Many serial killers suffer from anti-social personality disorder (APD), which does not usually have a clinical diagnosis. APD allows a killer to easily manipulate and charm people without the burden of empathy. However some serial killers suffer from deeper mental illness, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder, which affect their ability to tell right from wrong.
When a serial killer is diagnosed, it makes it tough to work out whether they are fit to stand trial and face justice. Some people even believe that mentally ill serial killers should not be held responsible for their actions. For this reason, many killers go undiagnosed until after their trial (if at all). Then, the killers claim to be crazy in order to avoid the death penalty. In reality, although these murderers all are disturbed psychopaths, very few actually have a diagnosable mental illness.
This list includes famous murderers with antisocial personality disorders and paranoid schizophrenic killers. So which ones are actually insane? Find out below.
David Berkowitz (aka the Son of Sam) was responsible for a crime spree from 1976-1977 that saw him take the lives of 6 people. After he was caught, Berkowitz claimed that his neighbor's dog told him to kill. He was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of Americasee more on David Berkowitz
Ed Gein was the inspiration for some of the scariest fictional killers, including Norman Bates and Leatherface. After being charged with the murder and mutilation of multiple victims, he was deemed unfit for trial and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Ten years later, he faced trial and was found guilty, but spent the rest of his days in a mental hospital.
Age: Died at 78 (1906-1984)
Birthplace: Wisconsin, United States of Americasee more on Ed Gein
Jeffrey Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. However, he was still found competent to stand trial for his 17 murders. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, but ended up being murdered by a fellow inmate.
Age: Died at 34 (1960-1994)
Birthplace: West Allis, Wisconsin, United States of America
Profession: Criminalsee more on Jeffrey Dahmer
Richard Chase killed 6 people in Northern California and famously drank their blood, leading to his nickname, "The Vampire of Sacramento." Before his first murder, Chase was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was institutionalized for a year. Despite his condition, Chase was not able to use an insanity plea in his case. He killed himself in prison.
Age: Died at 30 (1950-1980)
Birthplace: California, United States of Americasee more on Richard Chase
Before Aileen Wuornos inspired the 2003 film Monster, she fatally shot seven men along Florida's highways. After she confessed, Aileen was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder by the state’s expert psychologist, Dr. Bernard. Despite that, Wuornos was sentenced to death, and eventually volunteered to receive lethal injection even after her sentence had been put on hold.
Age: Died at 46 (1956-2002)
Birthplace: Rochester, Michigan, USA
Credits: Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killersee more on Aileen Wuornos
David Gonzalez killed 4 people in 2009 and claimed he was inspired by Nightmare on Elm Street. He had previously been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but wasn't properly treated.
Profession: Television Editorsee more on David Gonzalez
In the early 1900s, Albert Fish claimed to have raped, killed, and cannibalized hundreds of children. However, only 3 victims were ever found. Fish has a long family history of mental illness, with both his siblings ending up in mental hospitals. At one point, Fish's psychiatrist called him a psychiatric phenomenon for all his disorders. Fish claimed God told him to kill the children, but his insanity plea was still rejected and he was executed in 1936.
Age: Died at 66 (1870-1936)
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America
Also Rankedsee more on Albert Fish
During his trial for the rape and murder of 12 women, Kenneth Bianchi plead insanity, claiming he had multiple personalities. The prosecution's psychiatrist had doubts and even tricked Bianchi into creating a third personality. Bianchi was sentenced to life in prison.
Birthplace: Rochester, New York, USAsee more on Kenneth Bianchi