There have been some incredibly sloppy serial killers over the years, murderers that hacked people up in the streets, then left the scene of the crime soaked from head to toe in viscera - but not the guys on this list. These serial killers who were extremely thorough either made sure to dispose of their victims' bodies in a way that made it seem like they had simply disappeared, or they killed so many potential witnesses that there wasn’t anyone left around to ID them.
You’ve definitely heard of a few of these serial killers who were the hardest to catch, but others were so detail-oriented with their crimes that they were either never caught, or they evaded arrest for so long that it was embarrassing to the police for their stories to get out.
The most common mental picture of serial killers who were meticulous is probably someone in a hazmat suit dissolving bodies in lye, but as you’ll come to discover, these serial killers who were careful weren’t necessarily master criminals, they just knew how to keep from drawing attention to themselves. Although in a few cases, some of these detail-oriented killers did the exact opposite and specifically contacted the police with piles of information for investigators to sift through. And if they weren’t devising plans for the perfect way to dispose a body, they were simply eviscerating everyone in a 50-foot radius. Keep reading and don’t get any big ideas.
The murders that Ed Kemper committed may have been messy, but you can't say that he didn't go all the way with his batsh*t-crazy plans. At the age of 15, he killed his grandmother, and followed that by killing his grandfather because he didn't want his pop-pop to be sad. That's follow-through.
About half a decade after he got out of a teenage mental institution, he got back into his murder hobby when he started murdering co-eds at their various Berkley-area universities before having sex with their corpses. But he didn't just murder and desecrate their bodies, Kemper would take things to another level by burying one of the girl's heads in his mother's backyard.
Kemper was caught in 1973 when he just kind of gave up on killing women and turned himself over to the police after leaving the state for a little while. At his trial Kemper was found guilty and requested that he be given "death by torture," but was interred for life at the California Medical Facility
Dean Corll, otherwise known as "The Candyman," is one of America's least-known serial killers, but not for lack of trying. From 1970 to 1973 (and possibly earlier), Corll raped and murdered over 27 teenage boys across the Houston area before carefully disposing of their bodies in his personal storage unit and, once that filled up, at Lake Sam Rayburn.
Corll was meticulous in choosing the boys whom he would murder; he preyed on runaways and children from low-income homes in order to keep from raising suspicion. And just to make sure no one came looking for the boys, he would often have them write letters to their family saying that they had left town seeking employment before he strangled them to death. Corll likely would have continued his low-key rampage if it weren't for one of his accomplices shooting and killing him in the middle of his final act.
In the early '70s, law enforcement was still largely unfamiliar with the idea of a serial killer (the phrase "serial killer" hadn't even been coined yet), and the Houston Sheriff's Department hardly investigated the disappearance of more than two dozen boys. Once Corll's body count had officially surpassed that of California's Juan Corona, the police didn't even continue searching for bodies, making it likely the Candyman's real death toll was considerably higher.
Yang Xinhai didn't have the most prolonged period of terror, but he did commit 67 murders and 23 rapes in a three-year spree that took place between 1999 and 2003. During those years, he moved around the provinces of Henan, Anhui, Shandong, and Hebei while using a hammer to kill his victims. Often he would murder entire families after entering their homes in the middle of the night.
After Xinhai was caught in a nightclub bust, he told state officials that he didn't have a motive, and that he just liked to kill people. "When I killed people I had a desire (to kill more). This inspired me to kill more. I don't care whether they deserve to live or not. It is none of my concern," Yang continued, "I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern."
While Xinhai may have not been as interested in covering up his crimes as some of the other killers on this list (he actually seemed proud about the fact that he didn't hide his crimes), he was definitely driven to act on his nightmarish impulses more than some killers, who take years to build up to their over-the-top spree-killing phase. And his murdering of entire families proves that he's a guy that likes to get the job done.
Out of all the terrible murderers and creeps on this list, Moses Sithole may be the worst of the group - if such a thing is possible. Sithole committed at least 38 rapes and murders (he claimed to have committed more than 75) between 1994 and 1995 in Atteridgeville, Boksburg, and Cleveland, South Africa, before he identified himself as the ABC Killer to a reporter and led the police on a chase through the streets of Johannesburg.
Prior to his murder spree, Sithole had been imprisoned for the rape of a young woman, whom he later said falsified her claims against him, inspiring him to commit his gruesome crimes. In order to kill so many women, Sithole set up a shell charity organization called Youth Against Human Abuse that he claimed was meant to wipe out child abuse. But instead of dedicating himself to that noble cause, he would take every female interviewee that he met into a remote field before beating and raping them, and then strangling them with their underwear before writing "bitch" on their dead bodies.