What is it about pure evil that fascinates us as a society? Is it the belief that such evil exists only rarely that allows us to view it with a keen interest? Whether unbridled evil, or just mentally disturbed, society is both riveted and revolted by the lives and minds of people such as these: serial killers. Who are these people? And what drove them to commit such monstrous acts on their fellow human beings? One expert claims as many as 1 in 25 Americans is a sociopath, a person with no conscience whatsoever; a person who could just as soon slit your throat and then go out for a nice meal with family. Thankfully, many sociopaths aren’t violent. Chances are you know some already, kind of rude, maybe antisocial, but not violent. But this is not always the case, as sometimes these antisocial, disturbed individuals feel compelled to act out, to inflict pain and suffering on others. These are the serial killers.
Serial killers usually exude an air of normalcy on the surface, and can even be pleasant to be around. However, in private, when the drive to kill is strongest, these sociopaths lack the capability to control their evil desires, and they are compelled to murder. You’ve probably heard about Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, or even Richard Ramirez, but some of the serial killers listed here might not have got the big headlines, or have the highest body counts. They made this list because the sheer evil and brutality of their actions make them stand out even among the worst killers in history. Luckily, all of the people (a loosely-used term for these monsters) on this list have been caught, but it won’t make reading about their heinous crimes any less disturbing. If you’re ready, and not faint of heart, join us for 20 of the most terrifyingly evil serial killers you probably never knew about.
20. Donald Henry Gaskins (1933-1991)
A small man, Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins was the subject of ridicule and cruelty growing up in South Carolina, whether it was the daily school fights with other kids or his own stepfather’s constant abuse. At age 11, Gaskins quit school and joined up with a group of two other boys he had met. The trio began to commit burglaries, raping younger boys, and was eventually caught when they gang raped a young sister of one of the group. Gaskins ultimately went to reform school for burglarizing a home and almost beating to death a young girl who caught him in the act. While there, the diminutive Gaskins was a constant target for attacks and rape. In exchange for protection, he submitted to “willingly” have sex with the “Boss Boy.” Eventually, Gaskins was released and resumed his criminal activity. He soon received a five year sentence for attempted murder. In order to keep other inmates from targeting him, Gaskins killed a fellow prisoner, committing his first murder. He received a further six months on his sentence but in time was released.
In 1969, Gaskins picked up a female hitchhiker in North Carolina. He was angered when she laughed off his sexual advances. He beat her unconscious, raped, and tortured her. He then drowned her by dumping her weighed-down body into a swamp. This began a series of hitchhiker killings as he drove across the southern United States. He claimed he tortured and mutilated as many as 90 people. He was finally arrested in 1975, convicted of eight murders and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison without parole. While on death row, Gaskins violently killed another prisoner, for which he was again sentenced to death. Gaskins was executed by electric chair on September 6, 1991.
19. The Yorkshire Ripper
Peter William Sutcliffe (b. 1946) was dubbed “The Yorkshire Ripper” by the British press. In early 1981, he was convicted of brutally murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others. He mainly targeted the areas in and around Leeds, Yorkshire, Manchester, and Bradford in northern England. He was known for his viciousness in beating his victims with a hammer, while stabbing them with a screwdriver, and then used a knife to mutilate them. When he was finally caught, Sutcliffe, who began calling himself Peter Coonan, was sentenced to 20 life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Sutcliffe was a lorry driver and, after a bad experience with a prostitute, is believed to have begun targeting them for revenge. He developed an intense hatred for prostitutes and, from 1975 until 1981, targeted them for his sadistic pleasure. He was interviewed by the police numerous times about his possible involvement with the murders but was always able to provide a believable alibi. He was finally arrested when he was caught red-handed with a prostitute still in his car. He admitted that he was “The Yorkshire Ripper.”
Since the victims always had their stomach or torso badly mutilated, some believe Sutcliffe was acting out his anger over his wife’s inability to bear children, subconsciously using the excuse of a hatred for prostitutes. Some credence was given to this theory due to the first murder taking place shortly after he was informed of his wife’s condition. After his capture, Sutcliffe was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and remains under constant care while serving out his multiple life sentences in Broadmoor Maximum Security Mental Hospital.
