It is hard to imagine a worst type of human being than a serial killer. First coined by the FBI in the 1970s, serial killer or serial murderers are defined as single or pairs of killers who kill more than one victim at different places and times. Unlike mass murders, who may shoot up a movie theater or go on a stabbing spree that lasts an hour, serial killers tend to be more methodical and more patient. A serial killer is more akin to a hunter than a berserker.
The reason why so many cops and criminologists were interested in serial killers in the 1970s is that America seemed to be producing them at an alarming rate. Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Kenneth Bianchi, Angelo Buono, Ottis Toole, and others all operated throughout the country during that dark decade. Serial killers certainly existed before 1970, but that decade is when people began seriously studying serial killers, their behaviors, their pathologies, and their methods.
As a result, a whole sub-section of criminology sprung up in order to discern whether or not some victims of unsolved homicides are in fact the victims of famous serial killers. Many of these victims fit the favored profiles of certain killers, or many were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. The question remains: were these fifteen cases the work of a random assassin or a well-known hunter of humans?
15 Elaine Eldrige And Lawrence Hogan
For ten weeks in 1946, the small town of Texarkana, Texas was plagued by an unknown gunman who used a .32 pistol to kill several young couples who parked near deserted lovers' lanes. Known as the Texarkana "Phantom" or the "Moonlight Murderer," this serial killer murdered five people until local authorities lost all trace of him in May 1946. Some Texas and Arkansas lawmen believe that a habitual thief named Youell Swinney was the killer. Swinney was never tried for the murders, but he was put away for a very long time for car theft.
On October 9, 1946, two lovers were gunned down in their car near Miami Beach. 21-year-old Lawrence Hogan and 24-year-old Elaine Eldridge were slain by someone using a .32 pistol. Hogan was shot in the chest, while Eldridge was shot several times in the face. Although Florida is far away from northeast Texas, the Director of Public Safety for the entire state of Texas actually contacted Sheriff Walter Clark in Florida in order to see if the Miami killer was the same "Phantom" of Texarkana. Clark did not believe it to be, but many maintain that the similarities are too hard to ignore.
14 Rita Curran
Throughout his infamous career, Ted Bundy was synonymous with the West Coast. He killed in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah. During the last stage of his career, after Bundy had already escaped twice from a Colorado jail cell, Bundy committed a string of gruesome murders in northern Florida.
Few people know that Bundy was actually born to a single mother in the peaceful New England city of Burlington, Vermont. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, college student Bundy was known to take trips out East in order to learn more about his roots, his missing biological father, and other family members.
On July 20, 1971, a 24-year-old school teacher named Rita Curran was murdered around midnight in her Burlington apartment near the University of Vermont campus. Her sexually assaulted corpse was later found by her roommate. Besides Bundy's connection to Burlington, Curran also fits in with other Bundy slayings, including her close proximity to a college campus and her habit of wearing her dark hair long and straight.
13 Susan Davis And Elizabeth Perry
On Memorial Day weekend in 1969, two nineteen-year-olds named Susan Davis and Elizabeth Perry were found murdered just off of the Garden State Parkway just outside of Ocean City. At the time, a Philadelphia native named Ted Bundy was attending college at nearby Temple University. When he left Temple, Bundy undertook a long drive from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains, thus giving him plenty of opportunities to target these two college coeds.
At least one researcher believes that a 22-year-old Bundy met the girls after following them on the beach for hours. With his car "broken down" on the Parkway, Bundy may have feigned trouble in order to get Davis and Perry to stop for him. At 10 a.m., a New Jersey state police officer found Davis' blue convertible and brought it to a garage in Northfield. Days later, after the families and the police realized that the girls were missing, searchers discovered their bodies about two hundred feet in the woods not far from the Somers Point interchange.
It seems rather fishy that Bundy went West on Memorial Day. Was he escaping something?
12 Larry Peyton And Beverly Allan
On the night of November 27, 1960, 19-year-olds Larry Peyton and Beverly Allan parked in a secluded area in Portland, Oregon's Forest Park. Peyton's 1949 Ford sedan must have felt very roomy to the two lovebirds. Unfortunately for them, the car caught the attention of a sadistic killer.
The very next day, while police were looking for stolen cars, they found the corpses of Peyton and Allan. The former had died from twenty-three stab wounds, while the latter's body, which had been dumped some ways away from the car, was found forty-three days later.
Thanks to a botched investigation by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department, this double murder has never been solved. One of the case's more likely suspects is serial killer Edward W. Edwards. At the time, Edwards was a low-level hood had managed to escape from police custody in Portland after being caught pulling fire alarms.
Some researchers have even wondered if Peyton and Allan were the earliest victims of California's notorious Zodiac Killer.
11 Cheri Jo Bates
Speaking of the Zodiac Killer, that unknown assassination has been the subject of numerous television shows, movies, books, and even songs. Between 1968 and 1969, Zodiac terrorized the East Bay area of San Francisco. He hyped his own murders by sending cryptic messages to the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Police Department. By 1971, the Zodiac was immortalized on screen as the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry.
