True crime seems to have reached peak interest among people, with a number of podcasts and documentaries coming out of the woodwork to satisfy people’s morbid curiosity in humanity’s greatest monsters. Podcasts like My favorite Murder, have adoring fans that call themselves “murderinos” and pore over details of unsolved cases and send in their hometown murders to be shared on the show. Just in the past year, documentaries like O.J. Made in America, Making a Murderer, two documentaries on Jon Benet Ramsay and the upcoming HBO Beware the Slender Man have received critical and popular acclaim.
When it comes to true crime, often the same mass killers come up again and again. The indecipherability of a person like Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson or Ted Bundy will never close its sheen. Even if we learn all the details of the crimes, we understand the social and biological reasons to lead them to their life of murder the fact remains: for most of us, to gleefully and sadistically kill another human being is unfathomable, so we obsess over those who are capable of it. While most violent crimes are committed by those closest to us, we obsess over the unpredictable crimes committed by monsters that we will likely never encounter.
While many focus on the same big names over and over, there are a surprising number of truly awful serial killers who continue to fly under the radar. For Murderinos and the curious alike, this list explores some lesser known serial killers.
20. The Acid Bath Murderer – Killed At Least 6
John George Haigh (aka the Acid Bath Murderer) was an english serial killer active during the 1940s. As his name suggests, he would dispose of the bodies of his victims in vats of acid – believing that would destroy all the evidence of his horrendous crimes. He would murder his victims by shooting or battering them to death, and would live on the proceeds of his profits after selling their possessions. A con artist and a fraud who was frequently in and out of jail, John was eventually accused and convicted of committing 6 murders – though it’s believed he committed more than that. John was eventually caught when he was connected to his last victim, a wealthy widow. He claimed insanity, saying he was driven mad by childhood nightmares, but was committed to death and was hanged in 1949.
19. The Pedrinho Matador – Killed 100+
Pedro Rodrigues Filho, known as The Pedrinho Matadar, is one of the most prolific killers on this list. Sentenced to serve 128 years in prison for committing 71 murders, it’s believed he could have committed well over 100 murders during his lifetime. Like many serial killers, Pedro received a blow to the head at a young age (in utero to be precise), which is included in the FBI profile for serial killers. He lived a lifetime of criminality, and apparently committed his first murder as a teen – killing the deputy mayor of his small town, who had fired his father from his job. By the time he was just eighteen it was believed he had murdered at least ten people. This was just the beginning for Pedro though, who would commit patricide next. After his father brutally murdered Pedro’s mother with a machete, Pedro, in turn, killed his dad and even cut out a piece of his heart which he reportedly chewed up and spit out. Strangely enough, most of Pedro’s murders would take place while he was behind bars as it’s believed he’s killed at least 47 fellow inmates. Due to some pretty lenient laws in Brazil, Pedro was actually released in 2007 but by 2011 he was arrested again for false imprisonment and inciting a riot.
18. The Boy Hunter – Killed 100+
Javed Iqbal, known as Pakistan’s worst serial killer, was sentenced to death in 2000 and the judge didn’t take any mercy. For murdering over 100 young boys, Iqbal also known as The Boy Hunter was, according to The Guardian, was sentenced “to be strangled with an iron chain, chopped into pieces and dissolved in acid.” Somehow, as awful as that is – it seems pretty lenient given the horrors of his crimes. Iqbal was only caught because he had sent an anonymous letter to the police claiming to his crimes of murdering and sexually abusing runaway boys. He claimed his crimes were revenge for abuse at the hands of the police in the past… while piles of children’s clothing were found in his home, there was no forensic evidence and he later claimed to have made up the whole thing to highlight the issue of missing children in Pakistan.
17. Monster of the Andes – Killed 300+
South American serial killers don’t seem to waste any time, and the Columbian Pedro Alonso Lopez also known as the Monster of the Andes killed at least 300 people. After a difficult childhood wrought with sexual abuse, violence and homelessness Pedro spent several years in prison during his young adulthood. After his release, his spree murders begun – where he targeted young women and girls in Peru and Ecuador. He specifically targeted less privileged and native girls, believing that it would be easier to get away with his brutal r*pes and murders – he was right. Though he was captured by one of the tribes after trying to kidnap a 9 year old girl and they decided to bury him alive as a punishment, a Christian missionary convinced them to hand him over to the police, who extradited him to Columbia and he was released on just $50 bail in 1998. He’s been seen a couple of times since and has even been tied to other murders, but his whereabouts are currently unknown.