18. The Casanova Killer
His name was Paul Knowles (1946-1974), “The Casanova Killer.” This Florida-native cut a swath of murder and mayhem as he went on a killing spree across the United States over a period of four months in 1974. His charismatic and winning personality allowed him to get close to and viciously murder men, women, and children indiscriminately. His methods varied, often strangling his victims, sometimes stabbing or shooting them, and almost always raping them first. For reasons unknown, he would sometimes release people unharmed who happened to be with the victims; other times, they would be brutally murdered as well. His youngest victim was an 11-year old girl, his oldest a 65-year old woman. Some of his victims would be hitchhikers, runaways, even nice middle-aged couples who befriended the amiable man. His victims included a Florida Highway Patrol trooper whom Knowles abducted, tied to a tree, and shot in the head. After murdering people in Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Texas, Alabama, and Virginia, Knowles’s spree would come to an end in Georgia.
In a stolen car, Knowles tried to break a roadblock in Georgia, but lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. He opened fire on the police and fled on foot. He was soon cornered by an armed civilian with a shotgun, who held him until police could arrive. Once in custody, Knowles admitted to being “The Casanova Killer” and claimed responsibility for over 35 murders; only 18 of which were corroborated. On December 18, 1974, Knowles was handcuffed in the back of a vehicle being driven by Sheriff Earl Lee and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Ronnie Angel. The group was on the way to retrieve the weapon Knowles used to kill the Florida state trooper. While driving, Knowles attempted to grab Lee’s weapon, inadvertently firing it while it was still in the holster. While Knowles struggled with Lee, who was also trying to keep the vehicle on the road, Angel fired three shots into Knowles’ chest, killing him.
17. The Trash Bag Killer
Beginning on April 13, 1975, mutilated bodies of men began being found dumped along the highways between Mexico and Los Angeles, California. The bodies were usually found tied and wrapped in trash bags. The police soon established a pattern: all the men were homosexual, all were found nude, shot in the head, were dismembered or otherwise mutilated, as well as having their remains tied up in plastic trash bags and dumped. Most of the victims were young hitchhikers or young men who were last seen being picked up from gay bars. A serial killer was at work. The final victim was killed on March 13, 1977, with his body being found dumped along the highway soon after. This victim, 17-year old John Lamay was last known to be visiting a friend, David Hill. Warrants were issued for Hill, and his roommate, Patrick Wayne Kearney. Hill and Kearney, an electronics engineer and genius with an I.Q. of 180, remained at large until July 1, 1977, when the pair simply walked into the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, in Redondo Beach, pointed to their wanted posters on the wall, and smilingly told the desk deputy, “That’s us.”
David Hill was never charged with a crime, but Kearney admitted killing three men and was sentenced to life in prison. Police suspected he was responsible for more and promised not to seek the death penalty if he would turn over a complete list of his victims. The Trash Bag Killer confessed to the murder of 18 more victims. He also admitted to killing an additional 11 more victims for which he was never prosecuted, bringing his total victim count to 32. He currently remains imprisoned at the California State Prison at Mule Creek, where he is serving 21 life sentences.
16. The Coast-to-Coast Killer
Terry Harris, his wife Crystal, their son and two daughters, lived in a modest mobile home west of San Antonio, Texas. They attended Grace Community Church, where they befriended Tommy Lynn Sells and his wife. Sells had visited the Harris home on numerous occasions. On the evening of December 31, 1999, Sells was at a local bar, while Crystal Harris was home alone with her children and the children of a family friend. After the bar closed, Sells made his way to the Harris home and gained entry through an unlocked window. He went to a bedroom and found 13-year old Katy Harris, and her friend, 10-year old Krystal Surles asleep. Sells put his hand over Katy’s mouth and displayed a 12-inch knife. He proceeded to cut away Katy’s clothes and began molesting her. She was able to get away, but Sells quickly grabbed her from behind and sliced her throat twice. Sells then stabbed her 16 more times. Krystal Surles pleaded for her life as Sells moved toward her. He slashed her throat and she fell to the ground, pretending to be dead as Sells left out the front door. Believing everyone in the house had been killed; Krystal ran to a neighbor’s house and called the police.
