This list contains some of the most infamous serial killers in history, as well as relatively unknown murderers who committed truly heinous acts. The purpose of this article is not to glorify their crimes, but to assess whether justice is even possible when this kind of evil at work in humans.
Donald Harvey, the "Angel of Death"
Donald Harvey is a nurse-turned-serial killer. She was working in a hospital as a nurse and was secretly killing off his patients. To him, he was doing them a favor. He thought that his chronically ill patients needed relief from the pain, so he would smother them with pillows or poison them, or let their oxygen tanks run out. It is believed he took the lives of over 70 people.
However, in 1987 he was only convicted for 37 counts of murder. He was sentenced to life plus 20 years. In March of 2017, Harvey was beat up badly by a fellow inmate. He passed away shortly.
Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler"
Albert DeSalvo is better known as the "Boston Strangler," a serial killer who violently took the lives of 13 women between 1962 and 1964. His M.O. was to strangle them with a piece of their clothing before assaulting and killing them.
In January 1967, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. A month later, he and two other inmates managed to escape from prison. A full-scale manhunt ensued and, thankfully, it wasn't long until he was recaptured.
However, in 1973, Albert was stabbed to death by another prisoner.
Ronnie McPeters: Too Mentally Ill to Execute
Ronnie McPeters was actually been deemed too mentally ill to execute. Ronnie was first arrested after killing a 27-year-old woman. The woman, Linda Marie Balthazar, was running errands when Ronnie came up to her window while pan-handling. She shooed him away and he left temporarily before returning and shooting her.
He was first placed in jail for his crime and then placed in the rubber room. But that didn't stop him because he was known to set fires in the jail and harass other inmates, so they moved him to San Quentin prison, where he awaited execution. That's when his strange behavior intensified.
Apparently, he would attack other prisoners and guards and was known to smear his feces all over his cell and himself. Ultimately, this behavior got him off death row.
Mark "Chopper" Reed
Mark Reed was an Australian criminal who lived a life of crime. He was known for ripping off drug dealers as well as kidnapping and torturing members of the criminal underworld. It's believed that he was responsible for the death of 19 people and the attempted murder of 11 others.
His actions while in prison were especially sadistic. For example, he had a fellow inmate cut both of his ears off so that he could leave H division and be transferred to a different wing. He also played Russian roulette with himself.
Jeffrey Dahmer, "the Milwaukee Monster"
The "Milwaukee Monster" the cartoonish moniker for one of the most infamous murderers (and cannibals) in modern history. He was also very smart, which adds an extra layer of terror to this one. Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most prolific serial killers ever and considering everyone I've written about in this article, we know that's not an easy title to get.
He became fixated with animals at a young age and if you're interested in true crime and criminology, you know what happens next and how bad of a sign it is. Dahmer dropped out of business school due to school after just three months and enlisted in the U.S. Army to train as a medical specialist. But that didn't last long. He was discharged after he attacked two fellow soldiers.
After this Dahmer fell hard into alcoholism and this is when he went on his killing spree. To be clear, these two things are not related. Between 1971 and 1999, Dahmer went on to take the lives of 17 people, and some of the things after included the permanent preservation of the body parts, typically all or part of the skeleton.
One of his victims was able to escape and booked it to the police. This is of course what led to Dahmer being caught for his atrocious crimes. When they got there, the chief medical examiner remarked that it was more like dismantling someone's museum than an actual crime scene. In the end, Dahmer was tried and convicted and sentenced to 15 life imprisonment. In February 1992, he received an additional life sentence for a crime he hadn't yet been tried for.
On November, 28 1994, an inmate Christopher Scarver finally succeeded in taking Dahmer's life. Apparently, Dahmer was known to taunt other prisoners. He would do this by making his prison food look like severed limbs and drizzling ketchup on top.
This guy is one of the scariest inmates in the world. One time he killed a man just because he stared at him the wrong way. In court, Jenkins was known to speak in a weird language. He said he used this language to communicate with an Egyptian serpent god. This god was the one giving him orders to kill people. He also enjoyed talking about the people he killed, smiling the whole time. In the end, he was convicted of killing four individuals.
Alexander Pichushkin is a Russian serial killer who wanted to complete the number of squares on a chessboard by killing 64 people. It's said that he has killed at least 49 individuals and possibly as many as 60. In fact, he was inspired by another serial killer, the cannibal Andrei Chikatilo.
