some degree, believed that Jesus was attempting to put a stop to his assault, as sparks flew from the phone cord. Realistically, he was likely shorting out the cord by pulling on it so hard, thusly causing sparks, but as he released and Bennett gasped to catch her breath, Ramirez fled the scene.
In his rush, he left quite a bit of evidence for authorities to use in catching and convicting him. Who would have suspected that a killer’s silly beliefs would be what might save a would-be victim? Whitney Bennett survived, but she was significantly damaged from the beating (needing 478 stitches to close the wounds on her head).
7. She Hid Under The Bed As Her Friends Were Assaulted And Murdered By Richard Speck
Corazon Atienza answered the door of her apartment one night, never thinking it would be mass murderer, Richard Speck, waiting on the other side. Forcing his way in with gun in hand, Speck proceeded to tie up the girls, and gather them in the living room. Though he first promised not to hurt the girls, he quickly began raping, stabbing, and mutilating each one of the girls. Able to position herself under a bed in the room, Atienza lay there, bound, and silent while her roommates screamed, and were raped and tortured, even at one point on the bed under which she lay.
After six hours of cowering in fear as her roommates were each brutally raped and murdered, Atienza was granted freedom as Speck (who was also intoxicated during the event), clearly forgot that he had tied up another girl. Running from her apartment, screaming bloody murder, Atienza was cared for and taken to the police. Realizing that he left one of the girls alive, Speck attempted suicide, was taken to the hospital and was subsequently arrested. It took the jury less than an hour to convict the man of his heinous crimes, sentencing him to death by the chair. However, his sentence was then changed to eight terms of fifty to one hundred years each, consecutively.
6. Dean Carter Assaulted Her For 5 Hours And She Pretended To Like It
Dean Carter, convicted of murdering five people, and of raping Rose Steward, was sentenced to spend the rest of his days on death row. Having broken into Steward’s home, he woke the young woman with a knife to her throat and proceeded to brutally rape her for hours…over five hours. So intense and brutal was the onslaught that Steward reportedly lost consciousness twice during the assault.
Given that Carter’s m.o. was to rape, then murder his victims, what is it that could have possibly caused Carter to spare the life of Rose Steward? Not only did she have to go through a harrowing five-hour rape and assault, but Steward swallowed her pride, and acted as though she liked Carter, which ultimately resulted in her living to see another day. In the end, it was Steward’s testimony that ensured Carter’s death penalty sentence. In spite of that fact, Steward has lobbied against the death penalty regardless of what has happened to her. Firm in her beliefs against the death penalty, even in the case of her rape, torture, humiliation, and near death, Rose Steward maintains that Carter should not be put to death. Surely the families of the murdered victims disagree to some extent, but the strength that is Rose Steward, to be able to survive such an ordeal, and still rail against the death penalty, is astounding.
5. Larry Flynt Was Crippled By Serial Killer Joseph Franklin
That’s right. Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine is indeed a survivor of a serial killer attack. True, this story reads more like an assassination attempt than an attack from a serial killer, but Joseph Paul Franklin, while a racist and bigoted serial killer, was still a serial killer nonetheless. Convicted of killing eight, and bragging of having killed many more in an effort to start a “race war”, Franklin was not pleased with Flynt’s publication of black and white people engaging in sexual acts together. This was back in 1978 when people were slightly more repressed, and still scared of interracial intercourse (in spite of the civil rights movement, started more than a decade before).
Both Flynt and his lawyer were shot, and Flynt ended up wheelchair-ridden and crippled. Much like Rose Steward, though without having endured hours of rape, Flynt has lobbied against the death penalty of his would-be killer. Though he was executed in 2013, Flynt had this to say about Franklin: “I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me. But, I do not want to kill him, nor do I want to see him die…I just don’t think that government should be in the business of killing people. And I think punishment by putting someone in a three-by-six cell is a lot greater than if you snuff out their life in a few seconds with a lethal injection.”
4. Dennis Rader Shot Him In The Face… Twice
“He may not get caught here, but one day he’ll be standing in front of the Lord for judgment.” This is what Kevin Bright had to say of the then unknown “BTK” Killer (now known to be Dennis Rader).
