It's hard to imagine that a family of sadistic sociopaths could exist, let alone be capable of torturing another human being - or, in the case of some families in this list, several human beings.
The gruesome details of these stories are extremely unsettling. While most are familiar with the exploits of infamous serial killers like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer, the evil is taken up a notch when an entire family colludes to torture and kill others.
The Baniszewski Family Mercilessly Tortured A 16-Year-Old Girl
In October 1965, Gertrude Baniszewski and her children, Paula and John, tortured and murdered 16-year-old Sylvia Likens. With the assistance of Coy Hubbard and Richard Hobbs, two boys from their Indianapolis neighborhood, the Basiszewski family beat, molested, and ultimately killed the teen in what was called "the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana."
Likens' parents, carnival workers, paid Baniszewski $20 a week to look after their daughter while they were away working. Baniszewki suffered from depression and stress, apparently due to a string of divorces, and began taking out her anger on Likens. Baniszewski physically and emotionally tortured the girl with shockingly sadistic violence. She put out cigarettes on Likens's flesh, beat her, rubbed salt into her wounds, and forced her to penetrate herself with a glass bottle. Possibly the most inhumane thing she did was force Sylvia to eat feces.
Gertrude was not the sole perpetrator in the girl's torture. According to Indianapolis police, Likens "was systematically beaten and tortured over a three-week period by at least 10 persons, probably more." Gertrude had the help of her son, daughter, and several neighborhood teens. Ultimately, Gertrude and her daughter Paula were sentenced to life in prison. Her son John, Coy Hubbard, and Richard Hobbs were all found guilty of second-degree manslaughter.
Fred And Rosemary West Sadistically Abused And Murdered Girls
Perhaps England's best known serial killers, husband-and-wife pair Fred and Rosemary West kidnapped, bound, tortured, and ultimately murdered several girls and young women throughout the '60s and '70s. Fred was a well known criminal in his native Herefordshire as well as in Gloucestershire, where the majority of the murders occurred. Fred was previously jailed for theft and forcibly fondling young women.
Prior to meeting Rosemary, Fred was married and worked in a slaughter house in Gloucester. He was later found to have murdered and dismembered his pregnant mistress. After Fred's relationship with his first wife ended, he met Rosemary, and the two began their decades-long crime spree of torture, rape, and murder.
The details of many of the West family's victims are particularly disturbing. Together they converted the cellar of their now infamous home at 25 West Cromwell Street into a torture chamber. The two would abduct underage girls, and Rosemary would either hold down the victims or bind them while Fred raped them. The two would often beat the victims both before and during the rapes - ultimately killing and dismembering the girls.
One victim who managed to escape, 17-year-old Caroline Owens, recalled being bound with her mouth duct taped as Fred told her he and his friends would rape her continuously before burying her in the cellar. The Wests were eventually caught and arrested. Fred committed suicide while in prison and Rose was sentenced to life in prison.
The Briley Brothers Tormented An Entire City With Acts Of Torture And Murder
The three Briley brothers - Anthony, James, and Lynwood - were behind a famous spree of murders that occurred in Richmond, VA, in 1979. The crime spree took the lives of at least 11 people and injured several more. The number of murders they committed and the way they treated their victims were extremely disturbing.
The brothers' physical torture methods were both physically and emotionally harmful to their victims. Prior to the murder of Christopher Phillips, for instance, the brothers pinned his body to the ground and hovered a cinder block above his head for an extended period of time. Eventually they dropped the cinder block on him, killing him. Before the brothers murdered Charles Garner, they impaled him with a pair of scissors, knives, and a meat fork, and proceeded to beat him to death with a baseball bat.
Of the four women the brothers murdered, each was brutally raped. Two victims of the brothers - William and Virginia Butcher - were doused with kerosene and forced to watch as the brothers tossed a match at their feet. They managed to survive.
The crime spree ultimately came to an end after seven months. The testimony of Duncan Meekins, an accomplice to several of the murders, helped to convict the youngest brother Anthony and to sentence him to life imprisonment. The eldest two received the death penalty.
The Tarverdiyeva/Podkopaev Family Tortured Children During Their Six-Year Crime Spree
A seemingly unlikely pair to become tortuous murderers, dentist Roman Podkopaev and nursery school teacher Inessa Tarverdiyeva became exactly that. With the assistance of their two daughters, the family brutally killed more than 30 people.
In addition to killing their victims, they also tortured them. On one occasion, they tortured two teenage girls, beating them and gouging out their eyes. The family would stop at nothing to kill anyone who got in their way, killing several children and policemen over their six years on the run.
Police eventually caught onto their crimes, resulting in a police standoff at the couple's home in Stavropol, Russia. Podkopaev was killed and Tarverdiyeva was badly wounded. She and her daughter, Viktoria, were charged in the crimes.