16. The Shoe-Fetish Slayer – Killed 4
Known as The Shoe-Fetish Slayer, Jerome Brudos was a fetishistic, a sadist and a necrophiliac. Growing up he suffered abuse at the hands of his mother who always wanted a girl who consistently ignored and belittled him. He apparently started stalking girls in his teens and at seventeen was caught keeping teenagers as sex slaves which sent him straight off to the mental hospital. He committed his crimes during the late 1960s, targeting women and stealing their shoes. At first, the only evidence the police were relying on was the reported sighting of a large man dressed in women’s clothes and high heels. Brudos kept trophies of his crimes, like photographs and severed body parts. Police investigations eventually led to Brudos who confessed in startlingly detail to his crimes. He died in prison in March of 2006.
15. The Kindly Killer – Chopped and Boiled 15
Dennis Nilsen murdered, abused and dismembered fifteen young men between 1978 and 1983. Called the Kindly Killer because he would offer places to stay to homeless or runaway youths, before murdering them by strangulation. He’d sometimes keep the dead bodies around for weeks or months, having sex with their corpses or regularly talking to them. At first he burned the bodies when he was down for them but soon that became impossible. He started to cut them up (he had precise butcher skills, he used to work as a chef), boil them and flush down their boiled up remains down the toilet. Since this clogged the pipes a sanitation worker was called in. Upon finding human remains in the drain, the sanitation worker contacted the police which led to Nilsen’s arrest in 1983. He is now serving life in prison.
14. The Green River Killer – Killed 80+
Gary Ridgway is currently serving 49 consecutive life sentences for the murder of 49 women. Since he’s been incarcerated he has claimed that number doesn’t reflect the true nature of his murders, saying he killed at least 40 more women than he first claimed. Known as the Green River Killer, Ridgway was a Seattle-area truck painter who used to pick up prostitutes and runaways who would be never seen again. He would strangle his victims and dump them along the Green River, which is how he got his name. While he had long been the suspect in a number of local murders, there was never enough evidence to pin any crime on him. It was only in 2001 that DNA evidence had advanced enough to definitely tie him to four murders. It was on confessions to the police that he admitted to 45 more — and later in prison when he found God and was searching for forgiveness that he admitted to having killed another 40 women at least.
13. The Trailside Killer – Killed At Least 10
David Carpenter also known as the Trailside killer or the Point Reyes killer was once suspected to be the Zodiac killer. Not filling the bill of most serial killers, he was arrested for the first time at 33 years old for attacking a woman with a hammer and knife. He was arrested again for kidnapping shortly after a premature release and it was during this period that the police seriously thought he could be the Zodiac – as far as anyone knows though, he hadn’t committed any murders up until this point (he was cleared by the mid-1970s of Zodiac killings as well). Carpenter would attack his victims to Mount Tamalpais in California, usually shooting and sometimes stabbing them. He would often r*pe his female victims as well. He became more reckless though, and attacked a co-worker – her boyfriend, suspecting something was wrong, confronted Carpenter. Carpenter shot the boyfriend but he survived and was able to identify him, leading to his arrest. He is currently on death row for the killing of at least ten people – as recently as 2010 new accusations have leveled upon him tying him to more murders and disappearances during the 1980s.
12. The Sunset Strip Slayer – Killed At Least 6
The Sunset Strip Slayer is officially more of a duo of killers. Doug Clark and Carol Bundy were lovers when he went on a murder spree in 1980, killing at least seven women. Clark was a sadist, necrophiliac, and a control freak. Carol was a former nurse who said she was obsessively in love with Doug and would sometimes join him on his drives along the Sunset Strip where they would pick up women and girls to kill. It would be Carol herself who would end the murders though, as she would turn Doug Clark into the police one day in the early 1980s. She told them, “a situation that started out as a fantasy … just got badly out of control.” Carol died in prison, while Doug Clark is on death row at San Quentin.
