Not all serial killers have gotten what they deserved. Some continue to languish on death row benefiting from lengthy court appeals, while others escaped execution through plea deals or by committing their murders in states or countries without the death penalty. But fret not; there are plenty of serial killers who got their comeuppance. Here’s a list of 10 of the more notable ones.
John Wayne Gacy
A sadistic and prolific serial killer who was a part-time clown seems like something straight out of a Stephen King horror movie, but with John Wayne Gacy, it was an evil reality. Gacy was convicted in the state of Illinois for killing 33 young men and teenage boys from 1972-1978. The owner of a successful construction company, Gacy would often lure in his young victims with the promise of a job. While he tortured and murdered, Gacy was an active community volunteer and a part-time clown that entertained at children’s parties and other events. Calling himself “Pogo the Clown,” he applied his clown make-up with sharp corners around his eyes and mouth instead of rounded edges like children’s clowns normally do. Gacy was finally caught in 1978 when he was connected to a missing boy whom he had offered a job. He was found guilty of 33 murders in 1980 and sentenced to death. Gacy would not see his sentence carried out until 14 years later when he was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994. His last words are reported to be, “Kiss my ass.”
Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents should have known something was wrong with their son when his hobby as a child was stripping the flesh off road kill and keeping the bones. Dahmer would go on to murder 17 boys and men from 1978-1991. He eventually came to believe he could turn his victims into zombie sex slaves by drilling holes into their skulls and injecting hydrochloric acid and boiling water into their brains. During the summer of 1991, he killed four men over four weeks and was discovered by police when one of his prospective victims escaped from his Milwaukee apartment bloodied and handcuffed. The victim led police back to Dahmer’s apartment where they discovered, among other horrifying things, four severed heads and photographs of his dismembered victims. In 1992, Dahmer was convicted of 15 murders and sentenced to 15 life terms, avoiding execution because the state of Wisconsin does not have the death penalty. Two years later, though, he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate with a broom handle while doing janitorial work.
Thug Behrem has been called the most prolific serial killer in history. Born in India in 1765, Behrem was a member of the notorious Thugee cult. The Thugees, from which the English word thug comes from, were a group of murderers and thieves in India who would gain the confidence of travelers, then ritualistically strangle them with handkerchiefs and steal all their belongings. Behrem is rumored to have killed more than 900 people by strangulation. His strangulation instrument of choice was a cummerbund with a medallion affixed to it which he would use to apply extra pressure on his victim’s Adam’s apple. When Behrem was 75 years old, authorities finally caught up with him. He confessed to at least 125 murders and was executed by hanging in 1840.
Serial killers can emerge and operate in any type of society, even one that was as tightly controlled and monitored as Soviet-era Russia. Andrei Chikatilo, who acquired such nicknames as the Butcher of Rostov and the Red Ripper, confessed to the murders of 56 children and young adults from 1978-1990. Chikatilo would typically prey on young male and female runaways whom he would find at train stations and bus stops. After gaining their trust, he would lure them to nearby forested areas and attack them. In several cases, he ate parts of his victims. In 1990, Chikatilo was stopped by an undercover officer for suspicious behavior. Although he wasn’t arrested, the cop took his name. Two weeks later, the mutilated body of a woman was found in the area. Chikatilo became the prime suspect, and they began the process of linking him to numerous other murders. He was convicted of 52 murders in 1992, and was executed two years later by a single gunshot to the back of the head.
There have been numerous female serial killers throughout history, including Aileen Wuornos, who killed seven men in Florida from 1989 to 1990. While working as a prostitute, she would lure in her male victims and kill them with a handgun. She became a suspect when she and her lesbian lover got in a car accident while driving the stolen car of one of her victims. Wuornos eventually confessed to all seven murders, but said they were in self-defense because each man tried to rape her. She would eventually be convicted of all seven murders and receive a total of six death sentences. Nearly 10 years after her conviction, she was executed by lethal injection on Oct. 9, 2002. Her last words were, "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the rock, and I'll be back, like Independence Day with Jesus. June 6, like the movie. Big mother ship and all, I'll be back, I'll be back."
Known as the Candy Man and the Pied Piper, Dean Corrl murdered at least 28 boys from 1970-1973 in Houston, Texas. Corrl’s nicknames came from the fact that he and his family once owned a successful candy company in Houston, and he would sometimes give kids free candy. Corrl eventually enlisted the help of two young accomplices whom he paid $200 for each boy they lured to his home. Once there, Corrl would chain victims to a torture board he fashioned, and sexually abuse them -- sometimes over the course of several days -- until finally shooting or strangling them. His killing spree came to an end on Aug. 8, 1973, when one of his accomplices, Wayne Henley, brought a young woman and man back to his house. Enraged that he had brought back a woman, Corrl handcuffed Henley and told him he was going to kill all three of them. Henley talked Corrl into freeing him after promising he would assist in the torturing and killing of the young man and woman. Shortly after the torturing began, Henley decided he didn’t want to see the two people die, so he grabbed Corrl’s pistol and shot him to death. Henley and Corrl’s other accomplice was convicted of murder and sentenced to multiple life terms.
Also known as the Monster Killer, Yang Xinhai killed 67 people in his native China from 1999-2003. Yang would typically break into the homes of farmers in rural areas and murder their entire families with no one spared, including children. The murders were committed with axes, hammers and whatever else he could get his hands on. Yang was caught in November of 2003 when he was detained during a routine government inspection of an entertainment venue he happened to be in. Police discovered he was wanted for murder in another province. Yang would go on to confess to 65 murders and multiple rapes. Just three months after his apprehension, he was executed by firing squad in February of 2004.
Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Sometimes referred to as the Campus Killer, Ted Bundy brutally murdered at least 36 women in several different states during the 1970s. Unlike many serial killers, Bundy was both handsome and charismatic, traits that he would use to lure in his victims. Bundy eventually came to the attention of police during a routine traffic stop in Salt Lake City when they found handcuffs, masks, rope and other suspicious items in his car. A couple of years later while awaiting trial for murder in Colorado, Bundy escaped from jail and made his way to Tallahassee, Fla., where he began a killing spree that included breaking into a sorority house and murdering two women. Nearly six weeks after his escape, he was apprehended in Florida where he was tried and sentenced to death by electrocution. After 10 years of appeals, his sentence was carried out in 1989. His last words were, "I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends."
Enriqueta Marti, aka the Vampire of Barcelona, sold phony love potions to the wealthy in Barcelona during the late 1800s and early 1900s. While this alone isn’t a horrendous crime, it was what she put in her potions that made her one of the most notorious female serial killers in history. Her potions consisted of body parts from young children that she had murdered. Finally, after 20 years of killing children, she was apprehended when two little girls were rescued from her apartment and told police they witnessed her kill and butcher a 5-year-old boy. Her confirmed number of murders was 12, but it is believed that she killed many more than that. While awaiting trial in prison, she was lynched by some of her fellow inmates.
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Ahmad Suradji was an Indonesian serial killer who said he got his inspiration to kill from a dream in which his father told him if he killed 70 women and drank their saliva, he would become a super powerful healer. Suradji advertised himself as a sorcerer to the surrounding villages and would charge women several hundred dollars to cast spells for things like assuring the faithfulness of their husbands or boyfriends. Under the guise of casting these spells, Suradji would bury his victims in the ground up to their waists. He would then strangle them to death with a cable, drink their saliva, and rebury them with their heads facing toward his house, which he believed increased his powers. In May of 1997, a body was found near Suradji’s property and police began investigating. He eventually confessed to killing 42 women and was sentenced to death in 1998. Ten years later, this psychopath was executed by firing squad.