Krystal survived and was able to identify Sells from a photo lineup and testified at his sentencing. Sells confessed to killing Katy and attacking Krystal, but that was just the beginning. Over the next few months, Sells began to confess to multiple murders, spanning thirty years, committed all across the country. Calling himself “The Coast-to-Coast Killer,” he claimed to have killed at least 70 people, between 1985 and 1999. Sells was sentenced to death and was executed in Texas, by lethal injection, on April 3, 2014.
15. The Scorecard Killer
Randy Steven Kraft (b. 1945) seemed like a normal guy. He was a successful computer programmer living in Southern California; however, his pleasant demeanor hid a dangerous sociopath and sexual sadist who is believed to be responsible for 67 murders. It is held that Kraft began killing in the early 1970s, and continued until he was caught in 1983. He exclusively killed males, usually homosexual, who he would torture and mutilate, sometimes while his victims were still alive. It is believed that Kraft committed the gruesome crimes as a way to deal with his own frustrations over being homosexual.
Kraft was finally discovered when police pulled his vehicle over and discovered his latest victim dead in the car. Kraft has denied involvement in any of the murders that have been attributed to him. He has never offered to clear any unsolved murders, or recover any of the bodies that weren’t found. Due to this, no one can ever be sure just how many men Kraft might have killed. Evidence recovered linked to him to 16 murders, for which he was convicted in November 1989. Kraft has been referred to as “The Scorecard Killer,” because of the coded list authorities recovered that made vague references to his victims. Kraft remains incarcerated on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison.
14. The Monster Killer
“The Monster Killer” is a moniker given to Yang Xinhai (1968-2004), a migrant worker and the most prolific serial killer ever in China. He admitted to the grisly murders of 65 people, from 1999 to 2003. He would usually gain entrance to a home late at night and kill his victims, sometimes entire families, with whatever he could find, axes, hammers, meat cleavers, and even shovels. He often raped the female victims.
He was finally caught and arrested in Cangzhou City in Hebei, in northern China on November 23, 2003, during a routine police sweep. After a trial that lasted less than an hour, he was found guilty and eventually admitted to killings that spanned Chinese provinces of Henan, Anui, Shandong, and Hebei. Police were able to match his DNA with evidence found at several crime scenes. According to Yang, he began his murderous spree after he was dumped by his girlfriend, who had discovered his prison record for rape and burglary, so he decided to vent his rage out on society. In truth, this might have just been an excuse as later, in an interview, Yang acknowledged, “When I killed people I had a desire. This inspired me to kill more. I don’t care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern.” Yang was executed on February 14, 2004, by a single gunshot to the head.
13. Daniel Camargo Barbosa (1930-1994)
Daniel Camargo Barbosa was one of the most sadistic serial killers in South America. He confessed to killing 72 girls, but police believe he was responsible for killing over 150 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador during the 1970s and 1980s. He lured girls to his apartment, then drugged and raped them. He never killed any of his victims initially, until one of his victims reported him to the police. He served eight years in prison. Soon after he was released, he abducted a 9-year old girl from a school yard, raped and murdered her, to insure she couldn’t report him. Nevertheless, on May 3, 1974, he was arrested for the crime when he returned to the scene to collect evidence he had forgotten. He was sentenced to a Colombian island prison for twenty-five years, but escaped in November 1984. He had fashioned a makeshift boat and authorities believed he had died at sea in the attempt.
Camargo survived and went to Ecuador where he continued to abduct, rape, and murder young girls. There were so many sexual assault killings that police thought it had to be the work of a gang, instead of just one psychopathic serial killer. Camargo would target young, lower-class girls, offer them work or pretend to be looking for the area church. No one ever suspected the kindly old man accompanying a young girl. He would lure them to a wooded area before raping and strangling them, leaving their bodies in the forest. He was finally caught in February 1986, when police found him near the scene of his last victim. Remarkably, he was only sentenced to 16 years in prison. Justice would eventually catch up with Camargo in 1994, when he was murdered in prison by a cousin of one of his victims.
