Kelley has great interest in many social issues, including crime, law enforcement, social media and politics.
Serial killers are largely a product of modern times. There’s something about packing people close together in a highly technological setting that turns some folks into heartless murderers.
Strangely, most serial killers have done their dirty work— perhaps three-quarters of the estimated world total—in the United States. Is it the relative freedom found in this country? Or the large number of cars, which give serial killers needed mobility?
Regardless of what makes a serial killer, why make a list of them? One reason is morbid fascination—the same reason people line up to see horror movies or rubber-neck at automobile accidents.
Moreover, people have always been captivated by death, because we’re all headed that way, sooner or later. Of course, those aforementioned dastardly guys and gals don’t need to press the issue, do they?
Incidentally, this article won’t present the grisly details of murders or the names of victims; books, documentaries or articles on the Internet can provide plenty of that. The purpose of this article is to point out each killer’s gruesome legacy and not necessarily body counts.
One very good book on the subject is entitled Serial Killers: The Stories of History’s Most Evil Murderers by Brian Innes, who wrote, “Serial killers are not monsters: they are human beings with tortured souls. The motive is intrinsic, an irresistible compulsion, fueled by fantasy, which may lead to torture, and/or sexual abuse, mutilation and necrophilia.”
(Unless otherwise noted, all quotes in this article come from Innes’ book.)
Now let’s read the list of the Dirty Dozen: America’s 13 Worst Serial Killers.
1. Carl Panzram
Carl Panzram may have been one of history’s first identified sociopaths. This man showed no conscience or compassion and never expressed the slightest regret for murdering 21 human beings.
Panzram’s trouble started at the age of eight when he was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. Then, at a reform school, Panzram drew a loaded pistol on a teacher and pulled the trigger—but the gun didn’t go off.
While awaiting execution by hanging, Panzram wrote, “If in the beginning I had been treated as well as I am now, then there wouldn’t have been so many people in this world that have been robbed, raped and killed.”
In 1930, when about to have his neck stretched, Panzram said, “Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard. I could hang a dozen men while you’re fooling around.”
2. Edward Theodore Gein
Edward Theodore Gein was a grave robber and murderer whose foul deeds inspired some of the most frightening characters in horror films. Gein was a mama’s boy who also wanted to be a woman. He robbed nearby cemeteries and murdered women for body parts, so he could “dress himself up” to resemble a woman.
When the police caught up with Gein, they discovered that his house was a slaughterhouse and morgue, with body parts scattered everywhere. Gein’s evil exploits led to the movies Psycho, Deranged, Silence of the Lambs and others.
Gein’s ghoulish ways also became part of Midwest mythology in the middle 1950s. Mothers told their children: “Don’t go down to the river or play on the railroad tracks. Ed Gein will get you.” Gein’s influence on popular culture may be the greatest of the serial killers.
3. Charles Manson
Like most serial killers, Charles Manson had a terrible childhood. He had no known father and his mother was a criminal who eventually rejected her son. Manson spent almost all of his early years in reform school or jail.
But when Charlie got into his thirties he became a guitar-strumming hippie with charisma. Fancying himself a kind of messiah, Charlie eventually formed a kind of “family" out in the desert, brainwashing his hippie followers while they tripped on LSD. Then he sent them—mostly women—on a murderous campaign in L.A., hoping to start a race war he called "Helter Skelter."
Once busted, the shocking tale of the Manson Family became the most sensational trial of the century. Thereafter, hippies were no longer viewed as innocent flower children banging on tambourines, and LSD wasn’t exactly given a resounding endorsement either. Perhaps Charlie’s most memorable line was “You made me,” when referring to how he thought society had made him what he was.
By the way, Manson may not have actually participated in any of the so-called Manson Murders, but he was convicted of conspiracy to commit these homicides, which constitutes the same type of crime per the laws of the state of California.
While still imprisoned, Charles Manson died of natural causes on November 19, 2017. He was 83.
4. The Hillside Stranglers
Originally, the police told the press there was only one strangler, but the public eventually learned that in fact two men, who came to be known as the infamous Hillside Stranglers, had committed the horrific murders of 10 women in the Los Angeles area during 1977 and 1978.
Two cousins, Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr., abducted, sexually assaulted, tortured and then murdered young women ranging in age from 12 to 28, their remains found in the Hollywood Hills—hence the nickname, though some were found in other parts of Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, neither man was apprehended until 1979 and, while on the run from police, Kenneth Bianchi murdered two more women in Washington. At his trial, Bianchi used an insanity defense, claiming that he had dissociative identity disorder, meaning that a different personality, separate from himself, had committed the crimes.
In fact, defense attorneys for these two men used just about every conceivable defense. Nevertheless, these denizens of the dark were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Buono died of a heart attack in 2002.
5. Henry Lee Lucas
Henry Lee Lucas may have been America’s most prolific serial killer, murdering over 200 people, though Lucas confessed to as many as 600. Authorities have eventually concluded that many of Lucas’ claims were exaggeration and/or references to other peoples’ murders.
