For as long as there have been killers, there have been killers caught because they made mistakes. Despite exhaustive detective work by authorities, sometimes killers are caught because they became sloppy. These marauding maniacs are still human, and like the rest of us, they are prone to mistakes. Some killers get sloppy, while others are eventually apprehended because they got lazy. One thing is for sure: we are all thankful when they do themselves in.
Compiled here is a list of some of the grandest cases of stupidity and laziness by some of the most infamous killers who have ever roamed the earth. Some of the psychos on this list seemed to want to be caught, while others were genuinely baffled when their own hubris led to their capture. Some of these killers were arrested after asking the police for advice and others when their crimes hit too close to home, but all of them were caught because of their own sloppiness.
Between 1974 and 1991, ADT Security Services employee Dennis Rader, nicknamed the “BTK Killer” (an acronym for his infamous modus operandi, “Bind, Torture, Kill”), murdered 10 people in Sedgwick County, KS. In a testament to the macabre, Rader spent 14 years installing the very security systems which were meant to keep him out. Unfortunately for Rader, and fortunately for the rest of us, police work, hubris, and just plain old stupidity finally did him in.
In 2004, after more than a decade of silence, Rader began contacting the local media and police. Rader started leaving packages containing evidence of his crimes in public places. One such package, which he left in the back of a pickup truck in a Home Depot parking lot, was never found after the owner of the truck noticed it and threw it in the trash. Rader, wondering why it did not make the news, decided to ask. This led the police to the Home Depot and its security cameras, which identified the killer as driving a black Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The BTK Killer's next mistake would not only land him in the gullibility Hall of Fame but also in prison. In one of his letters to the police, Rader asked if a floppy disk could be traced back to the computer it was used on. The police responded in an ad in the local paper and told him it could not. Of course, that was a lie. A few weeks later, he sent a floppy disk to a local television station. It was given to the police, who quickly tracked the disk back to a computer, used at Christ Lutheran Church, by someone named “Dennis.” An Internet search revealed that a man named “Dennis Rader” was, in fact, president of the church council. The police then went to Rader’s house where they found a black Jeep Cherokee parked outside.
After a 30-year search, the police finally had their man. Unfortunately, the evidence was still only circumstantial and they needed something more concrete. They discovered that Rader’s daughter had been given a pap smear at Kansas State University. After comparing her DNA to the DNA from one of the crime scenes, the lab returned a familial match and the police made their arrest. A few hours later Rader confessed. During his confession, Rader asked in regards to the floppy disk, “I need to ask you, how come you lied to me? How come you lied to me?” Oy vey, Dennis. Oy vey. Rader is serving a life sentence in prison. He'll be eligible for parole in 175 years.see more on Dennis Rader
Jeffrey Dahmer, known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, raped and murdered 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. He often ate his victims and saved their skeletons. Towards the end of his rampage, he even began committing necrophilia.
Serial killers often prey on the weak, choosing victims they can overpower both mentally and physically. Unfortunately for Dahmer, his last victim was a quick-thinking man with an even quicker right hook. After being lured back to Dahmer’s apartment, handcuffed, and forced to strip, he was told by Dahmer that he was going to eat his heart. While sitting in his killer’s living room waiting to die, he turned and asked to use the bathroom. Dahmer agreed. As he stood up, Dahmer mistakenly let go of the handcuffs and his victim punched him in the face and ran out the front door. Nude and handcuffed, he was able to flag down the police, who then followed him back to Dahmer’s apartment, where they discovered pictures of his victims and a severed head in the refrigerator. Another inmate eventually beat Dahmer to death in prison in 1994.see more on Jeffrey Dahmer
Albert Fish, also know as the “Brooklyn Vampire,” was an American serial killer, child rapist, and cannibal. Though never proven, he bragged that he had killed 100 people. He was a suspect in five murders and confessed to three.
What led to his arrest was a letter he sent to one of his victim’s mothers, describing in detail how he kidnapped, murdered, and ate her daughter. Thankfully, Fish was cheap and sent the letter in an envelope he found in the boarding house he was staying in. The envelope had an emblem on it, and police were able to trace it back to Fish. Fish was executed by electric chair in 1936.
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Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo, known as the Butcher of Rostov, was a Russian serial killer who sexually assaulted, killed, and mutilated at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990.
Chikatilo often lured his victims from train stations in secluded areas. To catch him, Russian police began sending undercover agents to train stations that fit his pattern. Eventually, one agent noticed a man coming out of the woods with blood on his face. He questioned Chikatilo and filed a report, but he didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest and so let Chikatilo go. Soon after, a girl's body was found in the same woods. The police had the report and arrested Chikatilo, who confessed to his crimes. Chikatilo was executed in 1994 by a single gunshot to the back of his head.see more on Andrei Chikatilo