Notorious Serial Killers, Part 2
History is full of notorious crimes. Among the most heinous of these are the crime sprees of serial killers. Serial killers tend to be white men under the age of 50, but there have been incidents of non-caucasian and women killers; and while most serial killers work alone, there have been instances of serial killing partners, as in the case of Fred and Rosemary West who were featured in a previous hub. The following are a few more of the most famous, or infamous, serial killers in history.
- YouTube - Aileen Wuornos gone insane
Interviewed one day before my execution, taken from the documentary "Life and Death of a Serial Killer" (2003) by Nick Broomfield
Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono
Aileen Wournos, an American prostitute, was convicted of murdering seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Like many serial killers, Aileen's childhood was less than idyllic. Her mother was just a teenager when Aileen was born. Her father was a convicted child molester that found himself in and out of prison until he finally hanged himself in 1969. Eventually abandoned by her mother, Aileen was raised by her maternal grandparents and claimed that her grandfather sexually and physically abused her. When she was only 13, Aileen alleged that she had been raped and found herself pregnant. After the birth of her child, whom she placed for adoption, she returned to her grandfather's home only to be kicked out by the age of 15. She turned to prostitution as a means of supporting herself. Her most significant relationship was a lesbian romance with a woman she had met in a gay bar.
Over the course of one year, Aileen killed her seven victims, claiming that each had attempted to rape her. Each had been shot multiple times. She was arrested and charged in 1991. She was found guilty and sentenced to death for each of the 6 murders. After her initial appeals proved unsuccessful, she decided to forego them, declaring that she would surely kill again, so there was no point in ever releasing her. Aileen claimed that she had pure hate running through her veins for the entire human race.
While in prison, her sanity seemed to become more and more precarious. She exhibited paranoid thoughts and began to portray herself as a victim. She accused prison officials of torturing her with sonic pressure in her brain and believed that she was going to be taken to heaven by angels in a space ship after her execution. Despite her incessant and illogical rantings, her sentence was carried out in 2002. She was only the 10th woman to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
The Hillside Stranglers
The case of the hillside stranglings involved not one, but two killers, cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Jr. Each was convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder by strangling of young women and girls between the ages of 12 and 28. Each girl was killed in the hills above Los Angeles. They unleashed a reign of terror on the Los Angeles area until they were finally apprehended in 1978.
In an unusual twist, Bianchi started a relationship with a woman after his incarceration. Her name was Veronica Compton. She testified for the defense in his murder trial. She also conspired with Bianchi to cast doubt onto the case against Bianchi by taking a semen sample from him, intending to plant it on a woman whom she tried to strangle. Her plan was to murder the woman in the manner the Hillside Stranglers had used, and plant semen on her body. In those days, DNA testing was not available, so the fact that it was Bianchi's semen would not have been an issue. Her plan did not work, and she was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to prison. She was released in 2003.
Bianchi remains imprisoned in the state of Washington, but Buono, against whom Bianchi testified in exchange for leniency, died in prison of a heart attack in 2002.
John Wayne Gacy
By all accounts, John Wayne Gacy was an upstanding citizen and community leader. He was married with children, built his own contracting company, and did much volunteer work for organizations such as the Jaycees. He was known to volunteer for children's hospitals and parties as a clown. He was known not only by friends and neighbors, but also by prominent community leaders and politicians. But there was a side to Gacy that few people ever saw, and those that did, did not live to tell.
Gacy was one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. He drugged, raped, tortured and killed over 30 men and young boys, many of whom were later found buried under his Chicago home.
There were telltale signs that all was not as it seemed with Gacy even prior to the revelation that he was a serial killer. Rumors were rampant in town about Gacy's sexual preference for young boys. He was indicted in 1968 for the brutal sodomy of a teenager named Mark Miller. He later paid another teen to beat up Miller in an attempt to frighten him. Gacy pleaded guilty to the sodomy charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was only 26 years old. He served only 18 months before being released for good behavior. Having been divorced by his first wife, he remarried in 1972 and reestablished his life and reputation. He hosted elaborate parties and BBQs for neighbors, yet most reported that the incredible stench coming from Gacy's house was overwhelming. Little did they know that he had already begun burying his victims beneath the floorboards.
As Gacy's construction business began to grow, he hired several teenage boys to work for him. Allegations of sexual assault by his employees were not uncommon and eventually, boys began to go missing. While investigating Gacy, officers found items belonging to one of the missing teens. Gacy admitted to the killing, but claimed self-defense. In 1978, as pressure mounted and the investigation became more intense, Gacy finally admitted to killing more than 30 men and boys. He went on trial in 1980 and was finally executed in 1994.
Albert Fish was one of the most gruesome serial killers of all time. His crimes were so unspeakable and covered nearly every taboo fetish that one can imagine. He was suspected in at least five murders and boasted that he had molested over 100 children. His crimes include not only murder, but also coprophilia, urophilia, cannibalism, pedophilia and masochism. In his detailed crime descriptions, Fish admitted, in painstaking details, how he had used children's body parts to make stews and gravies.
He became known by a variety of frightening monickers such as the the Brooklyn Vampire, the Boogey Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria and the Gray Man.
Mental illness was known to run in Fish's family and included diagnoses such as religious mania and hallucinations. His father, who was 75 years old when he was born, died when Fish was very young. His mother was unable to care for him and placed him in an orphanage where he was routinely stripped naked and beaten in front of other children. He reportedly came to enjoy the pain and achieved erections with each beating, for which he was routinely ridiculed.
As an adult, his mother arranged for him to marry a woman 9 years his junior with whom he had six children. He worked as a male prostitute even after their marriage. During this time he also engaged in self-injurious behaviors such as embedding needles into his skin. Some were embedded too deeply to remove. X-rays revealed that he had 29 needles deep in his pelvic region which he had been unable to remove. Fish's wife eventually left him for another man, but he later remarried, though he was divorced within one week of his second marriage.
Despite the depravity of his crimes, he was found sane and able to stand trial. He was convicted and sentence to death, which was carried out in the electric chair at Sing Sing in 1936.
The Green River Killer
Gary Leon Ridgeway, also known as the Green River Killer, was responsible for the deaths of 48 known victims between 1982 and 1998 in the Green River Valley on the west coast of the United States. Police suspect that Ridgeway was responsible for as many as 80 additional deaths. each of his victims were women whom he had strangled with his forearm or, in some cases, a ligature.
While his childhood was not as troubled as some, he was said to be routinely belittled by his mother, whom he felt both a sexual attraction and immense anger toward. While most who knew him described Ridgeway as friendly but not remarkable, others might disagree. At the age of 16, he stabbed a six year old boy, stating that he had always wondered what it might be like to kill someone.
Ridgeway eventually turned his attention to women, namely prostitutes, whom he lured into his car with pictures of his son, and strangled them. At one point, he claimed to have killed so many women that it was impossible to keep count. He was married twice during the height of his killing sprees, but both women were unfaithful and eventually divorced him.
He eventually fell into another relationship with a woman whom he claimed to genuinely love. It was during this time that the rate of his killing curtailed significantly. He credited his new love with his reduced desire to kill and indicated that she likely saved many lives by loving him.
After his arrest as the Green River Killer, Ridgeway was spared the death penalty in favor of life in prison in exchange for his promise to divulge the locations of additional victims.
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