Be that as it may, from 1960, when Lucas murdered his mother, to 1983, he and sometime accomplice Ottis Toole began murdering people just for the thrill of it. When Lucas was finally apprehended he wrote the sheriff: “I killed for the past 10 years and no-one will believe me. I cannot go on doing this. I also killed the only girl I ever loved.”
When Lucas’ wife, Frieda Powell, wanted to confess her sins regarding her knowledge of her husband’s murders, Lucas killed her. Many of Lucas’ murders were substantiated because of the establishment in 1982 of the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, which, among other things, defined serial murder.
6. John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy grew up to be a veritable pillar of society in Cook County Chicago. At times, he would appear as “Pogo the Clown,” performing feats of magic for the kiddies. Gacy even considered running for major in Waterloo, Iowa, where in 1964 he ran a string of KFC franchises.
Then rumors began circulating of his unusual sexual tastes, such as wife-swapping, prostitution and having sex with teenage boys. Eventually, Gacy began abducting young men with whom he had sex, and then tortured and murdered them. In need of a place to dump the corpses, Gacy simply buried them under and around his house.
Finally arrested in 1978, Gacy confessed to murdering 33 young men. At his trial, Gacy claimed insanity, attributing his heinous offenses to his alter-ego “Bad Jack,” but this plea only led to his conviction on all counts. Finally, in May 1994 Gacy was executed by lethal injection.
7. Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy certainly didn’t resemble your typical serial killer (assuming any of them do, of course). Bundy was good-looking, well dressed, charming, and witty. He definitely had what it took to attract women, and this he did to the demise of 40 or more young women in the 1970s, many of them raped, battered and strangled.
At times, Bundy impersonated a police officer so he could more easily snatch and handcuff his victims. (Other serial killers have used the same ploy.) Once apprehended in 1977, Bundy escaped jail twice and murdered more women until they nabbed him again.
Finally convicted of numerous shocking murders, Bundy tried every appeal possible, while confessing to other murders—even those of other serial killers—hoping to save his life, until they finally gave him the “hot seat” in January 1989.
8. Donald Henry Gaskins
Donald Henry Gaskins was dubbed the redneck Charles Manson, because of his short stature, his exalted sense of self-importance, and because he was locked up often at a young age. First incarcerated at 13 in 1946, Gaskins was raped repeatedly, assaults which almost certainly damaged his psyche.
By 1968, Gaskins was a raging psychopath, killing 80 men and women, though he could have killed scores more. Along the way, Gaskins also raped and murdered his niece. In the book Final Truth written by Wilton Earl, Gaskins was reported as declaring:
“I have walked the same path as God; by taking lives and making others afraid, I became God’s equal. Through my own power I come to my own redemption.”
Finally running out of appeals in September 1991, Gaskins had life jolted from him in the electric chair.
9. Donald Harvey
Donald Harvey did not come from the dysfunctional family background typical of most serial killers. He was his mother’s pride and joy and a teacher’s pet, though he was also a loner, a common trait for serial murderers.
From 1970 onward, working as an orderly or nurse’ aide, Harvey had access to numerous patients, many of whom he either poisoned with cyanide or arsenic, or asphyxiated. Showing a particularly twisted side, Harvey infected some patients with serious diseases and then nursed them back to health.
Then in 1978 police searched Harvey’s apartment and found incriminating evidence for his nefarious misdeeds. Harvey was eventually convicted for committing some 70 murders, at which point his mother stated: “My son has always been a good boy.” Donald Harvey died on March 30, 2017.
10. Gary Ridgway
Gary Ridgway became known as the Green River Man by dumping many of his victims’ bodies in or near the Green River around Seattle, Washington. Ridgway began his murderous ways in 1982, strangling a 16-year-old woman. All of his victims were young women and many of them prostitutes.
Through the early to middle 1980s, Ridgway became a prime suspect, but the police couldn’t amass enough evidence to bring him to trial; he even passed a polygraph test. But in 1988 the police took a sample of Ridgway’s DNA and soon matched it with that from the bodies of three of his victims, making him one of the first serial killers convicted with the use of forensic DNA evidence.
Ridgway confessed to 48 killings but the total could have been as high as 60. He just couldn’t remember for certain.
11. Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos is the lone woman on this list, though there have been a fair number of female serial killers in American history. Coming from another broken family, Wuornos got pregnant by the age of 15 and soon became a wandering prostitute, hitch-hiking from state to state.
From a young age Wuornos developed an obsessive hatred of men and, in a fashion, eventually killed like a man, cutting a swath of terror through Florida with her blazing .22-caliber pistol in 1989 and 1990.
Apprehended in early 1991, Wuornos confessed to six homicides, all of them men, though she claimed she had killed them all in self-defense. Wuornos averred that one of the men, Richard Mallory, had raped and beaten her, so she had to defend herself.
Nevertheless, the jury didn’t acquit Wuornos, sentencing her to death for the murder of three men. Wuornos was executed by lethal injection in October 2002.
Actress Charlize Theron portrayed Wuornos in the movie Monster.
12. Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer started out as many serial killers have done by torturing animals. He was also sexually molested as a child, perhaps triggering his subsequent treatment of homosexuals. In 1978, Dahmer killed his first victim, a 19-year-old man he picked up hitch-hiking.
