1.Gilles de Rais, Born 1404 [Crimelibrary]
Gilles de Rais (a French nobleman) is considered to be the precursor to the modern serial killer. Before he began his killing spree, he rode as a military captain in the army lead by St Joan of Arc – though it is unlikely that she knew him. He was accused and ultimately convicted of torturing, raping and murdering dozens, if not hundreds, of young children, mainly boys.
According to surviving accounts, Rais lured children, mainly young boys who were blond haired and blue eyed (as he had been as a child), to his residences, and raped, tortured and mutilated them, often ejaculating, perhaps via masturbation, over the dying victim. He and his accomplices would then set up the severed heads of the children in order to judge which was the most fair. The precise number of Rais’s victims is not known, as most of the bodies were burned or buried. The number of murders is generally placed between 80 and 200; a few have conjectured numbers upwards of 600. The victims ranged in age from six to eighteen and included both sexes. Although Rais preferred boys, he would make do with young girls if circumstances required.
At the transcript of the trial, one of Gilles servants Henriet (an accomplice to his crimes) described the actions of his master, which were essentially:
Henriet soon began to collect children for his master, and was present whilst he massacred them. They were murdered invariably in one room at Machecoul. The marshal used to bathe in their blood; he was fond of making Gilles do Sillé, Pontou, or Henriet torture them, and he experienced intense pleasure in seeing them in their agonies. But his great passion was to welter in their blood. His servants would stab a child in the jugular vein, and let the blood squirt over him. The room was often steeped in blood. When the horrible deed was done, and the child was dead, the marshal would be filled with grief for what he had done, and would toss weeping and praying on a bed, or recite fervent prayers and litanies on his knees, whilst his servants washed the floor, and burned in the huge fireplace the bodies of the murdered children. With the bodies were burned the clothes and everything that had belonged to the little victims. An insupportable odour filled the room, but the Maréchal do Retz inhaled it with delight
Richard Trenton Chase (May 23, 1950 – December 26, 1980) was an American serial killer who killed six people in the span of a month in California. He earned the nickname The Vampire of Sacramento due to his drinking of his victims’ blood and his cannibalism. He did this as part of a delusion that he needed to prevent Nazis from turning his blood into powder via poison they had planted beneath his soap dish.
On December 29, 1977, Chase killed his first victim in a drive-by shooting, Ambrose Griffin, a 51-year-old engineer and father of two. Chase’s next victim was Teresa Wallin. Three months pregnant, Teresa was surprised at her home by Chase, who shot her three times, killing her. He then had sex with the corpse and mutilated it, bathing in the dead woman’s blood. On January 27, Chase committed his final murders. Entering the home of 38-year-old Evelyn Miroth, he encountered her neighbor, Don Meredith, who he shot with the same .22 handgun. Stealing Meredith’s wallet and car keys, he rampaged through the house, fatally shooting Evelyn Miroth, her 6-year-old son Jason, and Miroth’s 22-month-old nephew, David. As with Teresa Wallin, Chase engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism with Miroth’s corpse. Chase returned to his home, where he drank David’s blood and ate several of the infant’s internal organs before disposing of the body at a nearby church. A witness saw him leaving the scene where he left perfect fingerprints and shoe-prints – leading to his arrest.
On May 8 Chase was found guilty of six counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Waiting to die, Chase became a feared presence in prison; the other inmates (including several gang members), aware of the graphic and bizarre nature of his crimes, feared him, and according to prison officials, they often tried to convince Chase to commit suicide. On December 26, 1980, a guard doing cell checks found Chase lying awkwardly on his bed, not breathing. An autopsy determined that he committed suicide with an overdose of prison doctor-prescribed antidepressants that he had been saving up over the last few weeks.
3. Jeffrey Dahmer, Born 1960 [Crimelibrary]
Dahmer murdered at least 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, with the majority of the murders occurring between 1989 and 1991. His murders were particularly gruesome, involving acts of forced sodomy, necrophilia, dismemberment, and cannibalism. Dahmer committed his first murder when he was 18, killing Steven Hicks, a 19 year-old hitchhiker. Dahmer invited Hicks to his house, and killed him because he “didn’t want him to leave.”
On September 25, 1988, he was arrested for sexually fondling a 13-year-old Laotian boy in Milwaukee, for which he served 10 months of a one year sentence in a work release camp. However, in 1988 there was not yet a law requiring offenders to register when convicted of a sex crime against a minor. He convinced the judge that he needed therapy, and he was released with a five-year probation on good behavior. Shortly thereafter, he began a string of murders that would end with his arrest in 1991.
In the early morning hours of May 27, 1991, 14-year-old Milwaukee Laotian Konerak Sinthasomphone (the younger brother of the boy Dahmer had molested) was discovered on the street, wandering nude. Reports of the boy’s injuries varied. Dahmer told police that they had an argument while drinking, and that Sinthasomphone was his 19 year-old lover. Against the teenager’s protests, police turned him over to Dahmer. They had no suspicions, but reported smelling a strange scent. That scent was later found to be bodies in the back of his room. Later that night Dahmer killed and dismembered Sinthasomphone, keeping his skull as a souvenir. By the summer of 1991, Dahmer was murdering approximately one person each week.
