10 American Serial Killers Who Will Haunt Us Forever
America has a long history of psychotic and downright wicked serial killers. Although reading about them creeps us out, today we're going to talk about 10 of the worst offenders, the type of people that you should hope to never meet in person.
Below are the 10 American serial killers who will haunt us forever.
10. Richard Kuklinski
Nickname: The Iceman
Richard Leonard Kuklinski was a hitman associated with the American Mafia, preferably The DeCavalcante Crime Family of Newark, New Jersey.
Richard’s Mother and Father were extremely abusive towards him, his two brothers and sister. Richard’s older brother was actually killed by his father due to injuries he sustained from a beating, but his father and the family lied and told the police he had fallen down some stairs. His younger brother was convicted of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl. In an interview when Richard was asked about his younger brother’s conviction he simply replied: “We come from the same father.” Richard was also into killing cats at a young age.
Richard acquired the nickname “The Iceman” due to freezing the bodies of his victims so that the time of death would be confusing to investigators. Arrested in his older age due to “sloppiness” in his killings, he was convicted and tried for the murders of six people. Although, he himself in many interviews claims he has easily murdered over two hundred.
Richard has been involved in two biographies, three documentaries and a feature film, even a play is being produced. Probably because of the shear emotionless attitude he has towards killing others. He casually talks about dismembering men with a chainsaw and how if a boss wanted someone to “suffer” he would tie, bound and cut up the victim a little bit and leave them in an underground tunnel. The screaming and smell would attract rats to come and eat the person alive. He would record these events and later watch them because they were gruesome enough to give him a “feeling.”
After nearly 18 years in prison, Richard died of an incurable form of Kawasaki Disease.
9. Gary Ridgway
Nickname: The Green River Killer
Also Read: 14 Of The Creepiest Quotes From Infamous Serial Killers
Gary Leon Ridgway was convicted of 48 murders, as part of a plea bargain, he was convicted of 49, making him the most prolific serial killer in terms of confirmed kills. Since his arrest in 2001, he has confessed to 71, but many believe he has killed more than 90 because bodies are still being found that date back to his killing spree 1982-1998.
His victims were mostly sex workers and other women in venerable situations; he also preyed on young runaways. He would strangle his victims mostly by hand and in a few situations with a ligature. He would then dump the body in a forested area and would often return to the bodies to have sex with them. It was because of this disturbing action he was eventually caught using DNA found at the scene.
Gary had a troubled childhood where his parents were involved in numerous violent arguments and his father was a school bus driver who often complained about sex workers plaguing the streets. Gary had a bed wetting problem until he was 13 years of age. His mother would clean his genitals after every occurrence. Gary admitted in an interview that he had felt sexual attraction and anger towards his mother and had often fantasized about killing her.
Gary is still serving his life without the possibility of parole sentence at Washington State Penitentiary.
8. The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer was active in Northern California from the late 60s to the early 70s. Five confirmed deaths and 2 injuries. Investigators believe the number could be between 20-28 deaths. The killer has claimed to have murdered 37.
The Zodiac Killer left several taunting letters sent to a local bay area press. He also included 4 Cryptograms (only one has been successfully decoded).
The victims were mostly shot by a .38 caliber handgun. A few were stabbed to death, one man was stabbed so violently he was nearly decapitated.
The Zodiac murders were marked “inactive” in April of 2004 but later reopened in March of 2007.
There have also been copycat killers who were inspired by The Zodiac Killer in both New York (Heriberto “Eddie” Seda) and Japan (The Kobe Child Murders).
7. Charles Manson
Charles Milles Manson was a long time criminal and cult leader. In the late 60’s he created what was known as the Manson Family. Manson’s followers committed 9 murders in 4 different locations in July and August of 1969. In 1971 Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Manson was obsessed with a belief in “Helter Skelter” (a term he took from a Beatles song), which he described as an impending apocalyptic race war. He believed that the murders would inevitably cause the beginning of this said “race war.”
Manson was involved in the Los Angeles music scene around the time the Manson Family was being formed because of his association with Dennis Wilson (the drummer and founding member of the Beach Boys). Manson then released commercially recorded music written and performed by himself after his conviction including “Lie: The Love and Terror Cult”. Various musicians have covered these songs.
Manson died fairly recently of cardiac arrest as a result of respiratory failure and colon cancer on November 19, 2017.
