Everyone has heard of John Wayne Gacy Jr. and Ted Bundy, but for every high profile serial killer, there are dozens of others who murdered without the fame. There's a common misconception that there aren't many active serial killers around today, due to advancing technology and how easily one would get caught. According to former FBI chief John Douglas, there are between 25 and 50 active serial killers in the US today. Fortunately, some of these murderers have been arrested - so why don't we hear about it?
A lot of the time it has to do with the media. At one time, cases became sensational, and the names of serial killers were all over headline news. Since that time, the media has made a deliberate move to prevent serial killers from becoming celebrities by not giving them the attention that they used to do. Because of this, there are many unknown serial killers. This list includes just such cases.
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When Adolfo Constanzo was just a baby, his mother had him blessed by a Haitian priest who practiced Palo Mayombe, an Afro-Cuban religion that commonly uses animal and human remains in rituals. Constanzo's mother believed that he was the "chosen one," and a natural born leader.
Constanzo continued on the same religious path, practicing Palo Mayombe himself as a teen and eventually moved from his hometown of Miami, Florida to Mexico City, where he began offering his services to the community. Constanzo gained quite a following with practices, claiming the ability to make people invisible as well as having psychic powers, which he would use to help local drug dealers figure out the safest time to make deliveries. He then began murdering people to use their body parts for his rituals.
It would be two years before police would identify him as a serial killer and link him to at least 23 ritualistic murders. In 1989, a University of Texas pre-med student, Mark Kilroy, was abducted while on Spring Break in Mexico. Kilroy was brought to Constanzo's house, and killed by Constanzo so he could use "his extraordinary brain" for his rituals. It was the death of Kilroy that led to police discovering Constanzo's murders.
Constanzo knew the police were looking for him, so he quickly went to stay in another city. In the meantime, police searched his property and discovered 15 mutilated bodies buried on his property. They also found a cauldron in the home, which contained a human brain and a dead cat.
In a strange turn of events, the police were called to the apartment Constanzo was hiding out in on a completely unrelated incident. Believing that the police knew who he was, he began shooting at them, which led to the police calling for back up. By the time the police rushed the apartment, they had discovered Constanzo's dead body. Not wanting to go to jail, he ordered a member of his crew to shoot and kill him.
- Photo: Missouri Department Of Corrections
Between 1977 and 1980, Joseph Paul Franklin shot and killed at least 22 people, mostly folks who were part of interracial couples. Franklin's goal was to start a race war. He was also responsible for shooting Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. The attempted assassinations doesn't stop with Flynt, though. Franklin shot civil rights activist Vernon Jordan, who also survived his injuries. Franklin never admitted to just how many victims there might be, leaving investigators to speculate there are more than he has confessed to. We'll probably never know, as Franklin was executed in 2013 while serving out his death sentence in Missouri.
Lonnie Franklin Jr. Returned To Murder After 25 Years
In 2008, a murder victim was linked to the deaths of several unsolved murders that occurred in the 1980s. The police were baffled to discover a serial killer that seemingly disappeared had started killing again, over 25 years later. The media began calling the killer the "Grim Sleeper," due to his extended period of cooling off between murders.
Through DNA testing, police were able to identify and arrest 57-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr for at least 10 of the Grim Sleeper murders. Neighbors of Franklin were shocked by the discovery. It seemed as though Franklin was well-known and well-liked by the entire community. Franklin would go out of his way to help anyone in need and was friendly and personable.
Franklin was also married with children. Despite his 2010 arrest and subsequent death sentence, his wife stayed by his side. Franklin never admitted to the crimes, so it is unknown whether he actually did take a long break from serial murder, or if the police are just unaware of additional killings. There is a lot of controversy in the case in regards to the victims, all of which were Black and most of who were sex workers. Many have criticized the Los Angeles Police Department, feeling that if the victims were not Black or sex workers, the police would have been more determined to catch the serial killer sooner.
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In the mid-1970s, a string of rapes and murders occurred in Los Angeles. The victims were mostly elderly women, all sexually violated and strangled. The police began noticing a gruesome pattern: pillows placed over the victim's faces. At the time, technology wasn't as advanced as it is today, and police were clueless as to who may have murdered the 17 victims that all died the same way, in the same area. The suspect was only known as the Westside Rapist. It would be another ten years before the same type of killings began happening again, this time in Claremont, California, a thirty-minute drive from Los Angeles. The victims were assaulted and strangled, again with a pillow placed over their faces. There were at least five elderly victims.
In 2009, through the use of DNA testing, police were able to link at least seven of the victims to 72-year-old John Floyd Thomas Jr. Based on his modus operandi, police believe he is responsible for at least 15 other murders. Thomas pled guilty to the seven murders to avoid the death penalty. In 2011, he was sentenced to life without parole.