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Countries with the Highest Number of Documented Serial Killers

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A serial killer is someone who has murdered two or more people, usually for psychological reasons, with a significant gap between the killings.

To identify which countries have had the most, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Annual Report on Serial Killer Statistics: 2020 from Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University. The countries on the list have had at least 10 known serial killers. In the case of a tie, the country with the smaller total population, and thus the higher per capita rate, ranks higher.

The U.S. has over twice as many serial killers as the next 25 countries combined. Reports of serial killers in America spiked starting in the 1950s, peaking in the 1980s. Other countries saw a similar rise beginning in the 1950s.

There are several theories why the U.S. has so many. The Great Depression’s economic impact and undiagnosed mental illness in WWII veterans were factors in the post-war rise. Lurid literature about torture and depravity after WWII also contributed. Some cite the transitory nature of American life leading to a “society of strangers,” making people prey on those they don’t know. There are also many long-haul truckers in the U.S., and the FBI has linked over 500 unidentified murder victims to truckers. (Here’s a list of the most memorable TV serial killers.)

But a simpler explanation may be that the U.S. has more open records than other countries, making it easier to identify serial killers, forensic psychology professor Michael G. Aamodt, co-author of the Radford University report, told A&E’s True Crime Blog. The U.S. murder rate is around the middle compared to other countries, not disproportionately high. So the high number of serial killers may just reflect better detection, not necessarily more killers.

Click here to see which countries have the most serial killers
Click here for a detailed methodology

26. New Zealand
> Known serial killers: 10
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.1%
> Total population, 2021: 5,122,600

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25. Thailand
> Known serial killers: 11
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.9%
> Total population, 2021: 71,601,103

24. Colombia
> Known serial killers: 11
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.7%
> Total population, 2021: 51,516,562

23. Belgium
> Known serial killers: 11
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.2%
> Total population, 2021: 11,592,952

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22. Sweden
> Known serial killers: 12
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.1%
> Total population, 2021: 10,415,811

21. Netherlands
> Known serial killers: 13
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.2%
> Total population, 2021: 17,533,044

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20. Turkey
> Known serial killers: 14
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.3%
> Share of world’s population: 1.1%
> Total population, 2021: 84,775,404

19. Scotland
> Known serial killers: 14
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.3%
> Share of world’s population: 0.1%
> Total population, 2021: 5,479,900

18. Poland
> Known serial killers: 15
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.3%
> Share of world’s population: 0.5%
> Total population, 2021: 37,747,124

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17. Spain
> Known serial killers: 19
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.4%
> Share of world’s population: 0.6%
> Total population, 2021: 47,415,750

16. Austria
> Known serial killers: 23
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.4%
> Share of world’s population: 0.1%
> Total population, 2021: 8,955,797

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15. Hungary
> Known serial killers: 24
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.5%
> Share of world’s population: 0.1%
> Total population, 2021: 9,709,891

14. Brazil
> Known serial killers: 29
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.5%
> Share of world’s population: 2.8%
> Total population, 2021: 214,326,223

13. Mexico
> Known serial killers: 43
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 0.8%
> Share of world’s population: 1.7%
> Total population, 2021: 126,705,138

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12. China
> Known serial killers: 64
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 1.2%
> Share of world’s population: 18.6%
> Total population, 2021: 1,412,360,000

11. France
> Known serial killers: 74
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 1.4%
> Share of world’s population: 0.9%
> Total population, 2021: 67,749,632

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10. Russia
> Known serial killers: 79
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 1.5%
> Share of world’s population: 1.9%
> Total population, 2021: 143,449,286

9. Australia
> Known serial killers: 83
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 1.6%
> Share of world’s population: 0.3%
> Total population, 2021: 25,688,079

8. Germany
> Known serial killers: 88
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 1.6%
> Share of world’s population: 1.1%
> Total population, 2021: 83,196,078

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7. Italy
> Known serial killers: 95
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 1.8%
> Share of world’s population: 0.8%
> Total population, 2021: 59,109,668

6. Canada
> Known serial killers: 119
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 2.2%
> Share of world’s population: 0.5%
> Total population, 2021: 38,246,108

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5. India
> Known serial killers: 121
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 2.3%
> Share of world’s population: 17.8%
> Total population, 2021: 1,407,563,842

4. South Africa
> Known serial killers: 123
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 2.3%
> Share of world’s population: 0.7%
> Total population, 2021: 59,392,255

3. Japan
> Known serial killers: 137
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 2.6%
> Share of world’s population: 1.7%
> Total population, 2021: 125,681,593

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2. England
> Known serial killers: 176
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 3.3%
> Share of world’s population: 0.7%
> Total population, 2021: 56,536,419

1. United States
> Known serial killers: 3,613
> Share of world’s known serial killers: 67.7%
> Share of world’s population: 4.3%
> Total population, 2021: 331,893,745

Methodology

To identify the countries with the most serial killers, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Annual Report on Serial Killer Statistics: 2020 from Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University. All the the countries on this list have been home to at least 10 known serial killers and are ranked according to their total number. (In the case of a tie, the country with the smaller total population, and thus the higher per capita rate, ranks higher.) 

For the purposes of this story, a serial killer is defined as someone who has been discovered by law enforcement to have killed two or more people in separate incidents. Serial killers who have had victims in multiple countries were not counted. 

Each country’s share of the world population is from the report, which used population figures from 2016. Listed population totals are from the World Bank and national census data and are for 2021. Each country’s share of the world’s population has been rounded off.

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