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Top Ten Serial Killers

By Jen Allen
IV Leader Staff, Oct. 25, 2007

    While these are not necessarily the absolute top ten serial killers in the world, their crimes all took place in America .  Most have taken place in the last century, and most are dead.  Supposedly, early signs of a serial killer—showing up in childhood—are fire starting, or arson, cruelty to animals, and bed wetting beyond a certain age. 
Through general searching at serial killers, they all seem amazingly normal to the outside world.  Most are generally smart and well liked by others, some having a wife and children.  They plan their killings methodically.  Others are unorganized, considered below average intelligence, random and haphazard with their killings, and are generally avoided by other people. 
    Their main objective is to exert power and control on their victims.  These “Top Ten” are some of the most well known serial killers—the actual best/worst of their kind could be disputed.  These are ranked from ten to one, one being the top killer.  Order can be disputed.

Dennis Rader—BTK—Bind, Torture and Kill—Killer.  Murdered at least 10 people around Wichita , KS between 1974 and 1991 but not arrested until 2005.  Eleven hundred DNA samples were supposedly taken to find the BTK Killer.  Stalked his victims for patterns, got acquainted with them if co-workers.  Strangled victims until unconscious, then let them revive, then strangled them again; he did this over and over until finally strangled to death.  Sent a floppy disk to police to give them information he believed to not be able to link him.  Plead guilty, sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences without parole for 175 years.  At El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas , in solitary confinement for perhaps the rest of his life.

Ted Bundy—ranged in WA, UT, CO, ID, and FL.  Arrested in 1975 in Salt Lake City for not stopping for a police officer; later evidence would lead police to believe he had committed murders.  Escaped from jail twice; made it to Chicago the second time; eventually went to Florida , committing petty crime and eventually murders.  Confessed to 30 murders.  Would rape his victims before murdering them by bludgeoning (clubbing) and strangulation; also was a necrophiliac.  He was executed in 1989.

Aileen Wuornos—was arrested for crimes all through her teenage years and later life.  Was said to have beaten her husband.  Made a living as a prostitute.  Killed seven men, all in 1990, saying the men had assaulted and attempted to or did rape her.  Charlize Theron played her in the movie Monster.  First sentenced to death in 1992; five death sentences and ten years later she was killed by lethal injection in Florida .

Gary Ridgway—confessed to more murders than any other American serial killer.  Arrested in 2001, but murders began in 1982.  All were women, near Seattle , WA , ages 15 to 38.  Ted Bundy was interviewed for information in finding “The Green River Killer” (Ridgway).  Arrested twice for prostitution; passed a polygraph test with questioning for murders.  Plead guilty and told authorities about 48 murders and locations.  Is thought to have more than fifty and up to seventy murders.  Guilty plea allowed him to bargain for life sentencing without parole.  He is currently in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla , WA .

John Wayne Gacy—confessed in 1978 of 33 murders.  Most found under his house, the rest in Des Plaines River , all in various states of decomposition.  Final victim found in the Illinois River .  Ages believed to be 14-21.  Would stick clothing into their mouths to muffle screams, then a rope or board to choke them as he assaulted them.  He was executed in Crest Hill , IL , by lethal injection.

Ed Gein—police suspected him in the disappearance of a woman in 1957.  When entering his house, they found it riddled with bodies.  He practiced necrophiliac behavior—skinning his murder victims and exhumed, decorated his home with parts of, and made articles of clothing and furniture from the skin of corpses.  Believed to have a woman-skinned suit from exhumed corpses of which looked like his mother so he could look like her as well.  Died of respiratory and heart failure in 1984 near Madison , WI .

Jeffrey Dahmer—arrested in 1991.  Police found a fourteen-year-old boy that Dahmer claimed to be his “19-year-old lover,” and returned the boy, who died later that night, Dahmer dismembering him and keeping the skull as a souvenir.  Believed to have murdered 17 men and boys; included sodomy, necrophilia, strangulation, stabbing, dismemberment, and cannibalism in his acts.  Served his 937 year sentence in Portage , WI , and was murdered by another inmate in 1994.

Charles Manson—became leader of the Manson Family, a supposed cult.  Convicted of conspiracy and not actual murders.  Lived with nineteen women in Berkley , CA .  Practically moved in with Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, Wilson paying over $100,000 for various things, including Manson’s girls’ gonorrhea treatment.  Helped Manson record songs.  Helter Skelter—Manson believed to be prophesized war.  Based life and Family things on Beatles’ songs.  Found guilty in 1971 on seven accounts of murder and one conspiracy, along with four others.  Was denied parole in May, 2007, and be eligible again in 2012.  Is at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran , CA .

Dr. Harry Howard Holmes—thought to have murdered hundreds at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago by trapping guests in his hotel.  Confessed to 27 murders.  His story was written about in “The Devil in the White City .”  Stole bodies from the Universy of Michigan and disfigured them while in Medical School .  Tortured and killed employees, lovers, and hotel guests; some were asphyxiated in gassed rooms, others he listened to them scream, panic, and suffocate.  The bodies were sent down a chute to the basement, where he dissected them, skinned them, put into skeleton models, and sold to medical schools, along with organs.  He also stretched victims, poisoned, or threw them into vats of acid.  Hanged in 1896 in Philadelphia , taking ten minutes to die.

Herbert Mullin—committed 13 murders in four months.  Was voted “most likely to succeed” in a California high school.  Allowed family to commit him to a mental hospital in 1969 (age 21).  Burned cigarettes on skin.  Thought that the voice in his head was telling him to murder someone to save California from an earthquake—he murdered a homeless man with a baseball bat.  Examined second victim’s intestines for “pollution” by putting them on trees after stabbing her and slicing her stomach open.  Stabbed priest to death for confession.  Last murder was an old man mowing his lawn with many witnesses.  Sentenced to life imprisonment at Mule Creek State Penitentiary in CA, eligible for parole in 2025.