Special Report

The Most Depraved Serial Killers in History

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Elizabeth Bathory
> Number of victims: 600 (alleged)
> Modus operandi: Various methods of torture
> Location: Central Europe
> Time frame: 1600s
> Serial killer’s fate: Died in Castle Čachtice in 1614

Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian noblewoman, may have killed as many as 600 people, making her the most prolific female murderer ever, according to Guinness World Records. Bathory was accused of killing female servants and noblewomen of lesser stature who came to her for education. She was apprehended and forced to live out the rest of her life in her castle, dying there in 1614. Her alleged grisly crimes are said to have been an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s horror story “Dracula.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Belle Gunness
> Number of victims: 40 (alleged)
> Modus operandi: Poisoning
> Location: Indiana
> Time frame: 1884-1908
> Serial killer’s fate: Disappeared

Norwegian immigrant Belle Gunness came to the United States looking to strike it rich in her adopted country. Her path to wealth was to marry men and kill them for their insurance money. At least 14 men met their untimely end at her hand, and she may have been involved with as many as 40 murders in all. She may have died violently as well. In 1908, a fire consumed her Indiana farm. Authorities found the remains of some of her suitors, several children, and a woman who was presumed to be Gunness – though some believe she faked her death.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Jack the Ripper
> Number of victims: 5
> Modus operandi: Stabbing
> Location: London
> Time frame: 1888
> Serial killer’s fate: Unknown

Jack the Ripper terrorized London over a two-month period in 1888, butchering five prоstitutes in the city’s Whitechapel section. The assailant taunted police with letters that were printed in the city’s newspapers. The murderer was never caught. Many theories abound as to his real identity, such as the possibility Jack was a member of the royal family or that the killer was a woman.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

H. H. Holmes
> Number of victims: 200 (alleged)
> Modus operandi: Poisoning, asphyxiation, strangulation
> Location: Chicago
> Time frame: 1890s
> Serial killer’s fate: Executed in 1896

Henry Howard Holmes, usually known as H.H., started his bizarre crime spree while he was still in medical school in Michigan. He would steal cadavers, burn and disfigure them, and plant them in what appeared to be accidents and collect insurance money. In 1855, after he passed his medical exams, he moved to Chicago There he bought an empty lot and built a three-story hotel dubbed the “castle.” He paid the premiums on the life-insurance policies of employees and hotel guests if they listed him as a beneficiary. Many of these people disappeared. The hotel was a house of horrors. Some rooms were soundproof and had gas lines so Holmes could asphyxiate his victims. The basement had a lab, a dissecting table, and a crematorium. Eventually, Holmes’ insurance-scam scheme caught up with him and he was arrested. He confessed to 27 murders, but was convicted for only one and was hanged in 1896. Rumor ascribed as many as 200 deaths to him, but this is unsubstantiated.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Ed Gein
> Number of victims: 2-10
> Modus operandi: Stabbing
> Location: Wisconsin
> Time frame: 1940s-1957
> Serial killer’s fate: Died in mental institution in 1984

Ed Gein was an infamous killer and grave robber. He was caught in 1957 after two local women went missing in his part of Wisconsin. Though he admitted to killing the two, he may have been responsible for as many as eight other murders. Authorities found furniture, clothing, and masks fashioned out of body parts in his house. Gein was institutionalized and died in an asylum in 1984. He was the inspiration for cinematic fiends such as Norman Bates in “Psycho,” Buffalo Bill in “The Silence of the Lambs,” and Leatherface in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

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