During Halloween season, many of us turn to slasher films and horror classics for vicarious scary thrills. Some of the most famous serial killers–Michael Myers, Jason Voorhies, and Freddy Krueger–are nothing more than film characters. We can hold our breath, huddle close, and scream in terror when these slashers wreak their vengeance, and still feel safe when we leave the theater or turn off the television.
Still, while horror flicks are the stuff of fiction, real life serial killers have caused terror in cities across the globe. The following infographic looks at the top 10 most infamous serial killers worldwide.
Serial killings peaked in the United States in the 1980’s, but have since declined. Some of the most infamous American serial killers include the following:
- Jeffrey Dahmer – the serial killer committed acts of rape, necrophilia, cannibalism and dismemberment to his 17 victims.
- Ted Bundy – the charming Ted Bundy killed 30 young women, dismembered and raped their bodies, and kept their heads as souvenirs.
- Ed Gein – the inspiration for the movie Psycho killed two women who resembled his mother after she died. He also made skulls into bowls, human skin chairs, and a belt of human nipples.
- Henry Lee Lucas – Although he is only confirmed to have killed 11 people, he confessed to killing over 600.
- The Zodiac – The Zodiac killings were never solved. The Zodiac killer wrote cyphers to the police, allegedly holding his identity, but many could never be solved.
- Albert Fish – the boogeyman, was a child rapist, murderer and cannibal. He is known not only for his child murders, but also for his famous x-ray which showed 2 dozen needles stuffed into his hips and perineum.
- Richard Trenton Chase – The “Vampire of Sacremento” who committed six murders in a single month, Chase is known for his schizophrenia and paranoia that led to him drinking the blood of his victims.
- Dennis Rader – The “BTK Killer” (for “bind, torture, kill”) killed 10 people near Wichita, Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. Rader had sent taunting messages to police, but stopped in the early 90’s. He began writing letters again in 2004, and those notes led to his 2005 arrest and conviction.
- Gary Ridgeway – The “Green River Killer” was convicted of murdering nearly 50 women, but investigators believe his death toll could be as high as 90.
- John Wayne Gacy – The killer clown sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 teenage boys in the mid-to-late 70’s. Gacy was given 12 death sentences and was executed in 1994 after spending 14 years on death row.
- Albert Desalvo – The “Boston Strangler” confessed to killing 13 women in the early 1960’s; however, investigators believe more than one person may have been responsible for the killings, also called the “silk stocking murders.”
While many of the above names–or at least their nicknames–are virtually household names in America, the number of their victims pales in comparison with the body count of “La Bestia” Luis Garavito. A Columbian serial killer, Garavito confessed to 147 rapes and murders of young boys, and he is charged with 172 murders. Investigators believe the number of actual victims could be as high as 300. Despite being the worst serial killer in history, Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos was sentenced to 30 years in prison based on Columbian maximum sentencing, and his sentence was reduced to 22 years because of his confessions and his cooperation in helping police recover the bodies.