In his mind, he wanted to compete with him and kill even more individuals than Andrei did. When Alexander was young, he was said to be a kind and sociable child. That was until one day when he got struck in the head by a swing. From then on his whole demeanor completely changed and he grew aggressive and violent. So they think that this accident turned him into a serial killer.
Pedro Rodrigues Filho: "Killer Pete"
Pedro Rodrigues Filho is a Brazilian serial killer who claimed to have killed 100 individuals, starting at a young age. One of the first kills was his father, who he slaughtered with a machete at the age of 14. He was also been known to kill and torture a number of gang members. He did this all before he was 18.
Pedro was arrested on May 24, 1973, at which time he was placed in a car with another criminal who he promptly killed for no reason. While in prison, he went on to kill more people. It's said he took the lives of 47 inmates in jail alone. Two prison psychiatrists later diagnosed him with paranoid and anti-social behavior.
Incredibly, "Killer Pete" was released from prison in 2007 due to a Brazilian law that limits maximum sentences. The 67-year-old now documents his life on his YouTube channel.
Tommy Lynn Sells
Tommy Lynn Sells was an American serial killer who is responsible for 22 confirmed deaths. but authorities have said that they know that there are more. I actually watched an interview that he did and one of the aspects that scared me the most while watching him talk about his crimes is how you can tell that he committed these acts simply for the "thrill" of it.
In the end, Tommy was caught because of someone who survived his attack in the most incredible way. She was able to go on and give such a good description of him that it led to his capture and she was able to positively identify him.
Not only did she save her own life, but who knows how many others in the end. Tommy and his crimes were deemed so horrific that he received the death sentence. While in jail he said that there wasn't one day that went by where he didn't think about the one that got away, which is absolutely chilling. Tommy's life came to an end when he was executed on April 3rd, 2014.
Rose West: Serial Killers in Love
Rose West is an English serial killer who committed her crimes alongside her husband. He definitely would have a spot on this list but he ended up taking his own life in 1995, after being arrested while awaiting trial. The terrible pair were investigated and subsequently arrested for taking nine lives together. Rose received an additional charge for another tenth life. During the court proceedings and against the advice of her counsel, Rose decided she would testify herself and and what a trip that was.
During her testimony, she was sometimes very tearful and very dramatic. But of course an act like that can be hard to keep up, so other times she was just cracking jokes and laughing. Imagine doing your tight five while you're on trial for the worst of the worst crimes. Luckily, it seems as though the jury hated that as much as I do, because they all came back with a unanimous verdict of guilty on all 10 crimes.
In prison Rose West met Myra Hindley, who committed similar crimes with her partner. The two became besties and even had an affair in jail. But throughout the whole thing, Rose still claimed she was totally innocent and that Fred was completely responsible for all of the murders.
Chester Turner is an American serial killer who, on April 30, 2007, was convicted of taking the lives of 11 women in the Los Angeles area; on June 19, 2014, he was convicted of four more. He has been referred to by prosecutors as one of the most prolific serial killers in the city's history. If you know Los Angeles history with things like that, that is not something to take lightly.
Due to other crimes, Chester had to submit a DNA sample. This sample is what ended up leading authorities to solve these horrific crimes. At the time, these cases were turning cold but thankfully, Chester was caught. In his original trial, which led to a conviction, Chester was sentenced to death, but at the following one in 2014, he received an additional death sentence.
The Green River Killer (and How He Was Caught)
This horrible human being is also sometimes known as the Green River Killer and his crimes took place between 1982 to possibly as recent as 2001. He was convicted for 49 crimes, but confessed to an unbelievable 71, which makes him the second most prolific serial killer in the United States in terms of confirmed killings.
Most of his victims were either sex workers or women in other vulnerable circumstances. Through DNA profiling evidence in 2001, authorities were able to connect him to four of his crimes. From there they made a deal with him where they would spare him the death sentence in exchange for the disclosure of the locations of all of the missing women. Gary took the deal and was spared a death sentence and instead was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He remains in prison and is currently 73 years old.
It is said that before his crime spree, Herbert Mullin was quite bright and well-liked. He was voted most likely to succeed in high school. But by his mid-30s, his life took a dark turn and he killed at least 13 people.
Experts have explained that Herbert suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, as he believed his crimes were preventing earthquakes in California. In 1973, he was sentenced to life in prison, and although he was been up for parole a number of times, he has been denied every time with the next hearing taking place in 2025.
© 2022 Lawrence Lease