Special Report

Most Notorious Criminal in Every State

Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Every state has been stained by the notorious acts of criminals. Whether they are serial killers, terrorist bombers, school shooters, assassins, fraudsters, or kidnappers, the American public has an insatiable curiosity to try and understand why these people have inflicted such horrors on their communities.

24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the most notorious criminal in every state. The criminals on our list did not necessarily have to have been from that state, but many, if not all, of their infamous acts had to have been perpetrated there.

Click here to see the most notorious criminal in each state.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: United States Library of Congress

1. Alabama
> Criminals: The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombers
> When active: 1963
> Where active: Birmingham, Alabama
> Notorious for:

Bombing an African-American church and killing 4 girls.

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Source: Alaska Department of Corrections

2. Alaska
> Criminal: Robert Hansen
> When active: 1970s
> Where active: Alaska
> Notorious for:

Flying women into the Alaskan wilderness and hunting them.

Source: Arizona Department of Corrections

3. Arizona
> Criminal: Johnathan Doody
> When active: 1991
> Where active: Waddell, Arizona
> Notorious for:

Killing 9 people in a Buddhist temple.

Source: Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney

4. Arkansas
> Criminal: Christina Riggs
> When active: 1997
> Where active: Arkansas
> Notorious for:

Smothering her 2 children after trying to poison them.

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Source: San Francisco Police Department

5. California
> Criminal: Zodiac killer
> When active: 1960s/1970s
> Where active: Northern California
> Notorious for:

Serial killer who claimed 5 murders; taunted police and was never caught.

Source: Jefferson County Sheriff's Department

6. Colorado
> Criminals: Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris
> When active: 1999
> Where active: Columbine, Colorado
> Notorious for:

Killing 13 at Columbine High School in the first shocking high school shooting.

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Source: Voice of America / Wikimedia Commons

7. Connecticut
> Criminal: Adam Lanza
> When active: 2012
> Where active: Newtown, Connecticut
> Notorious for:

Slaying 26 people at a Connecticut school. Killed mother and himself.

Source: Delaware Department of Justice

8. Delaware
> Criminal: Steven Brian Pennell
> When active: Late 1980s
> Where active: Delaware
> Notorious for:

Murdering and torturing 2 people.

Source: Fort Lauderdale Police Department

9. Florida
> Criminal: Gerard John Schaefer
> When active: 1969-1973
> Where active: Martin County, Florida
> Notorious for:

Finding victims while on patrol as sheriff’s deputy. May have killed as many as 30 people.

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Source: Henry County Sheriffs Office

10. Georgia
> Criminal: Mark Barton
> When active: 1999
> Where active: Atlanta, Georgia
> Notorious for:

Killing his first 2 wives, children, and former co-workers.

Source: National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons

11. Hawaii
> Criminal: Ronnie Ching
> When active: 1970s
> Where active: Hawaii
> Notorious for:

Ruthless organized crime hitman. Committed first murder at age 16.

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Source: Kootenai County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images

12. Idaho
> Criminal: Joseph Duncan
> When active: 2005
> Where active: Idaho, California
> Notorious for:

Raping, kidnapping, and murdering at least 5 people in 2 states.

Source: United States Bureau of Prisons

13. Illinois
> Criminal: Al Capone
> When active: 1920s/1930s
> Where active: Chicago, Illinois
> Notorious for:

Flouting law in Chicago and likely behind St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The crime boss was finally found guilty of tax evasion.

Source: FBI

14. Indiana
> Criminal: John Dillinger
> When active: 1930s
> Where active: Midwest
> Notorious for:

Publicity-seeking bank robber and murderer.

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Source: University of Iowa

15. Iowa
> Criminal: Gayno Gilbert Smith
> When active: 1961-1962
> Where active: Martinsburg, Iowa
> Notorious for:

Killing a family in 1962, and his stepmother the previous year.

Source: El Dorado Police Department

16. Kansas
> Criminal: Dennis Rader
> When active: 1974-1991
> Where active: Wichita, Kansas
> Notorious for:

Binding, torturing, and murdering 10 people.

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Source: Ohio Department of Corrections

17. Kentucky
> Criminal: Donald Harvey
> When active: 1970s
> Where active: London, Kentucky
> Notorious for:

Killing dozens in his care as a nurse’s aide.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. Louisiana
> Criminals: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow
> When active: 1930s
> Where active: Texas, Midwest
> Notorious for:

Becoming folk heroes for robbing banks during Depression.

Source: Maine Department of Public Safety

19. Maine
> Criminal: James Hicks
> When active: 1977, 1982, 1996
> Where active: Maine
> Notorious for:

Jailed twice for suspicion of murder and murder. Currently serving life sentence.

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Source: groupuscule / Wikimedia Commons

20. Maryland
> Criminal: John Frederick Thanos
> When active: 1990
> Where active: Maryland
> Notorious for:

Killing 3 teens and telling victims’ families in court he would do it again.

