Unspeakable Times

America's Bloody History As The Serial Killer Capital Of The World

Serial killers have appeared in almost every culture and country that has ever existed, ranging from the likes of Liu Pengli, who killed at least 100 people in Western Han between 144 BCE and 116 BCE, to India’s shockingly young Amardeep Sada. Despite this, the US has still solidified its status as the serial killer capital of the world. Statistics compiled by the FBI make it clear that this dubious title isn’t likely to be challenged anytime soon, either. Instead, the long and disturbing history of American serial killers seems virtually certain to continue growing.

In fact, a former member of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit indicated that there are at least 25 to 50 active serial killers in the United States at all times. Does this mean that serial murder is as American as apple pie? Not quite, but it does highlight the many issues that law enforcement officials face while trying to track killers across city, county, and state lines. Aside from the massive size of the country, why does America have so many serial killers? Read on to discover some disturbing facts that may provide an answer.

  • More Than Two-Thirds Of All Serial Killers Are From The US

    What exactly comes with being the serial killer capital of the world? The FBI compiled information about 4,743 known serial killers worldwide who committed their crimes between 1900 and 2016. What they discovered is that 3,204 of them were in fact from the United States. This means that the US accounts for a staggering 67.58% of all the known serial murderers in the last 116 years.

    Some might immediately assume that this is due to having such an expansive territory and population, but even that rationale doesn’t stand up. After all, the US only contains 4.4% of the world’s population. Meanwhile, China has 19%, but only 57 serial killers in total and India comes in next with 18% of the total world population and 80 of these criminals. In other words, population size apparently has little to do with how many people become serial murderers.

  • A Large Percentage of US Serial Killers Have Military Training, And Some Were Even On Active Duty When They Committed Their Crimes

    A Large Percentage of US Serial Killers Have Military Training, And Some Were Even On Active Duty When They Committed Their Crimes
    Photo: ZuRock / YouTube

    Sadly, people who have served in the military have a much higher risk of battling a mental illness. Studies report that approximately 25% of active-duty soldiers have a mental disorder of some kind. Soldiers are also five times more likely to experience major depression and are at a staggering 15 times higher risk for PTSD. Combine this with advanced weapons training, and it might just begin to explain why 17.7% of all US serial killers have had a military background. This isn’t just a US problem, either; 16.9% of serial killers worldwide have at one time served in their nation’s military.

    At least 17 Americans committed serial murders while on active-duty, including Thomas Richard Bunday, who killed five women before taking his own life. Army soldiers make up more than half of these killers, followed in descending order by soldiers in the Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

  • At Least Seven US Serial Killers Were Also Cannibals

    At Least Seven US Serial Killers Were Also Cannibals
    Photo: Bath Township Police Department / Wikimedia Commons / Fair Use

    Killing people is distasteful enough, but eating part of one or more of the victims is truly gag-inducing. Since 1900, at least seven US serial killers were suspected of or admitted to engaging in cannibalism. Perhaps the most notable of the bunch, Jeffrey Dahmer, even stored body parts in his freezer.

    Other stomach-turning cannibalistic serial murderers include Albert Fish, who killed and ate three children. Then there are Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole who were occasional accomplices and mass killers who admitted to dining on some of their victims.

  • America’s First Serial Killer, H.H. Holmes, Was A Sadist Who Could Have Easily Inspired The Film Series "Saw"

    The murder spree of H.H. Holmes happened in the 1890s, so it’s not included in FBI statistics; however, it’s the perfect place to start when trying to figure how and why America has become the world’s serial killer capital. After all, the sadistic Holmes is widely regarded as the first serial murderer in US history.

    His infamous Murder Castle included dozens of soundproof rooms, gas lines for asphyxiating victims, staircases that went nowhere, and trap doors. This twisted setup brings to mind the elaborate staging used by the Jigsaw Killer in the Saw films. Although Holmes only admitted to 27 murders, it’s estimated he was actually responsible for up to 200 deaths.