Lurking in the Shadows: 10 Serial Killers to Give You Goosebumps

2 Victims

Ed Gein

August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984

Ed Gein

Ed Gein was extremely close with his strict, slightly domineering mother. Following her death, Gein began exhuming corpses from graveyards and transforming their remains into trophies. He fashioned himself a “woman suit” made from skin. Gein eventually confessed to murdering two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan (December 8, 1954) and hardware store owner Bernice Worden (November 16, 1957). He was deemed unfit to stand trial and was confined to a mental health facility. Following his release, he was tried for Worden’s murder in 1968. He spent the remainder of his life in a mental hospital. Despite his comparatively smaller list of victims, Ed Gein inspired some of the most fearsome fictional serial killers ever written: Norman Bates (Psycho), Leatherface (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs), Ezra Cobb (Deranged), Bloody Face (American Horror Story), and Eddie Gluskin (Outlast).

At Least 5 Victims

"Jack the Ripper"


Jack the Ripper

“Jack the Ripper” was one of the earliest known serial killer. His identity remains a captivating mystery. The Ripper lurked around the Whitechapel district of London in 1988, killing prostitutes in impoverished areas. His moniker originated from the “Dear Boss” letter written by someone alleging to be the killer (though, the letter is believed to have been a hoax created by a journalist to generate interest in the story). Other names for the mysterious murderer included “the Whitechapel Murderer” and “Leather Apron.” Jack the Ripper slit his victims’ throats, mutilated their abdomens, and removed their organs, demonstrating surgical and/or anatomical knowledge. In September and October 1888, investigators began to believe the cases were connected. Whitechap Vigilance Committee member George Lusk received the infamous “From Hell” letter containing a preserved human kidney supposedly from one of the Ripper’s victims. The total number of murders belonging to Jack the Ripper is unknown. The “canonical five” murders (Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly) that took place between August 31 and November 9, 1988 are attributed to him. The killer was never identified, but many suspects were considered. Some speculate American serial killer H.H. Holmes was the culprit. In September 2014, a DNA test proved 99.2% positive for suspect Aaron Kosminski, a Polish hairdresser in Whitechapel.


6 Victims

David Berkowitz ("Son of Sam")

June 1, 1953 –

David Berkowitz, "Son of Sam"

David Richard Berkowitz (born Richard David Falco) is most known by his nicknames “Son of Sam” and the “.44 Caliber Killer.” Over the course of one year and two days, spanning from July 29, 1976 to July 31, 1977, Berkowitz killed a total of six people and injured seven using a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver. He was finally apprehended on August 10, 1977.

7 Victims

Aileen Wuornos

February 29, 1956 – October 9, 2002

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos murdered a total of seven men between 1989 and 1990 while working as a prostitute in Florida. She covered up her slayings by claiming her victims had raped or attempted to rape her and she killed them in an act of self-defense. She was sentenced to death for six of the seven murders. On October 9, 2022, Aileen Wuornos was executed via lethal injection by the State of Florida.

9 Victims

Charles Manson

November 12, 1934 – November 19, 2017

Charles Manson, originally a musician, formed his infamous Manson Family cult in California’s desert during the late 1960s. In 1971, he was found guilty of conspiring to commit the murders under the joint-responsibility rule. Manson himself never killed anyone, nor did he overtly instruct his followers to. Among the victims killed by the Manson Family were actress Sharon Tate, four individuals at Tate’s residence, and married couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Originally, Manson was sentenced to death, but due to the temporary elimination of the death penalty in 1972, his sentence was changed to life. Charles Manson died in prison in November 2017.

10 Victims

Dennis Rader (The "BTK Killer")

March 9, 1945 –

Dennis Rader, the "BTK Killer"

Dennis Rader dubbed himself “the BTK strangler” and “the BTK killer” (the acronym standing for his nefarious modus operandi, “bind, torture, kill”). Between 1974 and 1991, Rader murdered ten people in and around Wichita, Kansas. He began sending detailed accounts of the killings to the police during the 90s and early 2000s. In 2004, Dennis Rader was arrested for murder thanks to his letters. He was convicted in 2005.

11 Victims

Henry Lee Lucas

August 23, 1936 – March 12, 2001

Henry Lee Lucas

Henry Lee Lucas confessed to hundreds of previously unsolved murders, but was convicted of eleven. It’s widely believed Lucas falsely confessed, as the logistics seemed highly improbable; however, his confessions contained information only the killer could have known. He was sentenced to death, but it was commuted to life in 1998. Henry Lee Lucas died in prison on March 13, 2001.

17 Victims

Jeffrey Dahmer ("The Milwaukee Cannibal")

May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer committed the rape, murder, and dismemberment of seventeen young men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Most notoriously, he engaged in eating his victims. Prison psychiatrists and psychologists diagnosed him with borderline personality disorder. Even so, Dahmer was considered legally sane at his trial. On February 15, 1992, he was convicted of fifteen of the murders and sentenced to fifteen life terms. A sixteenth life term was added for a murder he committed in Ohio in 1978. Fellow Columbia Correctional Institution inmate Christopher Scarver beat Jeffrey Dahmer to death on November 28, 1994.

At Least 30 Victims

Ted Bundy

 November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989

Ted Bundy

Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy reluctantly confessed to thirty murders of young women between 1974 and 1978 across at least seven states. The total number may be higher than Bundy confessed, and his slayings may have begun earlier than 1974. Ted Bundy exploited his natural charismatic charm to approach women in a public space under the rouse of being hurt, disabled, or some sort of authority figure. As he lured them into his trap, he would proceed to overpower them and assault them in a more secluded location. On numerous occasions, he returned to the crime scene for hours at a time, where he’d engage in necrophilia until the rotting corpses putrefied and decayed to a point where it was impossible. Bundy beheaded at least twelve of his victims and kept a few skulls as trophies in his apartment. In 1975, Ted Bundy was arrested in Utah for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. The arrested provoked suspicions about Bundy’s connection to a list of unsolved homicides in multiple states. He escaped jail while awaiting trial for his murder charges in Colorado and was captured a week later. He broke free a second time in Florida in 1978, this time bludgeoning three sorority girls while they slept. Ted Bundy was tried at two separate trials for the Florida killings, where he received three death sentences. On January 24, 1989, he was executed by the electric chair at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida.

33 Victims

John Wayne Gacy ("The Killer Clown")

March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994

John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy murdered at least thirty-three teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. Each victim had been forced or lured into Gacy’s home before he murdered them by asphyxiation or strangulation with a tourniquet. His first victim was the only one to be stabbed to death. Twenty-six of his victims were buried in the crawl space beneath his home, three were buried on the property, and the remaining four were dumped in the Des Plaines River. Known as “the Killer Clown,” Gacy had performed as his original character “Pogo the Clown” at fundraising events, parades, and birthday parties. John Wayne Gacy was convicted of thirty-three murders on March 13, 1980; twelve of them earned him the death penalty. He spent fourteen years on death row prior to his execution by lethal injection on May 10, 1994 at the Stateville Correctional Center (the same day Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized).

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