12. The Monster of the Andes
The man they call “The Monster of the Andes” is Pedro Alonso López (b. 1948), a Colombian serial killer. He is accused of raping and killing over 300 girls across South America. He would lure his victims, all young girls between the ages of 9 and 12, to secluded areas where he would rape them and then murder them in any number of sadistic ways, usually by strangling. He was finally arrested when an attempted abduction went wrong, the young girl screaming for help and nearby bystanders rushing to her aid. López he was held for police by this group of civilians.
While in custody, he confessed to over 300 murders but police were initially skeptical. They began to believe him when a flash flood revealed a huge mass grave containing many of his victims’ remains. Fifty-three bodies were able to be identified. López was sentenced in 1980 to a prison term of 18 years in an Ecuadorian prison, but in 1994, was released and turned over to Colombian authorities who imprisoned him for an additional four years. He was held in a psychiatric hospital as he was diagnosed as clinically insane. He was declared sane and released in 1998, promptly vanishing. In 2002, Interpol issued an arrest warrant for López in connection to an unsolved murder in Colombia. Current information is sketchy, but it believed his whereabouts are currently unknown. If still alive, he would be 69 years old.
11. Pedrinho Matador
Pedrinho Matador, or “Little Petey,” is Pedro Rodrigues Filho (b. 1954), a Brazilian serial killer and vigilante believed to have murdered around 100 people. Pedro was born with a skull injury due to his father abusing his mother while she was pregnant. In childhood, Pedro was constantly physically abused by his father. This cycle of violence resulted in him committing his first murder at the age of 14. He killed the man who fired his father from his job after falsely accusing him of theft. Pedro then went after and killed the actual thief. After that, Pedro fled his home in Alfenas for São Paulo, where he met a young woman. The two soon got engaged, but after his fiancé was murdered by gang members, Pedro targeted and killed them all. Pedro then went after and brutally murdered a man he believed impregnated and abandoned one of his cousins. Once he found out that his father had viciously stabbed and butchered his mother to death with a machete, Pedro was able to make his way into the prison on the pretence of visitation. He then proceeded to stab his father 22 times, ripping out his heart and taking a bite out of it while standing over his dead body!
Pedro was arrested on May 24, 1973, and placed into a police vehicle with a suspected rapist. When authorities returned to the vehicle a short while later they discovered Pedro had murdered the rapist. In prison, Pedro was a target due to his passion for killing criminals. In due course, Pedro proceeded to brutally kill 47 fellow inmates. He is currently serving a 127-year sentence. He has famously promised to kill any high-profile criminals he may come across while in prison.
10. Charles Ng (b. 1960) and Leonard Lake (1945-1985)
Charles Ng was a former U.S. Marine who served two years of a 14 year sentence in a military prison for theft of heavy weaponry. Shortly after his sentence was commuted in 1982, he met Leonard Lake. Lake was a former hippie with a penchant for sadomasochism, appearing in amateur pornographic videos. The pair struck up a friendship and Ng moved into Lake’s remote ranch home. The pair is suspected of viciously raping, torturing, and murdering between 11 and 25 men, women, and children at Lake’s ranch in Calaveras County, California. The pair videotaped themselves committing many of these heinous crimes. Their violent activities were discovered in 1985, when Lake was arrested for unrelated charges and committed suicide leaving a note confessing his crimes and naming Charles Ng. Police searched Lake’s ranch, finding a soundproof torture chamber, the horrendous videotapes, and human remains.
Ng fled to Canada, where he was arrested for shoplifting in July 1985. Ng struggled with two security guards, shooting one of them; however, the guards still managed to subdue him. Ng was convicted and sentenced to four years in a Canadian prison. Ng was eventually extradited to the United States where, years later, he stood trial on 12 counts of murder. He was convicted on February 11, 1999, of eleven of the murders, those of six men, three women, and two male infants. Ng was sentenced to death and is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
9. Juan Vallejo Corona (b. 1934)
Juan Corona appeared to be a well-respected, happily married man. He loved his children and was very active in his church. He helped other Mexican-American immigrants by organizing migrant fruit worker groups in California’s Sacramento Valley in the 1970s. All of this hid the fact that Corona was actually a paranoid schizophrenic with a violent temper. In the fruit farms in the areas in which Corona worked, male bodies kept turning up in shallow graves. Most of the men found were transient laborers with no ties to the community. The bodies had their throats slit and their heads viciously hacked with a machete, or their bodies stabbed repeatedly. A search was conducted and even more graves were found with a total of 25 bodies located. It was discovered that all the men had gained employment through Corona.
