It's no secret that there are a lot of crazy people in the world. Some people are crazy enough to kill. Prisons are full of murderous criminals who have committed terrible crimes that got them sent to the slammer. But, some of these guys get sent to a "special place" in prison—death row.
If a criminal commits a capital offense, it's up to the jury to decide whether or not he or she will get life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or a death sentence. But, due to appeals and habeas corpus procedures, it can take years for a criminal on death row to be executed. Some criminals have been on death row since the '90s. In many cases, some death row criminals are released from their death sentences due to appeals. Others aren't so lucky.
Only the criminals who execute the most heinous, most atrocious crimes get sent to death row. A lot of the crimes these murderers committed are some of the most despicable acts known to humanity. There have been more than one case in which jurors were brought to tears or said that they would be haunted for the rest of their lives by the evidence presented in trials. Some people are just that messed-up.
If you want to see some of these unhinged criminals for yourself, then check out this list of 15 of the most psychotic criminals who ended up on death row.
15 Ronnie McPeters
In August 1984, Ronnie McPeters murdered a 27-year-old aspiring model named Linda Marie Baltazar Pasnick while she was waiting in line at a drive-thru. McPeters leaned into her open window and shot her five times. She died from gunshot wounds to the head and neck. McPeters was arrested later that day by police. But he denied having anything to do with Linda's death and was found guilty of first-degree murder.
Opinions on Ronnie's mental state differed among experts. One defense psychiatrist said that Ronnie was schizophrenic. Another said that he was psychotic, while a prosecution expert said that he was neither. McPeters was sent to death row, where he began to exhibit strange behavior. He smeared feces on the wall and the floor of his jail cell and on himself and soaked himself in urine, telling a psychiatrist that he was filming a commercial.
14 Peter Kurten
Peter Kurten committed his first murders when he was nine, drowning two classmates of his. Around that time, he was experimenting with bestiality with dogs; and as he matured s*xually, he expanded from dogs to various farmyard animals. He started a life of petty crime, and he discovered a penchant for brutal s*xual acts while in prison.
When Peter wasn't in jail, he was s*xually assaulting and/or brutally murdering people in the city of Dusseldorf. As mass hysteria and panic increased, Kurten received the moniker, "Vampire of Dusseldorf," because it was believed that he drunk the blood of his victims. He eventually turned himself in and published his confessional in a book called The Sadist where he recollected all of the crimes he committed with nearly photographic memory. He said he wasn't remorseful at all.
He was sentenced to nine death sentences and was executed by guillotine in 1931.
13 Gary Lee Sampson
In July 2001, Gary Lee Sampson went on a week-long crime rampage that resulted in the deaths of three people across two states. He carjacked and murdered a 19-year-old college student named Jonathan Rizzo who offered to give Sampson a ride after he got off work. He also murdered a 69-year-old plumber named Philip McCloskey who also offered Sampson a ride and also killed a former city councilor after breaking into his New Hampshire cabin.
He would later turn himself in after a failed carjacking. When questioned by police, Gary's friends said he bragged about the killings, saying that murder was an obsession of his. During Gary's trial in 2003, the jury voted to give him the death penalty for Rizzo's and McCloskey's death. A retrial earlier this year found the jury voting for the death penalty for Rizzo's death but without a unanimous decision on a sentence for McCloskey's death.
12 Scott Louis Panetti
Scott Louis Panetti and his second wife, Sonja Alvarado, separated in 1992 due to Panetti's drug and alcohol abuse and strange behavior. He buried the furniture in the house claiming that the devil was living in it and kept the blinds shut so the neighbors couldn't film him.
The next month, Panetti shaved his head, donned his military garb, and drove to his in-laws' house where his estranged wife and 3-year-old daughter were staying. He broke into the home and shot his in-laws to death in front of Sonja and his daughter. He gave himself up to the police, claiming that his alter-ego named "Sarge" made him kill them, and that divine intervention prevented his victims from suffering.
During his trial, Scott dressed up in flamboyant cowboy clothes and offered incoherent speeches where he tried to subpoena Jesus Christ and the Pope. He was sentenced to death in 1995 and remains on death row.
