Their actions were cruel, unscrupulous, partly sadistic and all shocking. Stone-cold serial killers have been terrorizing the earth since time immemorial, killing innocent people without any guilt or remorse. Let us show you the cruelest serial killers of all time, who, with the memory of their bloody and violent deeds, continue to cause fear and terror even after their arrest.
As a serial killer, Ted Bundy is probably more remembered than any other. In the 1980s, fear and terror gripped the governments of Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Florida.
The handsome law student is reported to have killed at least 30 women and girls, but the actual number is much higher. They were brutally murdered after they were robbed and assaulted on university campuses. It was his escape attempts and defence that caused a stir even if his deeds alone made him likely the best-known killer in history.
The escaped serial killer escaped justice twice from prisons of maximum security, and even committed another murder during his escape! As for Bundy’s role in the famous Chi Omega murders, a series of female students were slaughtered in their fraternity house in a veritable massacre. This was called overkill, in his fraternity house.
Several years on death row in the electric chair later, he was finally executed by the justice system in 1989. His story has been the subject of numerous movies and series.
Watch them here on Amazon Prime Video.
He was known as the Night Stalker, but his true name is Richard (Ricardo) Ramirez. In 1985, he murdered at least 13 people in the U.S. state of California and also raped at least 11, other acts could not be proven, but investigators are almost certain of a connection. Ramirez broke into the flats and houses of sleeping people at night through open doors and windows and killed them.
He was not always successful in doing so, which is why numerous victims survived to describe him. His deeds were ill-considered and impulsive, which is why the police assumed for a long time that he was under the influence of drugs. He left satanic symbols at the crime scenes, which terrified the whole country.
Finally, the police made a breakthrough when one of Ramirez’s victims, seriously injured, called the police, his girlfriend was able to describe him in detail, and a boy was able to write down the licence plate number of his car. The vehicle was found a few days later and fingerprints of the killer were recovered.
Finally, after a long and eventful escape, police arrested him while a Latino mob was in the process of lynching him. He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out. In 2013, Ramirez died of liver failure after more than 20 years on death row. You can watch the killer’s story here.
During his crimes, the killer stayed at the infamous Cecile Hotel, which is still known for its dark past. Time and again, he managed to enter the hotel covered in blood without anyone noticing. You can find an exciting documentary about this here on Netflix.
Pedro Alonso López
Between 1969 and 1980, Colombian-born Pedro Alonso López killed and raped at least 300 girls in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. He kidnapped them in the evening, raped them several times at night, and finally ended their lives the next morning. He went down in history as the Monster of the Andes.
López grew up as the child of a prostitute. After being picked up and raped by a pedophile, he lived as a street kid in Bogóta. At 18, he was sent to prison for car theft, where he was raped again. He killed the three perpetrators over the next two weeks. After he was finally released, his crime spree began. Then, during an arrest after raping and kidnapping a 12-year-old girl, he finally confessed to killing hundreds more. After the police initially refused to believe him, he led them to his mass graves, shocking everyone.
In 1980, he was charged with the murder of 57 girls and sentenced to life in prison, but it was only 16 years, of which he served only 14. He was subsequently placed in a psychiatric facility, but was eventually released. Since other girls disappeared before this stay, it is assumed that he continued to kill. There has been no trace of him since 1999.
Dr. Harold Shipman
Dr. Harold Shipman, aka Dr. Death, went down in the history of the cruelest killers of all time as a serial killer of about 250 times. Unlike many others, the doctor was a respected citizen, where probably no one would have expected such a terrible hobby.
He murdered his victims with a dose of heroin, which most of them received because they were suffering from terminal cancer. Instead of the normal dose, he gave them too much and killed them with it. His deeds were only finally uncovered when the daughter of one of his victims wondered about a supposed will of her mother in which she bequeathed all her belongings to the doctor. Upon exhumation, medical examiners found the lethal dose and traced it to Shipman.
Dr. Tod was sentenced to four life terms and another four years for forgery. He denied his actions until the very end. In 2014, he hanged himself with his bedding in his cell, leaving behind numerous letters that provided insight into his psyche. These were auctioned off after his death.
Sergei Tkach went down in history as The Madman of Polohy. He confessed to having killed 100 girls and women simply to satisfy his sexual urge. Actually, Tkach had good prospects for a successful future. After first serving as a soldier in the Soviet Union, he worked as a criminal investigator. However, he was finally forced to give up his job due to a fraud offense and therefore moved to Ukraine. According to his own statements, he accidentally committed his first murder there in 1980 after a rape.
