Over the last decades, serial killers shows have become a widespread phenomenon. Series like ‘Dexter’, ‘Criminal Minds’ or the most recent ‘You’ attract wide audiences all around the globe. We love to dig deep into the complex minds of these psychopathic murderers; we find their stories fascinating. They are human, just like us. They lead normal lives, they have regular jobs, and they have a family and friends who love them. There’s only one ‘little’ difference: They torture and kill people, and they take great pleasure in doing so. They go unnoticed and uncaught as their body counts get higher and higher, and their victims become invisible.
Then, why is it that we sympathize with these evil monsters? Do they exist only in fiction? Do they live in our imagination? Unfortunately, they are as real as you and me. They live among us. They thrive among us in disguise, destroying everything in their way, and they feel no empathy or remorse whatsoever. Let’s take a look at some of the most infamous serial killers of all times.
Javed Iqbal (Pakistan)
Better known as “The Boy Hunter”, this Pakistani mass murderer confessed to the rape, assassination and mutilation of some 100 boys. Yes, you read that right. From May to December 1999, one hundred children between the ages of 6 and 16 died in the most despicable ways at the hands of this monstrous human. According to his statement, he could’ve killed hundreds more, but he had made a pledge to stop at 100. Seriously psychotic, isn’t it?
Javed Iqbal was a cold and cunning man. He targeted the most vulnerable victims: abandoned street children or runaways. He would lure them into his house, sodomize them, sexually assault them and strangle them to death with a chain. To dispose of their bodies, he would chop them off, dissolve them in barrels of hydrochloric acid and throw the remains down the sewer or into a river near his house.
This twisted and obsessive man kept a detailed record of every single murder he had committed, leaving sufficient evidence for a death sentence. The judge ordered for Javed to be executed in the same way he had tortured and killed his victims. His body would be cut into 100 pieces and disintegrated in acid in front of the parents of the children he had murdered. However, he escaped his imminent fate by presumably killing himself in his prison cell.
Surinder Koli (India)
Between 2006 and 2007, the skeletal remains of a number of missing children were found in Nithari, an urban village on the outskirts of Noida, near New Delhi, India. A criminal investigation revealed that more than 15 minors, mostly girls, had been sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in the house of businessman Moninder Pandher. All eyes were on Pandher’s domestic servant, Surinder Koli.
A criminal investigation revealed some disturbing details pertaining the assassinations: Koli had not only indulged in murder but also in cannibalism and necrophilia. His killings followed a regular pattern: he would allegedly lure underage boys and girls into the house, knock them unconscious, rape them and subsequently strangle them.
Later, he would dissect his victims, eat parts of their bodies, and dump their corpses in an open drain near the house. There were rumors that he even attempted to have sex with the dead bodies. Koli was arrested and condemned to death, but his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. Pandher was originally accused for being his accomplice, but was released on bail in 2014.
Belle Gunness (Norway)
Between 1884 and 1908, over 40 people died in mysterious circumstances in Chicago, Illinois and La Porte, Indiana. Nobody suspected Belle Gunness, a Norwegian immigrant who, as many others, had moved to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream.
Guess how she found it? She embarked on a murderous spree that would enable her to amass an immense fortune. Needless to say, it would also turn the lives of many into a complete nightmare. Belle Gunness drew up the perfect scheme: She would seduce wealthy men who were eager for marriage, so that she could later kill them and collect their insurance money.
Everything went according to plan, but this Black Widow’s urge to kill was so overwhelming that she needed to take it one step further. Once Belle had run out of husbands, she began posting notices in Midwestern Norwegian newspapers, seeking male suitors with a view of joining fortunes.
The ads were a total success, and many well-to-do bachelors were enticed to visit her farm house. Little did they know walking into that house of horrors would be a fatal mistake. Once visitors had fallen into her trap, Belle would poison their food or hit them over the head with a meat cleaver. To dispose of their bodies, she would dismember them and feed them to the pigs.
Did Belle Die?
In April 1908, Belle’s farm house caught fire and burned to the ground. Searching the ruins for dead bodies, investigators made a gruesome discovery. In addition to the bodies of Belle’s three children and a headless corpse presumed to be hers, they found the butchered bodies of several of her victims buried in the house’s surroundings.
Rumor has it that this killer woman feigned her own death and fled the country. Did one of the most prolific female serial killers in history get away with murder? We will never know for sure.