Dahmer, á la John Gacy, buried his victims under and around his house, keeping body parts here and there, his depraved mind considering them trophies perhaps. Dahmer also practiced necrophilia with his prey and sometimes engaged in cannibalism as well.
In 1991, Dahmer was finally caught and confessed to 17 murders. Once convicted, the court imposed a prison sentence totaling over 1,000 years! Then, in November 1994 while incarcerated, Dahmer was murdered by a fellow inmate.
Regarding Dahmer’s gruesome influence on pop culture, one time when miffed by a critic while hosting a program on the Sci-Fi Channel, author Harlan Ellison groused, “I hope Jeffrey Dahmer . . . eats your face!”
13. Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.
Variously known as the East Area Rapist, the Visalia Ransacker, the Original Night Stalker (serial killer Richard Ramirez was known as the Night Stalker) and the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo subjected parts of California to a horrific crime spree from 1973 to 1986.
DeAngelo wasn’t caught until forensic DNA evidence was used to identify and apprehend him in 2018. DeAngelo was living in the same area of Sacramento, California, where he had transitioned from burglary to rape and murder beginning in 1976. DeAngelo eventually confessed to committing 13 murders, at least 50 rapes and countless burglaries.
While under interrogation, DeAngelo told the police that an inner personality named “Jerry” had forced him to commit these heinous crimes. In August 2020, Joseph DeAngelo was sentenced to life in prison.
Joseph DeAngelo’s so-called body count may not compare with many of the murderers on this list; but the appalling nature of his crimes and the fact that he remained free for decades before his apprehension, means this monstrous human belongs on this compilation of evildoers.
No matter how many people they destroyed, it may do us little good to revile or condemn serial killers because, after all, we all affect each other’s behavior. Nobody exists in a vacuum.
In a sociological sense, Charlie Manson may have been speaking an element of truth when he said, “I’ve killed no one. I’ve ordered no one to be killed. These people who come to you with knives, they’re your children. I didn’t teach them, you did.”
Regardless of whose fault these murders are, it is society’s task to find out why they happened, so few if any more serial killers rise from the melting pot and force their murderous cruelty upon us. Since compassion may be the greatest weapon against savagery, keep your eyes on your neighbors and kindness in your hearts. Attention often wins.
© 2010 Kelley Marks
Lorraine Smith on September 08, 2020:
Convicted of three murders in California in 2014, Samuel Little was already serving multiple sentences in prison. In 2018, however, Little confessed that his victim count is much higher, stating he'd killed approximately 90 people across numerous states between 1970 and 2005. This would make him one of the most prolific serial killers ever.
As of late 2018, the FBI has been able to link him to 34 of his confessed murders. 90 women....!!!!!!
drdlr on May 15, 2019:
The 2000 census indicated that 12.9% of the U.S. population was Black, and 77.1% was White (Census, 2001a) (Census, 2001b). In 2005, one victim and one offender homicides were mostly intraracial, about 93% for Black victims (with 49% of all homicide victims being Black) and 85% for white victims (Harrell, 2007).Black offenders accounted for more than 50% of the offenders arrested for murder and non-negligent manslaughter (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). Hickey (2006) reported on an extensive study that indicated that out of the 249 serial killers studied, 23% were Black, 72% were White, 3% were Hispanic, 1% were Asian, and 1% were “other.” Based on then current incarceration rates, about 32% of Black males will be imprisoned during their lifetime, along with 5.9% of White males (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007).
Elma Cannon from Chicago Il on January 28, 2019:
And they was all WHITE . !
Kelley Marks on December 28, 2018:
Thanks for the comment, Paula. I agree that this list of heartless murderers is fascinating in a way that's hard to explain. Later!...
Suzie from Carson City on December 28, 2018:
Kelley.....What a lovely group of freaks......and the list goes on & on & on. 'Tis an extremely sad fact that in less than a minute, names can come to mind and spill from our lips...Arther Shawcross, David Berkowitz, Joel Rifkin, Ed Kemper, Bobby Jo Long, Denis Rader.....Stop! So many and the sickness seems unstoppable.
Of all my courses of study, I must confess, the psychopathic mind has stayed with me for decades. The human mind is the single-most complex reality we can possibly tackle.
Very informative, interesting and spooky read! Paula
Kosmo Kelley on July 26, 2018:
In answer to a recent question, Donald Harvey died on March 30, 2017, so only Kenneth Bianchi and Gary Ridgway are still alive, among this infamous bunch of killers.
