Forever and a day, it seems that people are just fascinated with the macabre world of serial killers and their victims. Law and Order, Criminal Minds, and Bones are just a few TV shows in recent memory that have glamorized just how sick and deeply disturbed people can be. Can we as a society be that enthralled – the simple answer is yes we absolutely can. Whether it’s Hannibal Lecter eating brains, Dexter Morgan killing killers far worse than he is, or the wacko of the week on network TV, the fact that more or less the bad guy gets his in the end generally reaffirms that good always trumps evil.
In the real world too, we like these stories of madness and gore. The more dissociative a killer is, the more the general public seems to be infatuated with their story and their victims. Could be because they remind us of how precious life is, or that we don’t necessarily have to do what’s right, some even lack the capacity to do so. Perhaps it’s just some of the batcrap reasons these twisted individuals have given for their crimes.
A jackass shoots up a movie theater and claims he’s the Joker; two teens assault a school and blame bullying and Marilyn Manson, and sometimes the really challenged souls just want to create a suit of skin to crawl back into their mother’s wombs…and those are just a few that didn’t make this list – 15 of the creepiest motives for horrible crimes.
15 David Berkowitz – The Dog Made Me Do It
He might not have killed the most people on this list, but that doesn’t make David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, any less of a threat and a person whose name still inspires fear to this day, even with him thoroughly behind bars. After all, his letters taunted NYPD, since victims had dark hair; wigs were sold out of most boutiques and with most of his kills happening at night, popular New York night spots were ghost towns caught in the terror that gripped New York in the late seventies.
His kills weren’t particularly violent or as grotesque as other unsubs on this list – he simply shot and or stabbed his victims, but it was the way he relished in his murders and how he taunted the very police trying to catch him that made him a unique figure in the serial killer community.
The reasoning behind the madness – the old wives tale of telling teachers the “dog ate my homework,” try applying that reason for committing many murders, or better yet the neighbor’s dog was possessed by an ancient demon who had compelled Berkowtz to kill.
Berkowitz’s story confounds people to this very day, but thankfully he himself refuses to be set free and is continuously denied parole on his 325 year sentence.
14 Richard Trenton Chase – Needed The Blood Of Animals
Vampires need to be invited into your home, right? In Sacramento during a brief time between 1977 and 1978, if your door was unlocked, Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento, took that as an invite and would enter your home, possibly to kill, eat, and drink you. But unlike most of the vampires you see on TV and movies, who are usually prim and proper, Chase was as disgusting as he was terrifying.
Once schizophrenia and hypochondria pushed just about everyone in Chase's life away, he was left alone to his own devices and started to kill and eat small animals, sometimes raw, sometimes blended with soda. After injecting rabbit's blood into his veins, he was finally institutionalized, but that wouldn't stop him from drinking the blood of birds he was able to catch.
His most disturbing human victim was a pregnant Teresa Wallin, who he killed, cut out her organs, had sex with, and drank her blood, all in that deranged order. To literally add insult to injury, he shoved dog feces down her throat.
Knowing he didn't deserve to live for his grotesque crimes, Chase spent several weeks hoarding prison prescribed medication before taking a whole bunch to overdose on.
13 John Hinckley, Jr. - Trying To Impress Jodie Foster
Some of the infamous criminals on this list we've heard about for years, but that doesn't make them any less insane, and the first of these psychopaths is John Hinckley, Jr. – the last known person to attempt an outright assassination of a sitting president.
Hinckley, watched Martin Scorsese's classic Taxi Driver – in case you haven't: Robert DeNiro stars as NYC hack, Travis Bickle plots to assassinate a presidential candidate. Foster plays a child hooker in the gritty film. So when Hinckley's prior attempts to get Foster's attention failed or were too grandiose – stalking her at Yale, hijacking a plane or just flat out killing himself in front of her, he turned to Foster's breakthrough role for sick inspiration.
When he failed at killing Carter, he turned his attention to Ronald Reagan, and on March 30, 1981, Hinckley shot and wounded President Reagan, along with a police officer, a secret service agent, and press Secretary James Brady, of whom the Brady Bill was named after. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was released in September 2016 and lives at his mother's home.
Needless to say, the incomparable Jodie Foster couldn't care less about her would-be suitor.
12 Dana Sue Gray – Really Liked Shopping
Growing up in Southern California, Dana Sue Gray was used to a certain kind of life. She went to Newport Harbor High School, became an expert skydiver, got married at a Vinyard in posh Temecula, and was an L & D nurse at Inland Valley Medical Center. She seemingly had the good life that many people are led to believe all California girls have. But when spending habits dug her and her husband into heavy debt, he split.
That didn’t stop Gray’s affinity for the mall and the department stores. But rather than take out a few more credit cards, she did what any insane person might contemplate doing – kill elderly ladies, and steal their money, credit cards, or cash their social security checks. Even though never convicted of it, Norma Davis is thought to be her first victim, killed with a knife to her neck and another to her chest. June Roberts and Dora Beebe were killed for their credit cards. Gray tried to kill Dorinda Hawkins but failed, still didn’t stop her from rifling through her purse as well.
