The Serial Killers That Shocked The World
The tale of serial killers have always been an enigma; their horrible acts are haunting yet disturbingly intriguing to the masses.
By definition, a serial killer is classified as someone who’s committed more than two cases of homicide at different occurrences.
However, we all know that killing sprees go beyond that, lasting for many months or even years before getting convicted.
Indeed, the horrors of serial killers have spawned the creation of many video commentaries, documentaries, TV series, and movies — either detailing their horrific acts, narrating their life story, or attempting to break down the criminal mind.
In no particular order, here are some of the most notorious serial killers to ever exist.
Jack the Ripper
Although popular media has coined him “Jack the Ripper”, nobody is certain of the true origins of this London killer.
Having first appeared in London’s Whitechapel district in 1888, Jack the Ripper was known to murder five prostitutes, leaving behind his signature mutilation trademark to the effect of a calling card.
As the cherry on top, Jack would also leave condescending letters to the community and police detailing his acts of cruelty.
Because of his precision in mutilation, this led the police to believe that he was either a butcher or a surgeon of sorts.
In spite of all this, Jack the Ripper was never caught and his real identity was never revealed.
Perhaps one of the most prolific serial killers to introduce the trope of a “hidden-murder-dungeon-in-a-house’s-basement”, the former pharmacist-turned-serial-killer H.H. Holmes was personally involved in the architectural decisions of his Chicago hotel; outfitting it with convoluted labyrinths of deadends, secret passages, trapdoors, chutes leading to the basement, gas chambers, soundproof padding and many more.
Allegedly, the hired construction team was never fully aware of the entire hotel blueprint at any given time.
Unsuspecting guests would walk into them and be rendered unconscious, allowing Holmes to whisk them away through the chutes to his underground torture chambers where he’d conduct his dissections and harvested organs and skeletons to profit from the black market and medical schools respectively.
These practices were underscored by his past as a life insurance fraud.
In the end, he was exposed for his crimes through a fellow scammer ratting him out and eventually hung in 1896.
In modern day, his life and crimes have inspired adaptations in pop culture through the likes of popular television series, American Horror Story, particularly the Hotel season.
A prolific serial killer in the 1970s, Ted Bundy’s criminal case is a curious one — he had a polarizing following. Despite his gruesome acts, he had somehow amassed a following of fans through his astonishing wit and charm.
He would manipulate and lure potential victims through mundane requests, like posing injured or by having a faulty car engine, appealing to passers-by’s good heart and humanity.
His victims were mostly college-aged women.
Although he was once arrested in Colorado for a count of kidnapping, he escaped custody and fled to Florida where he resumed his killing spree.
It was only in 1975 that Ted Bundy was arrested again.
A widely-known psychopath and narcissist, Ted Bundy represented himself in court during his nationwide televised murder trial, accepted interviews, and was prided over the following he’d accrued.
He was later executed in 1989 via the electric chair.
Another extremely high-profile serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer had a troubling childhood.
It was believed that his strange hobby of bleaching dead animals, that he shared with his father, piqued his morbid interest in dismemberment.
Alongside poor parenting and his mother’s attempted suicide, these were just several of the ingredients formulating his dysfunctional childhood.
At just 18 years old, Dahmer began killing in 1978.
It wouldn’t be until 1991 when he’d finally be arrested for attempted murder after one of his victims successfully escaped captivity from him.
Nothing could’ve prepared the police for what they’d witness in Dahmer’s Milwaukee’s apartment.
He had gruesome details of his killing spree illustrated in photos of dismembered bodies, keeping the body parts as souvenirs.
He was also known to commit necrophilia and cannibalism.
Dahmer was ultimately convicted of killing 17 people, mostly young men of color, and served the remainder of his life in prison before being killed by a fellow inmate in 1994.
John Wayne Gacy
Perhaps known as the one responsible for propagating the narrative of clown serial killers, John Wayne Gacy appeared normal on the surface as a construction worker by day, with a side gig as a clown for birthday parties.
However, appearances are deceiving as suspicion towards Gacy soon arose after a 15-year-old boy, last seen with him, was reported missing.
The novelty of his friendly persona with his neighbors soon wore off as more began to grow increasingly suspicious of him.
Soon, a search warrant was successfully granted to police to search Gacy’s home.
It wasn’t long before the police were overwhelmed with the debilitating stench of 30 rotting corpses stemming from underneath his home’s four-foot crawl space.
This led Gacy to be arrested for 33 counts of murder and several additional counts of rape and torture.
He was ultimately executed by lethal injection in 1994.
Unlike the previous killers listed here, Pedro Lopez is perhaps one of the world’s highest-profile serial killers to still remain uncaught.
With over 300 murders under his belt, Lopez committed the bulk of these heinous crimes in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Out of which, 100 of these victims are suspected to be tribal women.
During his initial arrest in 1980, police found the graves of more than 50 of Lopez’s preteen victims.
This number was soon revealed to be a child’s play (no pun intended) as he later admitted to hundreds more murders across the aforementioned countries.
Despite these serious charges, Lopez spent less than 20 years in prison for his crimes on the account of “good behavior” for his early release.
This preposterous decision is what led the “Monster of the Andes” to still be roaming on the streets to this day.
Last but not least, Harold Shipman was a notable doctor in his time before being exposed for his murders. Notoriously coined as “Dr. Death”, the name is befitting for his character — having killed almost 250 patients from 1972 to 1998 as he worked between two different offices.
His killing acts would have remained undetected if not for people, including an undertaker tipping off authorities of the alarming number of cremation certificates approved by Shipman.
Another trend common in his killings was that many victims were elderly women who died mysteriously in their sleep, and not in the day.
He kept alluding capture by the police until his greed got the better of him; he attempted to name himself as a beneficiary in the will of one of his victim’s.
This naturally raised the suspicion of the victim’s daughter and thus, was the final nail on Shipman’s coffin to be convicted for his crimes in 2000.
He continued to serve his prison sentence for four years before committing suicide.
Indeed, the life and times of these serial killers leave little to be desired.
Their history will forever haunt the memories of his victims’ loved ones and be imprinted in our collective consciousness.
As they continue to act as cautionary tales for future generations, they also continuously fuel the ongoing debate of whether serial killers are born or made.
Born in Richmond Virginia before moving to Princeton to study History, now residing in San Diego. I’ve been interested in true crime and specially murders since my teens. I launched this site to create a place where people could find out more information about serial killers and murderers.