Caught only one year after some new evidence and a small resurgence of his antics came to light, Rader was given 175 years in prison, without parole, for having killed ten people. One of those people being Kevin’s sister, Kathryn Bright. Both entering Kathryn’s home, they were met by a stocking-clad, gun-wielding Rader. Being choked by Rader, Kevin struggled free, only to be shot twice in the face. Amazingly he was able to have awareness enough to play dead, and escape…having been shot in the face…twice!
His sister was not so lucky, having been stabbed eleven times in total and left to bleed out. It was days before Kevin discovered that his sister was in fact dead, and coming to grips with such an ordeal was not easy. He was only nineteen at the time. But now he both feels sorry for Rader, and believes he deserves the death penalty (feeling sorry for the judgment Bright feels Rader will get once he dies). However, all that really matters is the judgment received here in life. Still suffering from nerve damage from two gunshots to the face, Bright continues to pray for Dennis Rader.
3. The Happy Face Killer Tried To Assault Her… And Then Just Let Her Go
Daun Richert-Slagle is the only known survivor of the dreaded “Happy Face Killer” (so-called for the way he signed off on his letters to the authorities). This is perhaps the most unusual, and surely lucky entries on this list. Having just fought with her husband, Slagle ventured out with her baby to cool off and catch some air. Ending up in a parking lot of a well-lit and populated shopping centre that evening, Keith Hunter Jesperson (Happy Face) approached her.
They began to chat and he came across as a nice guy, sharing stories of his children and his recent divorce. Ending up chatting in his vehicle, just going for a friendly drive (don’t get in the car with strangers), Jesperson took them somewhere fairly remote and pulled over. Knowing something was going wrong, Slagle was then attacked by Jesperson. Over the course of three hours (who knows how it lasted that long without serious physical injury or death), Jesperson attempted to sexually assault Slagle, and in the scuffle, she lost hold of her baby, who fell to the floor of the vehicle. The baby crying, and Slagle pleading to be spared, somehow Jesperson stopped, drove the mother and child back to the lot they started at, and simply asked for her not to say anything.
Of course she ran to the police, and he was caught. He killed at least seven women between Slagle’s report and his being caught though. And after all of that, Slagle lost her baby anyway, thanks to her husband. Descending into drugs and losing her other children, she was featured on Oprah, trying to repair her tattered life. All from one man, one night.
2. Abducted At 11, Police Found Her On The Floor With A Bar Across Her Neck
Rodney Alcala was sentenced to death for the murder of four people, as well as various other crimes, but before he was caught, he turned his attention to then eleven-year-old Tali Shapiro. Walking to school, she was met on the road by Alcala who offered her a ride. Thankfully stating that she shouldn’t talk to strangers, she continued on. But Alcala insisted he knew the little girl’s parents, and as she approached the car, she was abducted and whisked away to Alcala’s home.
A witness to the abduction called the police immediately. Breaking down the door to Alcala’s place, the police found little Tali Shapiro on the floor, with a metal bar across her neck. Seemingly near death and clearly sexually assaulted, they rushed her to hospital, where she thankfully recovered. Once caught, Shapiro’s testimony would help in the conviction and sentencing of Rodney Alcala. Imagine…being only eleven when suddenly all innocence is forcibly stripped away, and nothing and no one ever seems quite the same ever again.
1. Her Friend Saved Her From An Abusive Father, But Led Her To A Killer
Having made a promise to her saviour to never share her story, Rhonda Williams finally, after forty years, dished details about her near death experience. Her saviour in this regard? A friend who was also responsible for her being in the situation in the first place, Elmer Henley. And with whom was he working? Dean Corll. Together, they killed twenty-nine young boys. Williams was constantly abused and raped by her father, and in a seeming effort to save her from another attack, Henley helped her escape her home, only to bring her to something that could have been far worse.
Partying with Corll, Henley, and several other boys until they passed out, Williams was kicked awake, to find herself bound, and the other boys being dragged and bound to boards. Henley and Corll began to torture the two boys, while Rhonda lay there, unable to escape, waiting her turn for torture and death. Instead, perhaps given that Williams had been his friend all this time (at least till now), Henley turned a gun on Corll and shot him dead. He then called the police and Williams survived the ordeal. Henley was sent to prison, and rumours began. Given that Williams still keeps in touch with Henley, there are those out there who suspect Williams as an accomplice…though if that were true, presumably she’d have killed her dad before anyone else. Imagine living with abuse, rape, witnessing torture, and death, and then being suspected of being a part of it all along…