He was arrested and charged with the murders. In January 1973, Corona was found guilty and sentenced to 25 life sentences. While in prison, Corona was violently attacked and barely survived a stabbing, losing an eye in the process. He was able to win an appeal in 1982, and was allowed a new trial due on the basis of incompetent legal representation. His defense claimed that they possessed evidence that would point to Corona’s brother as the actual murderer; however, the new trial resulted in the same manner. Corona was convicted and his previous term of 25 life sentences was reaffirmed. He is currently serving out those sentences in California’s Corcoran State Prison.
8. The Freeway Killer
On August 5, 1979, around 6 P.M., someone abducted 17-year old Marcus Grabs in Newport Beach, as he was backpacking across the United States. The next day, his bound nude body was found alongside a highway in Malibu. He had been beaten, sodomized, and stabbed 77 times. This was the first of the killings attributed to the deadly “Freeway Killer,” who would dump his victim’s bodies alongside highways in southern California. Over the next year, thirteen more victims, all young men aged 12 to 19, were found, raped and strangled or stabbed. Police were on a manhunt for a deadly serial killer. Finally, on June 11, 1980, after nine days of surveillance, police observed William George Bonin unsuccessfully try to get five separate teen boys into his van. After finally succeeding, the police followed Bonin to an isolated parking lot near the Hollywood Freeway. The police quietly approached the van, where they heard muffled cries and noises coming from inside. The officers forced their way into the van and found Bonin in the act of raping and strangling a 17-year old runaway who had been handcuffed and tied.
When they took him into custody, Bonin initially claimed his innocence and denied being “The Freeway Killer.” He eventually confessed to kidnapping, raping, and murdering a total of 14 teen boys between 1979 and 1980, but named four accomplices to various cases. Bonin was convicted and received a death sentence in 1982. His accomplices were all convicted as well. Horrifically, while in prison, Bonin sent letters to his victim’s families, telling one mother that her son was his favorite, because “he was such a screamer.” Bonin was executed by lethal injection on February 23, 1996, at California’s San Quentin State Prison.
7. The Butcher of Rostov
“The Butcher of Rostov,” Andrei Chikatilo (1936-1994), was a Soviet serial killer who savagely raped, murdered, and mutilated 56 Russian women and children from 1978 until 1990, some as young as 7 years old . His first victim was a 9-year old girl and it was with her that he equated sexual satisfaction with brutally slashing women and children to death. He would locate children walking alone, or runaways, and lure them into nearby forests or secluded areas. To achieve the utmost satisfaction from his gruesome acts, he would slash and stab his victims, sometimes up to 70 times, gouging their eye sockets, and even eating their severed nipples. He would almost always disembowel his victims and chew on their uterus or testicles. Chikatilo was continuously considered a suspect in many of the crimes he was ultimately convicted of but there was never enough evidence to arrest him.
Eventually, through a clever trap, police caught Chikatilo in 1990, where he finally confessed to killing 56 people; however, he was charged with only 53 of these killings of which there was corroborating evidence. In April 1992, Chikatillo was tried in court, being held within an iron cage in order to separate him from the families of his victims who demanded his release so they could kill him themselves. His behavior in court was that of a madman, at times appearing bored, hysterical, spouting gibberish, or sometimes singing. On one occasion it was reported that he dropped his pants and waved his genitals at the assembly. Chikatilo was convicted in October 1992, and sentenced to death. Chikatilo remarked, “I know I have to be destroyed. I was a mistake of nature.” In 1994, Chikatilo was executed by a single gunshot wound behind the right ear.
