Police officers are meant to serve the public and protect citizens. But there are some cops out there who grossly abuse their positions of authority for their own gain. Even more disturbing, however, are the law enforcement officials who commit truly heinous acts (either on the job or off), utilizing their specialized training to evade capture. Throughout world history, we've seen several instances of cops who tortured people, officers found guilty of multiple rapes and assaults, and even serial killer cops who score as high on the sadism scale as murderers like BTK (Dennis Rader). The rapists, torturers, and killer cops on this list were all convicted of unsettling crimes.
In April 2018, the public was shocked when the news broke that police finally arrested a suspect in the Golden State Killer case. The Golden State Killer terrorized California in the '70s and '80s with a string of 12 murders and 45 rapes. After nearly 42 years, authorities apprehended 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo when they found compelling DNA evidence linking him to the crimes.
Prior to his arrest, DeAngelo spent 30 years working for the Auburn, CA, police department and apparently lived a quiet suburban life.
Daniel Holtzclaw, Serial Rapist
This is one very bad cop. Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of 18 charges, including "sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and rape," reported CNN'S Michael Martinez. Holtzclaw committed these crimes while on-duty, targeting one of Oklahoma's poorest neighborhoods, and assaulting exclusively Black women.
The evidence against Holtzclaw was overwhelming, and the jury sentenced him to 263 years in prison.
Mikhail Popkov, AKA The Werewolf
The monstrous nickname "the Werewolf" suits Mikhail Popkov, a former Russian police officer who used his uniform and cruiser to prey upon intoxicated women. Providing them with a false sense of trust and safety, Popkov would lure these women into his car, drive them out to the woods, and then viciously attack them with "a slipknot, knife, awl, screwdriver or an axe which he used up to 17 times on some victims," wrote Siberian Times.
Following his attack, the Werewolf would sexually assault his victims, then kill them - though in some cases it is believed that he murdered his victims first, then engaged in necrophilia. Popkov eventually confessed to 24 of the murders, claiming that the only reason he ceased his activity was because he was impotent from syphilis and could no longer enjoy murder on a sexual level.
Gennady Mikhasevich, Volunteer Killer
Gennady Mikhasevich served in the Voluntary People's Druzhina, a volunteer police force in the Soviet Union. He assisted in the investigation of several rapes and killings that took place between 1971 and 1985. Unbeknownst to his fellow volunteers and members of the regular police force, the crimes were not random and unconnected as many believed, but were in fact perpetuated by one man: Mikhasevich.
When Nikolay Ignatovich, a young investigator, began sharing his serial killer theory, Mikhasevich sent an anonymous letter to police in hopes of derailing their investigation. However, as the letter was handwritten, investigators compared it to writing samples of people in the area, and matched the letter to Mikhasevich's hand. He was executed in 1987.
Gerard John Schaefer, Torturing Cop
Pulp writer Jim Thompson wrote of a remorseless sheriff in his 1952 novel The Killer Inside Me, apparently based on a particularly unnerving police officer Thompson encountered in real-life. However, even the writer's fictional creation isn't as brutal and sadistic a figure as Gerard John Schaefer, who was only convicted of the torture and murder of two teenage girls (but very likely killed far more than that), all while serving as a deputy for the Martin County, Florida sheriff's department.
Drew Peterson, Two-Time Wife-Killer
Thirty-year police veteran Drew Peterson - who had already burned through two wives - began killing his exes as well as divorcing them. Peterson was convicted of beating and drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004, several months after divorcing her in 2003. He nearly immediately married Stacy Peterson. No one suspected him of the murder until 2007, following the mysterious disappearance of Stacy, who it is believed Peterson killed and hauled away in a large plastic container.
The pastor at Stacy's church also testified that she told him that Peterson murdered Savio, and that she provided a false alibi for her husband on the night Savio died.