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Serial Killers Who Also Abused Animals

Updated December 29, 2019 156.6k views8 items

Often when people try to discover what makes an unrepentant serial offender tick, they look at the convicted's childhood. Were there any indications that they could turn into monsters? One of the biggest indications that a person is destined to be disturbed is seeing whether or not they have harmed animals, especially during childhood. Psychologists point to harming animals as proof of a lack of empathy. Such behavior also indicates a propensity towards aggression. While there isn't any hard data claiming the percentage of infamous offenders who began their career of pain by hurting animals, many believe that this is a serious warning sign.

Many of these offenders have admitted that harming animals was the first time they realized that they liked to cause suffering and, in fact, wanted to hurt people. Often neighborhood cats, dogs, and even crabs were the earliest victims of these menacing childhood "games," which often led to painful demises. One notorious offender even began targeting animals after seeing his father do the same.

This list features serial killers who have openly admitted to victimizing animals - leading them down the path to eventually claiming human lives.

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  • David Berkowitz - The Son of S is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Serial Killers Who Also Abused Animals
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    David Berkowitz is best known as the "Son of Sam." He believed God was telling him to end lives, and the infamous offender struck down many via eight separate shootings in NYC, during the summer of 1976. At one point during his spree, Berkowitz is believed to have allegedly struck down a neighbor's dog.

    He later targeted his neighbor Sam's dog, Harvey - Berkowitz had alleged Harvey was possessed by the demon who instructed the Son of Sam's nefarious deeds.

  • Jeffrey Dahmer is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Serial Killers Who Also Abused Animals
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    When Jeffrey Dahmer was a kid, his hobby was to terminate his neighbor's pets. Reportedly, he even impaled a dog's head on a stick and displayed it. According to interviews with forensic psychologist Carl Wahlstrom, Dahmer's father helped show him the ropes.

    Together, they "bleached" deceased animals - a practice Dahmer later employed with his victims. 

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  • Best known as the Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo terminated over a dozen women between 1962 and 1964 in Boston. As a child, he would scoop up dogs and cats and secure them in a box. Then, he would target the trapped animals with arrows.

    DeSalvo passed while incarcerated in 1973, having been sentenced to life in prison.

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  • Ted Bundy is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Serial Killers Who Also Abused Animals
    Photo: Donn Dughi / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    When he was a child, Ted Bundy reportedly derived pleasure from tormenting small animals, chiefly cats and dogs. Eventually, Bundy went on to terminate at least 30 people, although it's speculated that he had close to 100 victims.

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