To some people, the perfect relationship means being able to share absolutely everything, allowing both people involved to know every last detail about one another’s lives. Unfortunately for these people, others feel the exact opposite and believe a perfect couple is one that barely knows one another at all, riddled with secrets and mysteries between them. This isn’t always a bad thing, as there are indeed certain things people simply don’t need to know about their spouses or romantic partners.
However, some secrets are so dark and painful, they could destroy a person’s family if they come out. Putting things lightly, it would be nice to know if our partners were up to this sort of behavior before it hit the fan, so to speak — like, for example, if they happened to be a serial killer, mass-murdering innocent victims in elaborate ways all throughout your shared courtship. Granted, most people would probably notice a few signs and start asking questions when their loved one starts exhibiting signs of a sociopath. Or at least that’s what we’d like to believe we would do in such a situation.
The reality of the situation is that a surprising number of women have found themselves married to serial killers without having any clue what their evil husbands were up to. Some of these women were abuse victims themselves, yet it never occurred to them this violence was causing pain and suffering to countless strangers as well. Others realized their husbands were acting weird but never took the leap to suspecting serial killing, assuming he may have been cheating or simply putting in long hours at work.
Either way, the fact remains they had no idea their husbands were wanted murderers until police showed up at their doorstep. Keep reading for all the details about 15 women who had no idea their husbands were serial killers.
15. Barbara Kuklinski – Wife of The Ice Man
Cold, callous, and heartless as he took the lives of potentially over 100 men, it actually makes sense that the wife of “The Ice Man,” Richard Kuklinski had no idea what he was doing at night. The entire point of Kuklinski’s nickname is that he showed no emotion when getting paid by multiple mafia families to commit murder after murder, taking none of the stress his vicious source of income caused home with him. Of course, this doesn’t mean things were perfect in the Kuklinski household, as his wife Barbara was a regular subject of physical and mental abuse during their 25 years together. Even so, she never imagined the large amounts of money he would occasionally bring home were payments for contract killings, though she did, at one point, suspect he might have been involved in crimes of some sort. These thoughts never went above petty theft, though, and hearing Richard confess to upwards of 250 murders was as shocking to Barbara as it was to the rest of the world.
14. Cathy Wilson – Wife of Peter Tobin
If there’s any consolation for the surprising number of women to get duped into marrying serial killers, the fact they’re hardly alone might make it easier for them to accept the situation wasn’t their fault. In fact, some individual serial killers had multiple wives, none of whom were aware of what they were doing at night. In the case of Peter Tobin, his killing spree didn’t begin until he was married to wife number three, and yet the crimes nonetheless caused great shock and stress to his two ex-wives as well. By the time he started killing women throughout Scotland, Tobin was betrothed to Cathy Wilson, whom he regularly beat and sexually assaulted at knifepoint. Despite this horrific treatment, she was totally taken aback years later when it was revealed Tobin had murdered a woman named Dinah McNichol during their time together. Police discovered this fact after Tobin was found to have murdered several other women as well. It’s also possible Tobin was engaged in killing sprees while married to his earlier wives, also pulling the wool over their eyes all the while, though this currently remains unproven.
13. Three Separate Wives Of H.H. Holmes
The three wives of H.H. Holmes obviously had no idea their husband was a mass murderer— as one of the very first serial killers, if not the very first serial killer, to wreak havoc on America, the term didn’t even exist until after he was captured, so how could they have possibly known what he was? Regardless of this fact, the three Holmes wives had to be pretty clueless in general, as not only did they not know about the infamous “Murder Castle” where Holmes claims hundreds lost their lives, but they were also unaware he was married to all three of them at the same time. Granted, first wife Clara Lovering got tired of Holmes’s abuse and left him years before any known murders took place. However, it was during the same time frame he married both Myrtle Belknap and Georgiana Yoke that Holmes constructed the hotel where he would send many patrons to their deaths. Apparently, neither of his spouses ever stayed in his building and found out for themselves.
12. Feodosia Chikatilo – Wife Of The Rostov Ripper
All of the women on this list suffered in more ways than one, either physical or mental abuse at their husbands’ hands or through inner turmoil after their crimes came to light. While being beaten by one’s spouse is obviously worse, Feodosia Odnacheva also experienced a great struggle during her marriage to Andrei Chikatilo, the Rostov Ripper, in that the man claimed his murderous crime spree was a result of lifelong impotence. Indeed, Feodosia was aware of her husband’s inability to father any children the old-fashioned way, yet the couple produced two kids through homebrewed in vitro fertilization, which was good enough for her. Of course, she never would’ve gone through the trouble had she known Chikatilo had been sexually assaulting and murdering innocent children the entire time they were together. Reportedly, Feodosia became enraged when police arrived at their house to arrest her husband, yelling at Andrei and causing him to bow his head in shame, with one officer remarking he looked like he was afraid of her.
