America's Most Famous Serial Killers

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Some of the worst serial killers in history are accounted for here on the list of America's most famous serial killers. Perhaps infamous is a better description of these convicted killers, but as their murderous exploits have captured, and continue to capture, the attention of the public, they remain known as famous serial killers.

The notable serial killers on this serial killers list include some of the most famous female serial killers in history as well as some as yet unknown serial killers who may still be walking among the general public. Many of these men and women served as inspirations for the best fictional serial killers ever and as a jumping off point for adults to scare children across the world into blind obedience.

Who are the worst serial killers in history? What are the most famous American serial killers? This list of notable serial killer from the US is a collection of some of the most grisly murders in history and, if you desire, you can cast your vote for the worst serial killers in US history.

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    Ted Bundy embarked on a five year killing spree in 1974 that would not end until his capture in 1979. Bundy confessed to 30 murders on his arrest, though authorities believe the actual death toll is somewhere around 100. He was executed by electrocution in 1989.


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    • Age: Died at 43 (1946-1989)
    • Birthplace: Vermont, USA, Burlington
    • Profession: Criminal
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    John Wayne Gacy
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    John Wayne Gacy, known as "The Killer Clown", raped, tortured, and murdered at least 33 boys and men between 1972-78 in Chicago, IL. He was discovered by the police to have 29 bodies hidden in the crawl space of his house, and admitted to having killed more men which he disposed of in the river. He was executed by lethal injection in 1994.


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    • Age: Died at 52 (1942-1994)
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    • Profession: Clown
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    The Zodiac Killer

    The Zodiac Killer was responsible for at least five, and as many as 37, people in Northern California between December 1968 and November 1969. In this time the Zodiac, whose identity to this day is still unknown, sent menacing and cryptic messages to local newspapers in and around San Francisco, and continued to send ciphered messages to the newspapers after the killings had stopped. Though many books and articles have named possible suspects, the case remains open and unsolved.


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    Jeffrey Dahmer
    Photo: Freebase

    Between 1988-91, Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 men in Milwaukee, WI before the escape of his would-be 18th victim led to his capture. Dahmer is perhaps best known for dismembering and consuming parts of his victims, many of which were found in his apartment at the time of his arrest. Dahmer died in prison as the result of a work detail beating in 1994.


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    • Age: Died at 34 (1960-1994)
    • Birthplace: West Allis, Wisconsin, United States of America
    • Profession: Criminal
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    H. H. Holmes
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Dr. H.H. Holmes confessed to 27 murders, and is believed to have killed as many as 200 people, during the time period surrounding the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Holmes ran a hotel equipped for killing- outfitted with gas lines into guest rooms, giant furnaces, lime and acid pits, and large vaults- and would torture, suffocate, and strangle his victims before disposing of them in the facility. Holmes was apprehended in Boston in 1894 and died by hanging in Philadelphia in 1896.


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    • Age: Died at 35 (1861-1896)
    • Birthplace: Gilmanton, New Hampshire, United States of America
    • Profession: Physician
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    Over the course of nearly 20 years, Gary Ridgway, known as "The Green River Killer", terrorized the areas surrounding the Green River in Washington's King County where he would lure, kill, and dispose of at least 49 victims before his capture in 2001. While the number of confirmed deaths numbers 49, Ridgway confessed to killing as many as 71 women in his interviews after capture. He is currently serving 480 years in a Washington prison without the possibility of parole.


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    • Age: age 66
    • Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America
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    Richard Ramirez - The Night Stalker
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Richard Ramirez, "The Night Stalker", went on a killing spree in the Los Angeles area that claimed the lives of at least 13 and as many as 16 in a spree that included shootings, mutilations, and rapes of his actual and intended victims. He was caught in East LA after his mugshot was broadcast across Southern California and he was accosted by a mob in the process of attempting to steal a car. He was tried, convicted, and died at 53 awaiting execution at San Quentin Prison.


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    • Age: Died at 53 (1960-2013)
    • Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, United States of America
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    Dennis Rader - BTK
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    Known as the "BTK Killer" (blind, torture, kill), Dennis Rader was charged with the murders of 10 people in Kansas including four members of a neighboring family and several other he stalked and became obsessed with between the years of 1971-94. In 2004, Rader began communicating with police, even going so far as to send them information on a floppy disk that would eventually be traced back to his residence. Rader was apprehended and charged with the murders and is currently serving ten consecutive life sentences in a Kansas jail.