11 Bobby Joe Long
Bobby Joe Long is known as the "Classified Ads R*pist." His method was to answer classified ads in the Penny Saver for furniture and other household items; and if a woman was home alone, he would force himself on her and rob her. He committed more than 50 r*pes like this before the year 1984.
In 1984, he committed his first murder, r*ping and strangling a young prostitute. Bobby murdered 10 women–mostly drug users, prostitutes, or strippers–but there were a couple exceptions. One of his victims was a 17-year-old girl who he kidnapped and treated like a s*x slave, ultimately releasing her after 24 hours. Her statement would help police locate and apprehend Long.
Long received four 99-year sentences, 28 life sentences, and one death sentence. He remains on death row.
10 Joseph Edward Duncan III
Joseph Edward Duncan III perpetrated his first s*x crime at the age of 15, raping a nine-year-old boy at gunpoint. By the age of 16, he r*ped 13 younger boys. At 17, he kidnapped and sodomized a 14-year-old boy and did 14 years in jail. Over the next few years, he s*xually assaulted and killed three young children.
He was arrested in 2005 for molesting two young boys at a playground but was bailed out by a long-time acquaintance and lover. The next month, he broke into the home of Brenda Groene and killed Brenda, her boyfriend, and her 13-year-old son. Joseph kidnapped Brenda's two other children–Dylan (9) and Shasta (8)–and repeatedly molested both victims while filming his actions on a camcorder. He eventually shot Dylan.
Duncan was arrested several weeks after the initial murders while at a Denny's with Shasta. He was sentenced to death and remains on death row.
9 Carl Panzram
Carl Panzram's first murder victims were sailors in New York. He baited them from bars, got them intoxicated, r*ped them, killed them, and then left their bodies in the river. Panzram killed 10 sailors like this. Sometime later, he r*ped and killed two young boys.
After he was arrested and detained for burglary in 1928, Carl confessed to killing the two young boys. A prison guard, whom Carl befriended, gave him some writing materials so he could write his autobiography. Panzram wrote that he killed 21 people and sodomized over 1,000 males. He said that he was "rage personified" and that he r*ped men not because he was homosexual but because he wanted to dominate and humiliate others.
Carl was initially given a 25-year-sentence. But after he beat the foreman of the prison laundry to death, his punishment changed to a death sentence. He was executed by hanging in 1930.
8 John Edward Robinson
John Edward Robinson was a member of a secret sadomasochist cult called the International Council of Masters where he acted as its "Slavemaster," beguiling unsuspecting victims to meetings to be tortured and r*ped by the other members. Several years later, Robinson learned how to use the Internet and searched through various social networking sites for women who liked to play the submissive role during s*x.
It didn't take long for John to become well-known among BDSM online chat rooms, all the while murdering his victims. Over time, John became increasingly careless with his actions and forgot to cover his tracks. As his name appeared more and more in multiple missing person cases, it was only a matter of time before the authorities caught up with him.
He was sentenced to death in 2002 and remains on death row.
7 Tsutomu Miyazaki
Tsutomu Miyazaki was known as the "Schoolgirl Murderer" for the four murders he committed from 1988-1989. His first victim was a four-year-old girl who he kidnapped, photographed, and strangled, taking her clothing with him. His second victim was a seven-year-old girl who he strangled and had s*xual contact with before he left with her clothing.
He photographed and strangled another four-year-old sometime later. His final victim was a five-year-old, and after performing his usual ritual, he dismembered her corpse, ate some of her flesh, and dumped her remains. Miyazaki was eventually arrested, and a search of his bungalow yielded photos and videotapes of his victims. During his trial, he drew pictures of "Rat Man," an alter-ego who he believed made him kill his victims. He called the murders an "act of benevolence."
He was sentenced to death and was hung in 2008.
6 Andre Thomas
Before Andre Thomas committed the murders that would put him on death row, he was showing extremely strange behavior. He said that the dollar bill contained the meaning of life, claimed that he was experiencing deja-vu, and said that he experienced auditory and visual hallucinations of God and demons.