6. John Wayne Gacy
Nickname: The Killer Clown
John Wayne Gacy Jr. was a serial killer and rapist. He was convicted of 33 counts of murder, 1 count of sexual assault, 1 count of indecent liberties with a child and 1 count of sodomy. His killings would span from early 1972 to late 1978.
His victims consisted of young men and mostly teenage boys. He forced or deceived his victims into his Norwood Park ranch house and would strangle all but one of his victims, the first being stabbed to death. He would make his victims perform sever sex acts and admitted that as he killed a person at the moment of their death he would experience a “mind-numbing orgasm.”
Gacy managed several restaurants and would invite his younger workers of both sexes to attend him at his “club” located in the basement of his home. He would give alcohol to the minors and make sexual advances on the male attendees. If he was turned down by these advances he would claim they were a joke or a test of moral values.
He would lure several of these young men and boys to his basement. He would most often have drinks with them to mellow them out, and then he would try to find ways to get them to agree to put on handcuffs. Once this was achieved he would become violent and explain to the victim what was going to happen to them. After he would kill his victims he would hide the bodies in a crawl space and buried a few in his yard.
Gacy acquired the nickname “The Killer Clown” because of his community volunteer work as “Pogo the Clown.” He stated that acting as a clown allowed him to “regress into childhood”.
As is tradition, his childhood was messed up by an alcoholic and abusive father, who would constantly beat him, his mother and three sisters. Gacy would get the worst of the beatings, he was often verbally and physically abused for no reason as a close friend of the family would later confess.
Gacy was put to death in 1994 by lethal injection. His final words were “Kiss my ass.”
5. Ed Gein
Nickname: The Butcher of Plainfield
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Edward Theodore Gein doesn’t have much to offer in the category of body counts or heinous acts on the living, but he is most remembered for body snatching and screwing around in graves of recently deceased females.
He had a somewhat difficult childhood. His father was an alcoholic which his mother despised. After his father quit a few dead-end jobs and a sold grocery store Ed and his family moved to a 155-acre farm. Ed’s mother used this isolation to her advantage turning away any outsiders that might have any influence on Ed and Ed’s brother Henry.
Gein’s mother Augusta was fervently religious in the Lutheran faith. She would only allow the boys to attend school and that was all. Outside of school, the boys had several chores around the farm and when they weren’t doing that, they were being preached to, usually about the evils of the world, alcoholism and how all women (except her of course) were all prostitutes and instruments of the devil. She reserved time to read the Bible every day. She would only select the graphic verses from the Old Testament concerning death, murder and when God would smite all of mankind.
Ed’s father died of heart failure due to his alcoholism. Ed’s brother Henry died face down in a field in strange circumstances after Ed and himself were burning away weeds on the property. Much suspect foul play, or that even Ed killed him, but the police marked it up as “heart failure” simply because he was not burned or injured.
They caught Ed after a store owner (Bernice Worden) disappeared and Ed was seen the night before saying he would be back the next morning for a gallon of antifreeze. The next day the store was empty and the cash register was open and there was blood on the floor. A sales slip for a gallon of antifreeze was the last receipt written before the disappearance. Gein was arrested at a local grocery store. That same evening the Waushara County Sheriff’s department searched Ed’s property. In a shed, they found a woman’s decapitated body hanging upside down by the ankles and “dressed out like a deer.” She had been shot by a .22 caliber rifle.
Upon searching the house, authorities found:
Whole human bones.
Human skin covering several chair seats.
A wastebasket made of human skin.
Bowls made from a human skull.
Skulls on his bedposts.
Random female skulls scattered around the house, some with the tops sawed off.
A corset made from female torso skin.
Leggings made of Human skin.
Masks made from female human skin.
A face mask of one of his victims (Mary Hogan) in a paper bag.
Mary Hogan’s skull in a box
Bernice Worden’s entire head in a burlap sack
Bernice Worden’s heart in a plastic bag in front of Ed’s stove.
Nine vulvae in a shoe box.
A young girls dress and the vulvas of two females.
A belt made of human female nipples.
Four noses a pair of lips on his window seal.
A lampshade made from the skin of a human face.
And bunch of female fingernails.
Ed had confessed to killing the two women and making as many as 40 nocturnal visits to 3 local graveyards. He claimed he went into a “daze-like” state, which would cause him to go to the graveyards to exhume corpses. Many times he would awaken from these dazes and go home empty handed, but if he didn’t he would look for recently deceased middle-aged women that reminded him of his mother. He would then take an entire body home and make his paraphernalia.