Source: Boston Library

21. Massachusetts
> Criminal: Charles Ponzi
> When active: 1920s
> Where active: New England, Canada
> Notorious for:

Creating the fraud scheme that bears his name.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. Michigan
> Criminal: Andrew Kehoe
> When active: 1927
> Where active: Bath Township, Michigan
> Notorious for:

Detonating a bomb at a school that killed 43.

Source: Delaware State Police

23. Minnesota
> Criminal: Billy Glaze
> When active: 1986-1987
> Where active: Minnesota
> Notorious for:

Killing 3 prostitutes and leaving bodies on display.

Source: umkc.edu

24. Mississippi
> Criminal: Samuel Bowers
> When active: 1964-1966
> Where active: Mississippi
> Notorious for:

Killing civil rights activists trying to register voters.

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Source: Clark County Prosecuting Attorney

25. Missouri
> Criminal: Jeffrey Lundgren
> When active: 1989
> Where active: Independence, Missouri; Ohio
> Notorious for:

Cult leader who ordered death of a family belonging to the cult.

Source: Park County Sheriff's Office

26. Montana
> Criminals: Stanley Dean Baker, Harry Allen Stroup
> When active: 1970
> Where active: Montana
> Notorious for:

Abducting hitchhiker, killing, and dismembering him.

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Source: Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

27. Nebraska
> Criminal: Charles Starkweather
> When active: 1957-1958
> Where active: Nebraska, Wyoming
> Notorious for:

Going on murder spree as teen. Inspiring films about his rampage.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

28. Nevada
> Criminal: Stephen Paddock
> When active: 2017
> Where active: Las Vegas, Nevada
> Notorious for:

Killing 58 people at a concert in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Source: New Hampshire Department of Justice

29. New Hampshire
> Criminal: Terry Peder Rasmussen
> When active: 1985-2002
> Where active: Across various states
> Notorious for:

Bible-quoting serial killer who murdered and dismembered unknown number of women.

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Source: New Jersey Department of Corrections

30. New Jersey
> Criminal: John List
> When active: 1971
> Where active: Westfield, New Jersey
> Notorious for:

Killing his family and getting caught following a segment on him on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”

Source: New Mexico Corrections Department

31. New Mexico
> Criminals: Esther Beckley and Shane Harrison
> When active: 1996
> Where active: Albuquerque, New Mexico
> Notorious for:

Robbing video store and killing 3 employees and grandparents of one of the employees.

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Source: Hiroko Masuike / Getty Images

32. New York
> Criminal: Bernie Madoff
> When active: 1980s-2009
> Where active: New York City, New York
> Notorious for:

Perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme of all time.

Source: Moore County Sheriff's Office

33. North Carolina
> Criminal: Robert Stewart
> When active: 2009
> Where active: Carthage, North Carolina
> Notorious for:

Murdering 8 people, including nursing-home patients.

Source: Wanamaker Press

34. North Dakota
> Criminal: Henry Layer
> When active: 1920
> Where active: Turtle Lake, North Dakota
> Notorious for:

Killing 8 people after a quarrel over a neighbor’s dog that injured one of his cows.

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Source: Cuyahoga County Sheriff

35. Ohio
> Criminal: Anthony Sowell
> When active: 2007-2009
> Where active: Cleveland, Ohio
> Notorious for:

Killing 11 people, some found in his house.

Source: Getty Images

36. Oklahoma
> Criminal: Timothy McVeigh
> When active: 1995
> Where active: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
> Notorious for:

Committing the worst domestic terrorist act in U.S. history. Killing 168 people, including children at daycare, in a bombing.

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

37. Oregon
> Criminal: Christopher Harper-Mercer
> When active: 2015
> Where active: Umpqua Community College
> Notorious for:

Umpqua Community College shooting. Killed 9 people.

Source: Philadelphia Police Department

38. Pennsylvania
> Criminal: Gary Heidnik
> When active: 1986-1987
> Where active: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
> Notorious for:

Murdering 2 women, raping and torturing others with electrical shock.

Source: Rhode Island Department of Corrections

39. Rhode Island
> Criminal: Christopher Hightower
> When active: 1991
> Where active: Barrington, Rhode Island
> Notorious for:

Former commodities broker who murdered ex-client and family after failed business deal.

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Source: Grace Beahm-Pool / Getty Images

40. South Carolina
> Criminal: Dylann Roof
> When active: 2016
> Where active: Charleston, South Carolina
> Notorious for:

Racially motivated killing of 9 people in a church.

Source: Washington State Penitentiary

41. South Dakota
> Criminal: Jake Bird
> When active: 1930s
> Where active: South Dakota, 10 other states
> Notorious for:

Murdering 44 women and putting a hex on anyone “who had anything to do with this case,” 6 of whom died before him.

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Source: Keystone / Getty Images

42.Tennessee
> Criminal: James Earl Ray
> When active: 1968
> Where active: Memphis, Tennessee
> Notorious for:

Assassinating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., triggering riots across nation.

