The United States has been home to some of the worst serial killers in human history. These American serial killers have some of the highest number of victims in history, arguably making them the scariest human beings on the planet. Although there are many other prolific serial killers throughout the world, the United States has one of the largest groups of killers with 10 or more victims. Although some serial killers boast of hundreds of victims to their names, others have a more terrifying, if not lower number, of kills.
With the number of victims that each serial killer on this list has, it’s a wonder that these killers got away with it for as long as they could. Some of the killers had dozens of victims before anyone discovered that a single crime had been committed, while others were hunted by police for years.
Which serial killers in the United States had the highest number of victims? How did they get away with the crimes for so long? What was it that finally got them caught? This list features the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history.
Gary Ridgway, better known as "The Green River Killer," was responsible for the deaths of at least 49 proven victims, though he confessed to the murders of at least 71. However, the true number of victims is likely closer to 90 women. Ridgway strangled his victims and dumped the bodies in remote locations from 1982 to 2001. When he was caught in 2001, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, USAsee more on Gary Ridgway
Donald Harvey once boasted of killing 87 people, even though the police have only connected 37-57 names to his crimes. While working in a hospital, he acted as a self-professed "Angel of Death" - he killed his victims with painful poisons in order to end their alleged suffering. He was caught in 1987 and sentenced to 28 consecutive life sentences in prison.
Birthplace: Ohio, United States of America
Profession: Physiciansee more on Donald Harvey
John Wayne Gacy was best known as "The Killer Clown" because of his career as a professional clown entertainer. However, it was his rape and murder of at least 33 young men that earned him infamy. In Chicago, Gacy strangled his victims and then buried the bodies on or around his property. He was apprehended in 1978, sentenced to death, and executed by lethal injection in 1994.
Age: Died at 52 (1942-1994)
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
Profession: Clownsee more on John Wayne Gacy
Jane Toppan once said that it was her greatest wish that she'd have killed more people than any man or woman who ever existed. While she didn't quite reach her goal, Toppan's 31 murder victims in 1885-1901 earned her a place in serial killer history. She killed patients when she worked as a nurse, poisoned her landlords, and murdered her foster sister. When she was discovered in 1901, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the rest of her life in an insane asylum in Massachusetts. She died in 1938 at age 81.
Age: Died at 81 (1857-1938)
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
Profession: Nursesee more on Jane Toppan