Like most people, I've gone through periods reading all sorts of morbid stuff, including about serial killers. A few months back I watched Joe Berlinger's The Ted Bundy Tapes. While that docuseries didn't actually tell me anything new, it was fairly well constructed in its retelling of Bundy's career of heinous murders and other crimes. Afterward, I watched his dramatization (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile) and felt similarly sick to my stomach. Next up on my (re)reading list: I'll Be Gone in the Dark, about the Night Stalker, otherwise known as the Golden State Killer (who was recently sentenced to life in prison).
After Redditor NickyEye asked the online community, "Which real life serial killer frightened/disturbed you the most?" people weighed in with their opinions.
Warning: Sensitive content ahead.
The Railway Killer
The Railway Killer in the late 90s. He rode trains throughout North America and many of his victims were in Texas, where I lived as a teenager. We had railroad tracks just behind our backyard and we frequently saw people riding in open/empty cars. When it became apparent a serial killer was riding on trains in Texas, my parents got the house alarm fixed and then monitored, and my dad slept with a gun near his bed.
Robert Hansen. Champion hunter in Alaska who would kidnap sex workers, fly them into the wilderness, and then hunt them for sport.
Fred and Rose West
I just read about Fred and Rose West, a married couple in the UK who collectively were among the most prolific serial killers in modern UK history. It is a grim tale of incest and prostitution and brutal murders and dismemberment of family members and random strangers, some of whom they buried in the garden behind their house. It's a fascinating yet horrific story.
The Toolbox Killers
Toolbox Killers. The transcript of the tape of Shirley Ledford's torture was one of the most terrifying things I've read. Some sick f****.
The Freeway Killer
William Bonin aka The Freeway Killer killed my childhood friend in 1980. He was 16. I was 15 at the time and that is too young an age to wrap your head around having a friend be the victim of a serial killer. It changed me.
Israel Keyes, serial killer, necrophiliac. He was raised in a militant Fundamentalist Christian household, joined the military, then came back to the US and killed at least 11 people all over the country. He went to extraordinary lengths to not be caught by choosing victims at random, killing far from his home. He would hide "kill kits" and return years later when he was ready to kill someone in that area.
Mr Cruel (Unsolved). He is an Australian serial assaulter who abducted and assaulted three girls and is the prime suspect of the abduction and murder of another young girl. After assaulting his victims he bathed them carefully to get rid of evidence, one victim described it as "like a mother washing a baby." In one case, he took a second set of clothes from the girl's home to dress her before he let her go. This case makes me feel so uneasy.
Dean Corll. I almost puked when reading about the methods of torture he used on little boys. He was such an a*shole that his teenage accomplice was the one that killed him, which revealed his 28+ murders to the public. There is a haunting photo of an unidentified victim that was found in his accomplices property years after they got busted. Nobody has any clue who the kid is but the image of distress on his face and the toolbox full of torture tools next to him have forever been burned into my mind.
Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo
I'd say Karla Holmoka and Paul Bernardo just because they were killing people in my hometown. I live like 2 minutes away from Karla's childhood home.
There's recently been a series in the UK on serial killer Dennis (Des) Nilsen. A Scottish killer who lived in London, and prowled bars and streets for young men to entice back to his flat. He killed many people, and was caught after a plumber found human bones and a mass of flesh in the drains. Turned out Des was dismembering his victims, and trying to flush the remains. In his previous flat he would burn and bury the remains, but his second flat was top floor of a 3 story building, so resorted to flushing.
The police found the remains of 3 men in bin bags in a wardrobe, as well as under a drawer in the bathroom, and a head in a large cooking pot on the stove.
One killing which stood out for me was a young guy Des found outside his property one day who was unwell. He helped the guy get to the hospital for treatment. Days later, the young man went back to thank Des for saving his life, stayed for a drink, and Des drugged, strangled, and dismembered him. This reminded me of Jeffrey Dahmer and the lad who escaped his flat to the police, who then delivered him back to Damher's flat.
People in the world astound me. There will never be peace whilst people like this exist.
He kidnapped very young children, took them to an abandon house, exposed himself to them, and finally would eat them. And to make it all worse, he would write the parents of the children, in detail, how he cooked them and how they tasted. You can find his exact notes to the parents online as well.
David and Catherine Birnie
I came across David and Catherine Birnie of my own accord, and while the crimes were terrible and made me sick, it really disturbed me when I realised that they lived right down the street from my dad and his family.
I asked my dad about it and apparently he had actually met them. My two aunts who also lived there were within the age range of the women they killed as well, so it's crazy to think they could have possibly been targeted if they were unlucky.
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Normal seeming young couple from Greater Manchester in the 1960s.
They abducted children, raped and tortured them, before burying them on the desolate moors nearby.
Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett and Lesley-Anne Downey were buried on those moors. Keith was never found.
Their final victim, Edward Evans, was killed in their home and the body was still there when the police caught them.
This case still affects people in the area today. I'm from Greater Manchester, and everyone knows what happened to those children. Everyone knows Myra's infamous mugshot with her dead eyes, and Ian's smug refusal to reveal any information even on his deathbed. Kids in the 70s were told to behave or Myra Hindley would come and take them away.
My nan grew up in Greater Manchester at the time, and she described how her mother was reading about children disappearing and was scared to let her out of the house on her own. My extremely peaceful pacifist grandad reckons they should have released the murderers in Manchester, and let the people at them.
Keith Bennett's mother died never knowing where her son was, and never having put him to rest, no grave to lay flowers at. She was buried with his glasses.
Luis Alfredo Garavito
Luis Alfredo Garavito from Colombia. In the interviews he comes off as the nice guy of your neighborhood, if it wasn't because he killed and raped 200+ kids, I'd think he's a good person.
There is no death penalty in Colombia, and he has so much charisma that he managed to convince a group of religious people that he was possesed when he did those things, now they visit him every now and then and he's allowed to go out of his jail to participate in the religious ritual. He also convinced the prison guards to allow him to have a cat.
Well... At least it's not like in Norway that the worst serial killer in the country has a TV and a Playstation 4. (In Norway criminals literally live like a normal person, just isolated, and get released in less than 20 years no matter the crime).
Jeffrey Dahmer because at one time he worked at a blood bank and I used to donate blood there. He also lived not too far away from the campus at Marquette University.
Robert Pickton. I lived in the area he took his victims and murdered them while he was actively doing so. I'm not saying I'm his type but that's not comforting. We had driven close to his farm on a few occasions.
John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy Jr. He used to dress up as a clown to attract children and then kill them. I despite the thought of being with a clown, let alone being killed by one.
Without a doubt, the "Family" murders in Australia. I'm incredibly sanguine and desensitized to most horror, but something about the grotesqueness of that case makes my skin crawl.
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