Hawkins was able to identify Gray and once the police knew definitively who was responsible, the manhunt was quick. Despite denying stealing the credit cards, Gray cited an overwhelming need to shop as the reason for her crimes.
11 Dennis Nilsen, The Kindly Killer – He Was Lonely
Thousands of people experience loneliness, sometimes debilitating loneliness. Dennis Nilsen's loneliness apparently was enough to be London's Kindly Killer, as he would show all of his victims a good time before killing them. Imagine Weekend at Bernie's, only if Larry and Richard had killed over ten people and paraded around their house with them.
Between 1978 and '83, Nilsen had wine and dined 15 men before strangling or drowning them. Then the real fun would begin as he would bathe, clean, dress, and position his victims all over his home. Only then would he have sex with them, hence the Kindly Killer. Once caught, he cooperated with British PD in locating every one of his victims at both of his homes.
Despite wanting the company, Nilsen didn’t seem to mind if he were to get caught or not as he had little to no regard to leave body parts or whole corpses in plain view for anyone to notice. He is one of the few prisoners of Britannia who are in prison without the possibility of parole.
10 Ed Kemper – Wanted To Kill Grandma
Grandmas are the best, aren't they? They always have the amazing combination of money and candy in their purse or on a plate in their home ready to be doled out in a moment’s notice. They love playing games with you, teaching you new games to play that for some reason you never really play with anyone else, and is pretty much one of the greatest people you'll ever know.
But if you're a sorry son of a b-tch like Edmund Kemper, then killing Granny is all you've ever fantasized about for years, which is more or less what he told police when they arrested him in 1964, he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma.” Kemper thought it would be a good idea to kill Grandpa too, so that he didn’t have to find his wife dead.
Somehow, court psychiatrists deemed the crime too incomprehensible for a 15-year-old to commit and he was remanded to Atascadero State Hospital instead. Kemper fooled all of the doctors there and was released on his 21st birthday. He did spend a few years trying to be good, a State Trooper even before more murders were committed between 1972 and 1973 – two college students, his own mother, and mom’s best friend were the victims this time, not to mention murdering a slew of female hitchhikers.
Thankfully, this time the jury found him mentally sane and guilty on all accounts, and he is serving life imprisonment at the California Medical Facility.
9 Brenda Ann Spencer – Mondays Suck
And here you thought the Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays” was all about the general public’s disdain for the first day of the work week. You’d be very wrong.
The song actually was inspired from the Cleveland Elementary School shooting that happened on January 9th, 1979. Brenda Ann Spicer, a 16-year-old girl at the time who lived across the street from the school just started opening fire at the San Diego school at random students waiting to go in. The principal was killed trying to help some of the injured children, so was the custodian and police were fired upon when they arrived on the scene.
The ordeal lasted seven hours and during this time Spencer had spoken to a journalist, where she explained that she just didn’t like Mondays and that the shooting livens up the day. She’ll be up for parole again in 2019.
The ironic tragedy? January 9th, 1979 was a Tuesday.
8 Armin Meiwes – Just Wanted To Try Flesh
Think back to when you were a little boy or girl. Remember things that you used to fantasize about – perhaps thrilling things like skydiving, traveling to exotic places, or what kissing a boy or a girl would feel like. Did you ever think about trying some good old fashion human meat? That's what Armin Meiwes dreamt about growing up.
Meiwes was a special type of crazy – a Vorarephilliac, someone who gets off on the thought of eating someone or something else. How would one with this particular desire satiate himself? By going on the Cannibal Cafe website. The site is (god help me), a place where cannibalistic nutsos could go to chat. Meiwes posted "looking for a well-built 18- to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed." Even more batcrap was he got a reply from a Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes; Meiwes ate Brandes' penis before Meiwes brought him to his kill room that he made, and made a meal out of him, and about ten months or meals out of Brandes.
Meiwes was originally only convicted of manslaughter but a retrial bumped it up to murder. He must have gotten it all out of his system since he is now a Vegetarian.
7 Fergus Glen – Wasn’t Thanked For Dinner
Always tip your waiters and thank your chefs, they might kill you if you don't. While that might sound like a log line for a horror movie, it's what Fergus Glen actually did – killed his own brother who failed to thank him for a decent meal.
New Zealand, November 2011 – Fergus Glen cooks his younger brother up some dinner. After finishing his meal without so much of a thank you, Glen began to strike Craig with an axe, in the face and neck about eight times. He would then return the axe to the basement and tell his mother, who was woken up by the noise that "He just annoyed me and I did it. I’m not proud, but I did it."
The lack of manners was the last straw in a long family feud. Glen is currently and rightly serving life in prison for his crime.
6 Uroko Onoja – Not One But Five Jealous Wives
It has probably been the topic of several bad B-movies and way more than several skin flicks, but the notion of a man physically being ridden to death surely could never happen, right? Submitted for your approval is Nigerian man, Uroko Onoja, who was killed by his wives in the most pleasurable way possible – cardiac arrest brought on from too much humping.
