12 Terrifying Female Serial Killers

Serial killers are undoubtedly one of our darkest fascinations. With countless TV shows, books, and movies out there revolving around them, it's no secret that serial killers are compelling. However, what a lot of people might not know is that there are many terrifying female serial killers out there - some with astronomically high body counts. 

Many of these women have killed their husbands and children. Some committed horrible acts for monetary gain, and others for sexual thrills. Some, when put in positions of authority, or in the position of being caregivers, abused their positions and took the lives of vulnerable people. Some killed the sick, the elderly, and even babies. Take a look at some of history's most disturbed female serial killers below - then check out this list for even more depraved women.


  • Elizabeth Bathory
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Known as "The Blood Countess" and alleged by some to be a vampire or the origin of certain vampire legends, Countess Elizabeth Bathory was famous for torturing and murdering servant girls and peasants in her Hungarian castle. To keep her happy, her husband allegedly built her a torture chamber where she took the lives of countless young women. With the help of her husband and other servants and companions, she would kidnap peasant girls from neighboring villages and trap them in her castle, where she would sometimes bite chunks out of their bodies, push pins and needles under their fingernails, and drink their blood in the reported belief that it would keep her young. In one case (according to several sources), she even forced a girl to cook and eat part of her own flesh. 

    As Bathory was a well-connected countess, her crimes were ignored for years. After her husband's passing, her violence only escalated, becoming increasingly sadistic. When Bathory eventually turned her attention from the poor of Hungary to young noblewomen, the king intervened. She and her accomplices were put on trial and convicted of 80 counts of murder in 1611. Bathory was locked in a room in a castle until she perished in 1614. 

  • Vera Renczi was a wealthy and beautiful Romanian woman born in 1903 who killed her husbands and lovers, keeping them in coffins in her basement. After she suspected her first husband of cheating, she poisoned him with arsenic and told everyone that he abandoned her. In truth, his body was in a zinc-lined coffin in her basement. A similar thing happened to her second husband and then to her many boyfriends. 

    Eventually, police discovered 32 male victims - each laying in a coffin in the basement. Renczi confessed to offing both of her husbands, her son, and the other men (some place her total number at 35). She was given life imprisonment.

    The details of Renczi's life and crimes are somewhat contested. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it couldn't be proven that she had murdered 35 people. 

  • While working as a nurse at Bexar County Medical Center in Texas in the 1980s, Genene Jones secretly gave toxic injections to up to 60 children. Genene would inject children with substances like heparin and succinylcholine, making them severely ill and killing some of them.

    In 1984, she was convicted of the murder of Chelsea McClellan and then convicted for the attempted murder of Rolando Santos. She is linked to up to 60 other child murders and was sentenced to life in prison.

  • Jane Toppan
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Jane Toppan, known as "Jolly Jane," was born in 1857. While working as a nurse, she took the lives of at least 31 patients in the late 1800s. She had a tragic and impoverished childhood under the care of her alcoholic father after her mother passed. As young children, she and her sisters were taken away from their father and sent to the Boston Female Asylum until they were adopted. As an in-demand nurse at several hospitals, she earned a good living but did terrifying things to those under her care.

    Toppan would bring patients in and out of consciousness, and end them with morphine or atropine either by accident or because it pleased her. She later said that being in bed with people in their last moments turned her on; however, at the time, no one suspected anything due to her sunny disposition. She killed dozens of people while bustling around smiling, including an entire family that she was sent to take care of. Based on the autopsy of one of these bodies, she was caught as a poisoner in 1901. She confessed to killing between 31 and 100 people, but was declared insane and sent to an insane asylum, where she persished in 1938.