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22 Serial Killers Who Were Adopted

Updated October 12, 2018 90.3k views14 items

List of serial killers who were adopted. In the U.S., there have been at least 500 known serial killers. Of that select group, 16% were adopted. The number of adopted children who have turned to murder is astounding, leading some psychologists to believe that some of the feelings that come with being adopted can lead to murderous thoughts. In fact, adopted men and women are 15 times more likely to kill their parents. Is there a link between being adopted and murder? If so, what are the circumstances that make an adopted child want to kill?

Joel Rifkin famously tried to use his adoption as a defense in his murder trial in 1994. He claimed that he murdered 17 women because the trauma of being adopted led to his insanity. Ultimately the defense didn’t work but it started a conversation about the link between adoption and murder.Some psychologists believe that the resentment and anger from adoption could be a possible cause for murder, but no concrete link has been proven.

This list includes the serial killers that were adopted at a young age. Whether their adoptions lead to their murders is up for debate. 

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    Richard Speck tortured, raped, and killed 8 student nurses from the same hospital. The nurses were all living together in the same townhouse when Speck broke in and attacked them. One nurse stayed hidden from him and was able to survive. He was sentenced to death but it was overturned. He later died of heart failure while in prison. 
    • Tommy Lynn Sells claims to be responsible for the deaths of over 70 people, although less than a dozen of those alleged crimes were proven. He was sentenced to death and was executed in April 2014. 

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      • Christian Longo

        Christian Longo killed his wife and three young children in 2001. He spent some time on the FBI's most wanted list while hiding out in Mexico. He was caught in 2002 and sentenced to death. 
        • Sometimes known as The Eyeball Killer, Charles Albright killed at least 3 women in 1991. He was sentenced to life in jail.