Gein was found unfit to stand trial and was found guilty, but legally insane. So he was sent to numerous psychiatric institutions. He later died in Mendota Mental Health Institute of cancer.
Ed Gein has had a tremendous impact on popular culture. He has been referenced in several different films, songs and literature. His character has been modeled in several books and movies: most notably as Norman Bates in Psycho, Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.
4. Richard Ramirez
Nickname: Night Stalker
Ricardo Leyva Munoz Ramirez was an American serial killer responsible for 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, 11 counts of sexual assault and 14 counts of burglary.
Richard had a troubled childhood with an abusive father, though in this case, his father was abusive towards himself. Richards father often threatened suicide in front of the kids and would beat himself violently in front of Richard. One time hitting himself in the face with a hammer he retrieved under the kitchen sink, he knocked himself unconscious and lost a few teeth. Richard recalled being very troubled seeing these things at such a young age.
He had a few accidents in which he suffered serious head injuries. When he was two a large dresser fell on top of him requiring 30 stitches. When he was five a swing at a park knocked him unconscious after which he would experience frequent epileptic seizures until he was a young teen.
He also had a close a close cousin who had fought in the Vietnam War who was very quick to share his gruesome stories of war and how he had raped and tortured woman overseas. He had a collection of Polaroid pictures he would share with Richard, one notable picture was of
Richards’s cousin posing next to the severed head of a woman he had raped and killed.
During Richards killing spree he had the entire city of Los Angeles and later the residents of San Francisco terrorized from June 1984 to August 1985. He would break into homes of females he had been keeping an eye on mostly in the middle of the night. He would then overpower or bind them and ask for valuables very often the women would not be able to produce items worthy enough, so Ramirez would become enraged and he would shoot, stab or strangle the victim. Some of the murders were quick, a single gunshot to the head was all that would be found, but others were far more gruesome.
In the first murder 79-year-old, Jennie Vincow was stabbed several times and had her throat slashed so deeply she was nearly decapitated. He simply snuck in through an open window and killed her, no other reason.
In another murder, Richard attacked a couple. He shot the husband (Vincent Zazzara) in the head and woke his wife (Maxine) which he tied up and asked for any valuables, while Richard was ransacking the place she managed to escape her restraints and ran for a shotgun hidden under the bed. She pulled the gun up and fired at Richard, the gun jammed and Richard in an extremely angry state stabbed her repeatedly and gouged out her eyes with a butchers knife.
With such infamy, Richard really enjoyed the terror in his victims when he would announce himself as the Night Stalker after entering a home. They knew that they were done for and would be completely horrified by his presence.
Richard died of complications from lymphoma while waiting to be executed on death row.
3. Ted Bundy
Theodore Robert Bundy is an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar and Necrophile who is responsible for more than 30 murders. Many speculate this number to be far too low and probably in the hundreds.
Ted was a handsome and very intelligent man, who would lure many females into bad situations. He also murdered many hitchhikers, after which he would break into homes of women and bludgeon them to death with a tire iron.
Bundy had much knowledge about law and detective work, so he was very careful to make sure he didn’t leave any evidence and would always try to stay ahead of police and investigators. He was very careful and believed in strangulation and bludgeoning because firearms and sharp weapons would leave too much evidence. He switched names, vehicles and locations so often that it took a very long time for authorities in several different areas (Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho and Florida) to even figure out they were after the same guy until his arrest. He had even been caught a few times before being found to be a serial killer. He had a way of talking his way out of situations and knew his rights, so the worst he got was possessing items that may have been used for burglary. Early in the killings, Ted could have been caught if police hadn’t overlooked a box of Polaroid pictures he had kept of his first few victims. Ted quickly learned of his mistakes and burned the pictures and any other “souvenir” that could be used against him.
Once Bundy was caught for the murders and kidnappings, he still had one trick up his sleeve. He had the ability almost at will to change the look of his face. Many survivors and witnesses would be looking at pictures of Bundy and think they were looking at several different men.
Ted would give many interviews and since he wasn’t deemed “insane” like most on this list gave researchers much information on a motive and an understanding of how he thought and acted. He showed much remorse and often cried saying he couldn’t begin to understand the pain the parents of his victims felt. He also stated, “There is no way in the world killing me is going to restore those beautiful children to their parents.”