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer lured another man, Tracy (Traci) Edwards, into his home. According to the would-be victim, Dahmer struggled with Edwards in order to handcuff him. Edwards escaped and alerted a police car, with the handcuffs still hanging from one hand. Edwards led police back to Dahmer’s apartment. The story of Dahmer’s arrest and the gruesome inventory in his apartment quickly gained notoriety: several corpses were stored in acid-filled vats, severed heads were found in his refrigerator, and implements for the construction of an altar of candles and human skulls were found in his closet. Accusations soon surfaced that Dahmer had practiced necrophilia, cannibalism, and possibly a form of trepanation in order to create so-called “zombies.”
The court found Dahmer guilty on 15 counts of murder and sentenced him to 15 life terms, totalling 937 years in prison. At his sentencing hearing, Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions, also saying that he wished for his own death. On November 28, 1994, Dahmer and another inmate named Jesse Anderson were beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver while on work detail in the prison gym. Dahmer died from severe head trauma in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
4. Albert Fish, Born 1870 [Crimelibrary]
Albert Fish, also known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria and possibly the Brooklyn Vampire, boasted that he molested over 100 children, and was a suspect in at least five killings. Fish confessed to three murders that police were able to trace to a known homicide, and confessed to stabbing at least two other people. He was put on trial for the murder of Grace Budd, and was convicted and executed.
Fish was visited in prison by the mother of his victim Billy Gaffney to get more details about the death of her son. Fish said:
[I c]ut one of my belts in half, slit these halves in six strips about 8 inches long. I whipped his bare behind till the blood ran from his legs. I cut off his ears, nose, slit his mouth from ear to ear. Gouged out his eyes. He was dead then. I stuck the knife in his belly and held my mouth to his body and drank his blood. I picked up four old potato sacks and gathered a pile of stones. Then I cut him up. I had a grip with me. I put his nose, ears and a few slices of his belly in the grip. Then I cut him through the middle of his body. Just below the belly button. Then through his legs about 2 inches below his behind. I put this in my grip with a lot of paper. I cut off the head, feet, arms, hands and the legs below the knee.
In addition to this horrifying description, Fish confessed to eating parts of Billy:
I made a stew out of his ears, nose, pieces of his face and belly. I put onions, carrots, turnips, celery, salt and pepper. It was good. Then I split the cheeks of his behind open, cut off his monkey and pee wees and washed them first. I put strips of bacon on each cheek of his behind and put them in the oven. Then I picked 4 onions and when the meat had roasted about 1/4 hour, I poured about a pint of water over it for gravy and put in the onions. At frequent intervals I basted his behind with a wooden spoon. So the meat would be nice and juicy. In about 2 hours, it was nice and brown, cooked through. I never ate any roast turkey that tasted half as good as his sweet fat little behind did.
At his trial, several psychiatrists testified about Fish’s sexual fetishes, including coprophilia, urophilia, pedophilia and masochism. X-rays of Fish’s pelvis show needles which he inserted in to his skin for sexual pleasure.
5. Andrei Chikatilo, Born 1936 [Crimelibrary]
Andrei Chikatilo was a Ukrainian serial killer, nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov and ‘The Red Ripper.’ He was convicted of the murder of 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. In 1978, Chikatilo moved to Shakhty, a small coal mining town near Rostov, where he committed his first documented murder. On December 22, he lured a nine-year-old girl to an old house which he bought in secret from his family and attempted to rape her. When the girl struggled, he stabbed her to death. He ejaculated in the process of knifing the child, and from then on he was only able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm through stabbing and slashing women and children to death. Despite evidence linking Chikatilo to the girl’s death, a young man, Alexsandr Kravchenko, was arrested and later tried and executed for the crime.
He established a pattern of approaching runaways and young vagrants at bus or railway stations and enticing them to leave. A quick trip into a nearby forest was the scene for the victim’s death. In 1983, he did not kill until June, but then he murdered four victims before September. The victims were all women and children. The adult females were often prostitutes or homeless tramps who could be lured with promises of alcohol or money. Chikatilo would usually attempt intercourse with these victims, but would usually be unable to get an erection, which would send him into a murderous fury. The child victims were of both sexes, and Chikatilo would lure them away with his friendly, talkative manner by promising them toys or candy. In the USSR at the time, reports of crimes like child rape and serial murder were often suppressed by the state-controlled media, as such crimes were regarded as being common only in “hedonistic capitalist nations.”
In 1988 Chikatilo resumed killing, generally keeping his activities far from the Rostov area. He murdered a woman in Krasny-Sulin in April and went on to kill another eight people that year, including two victims in Shakhty. Again there was a long lapse before Chikatilo resumed killing, murdering seven boys and two women between January and November of 1990. He was finally caught when trying to approach young children whilst under police surveillance. He went to trial on April 14, 1992. Despite his odd and disruptive behavior in court, he was judged fit to stand trial. During the trial he was famously kept in a cage in the center of the courtroom; it was constructed for his own protection from the relatives of the deceased. The trial had a very disturbing atmosphere. The relatives kept shouting threats and insults to Chikatilo, demanding the authorities to release him so that they could execute him on their own. He was found guilty of 52 of the 53 murders and sentenced to death for each offense.
He was executed by firing squad (shot in the back of the head) on February 14, 1994 after Russian president Boris Yeltsin refused a last ditch appeal by Chikatilo for clemency.