The term serial killer conjures up all sorts of gruesome images from popular fiction, but the truth is that they are a very much a reality, and just as terrifying as the ones portrayed in films. The term ‘serial killer’ or ‘serienmorder’ was first used in Germany in 1931, to describe Peter Kurten, also known as the Vampire of Dusseldorf, who failed to make this list. So, here in reverse order, are the top 10 serial killers according to their numbers of victims.
10. Wang Qiang Confirmed victims 45, probable 45+
Qiang lived in China’s Llaoning province and was convicted of 45 murders during 34 attacks, between 1995 and 2003. He came to Police attention while they were investigating the murder of a couple who had been disembowelled; and was then linked to the other events. He was executed on 17th November 2005, having shown no remorse for his actions.
9. Alexander Pichushkin Confirmed victims 48, probable 60
Also known as The Chessboard Killer, or, after the scene of his attacks, the Bitsa Park Maniac, Russian born Pitchuskin committed his first murder in 1992 and then steadily increased his rate of attacks until his capture in 2001. Initially targeting elderly, homeless men, he would invite them to join him for a drink before attacking them with a hammer, always from behind to avoid getting splashed with their blood, and sticking an empty vodka bottle into their brains to make sure. He later moved on to younger men, women and children as he worked towards his target of as many bodies as there are squares on a chessboard.
8. Gary Ridgway Confirmed victims 49, probable 90+
Ridgway became known as the Green River serial killer after he was revealed to have used waste land, near to the 65 mile long water course, to dump his victim’s bodies. During the 1980’s and 90’s he picked up teenage runaways and prostitutes, strangling his victims during sex. A married man, his wife and neighbours were shocked when his criminal activities were detected by advances in DNA testing in 2001. He confessed to 48 murders in 2003 and was sentenced to life imprisonment, when another body was found in 2011 an additional life sentence was added.
7. Anatoly Onoprienko Confirmed victims 52, probable 52+
Unusual in that he targeted whole families, Onoprienko started his spree in Bratkovychi, in the Ukraine. He always used the same method for the attacks, find an isolated building, cause a commotion and in the confusion target the man of the house, then his partner and finally the children. Captured in 1995 along with the murder weapons, he confessed, saying that voices in his head had driven him to it. A previous suspect had been tortured to death by the Police.
6. Andrei Chikatilo Confirmed victims 53, probable 56
Named as his inspiration by Alexander Pichushkin (No.9) Chikatilo was known as either the Red Ripper or the Butcher of Kostov (Russia) where many of his attacks took place. He confessed to a total of 56 murders between the years of 1978 to 1990, the details he gave corresponded to known murders of women and children. The crimes were particularly horrific, being of a sexual nature and involving a frenzied mutilation. At his trial Chikatilo admitted to becoming skilled at dodging the spurts of blood from his victims.
5. Yang Xinhai Confirmed victims 67
Chinas most prolific serial killer, he would attack under the cover of darkness, entering homes and killing everyone he found with a variety of weapons. He confessed to 65 murders and 23 counts of rape between 1999 and 2003 but was convicted of 67 deaths and executed in February 2004.
4. Pedro Rodrigues Filho Confirmed victims 71, probable 100+
Bizarrely, Filho’s murder rate increased after he was captured, killing at least 47 inmates while he was in prison in Brazil, including his own father, whose heart he cut out. Born with brain damage after his father beat his pregnant mother, he committed his first murder aged only 14. After his lover was killed by a drugs gang he set about torturing and killing anyone he suspected to having been involved. Despite being sentenced to over 400 years he was released after serving only 34 in 2007.
3. Daniel Camargo Confirmed victims 72, probable 150
A vicious paedophile, Camargo was arrested carrying the bloody clothes of his most recent victim, a 9 year old girl, and a copy of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. He was imprisoned In Columbia after confessing to 72 child murders, where he shared a cell with Pedro López. (No.2) After escaping he fled to Ecuador where he carried on where he had left off. He was finally captured and killed in prison by an inmate.
2. Pedro López Confirmed victims 110, probable 350+
One of thirteen children, Lopez’s prostitute mother kicked him out when he was 8 years old. A voracious paedophile, he travelled extensively across South America, targeting up to 3 young girls a week. Caught in the act by a local Indian tribe, he was about to be executed when a missionary persuaded them to release him to the local Police. While in prison he added to his tally after being gang raped, he hunted each participant down and killed them. Due to local laws he was released after a 30 years life sentence in 1998.
1.Luis Garavito Confirmed victims 138, probable 400+
The Worlds number one serial killer, ‘La Bestia’ the Beast, confessed to murdering 138 street children. As well as having been raped, their throats slit and the bodies dismembered most of the young boys also showed signs of torture. When captured Garavito was initially sentenced to the maximum Columbian law would allow, 30 years. This was then reduced to 22 when he began to cooperate with Police, drawing maps that could lead to 300 graves. Public outcries lead to a judicial review; which enabled his sentence to be increased to 60 years.