Sometime later, he broke into his estranged wife's apartment and stabbed and killed her and their two children, a four-year-old son and a 13-month-old daughter. He carved out his children's hearts and stuffed them into his pocket. He claimed that God told him to stab and kill his wife and children with different knives as to not "cross-contaminate their blood" and "allow the demons inside of them to live." Andre eventually turned himself in, saying that he needed help. Five days later, he removed one of his eyeballs. Three years later, he removed his other eyeball and ate it.
He faces a death sentence, which is being appealed.
5 George Emil Banks
George Emil Banks was a Pennsylvania prison guard in 1982 who told his co-workers of a brewing race war that would annihilate the world. Later that month, a drunk and drugged George began a killing spree. He murdered three women who were the mothers of his children and five children—four of them were his. He drove to his former girlfriend's trailer and killed her, their son, her brother, and her mother. As he left the trailer, he shot and killed a neighbor and seriously wounded another individual.
After a standoff between him and police, Banks turned himself in. Banks said that he killed his children because he felt they would be victimized by the cruelty of racial views towards mixed children. He was later sentenced to death but was later deemed too psychotic to be executed. He still remains in the death penalty prison unit, however, as he is considered too dangerous.
4 Wesley Shermantine, Jr.
Wesley Shermantine Jr. and his partner, Loren Herzog, were friends from childhood. Both men started murdering people while still in their teens. While Shermatine was only charged with four murders, it's believed that he killed as many as 20 people, dumping their bodies in mine shafts, on remote hillsides, and beneath a trailer park. Over the years, Wesley told family members and acquaintances that he "made people disappear."
Tracks detected at the scene of one of the murders matched the tires on Shermantine's pickup truck, and he was arrested, ending a meth-induced killing rampage that lasted 15 years. Wesley said that he killed for "sport" and that the "ultimate kill" was human beings.
In his trial, Shermantine received the death penalty, but an appeals court overturned the conviction due to coerced confessions and a questionable plea deal. He still faces a death sentence while on death row.
3 Richard Farley
Richard Farley fell in love with 22-year-old Laura Black–his co-worker at a Silicon Valley software development company–at first sight. He quickly began an obsession with her, asking her for dates, leaving gifts in her office, and showing up at her aerobics class. After he discovered her home address, he started sending letters to her house telling her he loved her.
As the stalking continued, Laura went to HR, who requested for Richard to get psychiatric help and fired him. Laura was forced to get a Temporary Restraining Order against Richard. The day before the hearing to make the order permanent, Farley entered his ex-firm's building with a 12-gauge shotgun and indiscriminately shot anyone he saw. He shot Black but she survived; seven other employees died on the scene. A standoff occurred between Farley and police, which resulted in Farley surrendering. He was sentenced to death in 1992 and remains on death row.
2 William Bonin
William Bonin was known as the "Freeway Killer" as he cruised the streets at night for male victims. Between 1972-1980, Bonin robbed, r*ped, and killed 44 young men and boys. The majority of the victims were homosexuals or suspected homosexuals. Bonin killed most of his victims by strangulation; but for others, he stabbed them to death with knives or ice picks.
Bonin was eventually caught and arrested while sodomizing a young man in his van. He was charged with 14 counts of murder, 11 counts of robbery, one count of sodomy, and one count of mayhem. One of William's accomplices in the murders said that William found joy in causing pain to his victims and he "loved those sounds of screams." Bonin himself said that he couldn't stop killing.
He was sentenced to death in 1982 and executed by lethal injection in 1996.
1 Ahmad Suradji
Ahmad Suradji was a respected witch doctor among the citizens of Medan, Indonesia. Claiming to have a dream in which his father's ghost told him to kill 70 women and drink their saliva so he could become a mystic healer, he started killing young women who came to him for supernatural help in making themselves more attractive or richer.
He brought his victims to a field near his home where he buried them up to their waists before he strangled them. After drinking their saliva, Ahmad buried them completely. The ages of his victims ranged from 11 to over 30. After one of the victims was reported missing after going to see Suradji, the police discovered the bodies of one of his victims in the field. Ahmad was arrested and he admitted to the killings of 42 women over an eleven-year period.
He was sentenced to death in 1988 and executed by firing squad in 2008.