I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.
We've all got the power in our hands to kill, but most people are afraid to use it. The ones who aren't afraid, control life itself.
— Richard Ramirez
1. Richard Ramirez a.k.a. The Night Stalker
Between June 1984 and August 1985, The Night Stalker terrorized the residents of Los Angeles, California and later San Francisco with late night home invasions where he brutally attacked, sometimes raped, and murdered an unsuspecting resident.
No one was immune from The Night Stalker's violent wrath. From an innocent nine year old girl to an elderly widow, his victims suffered unspeakable brutality and their homes and persons stripped of any items of value before they were killed.
As serial killers will always do, each murder emboldened The Night Stalker leading him to carelessly leave behind a partial fingerprint at one of the crime scenes and from this he was identified as Richard Muñoz Ramirez.
Following his 1988 trial, Ramirez was sentenced to death thirteen times but natural causes would take him to his grave in 2013 before the state ever got around to executing him. He had been on California's death row for 23 years at the time of his death.
2. Ted Bundy
In the 1970s, an intelligent and quite attractive law student lured young women into his beige Volkswagen Beetle or into secluded outdoor areas where he would rape, beat, and strangle his victims to death. Following his ghastly deed, the killer would hide his victims' bodies and often return later to assault their corpses.
The killing spree began in Washington in the northwest United States on the Pacific Ocean coast and eventually college student Theodore Robert Bundy, a.k.a. Ted Bundy.
Over the next few years, Bundy plays a cat and mouse game with law enforcement; being captured only to escape and predictably killing again.
And again and again, until his mental state became so frenzied he went on a bloody rampage inside a Florida sorority house and murdering and injuring several young women residing there.
It would serve as his final act and Ted Bundy would go to the Florida electric chair, carrying the secret of the total number of victims and the locations of their bodies to his grave.
Look down on me, you will see a fool. Look up at me, you will see your Lord. Look straight at me, you will see yourself.
— Charles Manson
3. Charles Manson
In the late 1960s, Ohio native Charles Manson was the leader of a quasi-commune in the desert canyons on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California. Squatting at an abandoned ranch often used in its former days as a filming site for westerns television shows and films, Manson would ramble on about political and social unrest, speaking out against the government and inferior races, and the sorts.
Over the span of five weeks, Manson "family" members would commit nine murders at the direction of Charles Manson. The best known victim of these unfortunate crimes was pregnant actress Sharon Tate, who was said to beg for the life of her baby before she was killed.
Charlie failed to consider the strong conscience of one of his young troubled followers however, and such would lead to a police raid at the ranch and a widely publicized trial which seduced nationwide followers with its tale of group sex, satanism, hidden messages in Beatles' songs, drugs, and the likes.
Manson was convicted of the murders for orchestrating the crimes and received a death penalty punishment as did the three women who actually committed the murders. Unfortunately, a later federal ban on the death penalty saved Charles and family from execution, however they will spend the rest of their lives behind prison walls.
4. H.H. Holmes
In 1893, the World's Fair was coming to the city of Chicago; a city in its infancy looking to attract new business and residents in its efforts to grow and progress. For a bigamist conman and budding serial killer, it was the ideal place to take up residence.
Purchasing a drugstore from an elderly couple wishing to retire, H.H. Holmes, whose real name was Herman Webster Mudgett, set about renovating the business and building an on-site hotel with personal living quarters for himself. Holmes knew the fair would bring him many guests; only he knew which would be also become his victims - nine total confirmed.
Holmes was hanged on May 7, 1896 at Moyamensing Prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A clown can get away with murder.
— John Wayne Gacy
5. John Wayne Gacy
Between his charitable gigs at fundraising events, parades and children's parties where he dressed as "Pogo the Clown," Illinois serial killer John Wayne Gacy was brutally assaulting and murdering at least 33 young boys and men before burying most of them in the crawlspace underneath his house.
Gacy's first crimes had included assault and coercion of lewd acts upon minors but as his urges intensified and a lack of willing participants weren't available, he turned to kidnapping. After hours of torturing and assaulting his victims, Gacy would strangle the young men and hid their bodies.
Following a lengthy trial in 1980, wherein Gacy testified to his abusive childhood hoping for mercy from jurors, the Killer Clown, as he'd been dubbed by the media, was sentenced to death. John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.
The Norwood Park Township home on the outskirts of Chicago where Gacy's victims were uncovered was demolished and passersby will see only a vacant lot there today.
To me, this world is nothing but evil, and my own evil just happened to come out cause of the circumstances of what I was doing.
— Aileen Wuornos
6. Aileen Wournos
The only female to grace this list, Aileen Wournos was always a bit of an enigma.
Wournos' childhood in Rochester, Michigan was a troubled one, filled with constant arguing, absent parents, alcoholism, domestic violence, and incest. At the age of only 15 years old, Wournos' gave birth to a child conceived while she was raped by her grandfather's friend. Following her grandmother's death the following year, her grandfather ordered Wournos' from the house where she turned to prostitution as a means of survival.
During a spree which lasted just slightly more than one year, Wournos' murdered seven of her "customers" whom she claimed had attempted to sexually assault her. However, there was never any proof of such, only that the men had been robbed of their most valuable possessions before they were shot in cold-blood.
Convicted of her crimes, Wuornos received the death penalty following her trial in 1990 and same was carried out on October 9, 2002. Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered beneath a tree she had chosen in her native Michigan.
What I did must have been right or an angel would have stopped me, just as an angel stopped Abraham in the Bible.
— Albert Fish
7. Albert Fish
Only five years old when his father passed, American serial killer Albert Fish's unemployed and destitute mother placed him in the care of a New York orphanage where he would remain for five years. It was during this time Albert said, he "got started wrong... I saw boys doing many things they should not have done."
Fish's homosexual fantasies were scandalous in the late 19th century so his rendezvous were limited to his those who secretly shared his desires or those he forced to act out such. His mother, frustrated with her unwed 28 year old son, forced Fish to do the "normal thing" by arranging a marriage to a woman nine years his junior.
Although the marriage lasted almost twenty years, it was filled with Fish's homosexual escapades - some with willing partners, others forced upon young, frightened children. Eventually his wife divorced Fish after falling in love with another man.
Fish's crimes escalated rapidly following the divorce. He began molesting children with greater frequency. As is the case with serial killers, he became sloppy and arrogant and eventually it led to his arrest and conviction. Fish died in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison on January 16, 1936.
8. Carl Panzram
Panzram was a serial killer, rapist, arsonist and burglar. In jailhouse confessions and his autobiography, he claimed that he had committed 21 murders - most were never corroborated, and over 1,000 sexual assaults. After a series of imprisonments and escapes, he was executed in 1930 for the murder of a prison employee at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. According to written accounts of the execution, when Panzram was asked if he had any last words, he said to the executioner, "Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"
© 2016 Kim Bryan
Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on July 27, 2020:
It is scary that these individuals live among us. And it's scary the things that they may say.
mary on October 31, 2018: