It's pretty common in many works of fiction for distinctly black and white perspectives to be used when dealing with characters and their behavior. Writers and animators make it very clear who the good guys are and who the bad guys are through their appearances. In many cases, the good guys are given obviously appealing appearances while the bad guys are given obviously evil appearances.
Children all over the world are fooled into believing that bad guys always look bad. A lot of bad guys in children's cartoons are deliberately made to look so blatantly vile-looking that anyone can tell that he or she is meant to play the role of the villain. But, for anyone who isn't a child and/or isn't naive about how the world really looks, we know that not all bad guys look bad. Some of them look and act (sometimes) like they could be the good guys. A person doesn't have to have a sinister look to have sinister intentions.
In real life, there are quite a few cases of murderous criminals who don't look like the villains in Saturday morning cartoons, but instead look like the average everyday people you might see at Walmart. And, despite our knowledge that someone's appearance is irrelevant to their true behavior, we still wonder sometimes how someone so downright malicious could look so innocent.
If you need examples of this point, then check out this list of 15 photos of murderers looking normal.
15 Paul Bernardo
Before Paul Bernardo became a serial killer, he already made a name for himself as the "Scarborough Rapist," raping numerous young women living in the Scarborough, Ontario area. He met a woman named Karla Homolka in 1987, and they began dating. Homolka approved of and even encouraged Bernardo's sadistic s*xual tendencies.
For Christmas one year, Karla gave her drugged younger sister as a "Christmas gift" to Paul, and the two raped her before the sister choked on her vomit. Within the next two years, the pair kidnapped, tortured, s*xually assaulted, and murdered two teenage girls while filming their actions on tape. After DNA samples proved Paul was the Scarborough Rapist, he was arrested and Homolka confessed to their crimes while under investigation.
Bernardo was sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years, but it's highly unlikely he'll ever get out.
14 Marcel Petiot
Marcel Petiot was diagnosed as mentally ill when he was 17 and was again diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses in a psychiatric hospital after he was drafted into the French army during World War I. He would go on to become a doctor, becoming infamously known for questionable medical practices, such as illegal abortions.
During World War II, Marcel lured Jews to his home with false promises of providing an escape route from France to South America for 25,000 francs per person. In reality, he poisoned the Jews with cyanide, stole their belongings, and then burned their bodies. Between 1942-1944, Marcel killed over 27 people. He didn't keep a low profile, and the police eventually caught wind of his activities.
Petiot was convicted of 135 criminal charges and was executed by guillotine in 1946.
13 Keith Hunter Jesperson
As a child, Keith Hunter Jesperson had a penchant for torturing and killing animals, and he twice attempted to kill children who vexed him. He committed his first murder at the age of 35 and killed eight women through strangulation over a five-year period.
He was known as the "Happy Face Killer" because of the smiley face he drew on the letters he wrote to the police and the media because he desired attention for his crimes. Many of Keith's victims were prostitutes who had no relation with him. But his last victim was his long-time girlfriend. Because she was the only one of Jesperson's victims who had a connection with him, it didn't take long for police to discover he was the murderer.
He was sentenced to three life sentences in 1998.
12 David Berkowitz
David Berkowitz' murderous rampage began in 1976 when he shot two teenage girls outside an apartment complex in the Bronx, killing one and injuring the other. Single women and couples were Berkowitz' numerous targets.
Terror settled over the citizens of New York City as authorities searched for the killer in one of the city's biggest manhunts ever. David left a note for a police captain near the scene of one the murders, calling himself the "Son of Sam." A witness to one of Berkowitz' murders was instrumental to him being captured and arrested. David explained that his neighbor Sam was the devil and that he ordered David to kill through Sam's demon-possessed dog that howled continuously for blood until he committed murder. "He told me to kill. Sam is the devil," David said.
Berkowitz was sentenced to 365 years in prison.
11 Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy was one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. Many who knew him noted him to be attractive, charming, and intelligent. Sometime after Bundy graduated from the University of Washington, with a degree in Psychology and was accepted to a Law school in Utah, numerous women living in Seattle and Oregon started going missing.
They were lured in by Bundy to his car as he pretended to be injured and in need of help. Ted's crimes would eventually catch up to him, resulting in three death penalties. Bundy fought for the rest of his life to appeal against his death sentence but was unsuccessful. He was executed by electric chair in 1989. While Bundy admitted to killing 36 people, experts have reason to believe that the body count was almost 100.
10 John Wayne Gacy
On the surface, John Wayne Gacy was a fast-food manager and a self-made building contractor during the 1960's and Democratic precinct captain in the Chicago suburbs during the 1970's. In addition to that, he was a clown performer at birthday parties. Everyone in the community liked John.
But beneath the surface, Gacy was a rapist and a murderer. After a 15-year-old boy went missing in 1978, authorities followed the trail right to John's front door. They discovered that Gacy kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and strangled a total of 33 young boys and men. Perhaps as a nod to his job as a clown performer, John would sometimes dress as his alter-ego, "Pogo the Clown," when he killed. Gacy buried most of the bodies beneath his house and garage and others were deposited in the Des Plaines River nearby.
He was executed by lethal injection in 1994.
9 Dennis Radar
Dennis Radar was infamously known as the "BTK Killer," which stands for "bind, torture, and kill." For three decades, he horrified the citizens of the Wichita, Kansas community he grew up in.
