Top 10 Infamous Serial Killers in America (REDUX)

The path to infamy is paved with blood: a serial killer is defined as someone who commits more than three murders over a period that spans more than one month. And, whatever their motives, serial killers terrify entire communities with their crimes. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 infamous serial killers in American history. WARNING: Contains mature themes. Special thanks to our users Nerita Kairevičiūtė, David Juarez, stephen salas, Emiliano DelaRosa Walker, Lourdes Melendez, Wessel Vis, Andrew Horton, lolziekitten, Germano Pontes, Quentin Deline, Multichampion1000, Mikeymike008, Austin Rivera, Laura Johnson, Kevin Suchocki, Jorden, Idylex, Quellhead, Gooddog90, Pinnochio13666, Marian Harland and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Infamous Serial Killers in America


The path to infamy is paved with blood. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 most chilling, real-life serial killers in American history.

#10: Aileen Wuornos

She is one of the only female serial killers. Wuornos was abused during childhood, and eventually became a prostitute to support herself. She went to jail multiple times for robbery assault and more, but her murders began in 1989. While her story often changed, Wuornos claimed all her victims tried to rape her before she shot them. By 1993, she was convicted of six murders, and she was executed by lethal injection nine years later. In 2003, Wuornos’ life story made it to the big screen, with Charlize Theron taking on the role of a “Monster.”

#9: Albert DeSalvo – The Boston Strangler

While DeSalvo took the fall for these crimes, evidence suggests they were committed by more than one person. Panic struck Boston in the early ‘60s when thirteen single women between the ages of 19-85 were sexually assaulted and strangled in their homes. The terror ended in 1964 when DeSalvo was arrested for rape: he soon confessed to being the Boston Strangler and was sentenced to life in prison in 1967. To this day, some proclaim his innocence, but he was found murdered in jail in 1973.

#8: The Zodiac Killer – Identity Unknown

The Zodiac Killer plagued California in the late-1960s and early ‘70s by stabbing and gunning down innocent people. During the spree, the killer sent letters to local newspapers and police in which he claimed responsibility for a total of 37 murders, though police only credited him with five stabbings and shootings. Zodiac also left coded messages he claimed revealed his true identity, but they were never cracked. The most prominent suspect in this case was Arthur Leigh Allen, who died of kidney failure in 1992; however, most experts agreed he was not the killer. The case remains unsolved.

#7: David Berkowitz – Son of Sam, .44 Caliber Killer

The Son of Sam crimes terrified New York in the mid-1970s. Around the same time, Berkowitz allegedly joined a cult, and he later claimed his fellow cult members actually committed some of the crimes. For his own motive, he asserted that his neighbor’s demon-possessed dog instructed him to kill. He cryptically explained this to police and media in a series of letters. Finally, after receiving a parking ticket near one of his shootings, Berkowitz was captured. In 1978, he was sentenced to 365 years in prison for six murders and seven attempted murders. He has since become a born-again Christian and is a counselor for disturbed prisoners.

#6: Ted Bundy – The Campus Killer, Lady Killer

Law student Bundy used his charm and good looks to lure multiple women to their deaths. The turning point in his life came when he was dumped by his first love. His first confirmed murders took place in the mid-1970s and he continued to evade police across multiple states for years by using his forensic knowledge. To gain his victims’ trust, he dressed as an authority figure or with a cast. He then hit them over the head, raped and strangled them. Bundy blamed pornography for his crimes, and he admitted to over 30 murders, though many have not been confirmed. He died in the electric chair in 1989.

#5: Dennis Rader – BTK Killer

On the exterior, Rader’s life was normal: he was married, had kids and held down steady jobs. However, in 1974 the BTK or “Bind Torture Kill” Killer began murdering people in Kansas by various means. Shortly thereafter, he taunted authorities with letters that described his crimes. Rader’s last known murder was in 1991, and over a decade later the case went cold with no suspect. However, in 2004, BTK resumed communications and made a number of mistakes that got him caught. Rader was sentenced to ten consecutive life sentences with no possibility for parole for 175 years.

#4: Gary Ridgway – The Green River Killer

He proved you can get away with murder… for a while. Ridgway was violent in his youth: at age 16 he stabbed a six-year-old, who survived. He eventually began frequenting prostitutes, despite unwavering religious beliefs. In fact, many of his murder victims from the ‘80s and ‘90s were prostitutes or runaways whom he picked up, had sex with, strangled, then dumped near the Green River. After being suspected and cleared early in the investigation, Ridgway was finally arrested in 2001. He then confessed to 71 unconfirmed murders, and was sentenced to 48 consecutive life terms in 2003.

#3: Ed Gein – The Plainfield Ghoul, The Mad Butcher

This Wisconsin native inspired not one but three movie killers. The effeminate Gein grew up with a deep attachment to his abusive mother, and he eventually decided he wanted to become a woman. Only three murders were actually attributed to him, but he was terrifying because he robbed graves and murdered in order to form a “woman suit” he could wear. When authorities searched his house after his capture, they found paraphernalia made of human body parts littering his home. Gein died of cancer while incarcerated for one murder in a mental institution in 1984.

#2: John Wayne Gacy – Killer Clown

Gacy is why we’re all afraid of clowns: this seemingly upstanding citizen dressed up as Pogo the Clown for local children’s parties. However, behind the scenes he molested teens who worked for him, in addition to other crimes. He spent 18 months in jail for sodomy before he moved and continued assaulting young boys. The murders began in 1972: he mostly assaulted then strangled employees of his landscaping company and other male youths, then buried them around his house. He was finally arrested at the end of 1978, and was convicted of 33 murders two years later. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994.

#1: Jeffrey Dahmer - The Milwaukee Cannibal, The Milwaukee Monster

Dahmer first became known to police as a registered sex offender. However, the murders began in 1978. Dahmer often picked up his male victims in gay bars and had sex with them before drugging and killing them. When the police finally searched his apartment, they found decomposing corpses and body parts, as well as photos of his victims in various states of torture. Dahmer is also said to have engaged in both necrophilia and cannibalism. In 1992, he was sentenced to 15 life terms, but he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate two years into his term.

Do you agree with our list? Which serial killer do you think was the most despicable? For more informative top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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