11. The Riverside Prostitute Killer – 22 Killed
Bill Suff was described as a “nice guy.” Beloved in his community, Lake Elsinore, he worked with customers at a local service center in the once-booming resort town. Locals said he would buy soda for the kids and would kindly volunteer to babysit when parents were caught in a bind. Suff though, had a deep dark secret: he was the Riverside Prostitute Killer. Accused of killing at least nineteen women, mostly drug addicts and sex workers, Suff would strangle or stab his victims and later dump the bodies in a rural area. Long before he was killing women on the streets though, he had already served time for murdering his own child in a fit of rage: he had beaten his two-month-old daughter so severely her liver ruptured. He was sentenced to 70 years in prison but was released after just ten years. He would go on to murder women, in what police believed was an attempt to retroactively dominate his first wife and mother of his child who divorced him while he was in prison.
10. The Koreatown Slasher – Killed At Least 7
In 1990, Joseph Danks admitted to killing six people in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Claiming that he was an “envoy from God to kill old people”, this was not the end of his carnage though. No one was safe around Joseph Danks, not his fellow inmates or his lawyers. He would go on to kill the inmate he shared a cell with. Later, he would smuggle in a copper wire into court, stabbing his lawyer near the eye. He had already stabbed one other lawyer assigned to him by the courts. He was sentenced to death for his crimes.
9. The Grim Sleeper – Killed At Least 10
Lonnie Franklin Jr. also known as the Grim Sleeper was convicted of murdering ten women, but many suspect he had dozens more victims. Many believe that Lonnie was able to get away with so many killings because he didn’t fit the typical serial killer profile, committing his first killing in his 30s and unlike most serial killers, who are white, Lonnie was black. Attacking mostly black women who were sex workers or homeless, the fact that he specifically targeted groups that the police doesn’t really pursue likely contributed to how he was able to get away with so many killings before getting caught. He was called the Grim Sleeper due to the apparently long break between killings, up to fourteen years in one case. Over two decades since his first murder, Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested in Los Angeles in 2010, and in May 2016 he was sentenced to death for 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder.
8. The Bayou Strangler – Killed 23+
If you guessed The Bayou Strangler was from Louisiana, you would be correct. Ronald Dominique was born and raised in the Southwestern part of the state, where he would go on to r*pe and murder up to 23 black men over a ten year period. Targeting men in gay clubs or pick up hitchhikers on the side of the road, he would lure them into his car where he would suffocate them. In the case where he convinced his victims he would pay them for sex, he often would ask to tie them up, before he’d r*pe and murder them. He claimed the reason he would murder his victims was to avoid jail – fearing his victims would report that he had r*ped them, he killed them so they couldn’t report his crimes to the police. He was convicted to life in prison.
7. The Scorecard Killer – Killed 60+
Randy Kraft was a numbers man. He worked in computer programming where he seemed to live a pretty normal life. While he was only convicted of 16 murders, its believed that number could be well over 60. We know this because of his name, he kept extensive coded journals of all his killings and connected crimes. He would specifically target homosexuals, and would often torture and maim his victims – often while they were alive. He would be eventually captured when the police pulled him over for driving erratically, and one of his victims was dead in the car with him – strangled to death with a belt. In spite of the overwhelming evidence (much of it documented by himself), strangely enough, Randy Kraft has never admitted to any of his crimes, to this day maintaining his innocence while he sits on death row.
6. The Alphabet Murders Killer – Killed At Least 4
The Alphabet Murders took place in Rochester, New York during the 1970s. The suspect was never caught but got his infamous title due to the strange similarity all his young victims shared: all their names had the same letter for their first and last name, all the victims were also found in towns with the same letter: Carmen Colon was found in Churchville Michelle Maenza in Macedo and Wanda Walkowicz in Webster. Some investigators have tied some possible murders in California to the Alphabet Killers, but it’s still not known if they were committed by the same person. Though, aside from the fact that all the victims from California also shared the same initials as their first and last name, one of the victims found in California was also named Carmen Colon! In 2011, Joseph Naso, a Rochester native, was convicted in California of 4 killings that fit the profile of the Alphabet Murders.