This was followed by a further hundred women, whom he suffocated and finally committed sexual acts against. He deliberately sought out his victims at train stations to make investigators think it might be a perpetrator from another city. His experience as a criminalist enabled him to leave hardly any traces and to confuse even police sniffer dogs with simple tricks such as fleeing over rails treated with tar.
Before Tkach could finally be arrested, 10 innocent people were convicted for his deeds, one of them even committing suicide. Eventually, the serial killer’s recklessness allowed him to be caught. After killing the daughter of an acquaintance, he even went to her funeral, where he was recognized by her friends as the man they had last seen her with. When police arrested him at his home, he said, “For twenty years I’ve been waiting for you to come to me.” He eventually died of heart failure in prison in 2018 while serving a life sentence.
Most bizarrely, despite his gruesome murders of numerous women, Elena Tkach, who was over 30 years younger than him, decided to marry the killer and even father a child with him! In the Netflix documentary “The toughest prisons in the world” she can be seen in prison together with her husband.
Rodney James Alcala
How many women and girls actually died at the hands of Rodney James Alcala, who became known as The Dating Game Killer, is still not clear. However, he was sentenced to death in California for five murders and to 25 years in prison in New York for two others.
After first raping a girl in his flat and being observed doing so, Alcala found himself on the run. He enrolled at New York University under the name John Berger and tried to go into hiding. At the time, he was at the top of the FBI’s most wanted list. Eventually, however, they were able to arrest him for raping the little girl in New York. However, because her family had emigrated to Mexico and refused to testify at his trial, he avoided a long prison sentence and was free again after only 17 months.
Only two months after his release, he committed the next crime, and more followed. Finally, he lured women with the offer to take professional photos of them and make them big. The photos, which mostly showed them naked, eventually became Alcala’s undoing. Because of the suspicion of marijuana in his flat, the police gained access and eventually found these explicit pictures.
He got his nickname by participating in the TV show “The Dating Game”, which was filmed during the wedding of his murders.
He put Moscow in fear and terror. Alexander Pitschuschkin is said to have brutally killed over 60 people, but the serial killer was only convicted of 48 murders.
He committed his first murder at the age of 18. At that time, he killed a fellow pupil with whom he had been working on his chessboard murder plan. According to this, his plan was to murder 64 people, as many as there are squares on a chessboard. After each offence, he marked a new square on his chessboard; if it had become full, he would probably have bought a new one, the serial killer claimed.
The feeling of killing someone was too tempting. He even described his first murder as the feeling of falling in love for the first time. Pitschuschkin varied greatly in his murder methods. However, he always left the bodies of his victims in a sewer shaft.
Now and then it happened that victims survived. When he encountered one of them in the street in 2005, he panicked and took a two-year break, only to murder even more brutally afterwards. But when another man was mistaken for the Checkerboard Killer, Pichushkin’s fuses blew. He murdered five more people to prove that he was the culprit. Four of them were close acquaintances, which was his undoing. His last victim had told her son who she was going to meet, and with the help of his mobile phone number he could be convicted. In 2007, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He claimed that he wanted to be the most famous serial killer.
While many murderers revel in the vocal suffering of their victims, Samuel Little used a different method. According to his own statements, he killed over 90 people between 1970 and 2005. The amateur boxer first beat his victims unconscious before finally strangling them.
Due to his method, it was often not immediately obvious what the cause of death was. Investigators later discovered that many of the victims had been attributed false causes, such as an overdose. He was finally convicted by witness statements that clearly identified him as the last contact of some victims.
John Wayne Gacy
Never before had a murderer received such a long sentence for his deeds as John Wayne Gacy, alias the Killer Clown. He was sentenced to life imprisonment a total of 21 times and to the death penalty 12 times, thus making it into the Guinness Book of Records. His nickname, by the way, had nothing to do with his murders; it stemmed from Gacy’s job as a clown entertaining children.
From 1972 to 1978, he killed 33 boys and young men by picking them up, having sex with them and finally suffocating them. He then buried their bodies in remote areas of Chicago or under his own house. And that was to be his undoing. After killing his last victim, he parked her in the attic, where the police finally found her. The reason for the investigation was that the victim had mentioned to acquaintances before his disappearance that he wanted to meet Gacy.
After his arrest, the serial killer confessed to his actions and led police to the bodies, but accused co-workers of being involved. While the statement was not pursued at first, they were later able to actually link one of Gacy’s co-workers to crimes and arrest him. For 14 years, Gacy waited on death row to be sentenced, his last words reportedly being “kiss my ass”.