Wan on December 25, 2017:
Dean Corll should be on this list and every other list. How the Houston Mass Murders are not more talked about is beyond me. 29 victims that they KNOW about, and definitely more, quite possibly MANY more, potentially making him the worst killer in American History. Never mind the fact that the torture, rape, etc endured by the victims made the killings more sadistic in nature than any others I have ever studied. Also, add in that these were all essentially children being killed and it went on unnoticed for so long, only stopping when one of the accomplices ended it himself, it makes it that much more chilling. I do believe the Houston Mass Murders deserves a proper documentary, film, something to get the story of this more known, because the victims deserve to be honored and it is a pretty landmark case in history I believe. If all the victims of this could somehow be found now and if we could somehow know just how many were really killed (Since all we have are the accomplices stories, and Dean most likely killed prior to ever knowing them, killed without them, etc) I am quite positive the body count would be the highest in US history as far as serial murder goes.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 08, 2017:
You're right, frenchhorngirl, Aileen Wuornos was executed by lethal injection, not the electric chair. Thanks for the tip. I'm gonna change it right now. Later!
frenchhorngirl on July 08, 2017:
Aileen Wuornos was executed by lethal injection, not the electric chair.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 21, 2017:
Thanks for the long, informed comment, Eleanore. Charlie Manson may not have actually murdered anybody but he was just as guilty of murder as his acid-laced, psychopathic minions - Tex, et al. Later!
Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker from Old Bridge, New Jersey on May 17, 2017:
Charles Manson to this very day frightens me. Why? Because as a product of the 60s, he had the same type of hypnotic effect as LSD and with the same results.
He may not have actually done those gruesome killings; but, the now aged Manson girls tell a very different story. He was a murderous motivator.
Charles Manson manages to make statements to others that at the surface sound wholly intelligent. For me, his prediction of a "race war" he would instigate has fortunately not come to fruition.
Two of the original Manson girls are dead. Tex Watson has made a total reversal and gone religious. Only Charles Manson continues his narcissist denial that he was the motivator who helped Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins and Van Houghton plot the murders. That's known as aiding and abetting.
He's an old man now; but, no less unrepentent in any way for these deaths. That and that alone should be a commentary on why the only place Manson belongs is in prison.
Sarah grayson on February 14, 2017:
Kermit Gosnell killed at least ten times the numbers listed above. Ten times! Yes, that's hundreds of victims. When will his crimes be posted? He actually confessed and has the documentation to prove it.
Baaaaaa on August 04, 2016:
You missed the original natural born killers and Manson never killed any one, and Carl Wattes killed over 100 and was colored and that why he never makes the list ... But what Michigan has so
LDC on July 24, 2016:
Might I also add the so called serial killer Charlie Manson is not what I personally would consider a serial killer maybe a psychotic person but that's about it!!!! And let's not forget the zodiac killer no one even knows who it is so if anyone can be above in rank then Gary Leon Ridgway it might be the zodiac but I'm still a big fan of Ridgway! Just a couple of my personal thoughts and my opinion and we all know what opinions are like lol!!!
LDC on July 24, 2016:
Gary Leon Ridgway is America's greatest serial killer hands down bar none.....most list of serial killers he's in the middle or near the bottom of the list and when in all reality he should be the #1!!! With that said this list a good list!!! Thanks for the list!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 18, 2015:
Thanks for the comment, Marty McCrorey. There certainly have been many serial killers in the history of the US - many more than a dozen, of course. Later!
Marty McCrorey on May 17, 2015:
liked to have seen earl nelson and albert fish on the list. also henry lucas was a prolific liar. he may have murdered 3 people. how many people have been sentenced to death then have it overturned to life in prison... in texas? i realize with all the serial killers we have in this country it's hard to pair them down to just 12.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 21, 2015:
Thanks for the comment, brandongrew. I've gotten plenty of hits for this article. It's so popular that someone copied my content. Anyway, I'll check out yours. Later!
Brandon Grew from Michigan, USA on March 20, 2015:
Pretty good. Check my similar one out at https://hubpages.com/politics/10-American-Serial-K...
Jascott1967 on February 20, 2015:
It always bothers me when Ed Gein makes these lists and he is described as "evil". He suffered from schizophrenia, which in an of itself doesn't make a person violent. But the environment in which he grew up in, without medication, a domineering and abusive mother who isolated both of her children and a weak, alcoholic father (who died when Ed was very young) I don't think he had a chance in the world of being a sane contributor to society. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity which is very rare but in his case it was the right decision. He really didn't know right from wrong because of his illness. Also, I don't think he even falls into the category of "serial killer". Additionally, he was not a sexual sadist nor was torture a part of his schema. We went on to live out his life in the Mendota State Hospital in which his care givers said he was a model patient.
bobby turkalino on February 08, 2015:
Missing the Grey Man and the Devil in the White City... Get with the program!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 07, 2014:
Hey, wajay 47, I remember the Texas homosexual killers. They were certainly a hideous bunch of guys. Later!
wajay_47 on May 07, 2014:
Remember Dean Corll? He and his two accomplices terrorized Houston, Texas in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Corll liked teenaged boys. He strapped them to a board and tortured them hideously before killing them. The story's at http://jayssouth.com/texas/corll
sarah on December 18, 2013:
all your information is true ,i am impress .would b keepn a tab on ur site
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 17, 2013:
Hey, Jimmy, this list isn't just about body counts. Manson was part of a conspiracy and not necessarily a murderer. Nevertheless, he's one of the creepiest guys ever to walk the planet. I think I'd rather be pals with the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer. Later!