Source: United States Marshals Service / Wikimedia Commons

43. Texas
> Criminal: Allen Stanford
> When active: 2012
> Where active: Houston, Texas
> Notorious for:

Defrauding 30,000 investors in $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

Source: Utah State Prison / Wikimedia Commons

44. Utah
> Criminal: Barton Kay Kirkham
> When active: 1955, 1956
> Where active: Salt Lake City, Utah
> Notorious for:

Murdering 2 during a grocery store robbery and choosing to be hanged for the publicity.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

45. Vermont
> Criminal: H.H. Holmes
> When active: 1890s
> Where active: Illinois, Vermont
> Notorious for:

Killing mostly young women, several children in building he constructed in Chicago called the “Castle.” He also committed insurance fraud.

Source: Getty Images

46. Virginia
> Criminals: John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo
> When active: 2002
> Where active: Virginia, Washington, D.C., Washington state, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland and Georgia.
> Notorious for:

Snipers shooting their victims. They terrorized the metro Washington, D.C., area killing 10 people and claimed victims in other states.

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Source: State Archive of Florida

47. Washington
> Criminal: Ted Bundy
> When active: 1970s
> Where active: Various states
> Notorious for:

Murderer, rapist, and necrophiliac known for his charm and intelligence.

 

Source: FBI

48. West Virginia
> Criminal: Eric Conn
> When active: 2013
> Where active: Kentucky, West Virginia
> Notorious for:

Perpetrating nation’s biggest Social Security disability fraud. When benefits were denied to recipients, some committed suicide.

Source: Milwaukee Police Department

49. Wisconsin
> Criminal: Jeffrey Dahmer
> When active: 1978-1991
> Where active: Wisconsin, Ohio
> Notorious for:

Preying on gay men, killing, and cannibalizing them.

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Source: http://www.uwyo.edu/foundation/

50. Wyoming
> Criminal: Justin Geiger
> When active: 2006
> Where active: University of Wyoming, Laramie
> Notorious for:

Killing 2 people at University of Wyoming, then killing himself. His motives are not known.

Detailed Findings & Methodology:

Nearly all of the criminals on this list committed these acts since the beginning of the 20th century. It’s possible that the rise of major metropolitan areas, ease of transportation, and perhaps greater access to information and weapons contributed to the growing number of such crimes. The growing presence of media in American society beginning with newspapers, followed by radio, television, and social media brought more of these cases to the public’s attention, whereas some might have remained more obscure before.

The depravity and shocking nature of many of these deeds committed against society can be highly disturbing. Most of the criminals on the list committed multiple murders, and many of these crimes were darkened further by use of torture, dismemberment, and cannibalism.

Many of these unspeakable crimes were perpetrated against the most vulnerable people in society — children, the gay community, the disabled, and the elderly in nursing homes. Some crimes were committed against those frequenting places we consider among the safest in our communities, such as places of worship, daycare centers, and schools.

The names of some of these criminals have entered into American folklore, many of them during Prohibition and the Depression eras. Al Capone grew a criminal empire in Chicago and became something of a celebrity during the 1920s by providing all types of vice to the public. When the Depression crippled the economy, Capone opened soup kitchens for the unemployed. But the price of his largesse was murder, tax evasion, racketeering, and other crimes that tainted the body politic of Chicago.

John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde were outlaws who robbed banks across the Midwest and Plains states and became folk heroes to Depression-era America. However, their ruthlessness shocked the nation, and they ultimately met a fatal end.

Those criminals have often been the subjects of literary works and motion pictures, with much of these stories detailing the colorful background of the criminals. Other lawbreakers, such as spree killer Charles Starkweather and “The Boston Strangler” Albert DeSalvo, who were also depicted in movies, instilled paralyzing fear while they were active.

Some criminals became well-known for the shocking nature of their acts. Ted Bundy’s murderous reign claimed female victims across many states. Jeffrey Dahmer killed gay men and cannibalized them in the Midwest. Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people, many of them children at a nearby daycare center.

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., which occurred 50 years ago on April 4, shocked and horrified America and ignited a year of tumult that included riots in many of the country’s biggest cities.

Other criminals such as lawyer Eric Conn didn’t kill people, but their deeds led to tragedy. Conn helped perpetrate the largest Social Security disability fraud in U.S. history that caused the government to suspend benefits for those who had nothing to do with the scam. Many of these people in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia became distraught and committed suicide.

The sad fact is that notorious criminals have always been a part of the American story. With advances in forensic studies and scientific knowledge, we are gaining a better understanding of the emotional and psychological causes of criminal activity, and hopefully a more effective way to prevent it.

24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the most notorious criminal in every state by accessing media sources and research materials and evaluated rankings and lists of infamous criminals from other sources. The criminals on our list did not necessarily have to have been from that state, but he or she perpetrated many — if not all — of their acts in a particular state. We also decided not to include stories about murders that are more legend than fact.

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