He had a pretty normal childhood from his own account. He never knew his father and was “slightly resentful” towards his mother because she never told him who his father could be and just left the searching up to Ted.
Bundy was put to death by the electric chair in 1989 in the Florida State Prison.
His last words: “I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
2. Albert Fish
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Nicknames: the Gray Man, Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Moon Maniac and The Boogey Man.
Hamilton Howard Fish was a murderer, child rapist and cannibal who often boasted that he “had children in every state” and constantly stated he had victimized over a hundred victims, although never noted if he was referring to rape or cannibalization.
Albert’s family was plagued with mental illness. His siblings, mother, uncles and cousins were all diagnosed with various mental illnesses. When Albert’s father (a riverboat captain) died his mother put him in an orphanage because she couldn’t afford him any longer. He was unmercifully beaten until he was 9. He grew to like the beatings and the pain.
When Fish was 12 his mother had a job and took him out of the orphanage. Around that age, he made a friend that introduced him to practising drinking his own urine and eating his own feces. He also had a habit of visiting public baths to watch young boys undress and spent the majority of his weekends doing this.
In his early twenties, he had arrived in New York City where he said at this point he became a prostitute and began to rape young boys. He also worked as a house painter and continued to molest children, mostly boys younger than six years old.
He visited a waxwork museum with a male lover around this time and was fascinated by a display of a bisection of a penis. After that visit, he became obsessed with sexual mutilation.
Fish had a mentally disabled lover Thomas Kedden in which he took to an old farmhouse where he was tortured by Fish, the torturing lasted for two weeks. Albert eventually tied up Kedden and cut off half of his penis. “I shall never forget his scream or the look he game me.” Fish later recalled. He had intended to murder him and cut up his body, but it was too hot outside… So instead he poured peroxide on the wound covered it with a Vaseline covered handkerchief, left a ten dollar bill, kissed him and departed on the first train back to his home. No one ever knew what became of Kedden.
Albert (aged 58) was put on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd. Fish had seen a classified advertisement for a man who wished for a job Edward Budd. They met for the job of a farmhand where Fish introduced himself as Frank Howard. Fish intended on killing Edward, he wanted to torture and mutilate him and let him bleed to death, but instead saw his little girl and decided he wanted her instead. Fish talked the parents of Grace into letting her attend a birthday party that he was going to attend that evening for his niece. Grace left with Fish that day and never returned.
In November 1934 an anonymous letter was sent to the girl’s parents. This letter would ultimately lead the police to capture Fish. The unaltered letter with fish’s misspellings and grammatical errors read:
My dear Mrs Budd,
In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the steamer Tacoma, Capt John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was a famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1 to 3 Dollars a pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold to the Butchers to be cut up and sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak – chops – or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girls behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys one 7 one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 yr old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except Head – bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven, (all of his ass) boiled, broiled, fried, stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. At that time I was living at 409 E 100 St, rear – right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3 – 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese – strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her, on the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wild flowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mama. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her, though, I could of [sic] had I wished. She died a virgin.
Albert’s trial lasted for ten days. Fish pleaded insanity, and claimed to have heard voices from God telling him to “kill children.” Several psychiatrists testified about Fish's sexual fetishes, which included sadism, masochism, cunnilingus, anilingus, fellatio, flagellation, exhibitionism, voyeurism, piquerism, cannibalism, coprophagia, urophilia, pedophilia and infibulation. Fish’s defense layer (James Dempsey) in his summation noted that Fish was a "psychiatric phenomenon" and that nowhere in legal or medical records was there another individual who possessed so many sexual abnormalities.
He was found guilty and put to death by the electric chair. He posted several hand-written notes in his cell hours before his sentence was carried out. When the press wanted Dempsey to reveal the documents contents Dempsey refused saying: “I will never show it to anyone. It was the most filthy string of obscenities that I have ever read.”
1. Jeffery Dahmer
Nickname: The Milwaukee Cannibal
Jeffery Lionel Dahmer was a serial killer and sex offender who committed rape, murder and dismemberment of 17 men and boys. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia and cannibalism.
Jeffery had a somewhat normal childhood involving his parents. He claimed there was an always present “tension” between his almost always arguing parents. He did have a unique hobby of dismembering animals he found dead or had killed to see how they “fitted together”. When he was very young his dad was removing dirt next to their home and had uncovered some animal remains. Jeffery’s dad claimed he was “overly excited” to see the bones and the crunching noise they made.