Harold Shipman (England)
Most people trust doctors with their lives. They believe these professionals are genuinely concerned about their health and want to help them feel better. Doctors are supposed to save their patients, not kill them. It seems that Harold Shipman had a different opinion on the matter.
Behind this trusted and respected English physician and father of four, there hid a monstrous man who had an appetite for murder, who was capable of ending the lives of more than 200 people without a symptom of remorse, or the slightest regret.
His insatiable hunger needed to be fed and he knew exactly how to satisfy that desire. Harold came up with the perfect plan. He would target elderly female patients whom he could easily deceive. He would engineer a home visit on the grounds of taking a blood test and, once inside, he would inject them with lethal doses of morphine.
Then, he would sign a death certificate attributing the incident to natural causes. Nobody would ever deem Harold responsible for those old women’s departure from life; at least that’s what he thought. However, after several deaths, authorities grew highly suspicious and exhumed bodies to test them.
The horrible truth was revealed and, in 1998, Shipman was arrested. Two years later, a British court convicted him of 15 murders.
Herman Webster Mudgett aka H.H. Holmes (USA)
Let’s picture the following scene: a group of college students gets lost in the middle of nowhere and is forced to stay the night at an isolated and creepy hotel. One by one, they suffer the most violent deaths at the hands of an unidentified and totally deranged serial killer. Sounds familiar? Most of us have seen many horror movies like the one I’ve just described. What if I told you they are actually based on true stories?
Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H.H. Holmes, is an infamous mass killer who inspired some of the scariest horror movies set in hotels. Often considered to be the first serial killer in the USA, this man confessed to the brutal murders of 28 people inside his hotel, though rumor has it that around 200 people fell victim to his despicable acts.
H.H. Holmes moved to Chicago in 1886 and, shortly before the 1893 World’s Fair, he built a three-story hotel in Englewood. Once the building was finished, he began publishing newspaper ads to attract tourists to the hotel and thus be able to execute his macabre plan.
None of his guests would make it out of his ‘Murder Castle’ alive. Holmes was insanely cruel: he would lock his victims in sealed, soundproofed rooms and gas them to death, or take them to a room he called his “secret hanging chamber.”
In some cases, he would leave them to starve to death in an enclosed and windowless room which could only be accessed via a trapdoor in the ceiling. In his confession, Holmes said: “I was born with the devil inside.” His actions cannot prove otherwise. This heinous killer revealed himself as the embodiment of evil.
Jeffrey Dahmer (USA)
Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer who took the lives of 17 men between 1978 and 1991. His murders were particularly grisly: they involved acts of necrophilia, cannibalism and dismemberment.
From an early age, Dahmer had developed an interest in dead animal dissection. He would collect dead animals from the roadside, dismember their bodies and masturbate on them. Dahmer’s parents were unmoved by their son’s ghoulish fascination.
It never occurred to them that one day, he would replace animals with human beings. Dahmer’s murder rampage started in 1978 and continued for the course of 13 years. He would seek male victims at gay bars, malls and bus stops and entice them with promises of money or sex.
Once they were alone, he would drug them and torture them sexually before strangling them to death. He would then have sex with the corpses, dismember them and dispose of the remains. This creepy man often kept his victims’ skulls or genitals as souvenirs.
A search of his apartment revealed some macabre facts. Inside his refrigerator and freezer, two human hearts and several heads were found; there were two skulls on top of his computer. Police also found a drum full of chemicals and several decomposing bodies in his bedroom.
Dahmer reportedly said he had eaten his victims’ body parts because that made him feel they were part of him. In November 1994, this complete psychopath was beaten to death in prison.
Luis Garavito (Colombia)
This Colombian serial killer, better known as “La Bestia,” was found guilty for the rape and subsequent murder of 111 children between the years 1992 and 1999, though his body count is allegedly much higher.
Garavito would adopt a different disguise every day – sometimes, he would pretend to be a beggar or a disabled person, and some other times a monk or a member of a charitable organization.
He knowingly selected victims who would be incapable of defending themselves: homeless, orphaned or peasant boys aged from 6 to 16 years old. So, He would approach these vulnerable children on the street and offer them gifts or money.
He would then convince them to take a walk with him and, once they had reached a remote area where nobody could see them, he would proceed to sexually assault them and cut their throats. Following the discovery of the children’s bodies, some gruesome details were revealed.
All of them showed clear signs of prolonged sexual torture. In some cases, Garavito had even inserted foreign objects into the boys’ anus. This pedophile sadist is certainly one of the most terrifying serial killers in the history of Colombia.