Onoja, a Nigerian businessman with six wives had taken a shine to the youngest of his wives when the other five came for him with sticks and knives demanding they be shown some T.L.C. as well, and they took it by force, literally raping Onoja to death, as he would stop breathing when the fifth one climbed into bed with him.
While jealously might not be the most original motive, the ladies deciding this is how they'd exact their vengeance is a reminder to never neglect your wife or wives and never mess with a woman scorned.
5 Tonda Lynn Ansley - We Live In The Matrix
By the time Morpheus had explained the concept of the Matrix to Neo, that we are all essentially batteries for our machine overlords who keep us sedated and living inside of a highly advanced computer program, fans were not only hooked, but their collective minds went absolutely kablooey. If there really was a Matrix, it would've been destroyed since so many people's brains were fried at the notion of being food for robots.
But in the real world, the really real world, this story is just a movie, it's fantasy. That didn't seem to stop two separate landlords from being murdered by two different people, and one of the Beltway Snipers from successfully using The Matrix as a defense for their crimes.
Tonda Lynn Ansley of Ohio was found not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting her landlord and Vadim Mieseges of San Francisco was declared incompetent to stand trial for chopping up his. Both spoke about living inside a computer program. Leo Malvo, one of the Beltway Snipers is said to have written "Free your mind from the Matrix" in his jail cell.
4 Jeffrey Dahmer – Wanted A Zombie Slave
Quite possibly the most famous serial killer/cannibal of the late 20th century, Dahmer's reign of terror lasted thirteen years between 1978-1991 and included the rape, dismemberment, and eating 17 men and boys. From an early age, he took an interest in how to preserve bones, something his analytical chemist father would teach him.
He collected animal carcasses and stored them to see how they fit together. He exemplified just about every stereotypical trait a serial killer could exhibit, and then some – namely the necrophilia and cannibalism. What Dahmer was actually yearning for was the fulfillment of his fantasy of having a sex slave he could dominate.
To achieve his depravity, Dahmer would drill into his victims' skulls and pour toilet bowl cleaner (muriatic acid) into their heads in the hopes of creating an army of sex zombies to tend to his every whim. The sick puppy got what was coming to him in prison when a fellow inmate murdered Dahmer in prison.
3 Robert Lyons – Wanted To See Avril Lavigne
During the late 90s and early aughts, Canuck cutie, Avril Lavigne was a rising singer giving a voice to many people who had gotten tired of the saccharine bubble gum pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and so they gravitated towards the skateboard riding, guitar playing rock goddess in the making.
Robert Lyons who in 2011 was 39 would have been 27 when Lavigne’s "Complicated" took the world by storm. The Chicago native, who suffers from bipolar disorder, told authorities that this was not the reason at all that Lyons stabbed his own mother, Linda Bolek, to death. In fact it was his anger of mom not getting him skybox tickets to see Avril Lavigne.
Lyons bludgeoned his mother with a bottle of champagne twice in the head and then stabbed her nine times in the back. Avril’s great and all, but not killing-your-own-mother-because-she-didn’t-get-you-tickets great. Lyons dumped Drano and other cleaning fluids on mommy to humiliate her and was arrested at a local Hooters. Lyon’s has been sentenced to a 40-year sentence.
2 Mark David Chapman - God, The Devil, And The Catcher In The Rye
When the Beatles broke up, it was one of the most devastating breakups to fans in music history. In going their separate ways, John Lennon would release songs like "God" and "Imagine", with lyrics like "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me," and "imagine a world without possessions".
Once a devout Beatles fan and now a devout Catholic, Mark David Chapman had identified with Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of the Catcher in the Rye. In the story, Caulfield detests fake people, deeming them phoneys. Chapman, believing a man who espouses having no possessions in song but lives in New York's posh Dakota building was a total phoney in Chapman's mind.
On December 7th, 1980 Chapman waited outside the Dakota all day for John. He shook his child Julian's hand. When John and Yoko returned home around 11PM, the couple walked past Chapman to go home and he would cowardly shoot John in the back and then sat down and started reading the Catcher in the Rye.
Chapman would tell NYPD, "I'm sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil."
1 Walter Seifert – Medical Tragedies Lead To Cologne School Massacre
When the German medical community couldn’t cure what ailed Walter Seifert, he took matters into his own mentally disturbed hands. He was treated for a bronchial catarrh and tuberculosis and believed the German government had cheated him out of his war pension. To make matters worse and to continue Seifert’s descent into madness, his wife Renata Urszula died of an embolism during premature child birth.
He would go on to write “the physician is the greatest mass murder of the poor in the history of mankind…Does the aforementioned science count before any court? No, thus begins the vigilante justice, the terror of the medical society in the pluralistic chaos of criminality. But terror can only be extirpated with counter – terrorism and whoever denies me the protection of the law forces the cudgel into my hand.”
That terrorism would be wrought in the worst way, an assault on the Cologne Elementary School on June 11th, 1964, killing two teachers that day and eight children who died of their wounds days later, using a homemade lance and flamethrower.