Only around 1 percent of murders are committed by serial killers. But, they loom exceedingly large in the public imagination. Since Jack the Ripper, we have a macabre fascination with the breed.
Think you know the profile of a serial killer? The "myth" is that they are often social misfits, loners, white males and sexual predators. Not so says the FBI. One of the reasons serial killers kill and get away with it is because they appear "normal". Gary Ridgeway, who confessed to killing around 50 women in the Seattle, Washington, area over 20 years, was married (three times), employed and a church goer. And the FBI website tells us that serial killers aren't primarily white males, but rather mirror the racial make up of the country. And, it's not always about sex, either. In 2002, the Washington, DC area was terrorized by a series of apparently random shootings. It turned out that John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo traveled the area in a modified white van, shooting people. Bizarrely, one theory holds that Muhammad began the shootings because he planned to murder his ex-wife, and killed in and around her neighborhood so that her killing (which never happened) would look like the act of a serial killer.
Here are some serial killers, from up to the minute to old, who have not been caught and who have gotten away with murder. Some of them are long since dead, but some of them are still out there somewhere.
12 Chillicothe Killer - Ohio
11 Mexicali Ripper - Baja, California
10 Jennings Louisiana 8
9 The Long Island Serial Killer - Long Island, New York
8 The Rainbow Maniac of Brazil
7 West Mesa Bone Collector - Albuquerque, New Mexico
6 Cleveland Torso Murderer - Cleveland, Ohio
5 The Doodler - San Francisco, California
4 Zodiac Killer
3 The Freeway Phantom
2 Servant Girl Annihilator
1 Jack the Ripper
The Servant Girl Annihilator got there first, but Jack the Ripper is an evil legend and still the subject of feverish speculation as to his identity. He operated in the Whitechapel district of London, in 1888. Someone wrote in to claim he was the murderer and signed his letter "Jack the Ripper", and the name stuck. While the actual total may be higher, five women, all prostitutes, were viciously murdered by The Ripper. Every amateur investigator going has a theory, and books and documentaries are still being cranked out. But, the simple fact is that nobody knows for certain. He was not the first serial killer, but he was the first to garner international press coverage. Largely, the "reporting" was of the 'make it up as we go along' variety, but, it sold papers.
Sources: fbi.gov, creators.com, nbcnews.com, legacy.wwltv.com, psychologytoday.com
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