Mikhail Popkov (Russia)
What prompted Mikhail Popkov to murder multiple times and in the most hideous ways? You might find this fact surprising, but this police officer’s urge to kill was presumably triggered by his wife’s infidelity.
From the very moment Popkov found his wife cheating on him, he got caught in a loop of obsession he just couldn’t break. The harder he tried to get rid of those evil intrusive thoughts, the more powerful they became.
That’s when he decided it was time for his murderous journey to begin. Popkov’s modus operandi was as follows: He would seek out women between the ages of 16 and 40 who were walking alone. He would use his position as a policeman to approach them and ask them politely if he could give them a ride.
Once they were inside his car, he would take them to a remote location where he could rape them. Finally, he would murder them using an axe or a hammer. In 2015, Mikhail Popkov was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of 56 women committed between 1992 and 2010. In his statement, he claimed he had given prostitutes what they deserved for their immoral behavior.
Yang Xinhai (China)
Yang Xinhai is considered one of the most prolific mass murderers in the history of his country. In 2004, he was executed for 23 rapes and 67 brutal assassinations, committed in the rural areas of four neighboring provinces located in the central part of China: Anhui, Henan, Shandong and Hebei.
Yang’s infamous killing spree lasted three years during which his appetite for murder was voracious. At night, he would break into people’s homes and kill everyone inside. Yang’s deadly weapons of choice varied: he would use a meat cleaver, a hammer, an axe or a shovel to attack his victims.
In some cases, this cold-blooded killer would go even further and rape the females before taking their lives. In one of his interviews, Yang admitted killing people gave him immense joy. This lunatic of a man would do anything to satisfy his depraved and perverted cravings; it didn’t matter to him whether his victims deserved to live or not. He never felt sorry for them; they were the pieces he needed to play his merciless game.
Ted Bundy (USA)
Ted Bundy is perhaps one of America’s most notorious and creepily popular serial killers of all times. No woman could conceive the idea that there was a dark side to this smart, charming and charismatic man; no one actually believed that Ted Bundy was the incarnation of evil on Earth: a ruthless serial murderer, rapist and necrophiliac. Indeed, his appearance might explain why so many women fell into his trap.
Bundy reportedly murdered at least 36 women in seven states between 1974 and 1978. However, experts believe he was responsible for more than 100 murders. Truth be told, we will never know the exact number of women Bundy slaughtered.
His modus operandi was usually the same: He would pose as a figure of authority and lure females into his car by pretending he was injured and needed help. A single act of kindness would seal these women’s deadly fate.
Bundy would take his victims to a secluded location, where he would savagely rape them and subsequently take their lives. This sexual predator would sometimes revisit his crime scenes to engage in acts of necrophilia with his victims’ decomposing corpses. Ted Bundy was eventually punished for his crimes. In 1989, he was executed in the electric chair.
Over the past years, Bundy has gained a disconcerting amount of popularity, inspiring a great number of books, movies and TV series. As odd as it might sound, many women still feel disturbingly attracted to this heinous serial killer. Have you ever heard the old proverb about beauty being skin deep? My piece of advice: Never trust people on their looks! They can be their deadly weapon.
Joachim Kroll (Germany)
In 1955, a German guy named Joachim Kroll embarked on a cannibalistic murder spree. Unlike most serial killers, who have a fierce intelligence, he was mentally retarded. This fact could’ve worked against him; however, it helped him fool the police and escape justice for a span of over 20 years.
This wicked man terrorized the whole nation by committing the most appalling acts ever imagined. He confessed to the killings of 14 people but potentially killed more than twice that amount. From an early age, Kroll began to display dark and devious fantasies related to sexuality and death.
One day, he decided it was time to act them out. Kroll’s victims were women he found walking alone in the countryside. He would surprise them and strangle them quickly. Then, he would strip the corpses naked, and engage in sexual activities with them.
Once satisfied, Kroll would proceed to mutilate and remove pieces of flesh to be eaten later. This intensely disturbing and deranged killer, who came to be known as the Ruhr Hunter, the Duisburg Man-Eater, and the Ruhr Cannibal, died of a heart attack in prison in 1991.
Pedro Rodrigues Filho (Brazil)
Unlike all the serial murderers mentioned in this article, Pedro Rodrigues Filho, nicknamed ‘Pedrinho Matador,’ is sometimes regarded as a Real-Life ‘Dexter.’ This vigilante killer hunted down criminals or people who had indulged in dishonest or immoral acts.