6. Albert Fish (1870-1936)
Albert Fish was a sado-masochistic serial killer and cannibal who was known as “The Gray Man,” “The Werewolf of Wysteria,” and “The Brooklyn Vampire.” He was suspected of killing at least five victims during the ten years that he is believed to have preyed on the children of New England. He held it was divine inspiration that caused him to torture and mutilate children and he is suspected of molesting an untold amount of children in his lifetime. He once boasted that he had “had children in every state,” claiming upwards of 100 victims. He would never elaborate if these victims were molested, murdered, or cannibalized, or all three. He was definitively linked to the five killings for which he was arrested, of which Fish only confessed to three.
Fish was said to have been a dedicated family man, happily married with six children of his own. However, it was revealed later than he would have his children strike him with a nail-studded paddle in order gain sexual satisfaction from the pain. He was also examined prior to trial and no less than twenty-nine needles were found embedded in his groin for the same reason. It is said first learned to get pleasure from pain while in an orphanage as a child. He eventually moved on to murdering and eating small children. To make matters worse, he would often torment his victim’s families by mailing them graphic letters describing his actions. At his trial it was argued that he was insane; however, he was determined to be a “psychopathic personality without a psychosis.” He was found guilty of the one murder he was charged with and sentenced to death. On January 16, 1936, Fish was executed by electrocution at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.
5. The Vampire of Sacramento
Richard Trenton Chase (1950-1980), while still just a child, showed all the classic signs of being a psychopath and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Soon, his behavior grew more bizarre, as he claimed he needed the blood of others to keep his own body alive. Chase was sent to a mental hospital after he was caught eating the corpses of small animals, even blending the remains with soda to create a makeshift milkshake. He was released in 1976 into the custody of his parents, who lived in Sacramento, California. His thirst for killing increased and he murdered his first victim in a drive-by shooting. Chase was suspected but released due to lack of evidence.
He was free to kill again and in January 1978, he made his way into the home of Teresa Wallin, three months pregnant at the time. He surprised her and shot her three times, killing her. Chase then had sex with and ate parts of her corpse. He also filled a bucket with her blood and bathed in it. Two days later, Chase entered the home of Evelyn Miroth, who was babysitting her infant nephew. In the house also were her 6-year old son and her neighbor, Dan Meredith. Chase immediately went through the home shooting all four inhabitants in the head, even the infant. He then had sex with Evelyn’s body and fed on all the corpses. Police investigators were able to track Chase down due to evidence he left at the scene and he was arrested. He tried to plead insanity but was denied and found guilty in May 1979. He was sentenced to death in California’s gas chamber. He instead chose to commit suicide on December 26, 1980, with a lethal overdose of prescription antidepressants that he had been saving up while in prison.
4. Carl Panzram (1891-1930)
Carl Panzram was a genuine misanthrope; he hated human kind and relished in his role as the eradicator of the species. He had a prolific career as a burglar, arsonist, and a rapist who once bragged that he sexually assaulted over a thousand men. He wasn’t very particular either. He once said, “I rode them old and young, tall and short, white and black. It made no difference to me at all except that they were human beings.” He burglarized the Connecticut home of William Howard Taft, the former president of the United States, making off with money, jewels, and Taft’s prized Colt revolver. Using his ill-gotten gains, Panzram bought a yacht, hired a group of sailors, and set sail for the open waters. He then proceeded to rape and murder all the sailors, dumping their bodies into the sea.
Panzram made his way to Angola, where he hired six more men, and then quickly killed them all as well. Panzram then claimed he abducted a 12-year old boy, quickly raping and murdering him. In his confession later, Panzram related, “his brains were coming out of his ears when I left him. I am not sorry. My conscience doesn’t bother me. I sleep sound and have sweet dreams.” After that, he raped and killed another young boy he came upon, which he professed was his favorite murder because the child begged and pleaded incessantly for his life before Panzram strangled him to death. In total it is believed he killed 22 boys and men. After he was finally caught and imprisoned, Panzram stated, “I hate all the f***ing human race. I get a kick out of murdering people.” Panzram was executed by hanging in Kansas on September 5, 1930, his final words, “I wish the entire human race had one neck and I had my hands around it!”
