When we say serial killers we tend to think that this is really only a US and UK thing with a few exceptions every once in a while,. Maybe it is because the UK and US serial killers are more well known because of the media and several Hollywood portrayals.
We have all heard of Jeffrey Dahmer,Ted Bundy,John Wayne Gacy, Peter Sutcliffe and Jack the Ripper, with the exception of Jack the Ripper all of these men were eventually caught.
But it is not restricted to the US and the UK it really is a global phenomenon, for the lack of a better word, in fact the most prolific serial killer is from Colombia.
Luis Garavito Child-murderer, torture-killer, and rapist known as ”La Bestia” (“The Beast”). Confessed to killing 140 children over a 5-year period in Colombia. He is suspected of murdering over 300 victims, mostly street children.
Garavito was arrested on 22 April 1999. He confessed to murdering 140 children, and was charged with killing 172 altogether throughout Colombia. He was found guilty on 139 of the 172 accounts; the others are ongoing. Although the maximum sentence for murder in Colombia multiplied by 139 comes to 1,853 years and 9 days, Colombian law limits imprisonment to 40 years. Because he helped police find some bodies, as well as to his confessions, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years.He may possibly qualify for even earlier release for further cooperation and good behavior.
Although the first officially recorded serial killer was H. H. Holmes
Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the name of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes or more commonly just H. H. Holmes, was one of the first documented serial killers in the modern sense of the term. In Chicago, at the time of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built for himself specifically with murder in mind, and which was the location of many of his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders, of which nine were confirmed, his actual body count could be up to 200.He brought an unknown number of his victims to his World’s Fair Hotel, located about 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the fair, which was held in Jackson Park. Besides being a serial killer, H. H. Holmes was also a successful con artist and a bigamist.
In October 1895, Holmes was put on trial for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, and was found guilty and sentenced to death. By then, it was evident that Holmes had also murdered the Pitezel children. Following his conviction, Holmes confessed to 30 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto (though some he confessed to murdering were, in fact, still living), and six attempted murders. Holmes was paid $7,500 (worth $213,330 today) by the Hearst newspapers in exchange for his confession.
Holmes gave various contradictory accounts of his life, initially claiming innocence and later that he was possessed by Satan. His propensity for lying has made it difficult for researchers to ascertain the truth on the basis of his statements. While writing his confessions in prison, Holmes mentioned how drastically his facial appearance had changed since his imprisonment. He described his new, grim appearance as “gruesome and taking a Satanical Cast”, and wrote that he was now convinced that after everything that he had done, he was beginning to resemble the Devil.
On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison, for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel.
However it is believed although it wasn’t officially documented a French Nobleman by the name of Gilles de Rais, killed people centuries before H.H Holmes was even born.
Gilles de Rais (born 1404) is considered to be the precursor to the modern serial killer. Before he began his killing spree, he rode as a military captain in the army lead by St Joan of Arc – though it is unlikely that she knew him. He was accused and ultimately convicted of torturing, raping and murdering dozens, if not hundreds, of young children, mainly boys.
According to surviving accounts, Rais lured children, mainly young boys who were blond haired and blue eyed (as he had been as a child), to his residences, and raped, tortured and mutilated them, often ejaculating, perhaps via masturbation, over the dying victim. He and his accomplices would then set up the severed heads of the children in order to judge which was the most fair. The precise number of Rais’s victims is not known, as most of the bodies were burned or buried. The number of murders is generally placed between 80 and 200; a few have conjectured numbers upwards of 600. The victims ranged in age from six to eighteen and included both sexes. Although Rais preferred boys, he would make do with young girls if circumstances required.
At the transcript of the trial, one of Gilles servants Henriet (an accomplice to his crimes) described the actions of his master, which were essentially:
Henriet soon began to collect children for his master, and was present whilst he massacred them. They were murdered invariably in one room at Machecoul. The marshal used to bathe in their blood; he was fond of making Gilles do Sillé, Pontou, or Henriet torture them, and he experienced intense pleasure in seeing them in their agonies. But his great passion was to welter in their blood. His servants would stab a child in the jugular vein, and let the blood squirt over him. The room was often steeped in blood. When the horrible deed was done, and the child was dead, the marshal would be filled with grief for what he had done, and would toss weeping and praying on a bed, or recite fervent prayers and litanies on his knees, whilst his servants washed the floor, and burned in the huge fireplace the bodies of the murdered children. With the bodies were burned the clothes and everything that had belonged to the little victims. An insupportable odour filled the room, but the Maréchal do Retz inhaled it with delight
Execution by hanging and burning was set for Wednesday 26 October 1440. At nine o‘clock, Gilles and his two accomplices made their way in procession to the place of execution on the Ile de Biesse. Gilles is said to have addressed the crowd with contrite piety and exhorted Henriet and Poitou to die bravely and think only of salvation. Gilles’ request to be the first to die had been granted the day before. At eleven o’clock, the brush at the platform was set afire and Rais was hanged. His body was cut down before being consumed by the flames and claimed by “four ladies of high rank” for burial. Henriet and Poitou were executed in similar fashion but their bodies were reduced to ashes in the flames and then scattered.
Of course sometimes it is the ones you trust the most who turn out to be the real monsters, like in the case of Dr Harold Shipman.
Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was a British GP and one of the most prolific serial killer in recorded history. On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman guilty of 15 murders, but an inquiry after his conviction confirmed he was responsible for at least 218. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge recommended that he never be released.