From 1968 to 2003, Filho amassed a body count of at least 70 people, 10 of whom he killed when he was a minor. His murder rampage started at a very early age, when he was only fourteen years old. His father, who worked as a security guard at a high school, had lost his job after being allegedly accused of stealing food from the kitchen.
In retaliation, Filho shot and killed the person who had fired him. Some years later, Filho’s girlfriend was brutally murdered by members of a gang.
To avenge her death, he and some of his friends burst into a wedding organized by the gang’s leader and perpetrated a bloody massacre: they brutally killed seven people and injured sixteen others.
The most shocking murder Filho committed was that of his father. After he discovered his own dad had brutally murdered and subsequently dismembered his mother with a machete, Filho decided he would pay him a visit in prison.
Once there, he stabbed his father to death, cut his heart out and chewed it. ‘Pedrinho Matador’ would continue his killing spree both in and out of prison.
During his incarceration, this South-American Dexter allegedly murdered at least 47 fellow inmates by stabbing or hacking them with blades. This ruthless serial killer knew exactly how to take justice into his own hands.
John Wayne Gacy (USA)
If you are a fan of horror movies, you most certainly love those featuring killer clowns. These white-faced, red-nosed and floppy-shoed entertainers move around in disguise to hide their true identities: Behind their masks of make-up, there lies a monstrous and menacing creature with a penchant for killing children. This is exactly what John Wayne Gacy was, with the only difference that he wasn’t a fictional character, he was as real as hell.
Gacy, sometimes known as the real ‘Killer Clown,’ is considered one of the worst serial killers in the history of the United States. He was deemed responsible for the savage rape and murder of at least 33 young male victims.
Gacy was a respected and likable man in his community. He was a member of a clown club and frequently performed as ‘Pogo the Clown’ at children’s parties and charitable events. While still in his clown costume and make-up, Gacy would entice young men with false promises of work.
His victims would be kidnapped, sexually assaulted, beaten and eventually strangled with Gacy’s own hands or with a rope. He would then proceed to bury the bodies in or near his house.
In 1978, a police search for a missing boy led investigators to Gacy’s property. What they found there was too gross to be real: 29 of his 33 victims had been buried in trenches underneath and around the house, and Gacy had dumped four others from bridges when there wasn’t sufficient room for more bodies.
In 1980, the Killer Clown was convicted of 33 murders and many years later, precisely in 1994, he was finally executed by lethal injection.
Daniel Camargo Barbosa (Colombia)
Daniel Camargo Barbosa, known as “The Sadist of El Charquito”, was a psychopathic serial murderer and pedophile responsible for the brutal murder and dismemberment of over 150 young girls in Colombia and Ecuador.
Although Camargo was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the rape and subsequent murder of a 9-year-old girl, he managed to escape and fled to Ecuador. There, this completely deranged man continued committing the most ghastly crimes, raping and killing at least 70 more victims.
One day, he calmly confessed to these murders and led authorities to the locations of their bodies. All of them had been dismembered. While he described the details of his sadistic acts, Camargo showed no feelings of empathy or remorse. After raping his victims, he had hacked, slashed and crushed them with a machete.
When asked about the reason why he had chosen children as his victims, Camargo gave a disturbing explanation. He claimed he preferred virgins “because they cried;” this apparently gave him tremendous satisfaction. In November 1994, this prolific serial killer was reportedly murdered in prison by the cousin of one of his victims.
Jack the Ripper (England)
In 1888, fear and panic hit East London when the bodies of five mutilated prostitutes were found in the slums in and around Whitechapel. The perpetrator of these horrifying crimes, whose identity was never revealed, came to be known as ‘Jack the Ripper.’
Though this sadistic serial killer was not the first in the history of England, newspapers’ consistent coverage of his brutal murders made him the center of attention. What people found disturbingly fascinating about the Ripper’s killings was the fact that he seemed to have great knowledge of human anatomy.
He wouldn’t just kill his victims with a knife; he would mutilate and disembowel them, removing organs such as kidneys and uteruses. The Ripper’s identity remains a mystery to date. We will never know what drove him to kill poor and vulnerable women in such a violent and inhuman manner. What we know for certain is that he has become a legend, while his victims have been completely forgotten.
How did you like our story on world’s most infamous serial killers? Which of the aforementioned serial killers scared you the most? Do tell us in the comment box down below.
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