Way back in 1966, nobody knew anything about any serial killer calling himself "Zodiac." On the day before Halloween, an eighteen-year-old coed at Riverside Community College left the college library at around 9 p.m. It was a typically quiet Sunday for Cheri Jo Bates, and she probably only thought about getting safely inside of her green Volkswagen Bug. Before she could reach her car, however, an unknown killer attacked Bates, stabbed her several times, and slit her throat. Her body was found the next day between two campus buildings on Terracina Drive.
One month after the murder, the Daily Enterprise newspaper was the recipient of a written confession that contained information that only Bates' killer would know. Later handwriting experts would claim that Zodiac himself wrote this letter. This information, along with the discovery of a desktop poem about a young woman's brutal murder, have convinced amateur sleuths that Bates was Zodiac's first victim.
10 Lynne Schulze
Lynne Schulze was just eighteen when she disappeared. The Connecticut native was supposed to take a test, but never showed up. The small college town of Middlebury, Vermont, the home of Middlebury College, soon went into overdrive looking for Schulze. The case has been officially cold since it began in 1971.
In March 2015, Vermont police officer became interested in the case of the millionaire serial killer Robert Durst. For the majority of his seedy career, Durst had lived in New York City. However, between 1971 and 1972, Durst ran and operated the All Good Things health food store at 15 Court Street in Middlebury. Schulze was a regular customer of the store, thus Durst almost surely knew that she was a college student.
Durst has yet to be tried for this disappearance, but Vermont police have more or less named him as their favorite suspect.
9 Martha Morrison
In 2015, a set of unidentified remains found in October 1974 were conclusively proven to belong to the murdered Martha Morrison. It took forty-one years, but investigations were finally able to show that the missing Morrison had died at the hands of someone else.
Morrison, a native of Vancouver, Washington, was never officially reported missing in the late summer of 1974. A native of Eugene, Oregon who had grown up in foster care, Morrison was a known abuser of drugs who frequently ran away from home. When she went missing, Morrison was a 17-year-old girl who was living with an unnamed African-American male.
Given the location and time of Morrison's murder, many suspect that she may have been killed by Gary Ridgway, alias the Green River Killer. Ridgway was known to target women who had fallen through society's cracks. Also, Morrison's corpse was partially identified through the help of people involved in the Green River Task Force. It is known that Ridgway killed more women than the forty-nine he was convicted of killing.
8 Carrie Brown
There is probably no serial killer more famous than London's Jack the Ripper. Ever since he struck in Whitechapel in 1888, millions of writers and film and television producers have tried to unlock the identity of "Saucy Jack." Even during the Victorian age, newspaper reporters wrote numerous articles about victims of the Ripper who were not confirmed by the Metropolitan Police.
Across the Atlantic, an aged American prostitute named Carrie Brown was found murdered on April 24, 1891. Brown lived near the waterfront in an East River apartment in Manhattan. Called "Old Shakespeare" by her friends, Brown had first been strangled, then mutilated by her killer. The responding coroner claimed that Brown's killer had tried to completely "gut" her.
Brown was last seen in the company of a 32-year-old man with a slim build, a long nose, and a heavy mustache. This description fits nicely with Ripper suspect George Chapman. At the time, Chapman lived in nearby Jersey City.
7 Reet Jurvetson
For decades, Reet Jurvetson was known simply as Jane Doe No. 59. Her body had first been discovered in Los Angeles in 1969. During that summer, the entire world was transfixed on the horrible crimes of the Manson Family, a quasi-hippie cult of murderers directed by the criminal guru Charles Manson. The Montreal native had been stabbed 150 times.
The "free-spirited" and "happy" Jurvetson had been born in Sweden as the daughter of Finnish immigrants. By age nineteen, Jurvetson was seeking fame and fortune in Los Angeles. Given that her body was found so close to other Manson Family crimes, Los Angeles investigators cannot rule out that Jurvetson was murdered by either a family member or an associate.
6 Irina Pogoryelova
Andrei Chikatilo is one of the most evil men to ever walk on the face of the Earth. Born into a collective farm in Ukraine, Chikatilo grew up in the terrifying aftermath of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Due to a dreadful famine, Chikatilo later claimed that he and his family had eaten his four-year-old brother Stepan. Chikatilo grew up to be a frail school teacher who had a history wetting himself and chronic impotence.
After moving to the southern Russian city of Rostov, Chikatilo began sexually assaulting young girls. In 1973, he sexually molested one of his students, a fifteen-year-old girl. Before long, Chikatilo move towards murder and necrophilia. He is believed to have killed as many as fifty-six women, girls, and boys.
Irina Pogoryelova may have been one of Chikatilo's victims. She was just eighteen when she disappeared on August 11, 1986. Seven days later, her mutilated body was found on a collective farm. Although he was never tried for this murder, Chikatilo admitted in court that he had killed Pogoryelova.
