This list features ten of the most grisly and intriguing serial murders in the world. Some of the perpetrators of the crimes have been featured in movies and fictional works, or served as inspiration for such. Others in the list have been caught and punished. Few are still at large, unidentified.
1. The Whitechapel Murders in London (1888):
These murders are noteworthy because of their shocking ferociousness, and because they were committed by the legendary Jack the Ripper. He, no doubt, is the most well-known of all serial killers worldwide. His blood-lust and unsolved kills are the stuff of many mystery novels, but he was by no means a fictional character. In 1888, he violently murdered prostitutes in Whitechapel, London, typically by slitting their throats and removing their internal organs. This fierce savagery caught the attention of the media and terrified everyone. Though the police vigorously sought him out, Jack the Ripper always managed to elude them. Whenever he killed, he seemed to appear out of nowhere, encased in fogs, and then vanished without a trace. He was never found, and nobody knows up to this day why he suddenly stopped killing and disappeared. Nobody even knows his real name. Jack the Ripper is a moniker given to him based on a letter that he allegedly wrote to the media.
2. The Boogeyman Murders:
Hamilton Howard Fish, better known as Albert Fish, was a child killer, rapist and cannibal who committed many heinous acts in the 1920s in the United States. Because of his savage ways, he has been called many things: a vampire, a werewolf, the Gray Man, and the Boogeyman. But he had a deceptively benign, grandfatherly appearance, and this was how he lured many children towards him. He allegedly victimized about a hundred children in different places in the U.S., raping, killing and/or eating those children, using special recipes he cooked them with. In 1936, at age 65, he was executed on the electric chair after being convicted.
3. The Ted Bundy Murders:
Theodore Robert Bundy was a psychopathic serial killer who murdered many women in the 1970s, including college women who broke up with him or had offended him in some way. A law student himself, he was attractive, well-mannered, intelligent—and very adept in deceiving people and luring them to their deaths. He murdered about 35 victims, but some experts say he may have killed more than a hundred. He bludgeoned and strangled his victims, at times also raping them or having sexual intercourse with their dead bodies. Ted Bundy died on the electric chair in 1989.
4. The Charles Manson Murders:
Charles Manson was the charismatic leader of “The Family,” a cult-like group in California in the 1960s. Members of the group, under Manson’s direct orders, went on killing sprees, the most famous of which were the Tate and LaBianca murders. Prior to this, Manson was a convicted criminal who committed various offenses. He was also a singer and songwriter. He still lives, serving his sentence.
5. The Pickton Murders:
Robert Pickton was a Canadian pig farmer turned serial killer. He is thought to have murdered about sixty women; most of them sex trade workers and drug users in the Vancouver area. Given the large number of victims, about a hundred million dollars was spent on the investigation of his crimes. The trial that led to his conviction was the longest in Canadian history, and perhaps the most controversial.
6. The Zodiac Murders:
Still unsolved, these murders were committed by a mysterious serial killer nicknamed “The Zodiac Killer.” He operated in Northern California, especially in the San Francisco area, circa 1960-1970. He sent cryptic letters and mysterious phone calls to the media concerning the murders. To date, some of the ciphers in the letters have yet to be solved. He has claimed to have murdered 37 victims, but only seven (five murders and two injuries) are officially recognized. More than two thousand potential suspects have been rounded up, but no arrest has been made.
7. The Anthony Sowell Murders:
Convicted of dozens of crimes including murder, rape and kidnapping, Anthony Sowell was a serial killer in Cleveland. What led to his arrest was the gruesome discovery of eleven bodies in his house. Some of the bodies were in the living room, others were found in shallow graves in the basement, the backyard, and other parts of the house. Their discovery was accidental; it took place when the police came to arrest him for alleged rape.
8. The John Wayne Gacy Murders:
Also known as the “killer clown,” John Wayne Gacy was a psychopathic serial killer who victimized mostly young men and teenage boys. He is thought to have raped and murdered 33 people in the 1970s. Many of his victims were discovered buried on his properties or thrown in rivers. The victims were mostly young employees in Gacy’s contracting firm. By day, Gacy was a respectable businessman in Chicago who gave generously to charity. He contributed to fundraising events and children’s parties, which he often attended wearing a clown costume.
9. The Green River Murders:
Gary Leon Ridgway committed dozens of murders in the Seattle area in the 1980s and 1990s. The first five victims were strangled and then dumped in the Green River. Subsequent victims also died by strangulation; their bodies were found mostly in forested areas. Authorities had been investigating the murders for many years, until DNA evidence led them to Ridgway.
10. The Cotton Murders:
This list would not be complete with a female serial murderer – Mary Ann Cotton. This Englishwoman’s 21 victims included her own children. She poisoned them with arsenic and then took their insurance money. She was tried and then hanged in March 1873.