As a teen around the time he hit puberty he discovered he was homosexual, he hid this from his parents. He had a small relationship with another youth secretively. He admitted that around this time he had begun to fantasize about being sexually dominant over completely subservient partners in his thoughts. He began to mix these thoughts with dissection. He claimed on one occasion when he was sixteen he had a rape fantasy where he would render a particular male jogger he found attractive unconscious and then sexually abuse his unconscious body. Dahmer made this fantasy a reality where he planned everything out and hid in some bushes with a baseball bat where he planned on attacking the man. That day the jogger didn’t pass by Jeffery and he never attempted to attack him again.
Dahmer was a heavy drinker and began drinking when he was a teenager because of “a lot of problems.” Shortly after he graduated high school he picked up a hitchhiker (Steven Hicks) that was passing through on his way to a rock concert. Dahmer talked the youth into coming to his house so they could drink together. Dahmer had the family home to himself because of a nasty divorce between his parents that had his father staying in a hotel close to the house and his mother had relocated to a different city. Jeffery and Steven began drinking, listening to music and were having a good time, but Steven said he needed to get going and Jeffery didn’t want him to. So he hit him over the head twice with a 10lb dumbbell, once Steven was unconscious he strangled him with the bar from the dumbbell until he died. Jeffery masturbated over the body of the man buried him in a shallow grave in the backyard. He would weeks later exhume the body and strip the bones of any flesh and dissolved the flesh in acid. He flushed the solution down the toilet, then smashed the remaining bones with a sledgehammer and would scatter the powdered and fragmented bones in the woods behind his house.
Jeffery would join the army for a short while where he was deemed a good soldier but would be discharged because of his alcohol problems. His drinking problem also caused him to be fined for indecent exposure and public intoxication.
In his mid-twenties, he began to have the dominating sexual fantasies again. He even stole male mannequins that he would practice on, until his grandmother found them and told him to discard them.
Through his late twenties and early thirties, he would commit some disturbing murders where he would store bodies, dismember them and dissolve them in acid. One victim would be drugged and have a hole drilled in their head so Dahmer could insert acid to dissolve the brain while alive. Dahmer wanted to essentially have a “sex zombie” someone who was alive, but not really, so he could fulfil his dominant sexual fantasies.
A handcuffed man (Tracy Edwards) would run up to a police car screaming that a “freak” had placed him in the handcuffs and was trying to kill him. Edwards had escaped Jeffery’s apartment home after striking him in the face knocking him off balance. The police officers went to Jeffery’s home and asked for the keys. Edwards informed them he was being held against his will and was being threatened by a large knife that Jeffery had hidden under his bed. The police entered the home and found the knife under the bed. They also found about 75 Polaroid pictures of dismembered bodies. One of the officers asked, “are these real?” Jeffery then tried to escape, he was quickly subdued and handcuffed himself. He turned his head over and said: “For what I did I should be dead.”
The police called for backup and upon further inspection of the home found:
Four severed heads in Dahmer's kitchen. A total of seven skulls - some painted, some bleached - were found in Dahmer's bedroom and inside a closet. In addition, investigators discovered collected blood drippings on a tray at the bottom of Dahmer's refrigerator, plus two human hearts and a portion of arm muscle, each wrapped in plastic bags upon the shelves. In Dahmer's freezer, investigators discovered an entire torso, plus a bag of human organs and flesh stuck to the ice at the bottom. Elsewhere in Apartment 213, investigators discovered two entire skeletons, a pair of severed hands, two severed and preserved penises, a mummified scalp and, in the 57-gallon drum, three further dismembered torsos dissolving in the acid solution. A total of 74 Polaroid pictures detailing the dismemberment of Dahmer's victims were found. In reference to the recovery of body parts and artifacts at 924 North 25th Street, the chief medical examiner later stated: "It was more like dismantling someone's museum than an actual crime scene.”
Jeffery confessed and was charged with life imprisonment for 16 life terms, surprisingly being deemed sane to stand trial.
In November of 1994, Jeffery was brutally murdered in prison by a fellow inmate (Christopher Scarver) who struck Jeffery several times in the head with a 20-inch iron bar. Scarver claimed that God told him to do it.
. . .
These were definitely some sick individuals. I guess the lesson we can learn from all of this is to take care of our children and definitely keep an eye out for sketchy Polaroids. Did you agree with this list? Do you know of any other gruesome details I might have missed? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.