Jeffrey Dahmer. Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy and Charles Manson. By now, we’ve all heard of the most notorious serial killers in the world. These infamous men, to name but a few, have horrified and fascinated the public for decades; the media has practically ensured it. Today, with the proliferation of the Internet, it seems as though any psychopath who locks away women for decades in a basement, or commits brutal acts of torture and murder, can now have his 15 minutes of fame, too. But what about those serial killers that were just as sadistic, sometimes even more so, than the Bundys or Dahmers of the world that the media never gave iconic status to? These are the ten most shocking serial killers you have probably never heard of.
10 Woo Bum-kon
The first entry on this list may not exactly qualify as a serial killer as all of Woo Bum-kon’s victims were killed over a short period of time, making it more similar to a massive killing spree. Even still, he bears mentioning for the sheer number of people he killed, and the way in which he went about it. One night, the South Korean police officer apparently had an argument with his girlfriend that traumatized him to the point of madness. After leaving his girlfriend, he headed to the police station in the village where he worked, raided the armory and proceeded to start shooting. Bum-kon went door to door in his police uniform and systematically shot his victims, or blew them up with hand grenades. All told, the mad man terrorized five villages killing 57 and wounding 35. As a grand finale Woo Bum-kon strapped two grenades to his chest and killed himself along with three hostages.
9 Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
Holmes’ story is something right out of a horror movie. In Chicago, Holmes built himself a hotel in preparation for the 1893 World’s Fair. Not entirely bizarre for an affluent doctor anticipating a global event. Not until one realized that the hotel was built in such a labyrinthinian way as to ensure that only Holmes knew how to navigate the building. The hotel was a maze of more than one hundred windowless rooms, doorways opening to brick walls and even stairways leading to nowhere. He also fitted rooms with gas pipes to poison victims, and fashioned an airtight, soundproof vault for suffocation. Female employees, guests visiting the hotel, no one was spared his sadism. Even after killing his victims, the bodies would sometimes be dissected and sold to medical students, or dissolved in acid. Holmes was eventually caught and hanged for murdering the 27 people he admitted to killing, though many speculate he may have actually killed over 230 people.
8 Robert Hansen
If you’re a Nicolas Cage fan, you may have an idea about Robert Hansen as a recent movie was based upon his crimes. If not, Hansen was a bullied child and petty criminal who grew into a monster. Originally from Iowa, it was in the remote wilderness of Alaska where Hansen committed his awful crimes. Hansen would lure prostitutes into his car in Anchorage, then abduct them, eventually taking them to his remote cabin in the woods, only accessible by prop plane. There he would sexually assault the women, torture them and eventually kill them. It was the manner in which Hansen would kill his victims that is most chilling; he would remove their clothing, blindfold them and set them loose in the remote Alaskan wilderness where he would hunt them down like animals with a hunting rifle. And in Hansen’s own words he “always won.” Eventually caught once evidence was overwhelmingly against him, Hansen plead guilty to four murders, though he later led police to 15 separate graves near his cabin. He’s currently serving a 400-year sentence in prison.
7 Fred and Rosemary West
Arguably Britain’s most depraved couple of all time, both Fred and Rosemary were abused and broken individuals long before they met. Years of abuse as children led Fred to begin raping girls by the time he was 13 years old, and led Rosemary into prostitution by the time she reached her early teens. The couple's meeting created a perfect maelstrom of horror that lasted nearly 20 years. In the 1970s and 1980s, the couple abducted young girls, brought them to their house and kept them bound in the cellar. The victims were abused and tortured, then killed, dismembered, and buried within the house. Proving the pairs’ depravity knew no bounds, among their victims were Fred’s first wife and daughter, and even one of the West’s own daughters. All told, Fred was charged with 12 murders, and Rosemary 10, but Fred admitted to there being at least 20 more bodies “no one will ever find.” Rosemary was convicted of all 10 counts of murder and is serving 10 life sentences, while Fred, true to form, took the coward's way out and committed suicide before his trial.
6 Tillie Klimek
Another serial killer active in Chicago, Tille was an interesting case. She was a true black widow in every sense of the word, a woman who kills her husbands, but her peers instead saw her as a psychic foretelling her victims' deaths through her dreams, rather than actually scheduling them. Insurance fraud was her main motivation for murder, killing five husbands by arsenic poison, but Tille was sadistic for the pleasure of it too, killing three children, two women and various relatives as well. Like all insane killers, the woman also had a sense of humor. When buying a dress for her then husband’s funeral, it was reported that when asked when he died she replied “ten days from now.” Tile was eventually caught, tried and convicted and received life in prison, the longest sentence for a woman ever at the time in Chicago. She died in prison in 1936.
