Top 10 Serial Killers in the 20th Century

Tags: #SerialKiller ,   #Crime ,   #Murder

Alex O'Brien

Alex O'Brien

Last updated:  2023-07-06 10:56:47

Let's take a deep dive into the list of the most infamous serial killers ever. While some of them might not be the most notorious ones, they surely deserve to be here because of all the media attention they brought to themselves. Like their female colleagues, male serial killers are often triggered by some tragedy in their childhood, but that's not an excuse. So let's look at this top ten list of psychotic individuals and the horrors they've done.

10. John Wayne Gacy

The Killing Clown pretended to be a model citizen
Active period: 1967-1978
Typical victims: Young men and boys
Number of killings: 33+
His fate: Executed by lethal injection
Serial killer info

John Wayne Gacy, known as the Killing Clown, executed at least 33 young men between 1972 and 1978. Gacy lived on a ranch, where he would lure his victims, rape them and kill them afterward. Working as a "Pogo the Clown," he would easily handcuff his victims under the pretense of showing them a magic trick.

The Killing Clown buried 26 victims at his ranch in the crawl space underneath his house. He was apprehended in 1978 and executed by lethal injection in 1994. While his body was cremated, his brain was removed first and used for research.

9. Andrei Chikatilo

The brutality of Andrei Chikatilo's crimes are best explained by his nickname - the Butcher of Rostov
Active period: 1978-1990
Typical victims: Women and children
Number of killings: 53+
His fate: Executed by a gunshot
Serial killer info

Andrei Chikatilo was a serial killer from Ukraine known as the Rostov Ripper, the Butcher of Rostov, and the Red Ripper. He killed and mutilated over 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. Chikatilo was a sexual predator, rapist, and murderer. His first victim was a nine-year-old girl, whom he abducted with the intent of raping her. Unable to achieve an erection in his frustration, he killed her, ejaculating while doing so.

Before he started his killing spree, he was a teacher, committing his first sexual assault upon his students. After he was arrested, he was executed by shooting. His body is now in the prison cemetery and is left unmarked.

8. Gary Ridgway

Green River Killer was arrested after twenty years
Active period: 1982-2001
Typical victims: Young females
Number of killings: 70+
His fate: Life imprisonment
Serial killer info

Also known as the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway murdered over 70 people. His victims were young prostitutes or runaway teenagers as he terrorized the Seattle and Tacoma region during the 1980s and 1990s. Ridgway would strangle his victims during the sex and hide the bodies, as he would often revisit corpses and have sexual intercourse with them.

Moreover, he would eventually dispose of many of his victims in Green River, hence the nickname. Gary Ridgway was arrested in 2001, twenty years after he started his killing spree. He was convicted on DNA evidence collected from the crime scene and is serving a life sentence.

7. Daniel Camargo Barbosa

Daniel Camargo Barbosa killed over 150 victims in Colombia and Ecuador
Active period: 1974-1986
Typical victims: Young girls
Number of killings: At least 72, up to 180
His fate: Killed in prison by an inmate
Serial killer info

Daniel Camargo Barbosa was a Colombian serial killer with three crime sprees during the 1970s and 1980s. Firstly he and his girlfriend abducted young girls, and Barbosa raped them. After the fifth rape, they were arrested. Once he was released from jail, he kidnapped a nine-year-old girl, raped and killed her.

He was captured again, but although he was trialed for just one murder, it was believed that he killed over 80 girls. He escaped from "Colombian Alcatraz" in 1984 and went to Ecuador, where he raped and killed at least 54 victims. After the arrest, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. However, he was killed by an inmate related to one of his victims.

6. Javed Iqbal

Javed Iqbal killed 100 children and dissolved their bodies in acid
Active period: 1998-1999
Typical victims: Young boys
Number of killings: 100
His fate: Died in prison, by suicide
Serial killer info

Pakistani police received a letter in 1999 from Javed Iqbal, stating that he was a serial killer guilty of the deaths of 100 children. His victims were orphans and homeless kids ages six to sixteen. He would lure them, rape, kill and dismember their bodies. Moreover, he covered his tracks by dissolving the remains in acids and dumping the rest into the river.

However, when the police searched his house, they found bloodstains, two rotting corpses, and the victims' pictures. He had three accomplices living with him during the crimes, so they were all apprehended. Iqbal was sentenced to the death penalty by strangulation, after which his body would be dismembered and dissolved in acid. However, he killed himself before the execution.  

5. Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer was a cannibal and a necrophilic
Active period: 1978-1991
Typical victims: Young men
Number of killings: 17
His fate: Killed while serving life imprisonment
Serial killer info

Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or Milwaukee Monster. He didn't commit as many murders as some on our list, but his crimes were brutal. He has taken the lives of 17 boys and men from 1978 to 1991.

Well, let's get to the gruesome part, as he would lure his victims at his home, drug them, strangle them, or stab them. But the most horrific thing is that he would dismember them, eating some of their organs while preserving others. After the police's arrest, they found several heads in his apartment and a barrel with body parts. Moreover, he took pictures of dismembered bodies, as he was necrophiliac as well. Dahmer was killed in jail by a fellow inmate.

4. Ted Bundy

One of Ted Bundy's horrific rituals was to revisit the corpses of his victims
Active period: 1974-1978
Typical victims: Young women
Number of killings: 20+
His fate: Execution by electrocution
Serial killer info

Ted Bundy is probably the best-known serial killer on our list since many movies and TV shows about serial killers were inspired by his crimes. He was a bright man, as a law student with a degree in psychology. At some point, Bundy was active in politics as a campaign manager. However, his sick twisted mind had something else planned. He started a killing spree in 1978, although there have been some unconfirmed suspicions that he began doing it in 1974. 

He would approach young women faking an injury and ask them to help him. After the abduction, he would rape and torture them before making the killing. Later, he would revisit their corpses and engage in sexual activity. However, he did something perhaps even worse, decapitating some victims and holding their heads in his apartment to be closer to him. He was arrested and executed for killing 36 women. Yet, he probably had far more victims.

3. Pedro Alonso López

Monster of the Andes killed over 300 young girls and served just 14 years for the crimes
Active period: 1969-2002
Typical victims: Young women
Number of killings: 110+
His fate: Released from prison after serving 14 years
Serial killer info

Pedro Lopez was known as the Monster of the Andes, as he killed in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. His victims were young girls aged nine to twelve. He would lure the children from poor neighborhoods under the pretense that he was lost and needed help. After that, he would take them to a secluded place, rape them, and strangle them.

Lopez's killing spree started in 1969 and lasted until he was arrested in Ecuador in 1980. He was convicted of 110 murders but allegedly killed over 300 victims. However, Lopez was sentenced to only 16 years in prison and was released after serving 14 years, for good behavior. Afterward, he was deported to Colombia, where he served four years in a mental institution.

2. Harold Frederick Shipman

Harold Shipman A.K.A. Dr. Death killed over 250 of his patients
Active period: 1975-1998
Typical victims: Older people
Number of killings: 15, up to 250
His fate: Suicide by hanging
Serial killer info

Harold Shipman was a British general practitioner and serial killer who allegedly killed over 250 patients. His targets were mainly older women to whom he would inject lethal doses of painkillers. Afterward, he would forge the death certificate and order, in most cases, cremation. He was making his killings under the pretense of treating people. Moreover, he got away with it from 1975 till 1998, when he was arrested.

The true nature behind his killings was never discovered since he committed suicide in 2004 while in jail. He'll be remembered by his nicknames, Dr. Death, The Angel of Death, and The Good Doctor.

1. Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos

Luis Garavito, called the Beast, is known to be the serial killer with the highest number of victims
Active period: 1992-1999
Typical victims: Young men
Number of killings: 193+
His fate: Sentenced to 22 years in prison
Serial killer info

Luis Garavito terrorized Colombia from 1992 till 1999, as during that period, he allegedly killed over 300 victims. To the public, he was known as La Bestia (the Beast) and Tribilín. The Beast targeted homeless and orphan boys ages six to sixteen.

After the arrest, he confessed to raping, torturing, and killing 140 young boys and teenagers. He was convicted of causing 138 deaths and sentenced to 40 years in prison by Colombian law. Nonetheless, his sentence was reduced to 22 years, which brought massive protests around the country. Garavito remains the serial killer with the most confirmed number of victims.

Most serial killers commit their crimes out of a need to control or demonstrate power over their victims or fulfill their sick, perverted sexual fantasies. However, often their crimes get undetected for some time, as they are usually not connected with the victims. Therefore, it can be challenging to apprehend them. 

Have you ever heard of some of these top ten serial killers? Or have you watched any documentaries or movies based on their crimes? Please write to us in the comment section, as we would like to hear your thoughts. 

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rnd Says:

Everyone should see "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" about Ted Bundy. Efron did him scary good.

July 12 at 01:10:54 PM

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