10 Deadliest Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard Of

When it comes to history’s most notorious serial killers, we’ve all heard of Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy and the Zodiac. But there are less famous serial killers whose crimes are no less numerous or deadly, with literally hundreds of victims to their names. Here are 10 of the deadliest serial killers in history you’ll be shocked you’ve never heard of.

1. The Baby Farmer

Amelia Dyer was a rarity: she is one of the few female serial killers known in history. During the late 1800s in Britain, she was suspected of killing hundreds of children and babies, although to date, only a dozen have been confirmed. Dyer was a widowed nurse who was known as a “baby farmer,” a woman who took in unwanted children in exchange for money. Children in her care started dying of neglect and eventually she started killing them. Word got around and police set a trap for the killer. Her secrets were discovered and she was found guilty. Dyer hanged for her crimes.

2. The Dusseldorf Monster

Peter Kurten was known by two names: the “Dusseldorf Monster” and the “Vampire of Dusseldorf.” In the late 1920s, he murdered at least nine victims but is believed to have tried to kill more than 30 people during his reign of terror. Unlike other serial killers, Kurten changed his killing methods and weapons. Kurten was caught because of a mistake, but it wasn’t his. A potential victim escaped his clutches and wrote to a friend about her experience, but addressed the letter incorrectly. A mail clerk opened the letter, read it and alerted the police. The victim led them to his address. He was found guilty of murder and executed in 1931. His head is an exhibit at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Wisconsin.

3. The Chessboard Killer

Just over a decade ago, Alexander Pichushkin was convicted of 51 counts of murder and is currently serving life in prison. He was known as the “Chessboard Killer” because he wrote the dates of his killings on a chessboard in his house. Pichushkin’s victims were mostly homeless people or the elderly. He’d lure them to a local park, ostensibly to share a drink to toast his dead dog, then he’d beat them to death. He was caught because his last victim, a co-worker, had written a note to her son that she was going for a walk with the killer.

4. The Lonely Hearts Killer

One of the first “lonely hearts” killers struck in the early 1900s. These predators preyed on the delicate emotions of women (and sometimes men) who would answer personal ads in the newspaper in hopes of finding companionship. Bela Kiss was a Hungarian man who placed these ads before the first World War before he left his town to fight for his country. On his property were large steel drums that he told neighbors were to store gasoline because of rationing. When he was at war, local police tried to help soldiers obtain gasoline and when they opened one of the barrels, found a dead body; one of 24 victims on Kiss’ property. He was never found to stand trial for his crimes.

5. Jack the Stripper

Jack the Stripper was a modern-day Jack the Ripper in more ways than one. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, this U.K. killer preyed on prostitutes – eight in total – stripping them nude and killing them. As with his predecessor, Jack the Stripper was never identified or caught. 

6. The Scorecard Killer

The “Scorecard Killer” was the name given to Randy Steven Kraft, who kept a list of codified phrases to track his victims. Kraft was thought to have killed nearly 70 men and boys, although in his 1989 trial was found guilty of a total of 18 counts – 16 of which were murder. He was caught because of a drunk driving arrest, and was found with a dead victim in the passenger seat. Kraft received a death sentence and is still on death row in California’s San Quentin State Prison.

7. The Old Lady Killer

Across the pond, Jose Antonia Rodriguez Vega murdered 16 women in two years during the late 1980s and is considered to be Spain’s most prolific serial killer. He was an expert “cleaner,” and police never suspected him of the crimes until he confessed. Because his victims were elderly, police wrote them off as deaths due to old age. He was convicted and jailed but killed by inmates in 2002.

8. The Hitchhikers’ Killer

Donald Henry Gaskins was known as “The Hitchhikers’ Killer” in a killing spree that started in 1969 in the American Southeast. He claimed to have murdered more than 100 victims, although he was convicted of nine killings. Gaskins was sentenced to death and electrocuted in 1991, but not before killing a fellow inmate on death row.

9. The Beast

Luis Garavito was a Columbian serial killer that was known as “The Beast.” He confessed to the torture and murder of nearly 150 young boys, but officials suspect the number is twice that. Garavito was tried and found guilty of 139 counts of murder and would normally die in jail for the nearly 2,000-year sentence. However, the scariest part of all this is that he may qualify for early release in 2021.

10. The Angel of Death

Charles Edmund Cullen was a nurse in New Jersey who became known as “The Angel Of Death.” In nearly 20 years, he murdered 40 patients by poisoning them with medication. Cullen claimed he wanted to end patients’ suffering, as he thought angels would. It’s purported that he had more than 400 victims and that he’s the most prolific serial killer in the United States. He was sentenced to 127 years in prison.

It’s a frightening list of killers, to be sure. Remember to lock your doors, never hitchhike and be wary of strangers!