Special Report

The States With the Most Serial Murder

10. Oklahoma
> Adjusted number of serial killings per 1 million:
> Total no. of serial killings: 174
> Worst decade for serial killings: 1980’s

Since the turn of the 20th century, there have been 174 serial murders in Oklahoma. Compared with the state’s population, serial killings occur more frequently in Oklahoma than in all but nine other states. There were 48 documented serial killings in Oklahoma in the 1980s — the most active decade compared to other decades. This was the case in many other states as well. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing. While this may be one of the worst home-grown terrorist attacks the country has experienced, McVeigh’s crime does not count as serial killing. Serial killing is separate consecutive murders, while mass murders are many killings in one incident.

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9. Utah
> Adjusted number of serial killings per 1 million:
> Total no. of serial killings: 78
> Worst decade for serial killings: 1980’s

Serial killers in Utah murdered 18 victims in the 1970s and 31 victims in the 1980s. Arthur Gary Bishop — also known as Roger Downs — was a child molester serial killer operating around that time, between 1979 and 1983. He was accused of killing five children by beating or drowning them to death and was eventually executed by lethal injection in 1988. Some of the other serial murders recorded in Utah were committed by notorious rapist and murderer Ted Bundy, who lived in the state from 1974 until he was caught in 1975. Bundy killed at least 36 women in multiple states, although some estimate he killed many more.

8. Texas
> Adjusted number of serial killings per 1 million:
> Total no. of serial killings: 793
> Worst decade for serial killings: 1990’s

Nearly 800 murders in Texas have been connected with serial killers since 1900, the highest count of any state after only California. The high number of serial killings in Texas, as in California, is likely due in large part to Texas’ relatively large population. A number of serial killers operating in Texas over the years were executed by the state — Texas is one of 19 states where the death penalty is legal, but it is by far the most likely to use it. One of the most recent Texan accused of serial killing, Tommy Lynn Sells, was put to death less than two years ago. Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, and known as the Railroad Killer, murdered at least 15 people in Kentucky, Texas, and Illinois before he surrendered in 1999. According to the FBI, travelling to other states and countries is actually unusual among serial killers carrying out their crimes.