After he started committing crimes, Radar started seeking out recognition for them. He left a letter in a library book that was eventually brought to a local newspaper, admitting to the murders he executed. "It's hard to control myself. You probably call me 'psychotic with s*xual perversion hang-up.'" He added that he wanted to be called the "BTK Killer" and explained what the letters stood for. Throughout the years, Radar would send letters to the media, confessing what crimes he had done. No one would have guessed that a loving father and husband would be behind them.
Eventually, he was caught and arrested in 2005 and charged with ten life sentences.
8 Dean Corll
Dean Corll was known as "The Candyman" because his family owned a candy company, and he often gave out free candy to local children, particularly teenage boys. Corll would flirt with several of the teenage males who worked at the factory. But, it wasn't until he was drafted into the military in 1964 that he began showing obvious signs of homosexuality.
Dean liked to use bondage in his s*xual relations with young men and boys, and eventually, he would start to murder them. His two friends would corral in victims for him under the premise of an "alcohol party." After the boys drank until they passed out, Corll would tie them up, molest them, and murder them. The number of victims he murdered was 27.
In 1973, Dean was shot to death by one of his friends during an argument, ending what was the worst case of serial murder in U.S. history up to that point.
7 Richard “Iceman” Kuklinski
Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski started killing cats when he was a child and committed his first murder when he was 14, killing a teenager in a local gang. Kuklinski felt "empowered" by that kill, and he started murdering anyone who bothered him.
At the age of 18, he became an invaluable hitman for New York's Genovese crime family. He also found work for Newark's DeCavalcante crime family and New York City's Five Families. Richard was known for his meticulous process of disposing bodies, which consisted of removing the victims' teeth and fingers and throwing the bodies down mine shafts, over bridges, or in rivers. He got the nickname "Iceman" due to his practice of freezing bodies to conceal the time of death. Kuklinski was caught and arrested in 1986, having killed almost 200 men.
He was sentenced to life in prison, where he would die in 2005.
6 Dennis Nilsen
Dennis Nilsen knew he was homosexual early in his life but he was never truly comfortable as one. He also fostered a morbid fascination with corpses. He targeted students and homeless men he picked up in bars, luring many of them to his apartment.
Nilsen strangled and drowned his victims, engaging in s*xual relations with some of the corpses. He hid the bodies around his apartment but the decomposition process soon attracted flies and Dennis had to spray his abode to get rid of them. After neighbors started complaining about the stench, Nilsen started dismembering the corpses and burying the body parts in his garden and his shed, keeping some around his apartment in bags. After human remains were discovered in the drains, it didn't take long for Dennis to be caught and arrested.
In 1983, he was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years.
5 Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos had a rough childhood growing up and was a ward of the state. In order to survive as an adult, she had to hitchhike and work as a s*x worker.
Starting from late 1989 to fall of 1990, Wuornos killed at least six men along Florida highways. The police managed to track down Aileen through fingerprints and palm prints. She confessed to the murders in a phone conversation with her lover, who obtained the confession from her so she could evade prosecution. During the trial, Wuornos claimed that she had killed the men in self-defense but she later rescinded her testimony. Aileen was charged with first-degree murder.
She spent a decade on death row before she was executed by lethal injection in 2002.
4 Gary Ridgway
Even though Gary Ridgway married three times and was zealous when it came to religion, he was a regular patron for prostitutes. He started killing prostitutes and young homeless girls in 1982, picking them up from state Route 99 in south King County, Washington.
After he took them home, he strangled them and left their bodies in wooded areas around the Green River. Gary was given the moniker the "Green River Killer" after the corpses of his first few victims were discovered. It wasn't until 2001 that DNA-testing technology uncovered a match between evidence from the victims and Ridgway.
He pleaded guilty to 48 charges of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison in 2003. In 2013, he said in an interview that he killed 75-80 women in total.
3 Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer was preoccupied with thoughts of necrophilia and murder starting at the age of 14. But it wasn't until a few years later that he turned his ideas into action. He committed his first murder after graduating from high school and went on a murderous rampage for 13 years.
He targeted African-American men at gay bars, malls, and bus stops, inviting them to his home under the premise of alcohol or s*x and got them drunk and drugged before strangling them to death. He engaged in s*xual acts with the bodies before dismembering them, keeping certain body parts as souvenirs. Dahmer was eventually caught in 1991 and sentenced to 16 life sentences the following year. In 1994, he was beaten to death with a metal bar by another inmate.
2 Philip Markoff
Philip Markoff never had a criminal record and was a member of the National Honors Society. He was a second-year medical student at Boston University when he answered a Craigslist ad for massage services placed on the site by a 26-year-old masseuse and former call girl named Julissa Brisman. They met at the Boston Marriott Copley Place hotel.
Later that evening, Brisman was discovered unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds. She was transferred to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. It seemed to authorities that Markoff was trying to rob Brisman, and he shot her after she attempted to free herself from the zip-tie restraints. Police were able to nab Philip, thanks to the hotel's surveillance videos.
While he was awaiting trial, Philip committed suicide in his jail cell.
1 Michael Swango
After Michael Swango obtained a surgical internship at Ohio State University Medical Center in 1983, healthy patients mysteriously started dying. A nurse saw him injecting "medicine" into a patient who later died. She then took her concerns to the administration, but an investigation cleared Swango of any wrongdoing.
A couple of years later, while working as an emergency medical technician, Michael was convicted of aggravated battery for poisoning his coworkers and was sentenced to five years. After he was released from prison, he jumped around to different medical facilities, changing his name and forging documents so he could continue poisoning patients.
The FBI eventually caught up to him and Swango was sentenced to three life sentences. While he confessed to four murders, it's believed he committed as many as 60.