Special Report

The Most Depraved Serial Killers in History

Donald Henry Gaskins
> Number of victims: 10
> Modus operandi: Stabbing, homemade bomb
> Location: Southern states
> Time frame: 1955-1977
> Serial killer’s fate: Executed in 1991

Donald Henry Gaskins, nicknamed Pee Wee because of his diminutive height, started his life of crime as a burglar and spent his youth in and out of jail. Eventually, his crimes escalated to murder, cutting a swath of terror through the coastal areas for the South during the 1960s and 1970s when Gaskins targeted mostly hitchhikers. He was caught in 1976 and subsequently admitted to nine murders, for which he received nine concurrent life sentences. While serving time, he killed a fellow inmate with a homemade bomb, after which he was electrocuted in 1991.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Pedro Rodrigues Filho
> Number of victims: 71
> Modus operandi: Beating, stabbing, shooting
> Location: Brazil
> Time frame: 1960s-1970s
> Serial killer’s fate: Released from prison in 2011

Pedro Rodrigues Filho was a vengeful serial killer from Brazil. He was born with a damaged skull that was the result of a beating his mother received from his father when she was pregnant. That was in all probability the reason he embarked on his homicidal path, slaying some 24 people, by various means and for various reasons – including an official who had falsely accused his father of stealing food and gang members who killed his girlfriend. – before being arrested and jailed. While he was incarcerated, he continued his killing spree, murdering 47 more people – including his own father. Rodrigues Filho’s behavior boosted his sentence to 400 years, but the maximum jail time in Brazil was 30 years (since extended to 40 years), and he was eventually released.

Ted Bundy
> Number of victims: 30
> Modus operandi: Strangulation, stabbing
> Location: Across the U.S.
> Time frame: 1966-1978
> Serial killer’s fate: Executed in 1989

Ted Bundy was a charismatic and intelligent man who preyed on college-age women during his 12-year killing spree. He killed his first victims in Washington, Utah, and Colorado before he was arrested. Bundy escaped custody twice while awaiting trial in Colorado and went to Florida. He killed several young women at a sorority before he was captured. Bundy’s trial was televised and he acted as his own attorney. He was found guilty and was electrocuted in 1989.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

> Number of victims: 37 (alleged)
> Modus operandi: Shooting
> Location: California
> Time frame: Late 1960s and early ’70s
> Serial killer’s fate: Unknown

The Zodiac killer was an unidentified serial killer who instilled fear throughout Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Zodiac sent letters that taunted the police and the media, claiming to have killed 37 people, five of which murders were confirmed. He was never caught. The Zodiac case inspired books and films, and was the model for the serial killer in the Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry.”

Source: Vladislav Zolotov / iStock via Getty Images

Harold Shipman
> Number of victims: 218 (estimated)
> Modus operandi: Drug overdoses
> Location: England
> Time frame: 1970s
> Serial killer’s fate: Committed suiсide in prison in 2004

Nicknamed “Dr. Death,” Shipman was an English physician who killed at least 218 patients in the 1970s. In 1999, Kathleen Gundy, the daughter of one of his victims, claimed that he killed her mother and tried to create a bogus will that named him as the beneficiary. Shipman’s previous victims had been cremated, but Gundy’s mother had not. An autopsy showed an unusually high level of diamorphine, which Shipman used to kill his other patients. He was officially charged with the deaths of 15 people, found guilty, and sentenced to life without parole. He committed suiсide in jail in 2004.

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