The Shipman Inquiry, chaired by Dame Janet Smith, began on 1 September 2000. Lasting almost two years, it was an investigation into all deaths certified by Shipman. About 80% of his victims were women. His youngest victim was a 41-year-old man Much of Britain’s legal structure concerning health care and medicine was reviewed and modified as a result of Shipman’s crimes. He is the only British doctor to have been found guilty of murdering his patients, although various other doctors have been acquitted of similar crimes in the country.
Shipman injected the victim with a lethal dose of the painkiller diamorphine and then signed a death certificate attributing the incident to natural causes. His motives were unclear; some speculated that Shipman may have been seeking to avenge the death of his mother, while others suggested that he thought he was practicing euthanasia, removing from the population older people who might otherwise have become a burden to the health care system. A third possibility raised was that he derived pleasure from the knowledge that, as a doctor, he had the power of life or death over his patients and that killing was the means through which he expressed this power. Despite his forgery of the will of one of his victims, financial gain appears not to have been a serious motive.
Shipman died on 13 January 2004, the day before his 58th birthday, after hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison.
Several years ago I watched a movie called Citizen X.
It was based on the true story of a Russian serial killer who, over many years, claimed over 50 victims, mostly under the age of 17. In what was then a Communist state, the police investigations were hampered by bureaucracy, incompetence and those in power. The story is told from the viewpoint of the detective in charge of the case.
The name of this killer was Andrei Chikatilo
This case intrigued because I vividly remembered parts of court case being televised and I remembered him sitting in a cage in the courtroom.
Andrei Chikatilo was a Ukrainian serial killer, nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov and ‘The Red Ripper.’ He was convicted of the murder of 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. In 1978, Chikatilo moved to Shakhty, a small coal mining town near Rostov, where he committed his first documented murder. On December 22, he lured a nine-year-old girl to an old house which he bought in secret from his family and attempted to rape her.
(Yelena Zakotnova, aged 9. Murdered 22 December 1978.)
When the girl struggled, he stabbed her to death. He ejaculated in the process of knifing the child, and from then on he was only able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm through stabbing and slashing women and children to death. Despite evidence linking Chikatilo to the girl’s death, a young man, Alexsandr Kravchenko, was arrested and later tried and executed for the crime.
He established a pattern of approaching runaways and young vagrants at bus or railway stations and enticing them to leave. A quick trip into a nearby forest was the scene for the victim’s death. In 1983, he did not kill until June, but then he murdered four victims before September. The victims were all women and children. The adult females were often prostitutes or homeless tramps who could be lured with promises of alcohol or money. Chikatilo would usually attempt intercourse with these victims, but would usually be unable to get an erection, which would send him into a murderous fury. The child victims were of both sexes, and Chikatilo would lure them away with his friendly, talkative manner by promising them toys or candy. In the USSR at the time, reports of crimes like child rape and serial murder were often suppressed by the state-controlled media, as such crimes were regarded as being common only in “hedonistic capitalist nations.”
On 13 September 1984, exactly one week after his 15th killing of the year, Chikatilo was observed by an undercover detective attempting to lure young women away from a Rostov bus station. He was arrested and held. A search of his belongings revealed a knife and rope.He was also discovered to be under investigation for minor theft at one of his former employers, which gave the investigators the legal right to hold him for a prolonged period of time. Chikatilo’s dubious background was uncovered, and his physical description matched the description of the man seen with Dmitry Ptashnikov in March prior to the boy’s murder. A sample of Chikatilo’s blood was taken; the results of which revealed his blood group to be type A, whereas semen samples found upon a total of six victims murdered by the unknown killer throughout the spring and summer of 1984 had been classified by medical examiners to be type AB. Chikatilo’s name was added to the card index file used by investigators; however, the results of his blood type analysis largely discounted him as being the unknown killer. (By Chikatilo’s arrest, the index file had expanded to include over 25,000 individuals investigated in connection with the murders.
Chikatilo was found guilty of theft of property from his previous employer and sentenced to one year in prison, but was freed on 12 December 1984 after serving three months.
In 1988 Chikatilo resumed killing, generally keeping his activities far from the Rostov area. He murdered a woman in Krasny-Sulin in April and went on to kill another eight people that year, including two victims in Shakhty. Again there was a long lapse before Chikatilo resumed killing, murdering seven boys and two women between January and November of 1990. He was finally caught when trying to approach young children whilst under police surveillance.
He went to trial on April 14, 1992. Despite his odd and disruptive behavior in court, he was judged fit to stand trial. During the trial he was famously kept in a cage in the center of the courtroom; it was constructed for his own protection from the relatives of the deceased. The trial had a very disturbing atmosphere. The relatives kept shouting threats and insults to Chikatilo, demanding the authorities to release him so that they could execute him on their own. He was found guilty of 52 of the 53 murders and sentenced to death for each offense.
He was executed by firing squad (shot in the back of the head) on February 14, 1994 after Russian president Boris Yeltsin refused a last ditch appeal by Chikatilo for clemency.
The novel Child 44 is loosely based on Chikatilo.
Most of these men looked like ordinary men, not the bogey man we were warned about as kids.
The one thing that they have in common is that were all evil and not all of them had a bad childhood in fact most of them were very privileged. Although I am not a psychiatrist so this is my own opinion, I do believe that some people are just born evil.