Jimmy on December 17, 2013:
There's no evidence Manson ever killed anyone. You simply made a list of those who revieved the most notoriety from the press, or Hollywood.
chris on December 16, 2013:
What about the iceman richard kuklinski? Certainly a bad man
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 21, 2013:
I'm aware of the infamous Richard Ramirez, the dreaded Night Stalker. He's certainly an all-time bad guy, and if I ever change this list, he'll probably be on it. Later!
gauri on September 21, 2013:
nobody mentiones richard ramirez the night stalker??
nunya on July 30, 2013:
hitler should be at the top of the least. he killed hundreds of thousands of people. he created an organization of killers. Also Edward gein was one of the sickest.wat kind of person wears human flesh,now that's sick. I wonder if he is the texas chainsaw massacre. and wat about james holmes or adam lanza now these are some sick people.
Jake on July 23, 2013:
Forgot H.H. Holmes Americas first with torture chamber in his house look it up
High on June 27, 2013:
Allot of your facts are in accurate, especially about Carl panzaram
gggg on June 22, 2013:
I don't necessarily understand how Gein is even considered a serial killer though when he mostly did grace robbings and killed two women. I think of him more msa madman
RP on June 16, 2013:
If number of victims is a prerequisite, you seem to have left a few off the list . . .
Aussie Tone on May 20, 2013:
I am reading all your comments, and you guys are amazing. The stuff you know about all these serial murderers is encyclopaedic. Fascinating reading.
chuck on December 10, 2012:
Manson never killed anyone so dont understand why he's on this list? Also how about Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski a mob hitman. He killed in all different ways from poisoning, shooting, stabbing. He even left a man in his freezer for over 2 years to help cover up his crime. Just think thats more of a serial killer than Manson. He's more of a Cult Leader.
Read More From CrimeWire
0_0 on December 01, 2012:
This is better than a terror movie.
O_O on December 01, 2012:
If someone bothers me next time I'll say "If Jeffrey Dahmer was alive he would kill you and eat your face"
Hot Lips on October 08, 2012:
Enjoyed reading your article it was very interesting. The people that you picked I've read in depth stories and to me you could'nt have picked a better dozen.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 26, 2012:
Thanks for the comment, Rfordin. Hey, the "Joker" was somebody's neighbor, wasn't he? He's a different sort of serial killer but one nonetheless. Later!
As for you, Ron Hawkster, I'll keep an eye out for your upcoming hub. Let me know when it's published. Hey! Unfortunately, Hubpages doesn't allow ads on many of these hubs; otherwise, I would probably write more about homicidal maniacs and such. Later!
Ron Hawkster from United States of America on July 23, 2012:
@kw: I have known about Richard Kuklinski for quite a while. Unfortunately there are too many people like that. While I'm not surprised that there is no room for so many, Kuklinski could very well be at the top of the list because in between his wiring and his abusive upbringing he was a pure killing machine. I'll do a hub on him because I think there is one angle to these people that doesn't get enough attention in the press, something that could be educational. The way the press handles serial killers, unfortunately, in some ways actually elevates the killer and makes a celebrity out of them, and that has the unfortunately side-effect of possibly encouraging other killers. Sensationalizing them actually makes them feel more important than they should feel. Stay tuned for a hub called "the iceman killer".
@Kosmos, excellent hub, very well organized and delivered. It was a good read, especially since you did include the part about the contributions of society to the makings of some of these evil men. Voted up.
Rfordin from Florida on July 23, 2012:
Loved it! Your right as nosey as we are it's the mystery surrounding murderers that we find so inticing. I myself find the inner workings of their brains or the questions of "why did he or she do this" to be the most fascinating.
Although I could have done without the information that the Zodiac killer has never been "caught" and could be my next door neighbor...that kinda stuff spookes me to much!
Interesting read tho. Thank you!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 23, 2012:
Hey, Critical Message, Gary Ridgway is number 10 on this list. As for Williams, he's certainly a bad guy worthy of note. The Grim Sleeper could be here too. Also, maybe guys like the "Joker" should be included on lists for serial killers. Whatdoya think? Later!
Murphy from Chicagoland, Illinois on July 22, 2012:
Or the Green River Killer Gary Ridgway - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Ridgway
Murphy from Chicagoland, Illinois on July 22, 2012:
I wonder why Wayne Williams from Atlanta didn't make this list ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Williams
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 16, 2012:
SvgPlague, thanks for the astute observation. Presidents certainly do their share of killing, sometimes innocent folks too. Anyway, Manson is on this list because of the spectacular nature of the Manson murder trial. If you were alive then, you'd know what I mean. This list isn't all about body counts. Later!
svgplague on July 12, 2012:
Manson shouldn't be on here he never actually killed anyone. If telling people to kill constitutes being on this list the top ten should all be presidents.
Anonymous on July 07, 2012:
There is no reason for a serial murder, nor is there not one. Anyone, no matter the background, can just, snap, at any moment. The "Fact" that most serial killers come from a bad childhood may be mere coincidence. I, for one, believe that anyone is a potential murderer. All the need is a trigger. Rape, molestation, abuse, all of which can be caused just as easily as murder.
allen on July 06, 2012:
these people make me sick
weareyourgod2 on June 12, 2012:
Do serial killers also slay wheaties?