5 The Doodler
This tale of the bizarrely-named serial killer sadly has cultural implications attached to it as well. The Doodler, named so for his propensity to sketch his victims before sleeping with them and then stabbing them to death, was active for a very brief period in the San Francisco gay community in the mid-1970s. His modus operandi was to meet his potential victims at gay nightclubs, bars or restaurants unsuspectingly enough, and then lure them home and kill them. During his less than two-year rampage he managed to kill 14 men. Tragic enough as that is, what’s worse is that three men survived, and the police even arrested a suspect with enough potential evidence to commit. The problem? Due to the pervasive culture of homophobia, none of the survivors who had identified him would testify for fear of ‘outing’ themselves; a sad indictment on culture where fear of prejudice sees a murderer walk free.
4 Robert Pickton
If you’re Canadian, then this name may not be all that unfamiliar. Robert Pickton is a former multi-millionaire from British Columbia, just outside of Vancouver. There he maintained a pig farm that ultimately doubled as a disposal grounds for his reportedly 49 victims. When police finally made an arrest and searched his farm they found multiple human skeletal remains, human flesh in his freezer and evidence that he fed many of his victims to his pigs. Clearly a degenerate, Pickton would prey on the most at risk populations of society. Particularly, the young women who were the homeless, prostitutes or drug addicts of Vancouver’s lower East Side. After promising money or drugs for sex, Pickton drove his victims to his farm where he murdered them in a multitude of ways; shooting them, strangling them, and gutting them. Perhaps almost as horrific as the crimes themselves is the fact that Pickton was arrested in 1997 for the attempted murder of a prostitute but was set free because the victim was deemed ‘too unstable to be telling the truth.’ Furthermore, police received tips about Pickton and his farm for over five years after the botched 1997 case before they finally issued a search warrant, and after 24 of his victims had been murdered. Pickton is now serving a maximum life sentence (25 years with no chance of parole in Canada) for six counts of second-degree murder, though he readily admits to killing 49 women total.
3 Mohammed Bijeh
Known as the Desert Vampire because of the remote desert where he claimed his victims, Mohammed Bijeh was an Iranian serial killer and rapist with a penchant primarily for young boys between the ages of 8 and 15, though he killed two adults as well. At age twenty, Bijeh committed his atrocities over the course of a year before being caught and confessing in court to the rape and murder of 16 boys. His sentence? 100 lashes followed by execution. In the desert town near where he committed his murders, in front of a crowd of nearly 5,000 people, Bijeh was handcuffed to an iron post and lashed 100 times before a mother of one of the victims managed to get past security and stab him. Finally, another mother of one of the dead boys tied a nylon rope around Bijeh’s neck and he was lifted by crane 10 meters high where he was slowly strangled to death.
2 Andrei Chikatilo
Russia is known far more for its leaders and the atrocities they have committed to the Russian people than for its serial killers. For one, the repressive media has rarely, if ever reported on such crimes, and secondly, with leaders like Ivan the Terrible and Joseph Stalin, how does one compete? Well, Andrei Chikatilo certainly tried. As much of a monster as either Ivan the Terrible or Stalin, Chikatilo’s sheer brutality when killing his victims bordered on animalistic. For over a decade he terrorized young Russian women, girls and boys. A sexual deviant, he would attempt to rape his victims, before murdering and disfiguring them in obscene ways. Victims of Chikatilo all had their skulls smashed in, were stabbed frenetically, and then had their eyes gouged out. Many of the victims even had body parts, such as mouths and tongues, chewed off, and were missing sexual organs that Chikatilo allegedly had eaten. Ultimately convicted of 53 of the 60 murders he confessed to, there is speculation that there may in fact be as many as 200 victims of Chikatilo. Sadly, no one will ever know. Andrei Chikatilo was tried and pronounced legally insane, but still executed for his barbaric crimes in 1992.
1 The Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs
Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuck were like any other 19-year-old kids, with dreams of fame and fortune. Unfortunately, the pair’s idea of fame and fortune was to become two of the most horrific serial killers of the past decade. Deciding to randomly and viciously murder 21 people and film each crime, with plans to upload and sell the snuff films to make money, may seem like a good idea to two clearly psychotic Ukrainians, but it didn’t to anybody else. But the allure of 15 minutes of fame was just too much for these two, and in the summer of 2007 they proceeded to go on an unprecedented campaign of terror in the city of Dnepropetrovsk. No one was safe as victims were completely chosen at random, and each killing was carried out in a different manner. One woman walking home from work was suddenly smashed in the face repeatedly with a hammer. A man battling cancer on his way to visit his grandchild was dragged into the woods and stabbed to death with a screwdriver and beaten with a hammer. In a moment of genius, one of the suspects tried to sell a mobile phone stolen from a victim and the pair was ultimately caught. The media trial gained them notoriety in Eastern Europe but certainly no fortune came from it. Sadly, as for fame, as they rot in jail for the rest of their lives only the families of the victims will remember these two animals.