5 Marina Elizabeth Habe
On New Year's Day 1969, the body of Marina Elizabeth Habe was found in the dense underbrush of Los Angeles' Mulholland Drive. The seventeen-year-old University of Hawaii student was back in Los Angeles in order to visit her family, including her screenwriter father Hans Habe.
Days earlier, on December 28, 1968, Habe had been abducted from her mother's house located at 89621 Cynthia Avenue. Habe had a date that night with a twenty-year-old named John Hornburg. Hornburg was well known to the Habe family. Eloise Hardt, Habe's mother, reported that she heard someone say "go" or "blow" at 3:15 a.m. -- the exact time when Hornburg claims that he dropped Habe off at her mother's house.
When police found Habe's corpse, they found that she had been raped, stabbed, and had her heart and throat slashed. At that time, a number of rapes had been reported in West Hollywood. Later, one of the members of the Manson Family admitted that the group had known Habe.
4 JoAnn Tate
An innocent man may be languishing away in a Missouri jail because of the actions of a serial killer. In 1985, Rodney Lincoln was convicted of murdering thirty-five-year-old mother JoAnn Tate and sexually assaulting her two daughters. All throughout the trial Lincoln maintained his innocence. Thirty years later, Melissa DeBoer, one of the assaulted girls who provided eyewitness testimony against Lincoln, now believes that he is innocent.
Instead of Lincoln, DeBoer believes that her mother was the victim of serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells. Known as the "Cross Country Killer," Sells was a drifter who attacked women all across America between 1985 and 1999. Sells himself admitted to killing as many as seventy people, but was convicted only of the murder of Kaylene Jo "Katy" Harris of Texas.
The murder of Tate fits with the profile of Sells' other crimes, including his attack on a thirteen-year-old girl (he stabbed her sixteen times) and a home invasion assault of a ten-year-old.
3 Robin Ann Graham
On November 14, 1970, eighteen-year-old Robin Ann Graham went missing in the city of Los Angeles. The details of her disappearance are downright chilling.
At approximately 2:00 a.m., Graham's car broke down on the Hollywood Freeway near Santa Monica Boulevard. Graham called her parents and requested that they pick her up. A California Highway Patrol officer would later testify that he saw Graham standing by her disabled car carrying a leather purse. Another eyewitness claimed that they saw Graham talking to a white male, approximately 5'8" and wearing a white turtleneck, not long before her disappearance.
After the Los Angeles Times reported the case, a woman came forward to say that a similar man approached her on the Hollywood Freeway when her car broke down. The man claimed to be an off-duty police officer. This woman later identified the suspect as Bruce Davis, one of the men suspected of being the Zodiac Killer. Interestingly, Graham was abducted on a night of the full moon. The Zodiac Killer liked attacking his victims underneath a full moon.
2 Evelyn Hartley
The morbid crimes of Ed Gein has provided the material for some of the most famous horror films in history. Gein is the figure lurking behind Norman Bates and Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While not a prolific killer, Gein was a devoted necrophile who dug up bodies and decorated his dilapidated farmhouse with bones and human skin.
There is some evidence that Gein may have abducted and murdered a fifteen-year-old girl named Evelyn Hartley. On October 15, 1953, Hartley was busy babysitting a young girl in La Cross, Wisconsin. After failing to reach his daughter via telephone, Hartley's father went to the house where Hartley was babysitting. He found signs of a violent struggle, along with Hartley's damaged eyeglasses and shoe. A second shoe was found near a broken window in the basement.
After Gein's arrest, police discovered the sexual organs of two young girls in his house. At the time, there was no record of such young girls being buried in La Crosse. More circumstantial evidence can be located in the fact that Gein was known to visit an aunt who lived just two blocks away from the house where Hartley was abducted.
1 Zach Ramsay
Nathaniel Bar-Jonah is not one of the more famous serial killers in American history, but he is easily one of the most vile. He was an overweight pedophile who cannibalized many of his victims. One of those victims may have been ten-year-old Zach Ramsay.
On a frigid Montana morning in February 1996, Ramsay left his home in order to go to school. That morning, one family of three testified that they saw Ramsay not far from his home at about 7:30 a.m. They also admitted to seeing an off-white vehicle almost run Ramsay down. Other eyewitnesses claim that they saw Ramsay crying and being followed by a strange man at about 7:45 a.m.
Bar-Jonah would be charged with Ramsay's murder in 2000, but because of the dogged determination of Ramsay's mother, who still believes that her son is alive, the police's case could not hold up in court. Bar-Jonah was ultimately convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting boys in Great Falls, Montana. Some investigators who had access to Bar-Jonah's disgusting journals believe that Bar-Jonah may have killed and cooked Ramsay.
Sources: fbi.gov, chicagotribune.com, burlingtonfreepress.com, bostonglobe.com, dailymail.co.uk