11. Paula Dietz – Wife Of The BTK Strangler
“Bind,” “torture,” and “kill” are three words you don’t want to find on a prospective lover’s Tinder profile, let alone anywhere else in a description of his life. Unfortunately for Paula Dietz, these three words, shortened to BTK, were the calling cards of her husband Dennis Rader starting four years after they were married to the day he was captured, at which point she immediately filed for divorce. Of course, Dietz had little reason to suspect anything, as the BTK Killer amassed a smaller number of victims than average for a mass murderer and in a much wider time span, carefully plotting and executing each kill in a manner that made police — and his wife — completely clueless to what he was doing. The reason Rader was caught anyway related to his cockiness, not content at simply getting away with at least 10 murders. To rub it in, Rader began sending letters to police taking credit for his crimes and taunting that they would never catch him. Too bad his wife didn’t get the same notes — she might’ve pieced things together a bit quicker.
10. Alice Johnson – Wife Of Harv The Hammer
Of all the women on this list, Alice Johnson may well have had the most blatant warning signs she was married to a serial killer, though her husband Harvey “The Hammer” Carignan may have simply been that darn good at hiding them. That said, it must’ve taken serious effort to hide the fact that during his time stationed in Alaska while serving the Army in 1949, he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman named Laura Showalter. Initially, Carignan was set to die for the crime until a court decided his confession was coerced, commuting his sentence and soon leading to his parole. As if this episode wasn’t enough, Alice was also Carignan’s second wife, his first having left him after he abused her so badly, he went to jail for it. Still, two stints behind bars didn’t clue Alice in about what Harv was capable of, not leaving him until he started hitting her as well. Before that, he managed to kill two people without her knowing and attempted doing the same to a third.
9. Elena Popkov – Wife Of Mikhail “The Werewolf”
Some readers may be a little suspicious of the women on this list, thinking it’s impossible every single one of them was completely clueless to the atrocities her husband committed. Having done the research, we honestly find most, if not all, of their stories wholly believable despite how anyone else thinks they might’ve acted in the given situation. That said, once everything was in the clear and their husbands had admitted what they had done, these women needed to face facts and accept they had been deceived all their lives. For the most part, they’ve all at least tried to do this, except Elena Popkov, wife of Mikhail Popkov, one of Russia’s worst modern-day serial killers.
Mikhail sexually assaulted and murdered some 22 women while serving as a police officer, claiming it was his mission to cleanse his country of prostitution and women who practiced it. We know this because he confessed as much to other police officers, reporters, and before a court of law. However, Elena refused to believe any of it, as did her and Mikhail’s daughter, Ekaterina. Feeling the justice system was failing their family, they said their father never would have committed the crimes he had admitted to, arguing they would’ve known something was up. And yet, almost two dozen other women are still dead.
8. Judith Mawson – Wife of The Green River Killer
Most of the women on this list, at least those who’ve accepted reality, were furious once they found out that their husbands were serial killers. If not furious, hurt, shocked, offended, and embarrassed are probably a few emotions that could cover how they felt. Point is, one thing women don’t feel upon hearing their husband was a serial killer is love, romance, or anything of the sort… except in the case of Judith Lynch, the third and final wife of Gary Ridgway, aka The Green River Killer. Well, maybe saying Lynch loved hearing about what her husband did is exaggeration, but she may well have appreciated hearing that his killing spree, which lasted from 1981 to 1988, essentially stopped the moment they were wed. Of his 49 victims, only 3 were found dead after the marriage to Mawson, though he wasn’t caught until late 2001, showing years of restraint many psychologists believe was due to his love for her. Unfortunately for them, love doesn’t conquer decades old murders, so Ridgway went to jail for what he did before meeting Mawson.
7. Zhang Qingfeng – Wife of Gao Chengyong
In many respects, the life of a serial killer is lived in constant worry of capture. Though, of course, this in no way compares to the fear and terror they inflict upon their victims, living in light fear is the sort of thing even an inattentive spouse will start to notice as it intensifies. Even after Gao Chengyon confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering eleven young girls throughout China, making him the country’s worst serial killer and earning comparisons to Jack the Ripper, his wife Zhang Qingfeng had trouble believing his words. On the other hand, upon a little bit of reflection, she realized her husband had been acting nervously terrified ever since police took his DNA. By the time he was officially behind bars, she must’ve known something was up, yet this was still way after any of the actual killings took place, during which time she was totally in the dark.