5. The Bedroom Basher – Killed At Least 6
If you’ve ever read Kafka’s The Trial and had nightmares about waking up and suddenly being on trial for a crime you didn’t commit, the story of the Bedroom Basher will keep you up at night. Kevin Green served time for r*ping and beating his pregnant wife, killing their unborn child and it turns out, he never committed the crime, though the wife was convinced it was her husband since they had fought earlier that evening. It turns out Green’s wife had an encounter with a serial killer, The Bedroom Basher, who was stalking Orange County during the 1970s. DNA connected the man known as Gerald Parker, who was responsible for at least five other women during the era, and who is now serving time on death row. Kevin Green served sixteen years for a crime he did not commit.
4. The Black Widow – Killed At Least 3
In 1998, Judy Buenoano, a 54 year old grandmother from Florida was strapped to the electric chair and killed for her crimes. The first woman to be killed in the State of Florida since the pre-war era, Judy Buenoano, also known as The Black Widow, targeted those closest to her. Former husbands, boyfriends and even her son died at her hands. Before their deaths, she would take out large insurance policies and cash in big for accidental and unexpected death bonuses. She often used poison on her victims, though was accused of drowning her 19-year-old son, who suffered from a handicap. She was only caught when her fiancee survived a failed car-bombing at her hands – which led investigators to dig deep into her past and unnerve a macabre treasure trove of murder.
3. The ABC Killer – Killed 38+
Not to be confused with the Alphabet Murders, the ABC Killer hails from South Africa and not Rochester. Moses Sithole started committing r*pes on women which led him to be convicted in 1989. Realizing that the cause of his arrest was that he had a witness left to pin the crime on him, he began killing his victims. Moses was known as the ABC Killer because by coincidence or orchestration, it seemed as though while he was moving from town to town it would first be a city starting with the letter A, then B, then you get the picture. While Moses was eventually found guilty of 38 murders and 40 r*pes, many believe the number to be much larger than that. Horrifically, most of his crimes took place within the span of just one year.
2. The Vampire of Sacramento – Killed At Least 6
Richard Trenton Chase, an emaciated Sacramento resident is responsible for one of the most baffling and horrific spree killings in contemporary history. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he’d find his way in and out of mental hospitals – consistently bailed out by his mother. His mom didn’t like the idea of him being locked up but couldn’t stand to be around him either, so she rented him a small apartment where he’d be out of her hair. Here he continued his gruesome experiments, mostly involving rabbits he’d buy from a nearby farm. He’d kill and consume them in a variety of ways, including putting them alive and whole into a blender and drinking the contents later. He’d also inject himself with their blood, beginning his experiments that would turn to humans. Most infamously he broke into a home and murdered a pregnant woman, her six-year-old and a friend of the family – draining their blood and drinking it. As fate would have it, on that particular day, he had run into a girl who had formerly gone to school with who would later tie him to the murders and lead to his capture. While Chase has only been accused of six murders, they are gruesome enough to warrant a high ranking. Eerily, on the day of the murder and over a dozen subsequent days over the following month, the days on Chase’s calendar were marked with a red pen – making police believe this was just the beginning of what he had in mind.
1. The House of Horrors – Killed 10+
The couple who lived in the so-called House of Horrors, Rosemary and Fred West, would kill 10 people over the course of twenty years – two of which were family members. Their victims were teen girls (or, in some cases, their own daughters) that they would lure into the house, tie up and leave there. They would r*pe and torture their victims until they grew bored, killing them and burying their body parts in various parts of their home and yard. Rosemary was the first of the pair suspected of murder, as while Fred was in prison it’s believed she killed one of her step-daughters – it’s rumored that Rosemary was also responsible for the death of the girl’s mother, who was last seen going to pick up the recently murdered girl. Rosemary’s father was also involved, at least tangentially, making trips to the house over the years to have sex with his daughter – while Fred watched through one of many peepholes he had set up in the house. They were only caught when one of Fred’s daughters claimed in 1992 that he had r*ped and recorded it on tape, when the police arrived… they found something far worse than they could have ever imagined. Fred killed himself in prison, Rosemary is serving life for ten murders.