Lily on June 11, 2012:
Serial killers have always been around.Thanks to modern technology, forensics and data bases, it makes hunting and capturing them much easier. I won't point any fingers at who and what creates them. Theories. But, I will agree with the facts...They are everywhere, they come from all different classes, there is no blinking neon sign hanging above their heads. Guess everyone needs to be more diligent in there family and friends. Thanks Kosmo.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 31, 2012:
Thanks for the comment, D S Duby. Yes, I'm afraid there are many monsters among us, so this list is hardly complete. Later!
DS Duby from United States, Illinois on May 31, 2012:
Excellent article as usual, I don't believe any serial killer is any worse than any other in every case they would still continue to do it until being caught. Their all sick, deranged perverts in one way or another. Voted up awesome and interesting.
Grimm7610 on May 25, 2012:
Serial killers scare the hell out of me because they all look normal. I wonder how many people talked to these people not knowing they were talking to an evil killer? I wonder if I've ever met a serial killer? Makes you think don't it?
Heath B on April 29, 2012:
actually Stevie most the info onDdahmer is correct he was molest as a child an that comes from his father read more on him Stevie and oh wow 987 years pretty darn close to a 1,000 years dude i work in corrections i deal with these guys on a daily bases so u need to re read ur stuff his research is right
Tony on April 28, 2012:
Dahmer definitely the sickest, he would drill holes into his victims heads and pour acid in their brains while they where still alive to try and turn them into zombies!!! If he isn't #1 on the list then who is sicker???
mours sshields from Elwood, Indiana on April 28, 2012:
Interesting and a good, fascinating read!!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on April 25, 2012:
There are too many serial killers for me to keep track of. Hey! Later!
kw on April 25, 2012:
What about Richard Kuklinski?
tony on April 23, 2012:
I think the list should be longer, Mansons a sick SOB, anybody saying he doesn't belong high on here should get their heads examined. Ng and Lake are 2 sick fucks that belong on here, The Wayne Williams or Grim Sleeper cases too, not to mention I am a little surprised BTK and Christopher Wilder seem to have been forgetten
known facts on April 13, 2012:
Jeffrey Dahmer should be placed as number 1 on this list cause of most of the thing he did. he would take men first handcuffing them and them knocking them out then he would drag them to his apartment ( not a house) and then he would kill them because unlike most serial killers he didn't care for making his victims suffer or making them terrified he would kill them then have sex with there dead bodies and then cutting them open and masturbating on them. after that he would cut his dead victims into pieces and taking pictures of the process for later enjoyment. he would take the skulls out and bleach the flesh off of them then he would spray paint them grey to make it look like a medical skull which he kept a bunch of these skulls and some times he would take trophies which were also the skulls but he would take body parts from his victims. the police found these in a bucket and in jars were he would preserve them which was the skulls but he would also take hands and feet and also found a mans penis in a jar he also said that he would commit cannibalism cause he thought he would keep the souls of the dead inside of him and gain a part of there personality
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on April 05, 2012:
Thanks for the comment, Stephinee. I'm sure in many cases serial killers such as Wayne Williams are blamed for murders they didn't commit, and you certainly can't believe the killers themselves because they often can't remember all the details and almost certainly inflate body counts as well, so they can appear on lists such as this. Ha! Anyway, who knows what the facts are? The answer: Nobody. Later!
Stephinee on April 05, 2012:
I knew I would see a comment re: Wayne Williams. This is a man who, in my opinion, after researching this case to no end, as well as the opinion of many of the parents of the deceased children, many investigative reporters & some of the investigators on this case including the lead investigator, believe is completely innocent. In fact, the crime lab couldn't even find any connection whatsoever between some of the victims & believed some of the cases were not even related. Some autopsy results didn't even confirm there was a homicide, which is exactly why he was charged & convicted of only 2 of 31 murders! I realize serial killers are often not convicted of murdering all their victims, but some of the other cases clearly contained exculpatory evidence & there was no way they were exposing that info! There was tons of pressure on LE to solve these murders, racial tensions were getting ugly, as they were believed to be racially motivated murders. I apologize for the length as well as the fact that this is sort of off subject, but I'd love for people to be more aware of a view from the other side...Great read.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 19, 2012:
Thanks for the tidbits of information, Stevie. I guess I'll have to study Dahmer's history a little closer - but not today, thank you. Later!
Stevie on February 19, 2012:
Most of the information on Dahmer is actually incorrect...he was never molested as a child; in fact, psychologists have struggled to interpret what led to his desire to kill in the first place, as his childhood was a happy time. Also, he never practiced necrophilia on animals....he merely dissected them to see what their insides looked like. Finally, his sentence wasn't over 1,000 years it was just under at around 987 - something like that.
sheania on February 17, 2012:
these is frkin weird i cant believe i just took time to read about this crap
Abaddon on February 11, 2012:
Another notorious serial killer who I believe should make the list is Angel Maturino Resendiz aka "The Railroad Killer" (is suspected in over 30 murders in the US and Mexico), he would rape the younger female victims before killing them. He is known to have murdered 15 victims, but is suspected in at least 15 more murders.
