Top 10 Serial Killers with Awful Upbringings



Top 10 Serial Killers with Awful Upbringings

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Well, that might explain things. From Charles Manson, to Richard Chase, to Edmund Kemper, these serial killers sure never had it easy. WatchMojo counts down ten serial killers with awful upbringings.

Special thanks to our user nathansharp28 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Serial+Killers+with+Awful+Upbringings.
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Serial Killers with Awful Upbringings

Well, that might explain things. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten serial killers with awful upbringings.

For this list, we’re looking at serial killers who had awful and traumatic childhoods and how it may have led them down the unfortunate path that we know them for.

#10: Charles Manson

While Manson didn't personally kill anyone, he did mastermind the Manson Family murders and was convicted on nine counts of first-degree murder. Born to a teenage mother who initially refused him a proper name, young Charles was instead named “No Name Maddox.” Mother Maddox frequently binge drank, and was later sentenced to five years in prison for attempted robbery, leaving Manson without a mother figure. Her continued absence resulted in Manson’s early criminal career, and his enrolment in a school for delinquents. Charles soon ran away to be with his mother, but she immediately sent him back and his rap sheet only began to grow from there.

#9: Richard Chase

Known as The Vampire of Sacramento, Chase was unwell from a very young age. Abused by his parents throughout his childhood, Richard began harming animals and committing arson by the age of 10, and suffered from various neuroses. Chase occasionally thought that his heart had stopped, that his pulmonary artery had been stolen, and that his mother was trying to poison him. Chase was institutionalized in 1973, and again in ‘76 after injecting himself with rabbit blood. By the end of the following year he began his kill streak, ultimately killing six, and committing both necrophilia and cannibalism along the way.

#8: Richard Ramirez

Dubbed the “Night Stalker”, Ramirez lived a childhood filled with physical abuse by his father. Ramirez was also exposed to graphic violence by his cousin Mike – a decorated Green Beret Vietnam vet – who claimed to have raped and abused women during his service, and would later murder his wife in front of young Richard. After moving in with his sister, Ramirez was schooled on voyeurism by his brother-in-law, and began having fantasies of bondage and rape. Eventually all these threads came together, with Ramirez breaking into houses to rape and kill the occupants, and being convicted of 13 counts of murder.

#7: Albert Fish

A child rapist and cannibal who claimed to have raped and/or killed over 100 people, Fish was officially linked to three murders, and suspected of five others. Born in 1870 to a 75-year-old father and a 32-year-old mother, the so-called Moon Maniac spent much of his childhood in an orphanage where he was physically abused. At age 12, a friend introduced him to the practice of eating feces and drinking urine, and he took an interest in voyeurism. By 1890, when Fish was 20, he began raping boys, and later became fascinated by sexual mutilation, eventually expanding into murder and cannibalism.

#6: Donald Gaskins

Also known as Pee Wee, Gaskins was a serial killer who was convicted of 9 murders and who claimed to have killed between 100 and 110 people. Born illegitimately in 1933 to Eulea Parrott. Gaskins was often neglected, and after drinking kerosene at age 1 suffered two years’ worth of persistent convulsions. His mother’s neglect led him to drop out of school and commit various crimes, which landed him in reform school where the other inmates constantly raped him. It was in 1953, at age 20, when Gaskins was sentenced to six years for attempted murder, a sign of things to come.

#5: Pedro López

A Colombian serial killer who was found guilty of killing 80 young girls, Pedro López was born to a prostitute, and had by times witnessed his mother on the job throughout his childhood. López would later admit this had a harmful effect on his mental health. He was kicked out of the house when he was eight for sexually assaulting his sister, and was subsequently raped by a stranger. When he between 12 and 14, he was allegedly molested by a school teacher. He traded stealing cars for murder in his late 20s, and claims to have killed three girls a week during the late '70s.

#4: Edmund Kemper

Highly intelligent, and standing a massive 6’9’’, Kemper is undoubtedly one of the scariest serial killers. His childhood was a nightmare. His sister almost killed him twice, once by pushing him into the path of a train and the second time by pushing him into the deep end of a pool. Meanwhile, his mother was an alcoholic who would mentally and physically abuse Kemper, which included telling him that he would never be loved and locking him in the basement. His hatred for his mother bled into his relationship with his grandmother, who he killed at age 15, and later the murder of his mother herself in 1973 – he had also murdered several other women during the interim years.

#3: Henry Lee Lucas & Ottis Toole

Lucas and Toole were partners in crime and sex, with Toole being convicted of six murders and Lucas eleven, although the true number of victims is hotly debated. Despite the cloudiness surrounding their crime spree, what is clear is that they both had horrible upbringings. Lucas’ mother was a prostitute who would force him to cross-dress and watch her have sex with clients. He lost his eye when he was 10 due an infection from an injury and would ultimately kill her when he was in his mid-20s. Toole, meanwhile, was raised by an abusive mother who would also dress him in women’s clothing, and he claims to have been sexually abused by incestuous family members.

#2: John Wayne Gacy

Like many serial killers, Gacy suffered at the hands of an abusive father throughout much of his childhood. Gacy claims that his father would often call him stupid, and that he was constantly beaten with a belt, and that a family friend molested him. However, Gacy never told anyone of the latter out of fear of punishment from his father. He was also bullied at school and often experienced blackouts, spending a portion of his teenage years in the hospital. His father accused him of faking these incidents for the attention. Gacy would go on to sexually assault and murder at least 33 males between 1972 and 1978.

#1: Aileen Wuornos

Aileen’s parents married when they were teenagers, but her father left before she was even born, and later committed suicide in prison. Her mother left before Wuornos turned four, leaving her in the care of her sexually abusive grandfather. By the time she was 11, she was having sex at school in exchange for drugs. When she was 14, she was raped by her grandfather’s friend, and, after placing the child for adoption, the homeless Aileen resorted to prostitution to support herself. She would remain in prostitution for years and eventually murdered seven men, which she claims to have been in self-defense.