6. Linda Brewer – Wife of Robert Yates
If it hasn’t been made clear by this point, let’s point out that simply because a woman didn’t realize her husband was a serial killer doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t suspect something was up with his behavior, just that mass murder was never on the list of options for why they were acting so strange. In the case of Robert Yates, who murdered no less than thirteen prostitutes in Spokane, Washington, his wife actually had a pretty good idea what the problem was, and she wasn’t even that far off. Linda Brewer, who married Yates in 1974, one year before he started killing, strongly believed her husband was cheating on her after she had found evidence of countless trips to a massage based spa and, in his address book, a half dozen phone numbers belonging to women she had never met. While it was fully plausible her husband was messing around, though, Linda never believed these women might be prostitutes or his victims until police finally arrested him and got him to confess.
5. Carole Hoffs – Married to John Wayne Gacy
Given the ways horror films have changed over time, one glance at John Wayne Gacy in his makeup as Pogo the Clown could make some people suspect the guy was a vicious serial killer. Of course, it’s because of men like Gacy the concept of a killer clown has become so commonplace, as back in the 1970s when his crime spree began, lovably white-faced comedians were the most trustworthy people to leave with your kids. Carole Hoffs no doubt appreciated the youthful joie de vivre Gacy inhabited as Pogo, not knowing that when all the adults left, he would lure no less than 33 children into his basement to sexually assault and murder them. Hoffs was hardly alone in never suspecting Gacy, as his friends and neighbors likewise never believed the seemingly lovable clown was up to something so dark behind closed doors.
4. Mary Elizabeth Harriman – Wife of Russell Williams
It should go without saying that none of the women on this list deserve any of the blame for what their husbands did; nor should they be derided for being unable to notice while they were doing it. Serial killers are, by definition, very good at getting away with their crimes without a trace, making it hard for any one person to piece the clues together all on their own. Mary Elizabeth Harriman, in particular, shouldn’t feel any shame for not knowing her husband, Russell Williams, was a serial killer, as the entire Royal Canadian Air Force was just as shocked.
Williams was a rising officer who had achieved the rank of colonel at CFB Trenton, Canada’s largest air base, when he threw it all away by murdering two women and sexually assaulting a shocking number of others. In contrast to the nature of this list, one of Williams’s earlier, non-fatal victims refused to believe Mary Harriman was unaware of her husband’s crimes and in fact claimed she was conspiring to cover them up, taking her to court over the ordeal. The lawsuit was settled, yet it appears Harriman still denies she knew a thing, reacting to the news by immediately filing for divorce.
3. Julie Baumeister – Wife of Herb Baumeister
Before getting too in-depth in the story of Herb Baumeister, it needs to be pointed out that he was never officially convicted of the crimes against him. Nor did he confess, yet the strange circumstances of his death paint a pretty obvious portrait of his guilt. In the days before Baumeister’s body was discovered in the Canadian woods, dead due to a suicide, police had been investigating his involvement in a string of related murders, all of the victims gay men who frequented bars Baumeister, too, regularly attended. Already, this news was a huge shock to Julie Baumeister, who believed her husband heterosexual and happily married to her. Of course, Julie had other things on her mind, like the fact she once found a bunch of human bones in her backyard, bizarrely believing Herb when he claimed they were trinkets a med school friend let him play with for a while. While this evidence wasn’t enough to connect the dots for Julie until police did so for her, it’s hard to disagree with their assessment this likely means Herb was a killer.
2. Georgette Lablais – Wife of Marcel Petiot
One thing this list has yet to consider is the idea that some of these women may be lying, not to protect their reputations or dignity, but rather to hide their own complicit guilt in what their husbands were doing. By and large, we avoided such speculation because it’s almost always baseless, yet it’s worth mentioning in the case of Marcel Petiot, as authorities initially arrested his wife, Georgette Lablais, along with him and several accomplices. Nicknamed “Doctor Satan,” Petiot used his position as a doctor during World War I to falsely lead refugees to believe they were being saved from German oppression via travel to South America. Instead of granting them this fate, however, Petiot then injected his victims with cyanide, claiming it was an inoculation. Once his jig was up, Petiot claimed his victims were all enemies of France and thus justifying his murders as acts of war. His wife, Georgette, simply claimed she never knew he was up to anything despite what authorities believed.
1. Darcie Brudos – Wife of the Shoe-Fetish Killer
The main method serial killers use to keep their crimes separate from their home lives is deceptively simple — they do their killing away from home. On top of that, they try their damndest not to bring any part of the murder home with them, in the form of DNA evidence or certainly not trophies that could link them to their victims — at least, usually, that is. Jerome Brudos, also known as “The Shoe Fetish Killer,” took his moniker to heart when bringing home the bodies and footwear of his four victims and regularly returning to them to live out twisted fantasies. Brudos got away with it by keeping the bodies in a secret room not even his wife was allowed to enter, which to some women, might be a pretty huge warning sign that something fishy was happening behind those closed doors. Darcie never once questioned her husband, though, until after he was placed in another room she couldn’t enter, that being his jail cell.
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