Abaddon on February 11, 2012:
Don't forget Kenneth McDuff aka "The Broomstick Killer" (suspected in at least 14 murders) who is known to have tortured, raped and killed 7 women and 2 men and is suspected in at least 5 more killings! Another notorious serial killer who belongs on this list is Wayne Williams aka "The Atlanta Monster" (suspected in at least 31 murders of men and young boys) is known to have killed 2 men and at least 23 young boys!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 10, 2012:
As for research, the Grim Sleeper was busted after I wrote this list. Should I continually update it? As for your claim there were serial killers druing prehistory, there's no proof serial killers existed during prehistory. As for Charles Manson not being worthy of this list, read the book "Helter Skelter," and then tell me you think he doesn't belong on this list. Go ahead, I'll wait till you read it. Later!
REBECCA on February 09, 2012:
Yeah, thanks for only listing WHITE serial killers. Neither Ed Gein nor Charles Manson qualify as serial killers. Serial killers must kill 3 or more people. Manson didn't actually kill anyone. Henry Lee Lucas was a rapist, a necrophile, a pedophile and a piece of shit, but he probably only killed 3 people. His mother, his teen gf & that 82 yr old Kate Rich.
As far as 'what's gone wrong with humanity' this shit has been going on since pre-history. which is worse, these nut jobs? Or the parents who lock their kids in the closet and let them starve to death, or pimp out their 3 year old sons to men who torture & rape him (for drugs)
This is not a very good list. More like 'famous weird killers' or 'well known serial killers, plus a couple of others'
Here are a few horrible serial killers:
Carl (aka Coral) Eugene Watts (sunday morning slasher)
18 known victims, believed 80+ others as well. possibly 100 vics
Anthony Sowell, 10 victims, a serial rapist/preyed on drug users & prostitutes, bodies in basement & bones laying about house as well.
William George Bonin, killed at least 21 boys, serial child rapist. Executed. He was disgusting for sure.
John Floyd Thomas Jr, 72, sentenced for 7 murders, during the 'first wave' of rapes/rape-killings in the 1970s at least 17 were killed, more later on. They believe 30+ victims, but he won't talk. Victims were OLD women.
Maury Troy Travis, 12+ vics, claimed 17. Killed himself in prison. Videotaped the torture, rape & murder of prostitutes.
Lonnie Franklin Jr., 59, The Grim Sleeper (I see several mentioned him) Victim count now up to 16. They found hundreds of photos of women and pouring through them were able to find 6 more victims of his.
Anyway, do some research
chris on January 27, 2012:
Ed Gein supposedly only killed 2 women however they were uncertain however he was just as sick but I agree Charles Manson was not a serial killer he was just capable of making people do his bidding I enjoyed the read
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on January 01, 2012:
Thanks for the comment, St. Estephe. Tragically, this list could be edited or updated on a continual basis - if you know what I mean? The "Grim Sleeper" could certainly be added. Anyway, I'll have to check out the record of Georgia Tann - when I'm in the mood. Later!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 11, 2011:
Thanks for the comment, susie bowes. I was determined to keep out the grisly details and names of victims, which the website may not have allowed anyway. Later!
susie bowes on December 11, 2011:
very interesting reading, i liked the way u didn't mention there horrible crimes or victims, keep up the good work,,
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 19, 2011:
Thanks for your enlightened commentary, hailei. Serial killers are made, not born. Our society, such as it is, has spawned sociopaths and psychopaths. They are a disease of our modern civilization. Later!
hailei from Romania on November 19, 2011:
I think Mason's words couldn't be more true: "they’re your children. I didn’t teach them, you did.”
I think the number one reason for serial killers is bad parenting. Even if the parents him/herself is not the one that hurt the child, most of the time, the guilt is moral. It makes me cringe when I here about mothers that had no idea their daughter was being repeatedly raped by "daddy", an uncle or a teacher, so on so forth. Sure, there are exceptions too, but they are only there to confirm the rule.
Loved the hub, very interesting and morbidly fascinating...
J.Mudgett on November 06, 2011:
None come close to the horror that was H.H. Holmes.
jamiec on October 12, 2011:
what about albert fish?
Joseph Munsterman on October 10, 2011:
As a Washington State native, I know we are a breeding ground for weirdos and serial killers. Two people who could have easily made this list would be Robert Lee Yates (killed 16 people) and Randy “The I-5 Killer” Woodfield (killed 18 people, linked to up to 44). Maybe we should just stick to being known for our rain.
adam on October 02, 2011:
btk should be in the top 5, dennis rader is the best serial killer
Amanda on September 06, 2011:
This is really scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 11, 2011:
As lame as many serial killers are, lots of them get away with their crimes for many years. In fact, I'm sure a fair number have never been caught. Later!
ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on June 11, 2011:
Most serial killers are a very lame lot. They generally pick their victems from the weak or helpless, women, elderly, children. But Carl Panzram, that guy murdered and raped other men. Not some one to glorify but a notch above Sissies like Ramaraz or Gein.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 12, 2011:
Yeah, Richard Ramirez, the so-called Night Stalker, could crack this infamous list. Hey, put him on yours. Later!
Sam Little from Wheelwright KY on February 11, 2011:
Great list. I would have included Richard Remirez in there but overall I was enticed by this list of who's who amoung serial killers. Great job.
calliemorris from London on February 02, 2011:
Great hub! Voted up - Fascinating information.
Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on February 02, 2011:
Scary, scary, scary!!!!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on January 18, 2011:
Hey, JB, even though Charlie wasn't convicted for actually murdering anyone, he was guilty of conspiracy. At any rate, nobody is creepier than Charlie Manson. You're right about Lake and Ng, though, they certainly deserve to be on somebody's list of killers. However, at this point, I wouldn't probably slip in the so-called Grim Sleeper. Later!
JB on January 18, 2011:
Charles Manson is no killer. He is crazy. Not a killer. Ng and Lake were worse put them in his slot.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 29, 2010:
Hey, dude, I wrote that serial killers are "largely" a product of modern times; I didn't write "exclusively" or use some other word that would indicate they only happen in modern times. Naturally people have been murdering others for thousands of years, who would argue? You also assume that many serial killers operated in the past, yet were never caught. Well, that's impossible to prove, although I'm sure a few did at some point or another. Later!
picodegallo on November 28, 2010:
There is so much wrong with the first paragraph of this piece that it drives me nuts. You SERIOUSLY think that serial killers are a product of modern times, just because we've only recorded them in the past hundred years or so???? You are HONESTLY under the impression that they didn't exist hundreds of years ago? It couldn't have been the fact that back then they didn't have police forces, detectives, adequate methods of communication between communities, fingerprint analysis and practically every other form of detecting a crime? If anything, they were likely more prolific than ever in the past. They had very little fear of ever getting caught because people were so naïve and there was very little in the way of forces to apprehend them. What wonderful anonymity this provided them with! It's tough time for serial killers these days, however. God, I can't believe how stupid your lead paragraph is.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 24, 2010:
Yeah, Mr. Shaw, Bundy's life is definitely one for the movies - an R-rated one, of course. Bundy makes your skin crawl but you can't wait to see what he does next. Later!
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on November 24, 2010:
It's an interesting subject. . . .that probably isn't too healthy to dwell on. Gacy scares me to death. But the mind of Theodore Robert Bundy, and his amazing escapes from jail and prison. . . .I wouldn't say that I'm a "fan" of Ted's, but he's the one I find most impressive, if that's the right word for it.
krushizm from HUNTINGTON STATION on July 22, 2010:
i like this
WeLoveMusic on July 02, 2010:
great hub, I never though much about serial killers, but all that I read here is frightening. Henry Lee Lucas claims of killing 600 people! Some wars took less lives than that! But I have to agree with lmmartin, I doubt the modern society created such people. We just haven't recorded such events in the past!
Keep up the good work.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 16, 2010:
Tonymac04, thank you very much for your insightful and lenghty comment on this perplexing subject. It's important to know why these people commit heinous crimes rather than simply lock them up for a lifetime or snuff them out. I also like your analogy of sending our fighting men and women to kill our enemies. On a related note, many years ago this man walked into a McDonald's restaurant and shot and killed numerous poeople before he committed suicide. Turns out this poor man was a Vietnam veteran. It's a horrible thing to have to teach anyone how to kill. Later!
Tony McGregor from South Africa on June 16, 2010:
Serial killers are fascinating because they do, by their actions, comment on society. Manson was essentially correct. He didn't have to teach anyone to kill - society tends to do that by the positive spin put on murder and other forms of violence when done by the State. We reward people in uniform if they kill lots of people, but punish them for the same action when out of uniform! I know one can put a lot of rationalising around the killing done by the State, but that's a rather fine line with lots of subtleties which maybe not everyone gets.
Also without exception these 12 had miserable childhoods in which they had little opportunity to learn positive lessons about love and responsibility.
And they were all, with two exceptions, executed by the State. Another object lesson in morality?
Agree with Lynda that this kind of killing is very likely not new - it has been going on for millenia, I would think. Maybe the subject for a follow-up Hub?
Thanks for putting this interesting Hub together.
Love and peace
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 06, 2010:
You're right about Gein; he was only convicted of killing two women, but he probably killed many more women and men. As for Manson, he was guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, which is considered the same thing as murder in the state of California where he was convicted. Moreover, adding up body counts is not what this list is all about; it's the killers' negative impact on society. Thanks for the comment. Later!
John on June 06, 2010:
Gein is not a serial killer as he only killed two women. Manson is not a serial killer at all, he did not kill anyone. Not many people know that Manson is the prisoner to serve the longest term for never murdering anyone. There were a lot worse than this list.
Crazdwriter on June 02, 2010:
Very interesting read. of coruse it's scary to think that they never caught The Zodiac Killer. Great information and a great read. I am not excatly sure what causes people to kill but whatever it is that makes people kill is quite scary.