3. The Beast
From 1992 to 1999, Luis Garavito (b. 1957), also called La Bestia, or “The Beast,” drifted throughout Colombia and Ecuador and has admitted to killing 147 boys. Although maps Garavito made for authorities while in prison showing where bodies could be found indicate upwards of 300 victims! It is widely believed that “The Beast” could be the most prolific serial killer in the world. His victims were poor, peasant children, between the ages of 8 and 16. Garavito would come up to them on the street and offer them a bit of money or gifts. After a while, he would take them for a walk, where they would grow tired, upon which Garavito would rape them, cut their throats, and often dismember them. When authorities dug up many of the victims, the bodies even showed signs of extended torture.
Garavito was captured on April 22, 1999, and police were able to definitively link him to 139 murders. Colombia had no precedence for dealing with serial killers and thus the legal system was not prepared for a criminal of this magnitude. Garavito was sentenced to the maximum penalty available in Colombia, which was 30 years. However, since he confessed and has helped authorities locate so many bodies, prison regulations allowed him to apply for certain sentence reductions that would have him released after serving only 22 years, possibly earlier with continued cooperation and good behavior. Garavito is still under investigation for another 172 child murders from across Colombia, and the legal system is working on finding ways to prevent his early release, as many do not feel his short prison sentence was sufficient punishment for the murders he committed.
2. The Co-Ed Killer
Ed Kemper (b. 1948) is a monster of a man, standing 6’9”, 300 pounds, and was diagnosed as a violent schizophrenic. He is a genius with an IQ of 135. At only 13, he murdered his own grandmother because he wanted to see what it was like to kill her. He then killed his grandfather because he knew he’d be angry about what he had done. He was sentenced to Atascadero State Hospital in California as a criminally insane juvenile. He was subsequently released at the age of 21, after convincing hospital staff that he had been rehabilitated. He moved in with his mother in Santa Cruz, California, and shortly thereafter got himself an apartment. From there, in 1972, he began to target young female hitchhikers, luring them into his vehicle and driving them out to secluded areas. He would murder them by stabbing, shooting, or smothering them. Afterwards he would bring the bodies back to his apartment where he’d have sex with their bodies and dismember them, often keeping the severed heads for several days. He murdered six female hitchhikers in this method.
Finally, Kemper beat his mother to death with a claw hammer. He decapitated her, had sex with her headless corpse, and then used her head as a dart board. He then invited his mother’s best friend over and strangled her. He then contacted the police and confessed to his deeds. At his trial in November 1973, Kemper was found psychotic but sane. According to FBI profilers, any one of ten distinct traits can be indicators to tell if someone is a serial killer – Kemper possessed all ten. California had temporarily suspended the death sentence, so Kemper received a life sentence with the possibility of parole. He remains imprisoned at Vacaville State Medical Facility.
1. The Poquianchis
In the 1950s, sisters Delfina and María de Jesús González ran a profitable prostitution ring in Northern Mexico. To add to their profits, the pair was involved in large-scale murdering, targeting wealthy men, illegitimate children, and even their own prostitutes. Born into poverty in Jalisco, Mexico, once the sisters became financially successful they were extremely scared of being poor again. They took it upon themselves to ensure that it would never happen. The pair operated out of Rancho El Angel, the brothel they owned in San Francisco del Rincon, north of Mexico City. They would recruit young girls to be waitresses or maids, or kidnap them, and then force them into sexual slavery, often force-feeding them heroin or cocaine. If the girls got pregnant, they would be forced to abort the children and bury the fetuses out back. If the prostitutes got too sick, lost their looks, or could no longer please their customers, they would be killed. The sisters would even kill girls by locking in them in a room and starving them to death. Most of the bodies were burned, but many were thrown into shallow mass graves. Wealthy customers were also routinely robbed and killed.
Rumors always circulated about the horrors of the brothel, but nothing ever came of it until one of the prostitutes was able to escape. Police investigated and discovered the kidnapped girls, the mass graves, and uncovered 91 dead bodies. The Mexican press dubbed the sisters the Poquianchis, after the gay man who sold them the saloon, El Poquianchi. The sisters confessed and were sent to prison in 1964, for forty years each. Delfina died in her cell in 1984, while María was released in the mid-1990s and subsequently disappeared. Guinness World Records named the sisters “The Most Prolific Murder Partnership” in history.