Even in Germany, people were not spared serial killers. Fritz Haarmann killed at least 24 boys and young men between 1918 and 1924 and became known as the Vampire of Hanover and the Werewolf of Hanover.
At that time, he often picked his victims up on the line and finally raped them at home. Afterwards he dismembered their corpses in the river Leine. The full extent of his deeds could only be determined when the river was finally drained and a total of 300 body parts were found. In 1925, he was finally executed with a guillotine and his head was donated to science. It was not until 2014 that it was cremated.
He got his nickname from the unusual urge to bite into the Adam’s apple of his victims while intoxicated.
In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Monster, confessed to murdering 17 people. His victims were mainly men and boys from the homosexual scene. He lured the victims into his flat under a pretext, drugged and raped them before finally strangling them. According to his own statements, Dahmer also performed cannibalistic acts on his victims and their remains.
Dahmer’s last victim knew how to fight back and eventually ensured Dahmer’s arrest. The killer had lured him to his flat under the pretext of a photo shoot, where he suddenly underwent a severe change of character. After appearing normal at first, he eventually became threatening, handcuffed his victim and threatened him with a knife. In order to distract Dahmer, the victim took off his T-shirt and thus upset him. As they both watched the film “The Exorcist III” together, the serial killer went into a kind of trance and his victim took the chance to disappear. The man stopped a police patrol and reported the maniac threatening him. During an investigation of the flat, the police officers eventually found body parts and photos of them, which convicted the murderer and sent him to prison for life.
In 1994, Dahmer was beaten head-on in prison by a fellow inmate with a dumbbell, his body showing no typical defensive reactions.
William Bonin was a serial killer without conscience. The van driver is said to have killed a total of 21 to 36 men in cold blood. He invited his victims to have sex in his converted vehicle, strangled them with a T-shirt after some torture and dumped them on the freeway, which is why he got the name Freeway Killer. The killing spree was almost stopped when Bonin violated his probation for a juvenile abuse offence. However, due to an administrative error, he was released and his accomplices and he were unstoppable.
Bonin’s accomplices eventually became his undoing. When one of them was caught, he gave a crucial clue that he might be the Freeway Killer. While he was raping a 17-year-old girl, he was caught in his van, with plenty of evidence of what he had done. Bonin showed no remorse until the end. In 1996, he was the first person sentenced to death in California to be executed by lethal injection.
The Death Maker, alias Rudolf Pleil, killed at least 10 people in the post-war period, according to his own account 25. From 1946 to 1947, he caused sleepless nights in the outskirts of the Harz region. He killed numerous women and individual men who threatened to catch him during border crossings in order to satisfy his sexual urge.
His arrest finally came about through tips from the population about the murder of the merchant Hennen, whom he had dismembered with an axe. Afterwards, in custody, he admitted in his memoirs to having murdered other people. He boasted that he had killed more people than Haarmann.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.
It was not until almost 50 years after his first murder that Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. was identified as the Golden State Killer. In the years from 1973 to 1986, the former police officer killed 13 people, raped 45 and broke into houses and flats 120 times in the US state of California. He prepared his acts meticulously and watched his victims for a long time before he ventured forward.
It was not until 2018 that DenAngelo Jr. could be identified as the perpetrator based on new DNA analyses and was taken into custody. During the trial, he showed no remorse and was even described as lacking empathy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and it was not until 2020 that the connection to other murder cases was confirmed through a cumbersome procedure.
He was one of the most brutal serial killers in the US: Dennis Rader alias BTK. While he led a quiet life as a family man at home, he killed entire families on the side. The FBI believes he committed at least 10 murders between 1974 and 1977 and 1985 and 1991.
Craving attention, Rader sent various messages to media houses under the name BTK. The initials stood for bind, torture, kill. In them, he revealed details of murders that the police were still investigating in the dark. After his last murder in 1991, there was a long break and the authorities still had no idea who could be behind the serial killer. However, when 2004 marked the 30th anniversary of the first murder, another letter from the killer suddenly appeared, more letters and packages followed and finally led to the long-awaited arrest!
In the killer’s last package was a diskette, which the police were finally able to lead to Dennis Rader. On it was, among other things, a deleted Word file from which experts were able to filter out a certain Dennis as the last user. The software was also registered to a Protestant church congregation to which Rader had belonged for many years. In a roundabout way, the authorities finally got to the bottom of it in 2005.