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    • Age: age 70
    • Birthplace: Pittsburg, Kansas, United States of America
    • Credits: Feast of the Assumption: BTK and the Otero Family Murders, NBC News Presents: BTK Confessions
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    David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" killer, claimed to be tormented by demons who spoke to him in the form of howling dogs in the neighborhood he lived. In 1976, Berkowitz claimed the first of his six victims, all of whom were shot without provocation, and would not stop until his arrest in 1977. He received a 365 year sentence for his actions.


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    • Age: age 62
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
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    Between 1989-90, prostitute-turned-killer Aileen Wuornos murdered seven johns who had the misfortune of looking for a little extra-marital action. A minor traffic accident in one her victim's cars led to her arrest and eventual 2002 execution.


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    • Age: Died at 46 (1956-2002)
    • Birthplace: Rochester, Michigan, United States of America
    • Credits: Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
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    Edmund Kemper, known as the "Co-Ed Killer", claimed 10 victims before surrendering to police in 1973. Kemper was confined to a juvenile facility after killing his grandparents at age 15, and carried on with his killings after being released. In 1972-73, Kemper killed his mother and a friend as well as six female college students who he mutilated and had sex with after their deaths. Kemper is currently serving a life sentence in the general population in a California jail. 


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    • Age: age 67
    • Birthplace: Burbank, California, United States of America
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    Also known as the "Plainfield Ghoul", Ed Gein claimed responsibility for the deaths of two women in 1954 and 1957. Both women were shot, dismembered, and kept for trophies in Gein's house and shed. He was tried and convicted for the murder of Bernice Worden and died in a mental facility in 1984.


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    • Age: Died at 78 (1906-1984)
    • Birthplace: Wisconsin, United States of America
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    Leonard Lake & Charles Ng

    At least 12 bodies were found on the property of Leonard Lake in Wilseyville, CA including those of two couples and their small child, five men lured to the ranch to be robbed and murdered, and an 18-year-old woman. In addition to the dozen corpses found, police also discovered over 45 pounds of charred human bone fragments which could have come from as many as 25 additional people. Both men videotaped the torture, rape, and killing of several of their victims. Leonard Lake committed suicide by cyanide pill while in police custody, and Charles Ng has been on death row in California since 1999.


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    Boston Strangler
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Between 1962-64, The Boston Strangler claimed the lives of 13 women, mostly by strangulation, and always involving sexual assault. In late 1964, Albert DeSalvo was arrested for the rape of a woman (one of over 300 supposed victims) and fingered as the Strangler while incarcerated. He confessed to the murders, was never convicted, and died from a prison stabbing in 1973 while serving a life term for the rape charges.


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    • Age: Died at 42 (1931-1973)
    • Birthplace: Chelsea, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
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    Angelo Buono, Jr.
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    The "Hillside Stranglers", Angelo Buono, Jr. and his cousin, Kenneth Bianchi, raped and murdered ten girls and women by strangulation and other methods (carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, lethal injection) in a four month period between 1977-78. Buono was apprehended in 1979 and died in prison in 2002 while serving a life sentence.


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    • Age: Died at 68 (1934-2002)
    • Birthplace: Rochester, New York, United States of America
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    • Age: Died at 30 (1950-1980)
    • Birthplace: California, United States of America
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    The "Hillside Stranglers", Kenneth Bianchi and his cousin, Angelo Buono, Jr., raped and murdered ten girls and women by strangulation and other methods (carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, lethal injection) in a four month period between 1977-78. Buono was apprehended in 1979 and died in prison in 2002 while serving a life sentence.With pressure mounting for police to apprehend the culprit(s) of the hillside stranglings, Bianchi fled to Washington state where he raped and murdered another two women before his apprehension. Bianchi is currently serving a life sentence in a California jail.


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    • Age: age 64
    • Birthplace: Rochester, New York, USA
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    • Age: Died at 37 (1965-2002)
    • Birthplace: United States of America
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    The Alphabet Killer

    The Alphabet Killer, who has never been caught, killed three young girls with alliterative names (Carmen Colon, Wanda Walkowicz, and Michelle Maenza) and dumped their bodies in upstate New York between 1971-73. The "Double Initial" killings remain unsolved to this day, though a suspect in another double initial killing, Joseph Naso, is believed to be a possible suspect in the New York killings. 


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    Dorothea Puente
    Photo: Freebase


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    • Age: Died at 82 (1929-2011)
    • Birthplace: California, United States of America
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