Special Report

The Most Depraved Serial Killers in History

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Robert Hansen
> Number of victims: 17
> Modus operandi: Stabbing, shooting
> Location: Alaska
> Time frame: 1971-1983
> Serial killer’s fate: Died in 2014 serving a life sentence

Robert Hansen began a life of crime in 1960 when he was found guilty of burning down a school bus garage in Iowa. He was diagnosed as bipolar and was prescribed lithium. After Hansen and his wife and children moved to Alaska, he became a serial rapist, attacking sex workers in small towns. Hansen bought a bush plane, he picked up prоstitutes, raped them, then flew to the wilderness where he would hunt them. At least 17 women were killed in the wild. A profiler helped identify Hansen and in 1984 he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 461 years in prison. Hansen died in 2014.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

John Wayne Gacy
> Number of victims: 33
> Modus operandi: Strangulation, stabbing
> Location: Chicago area
> Time frame: 1972-1978
> Serial killer’s fate: Executed in 1994

John Wayne Gacy, who dressed as a clown at children’s parties, sexually assaulted and killed 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in the Chicago area. Gacy was caught after authorities investigated the disappearance of a 15-year-old boy who was hoping to work in Gacy’s construction business. After getting a warrant to search Gacy’s house, they found the remains of 29 people in the crawl space of his home. Gacy’s insanity defense was rejected. He was sentenced to death and spent 14 years on death row before he met his end via lethal injection in 1994.

Source: TraceRouda / iStock via Getty Images

Paul Knowles
> Number of victims: 18-35
> Modus operandi: Stabbing, shooting, strangulation
> Location: East Coast of US
> Time frame: 1974
> Serial killer’s fate: Killed in 1974 trying to escape the FBI

Prior to 1974, Paul Knowles traveled up and down the East Coast for 19 years, committing crimes from petty theft to kidnapping. Then in 1974, the man known as the “Casanova Killer” because of his charm and good looks, went on a killing spree that claimed the lives of as many as 35 people, from senior citizens to young children. There was no pattern to the murders, baffling police on the East Coast. He was eventually apprehended in Florida and was shot to death trying to escape law enforcement.

Source: Bettmann / Contributor / Bettmann via Getty Images

Peter Sutcliffe
> Number of victims: 13
> Modus operandi: Bludgeoning, stabbing
> Location: England
> Time frame: 1975-1980
> Serial killer’s fate: Died in prison in 2020 from coronavirus

Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed the “Yorkshire Ripper” by British media, killed 13 women and injured seven others in northern England over a five-year period. During the time when he was killing women, Sutcliffe had been questioned by police who determined that he did not fit their profile of the killer. During his trial, Sutcliffe said he was sent on a mission from God to kill prоstitutes. Not all of his victims were sex workers. He died in prison in 2020 from the coronavirus.

Source: Hulton Archive / Stringer / Archive Photos via Getty Images

David Berkowitz
> Number of victims: 6
> Modus operandi: Shooting
> Location: New York City
> Time frame: 1976-1977
> Serial killer’s fate: In jail

The late 1970s were a difficult time for New York City. The city had almost gone bankrupt, and a blackout in July 1977 triggered looting and rioting. And also that summer, David Berkowitz unleashed a reign of terror in New York City. Berkowitz sent letters to New York newspapers during his killing spree, signing them “Son of Sam,” a reference to a demon he believed inhabited a black Labrador retriever. He was caught 11 days after his last murder, when it was discovered that his car had a parking ticket near one of the shootings. Berkowitz confessed and was sentenced in June 1978 to 365 years in prison.

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