It’s hard to put your finger on precisely why it is we, as a culture, are so fascinated by serial killers but we are. Films like Silence of the Lambs and American Psycho are enthralling and give rise to shows like Dexter and Hannibal that get watched by millions. And the reality of killers is no different – countless movies and documentaries will break down the lives of Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer for you like they were members of One Direction, only less evil. Women line up to meet and marry these men in jail – but why? Why do we get so wrapped up in killers?
The answer is, of course, who the hell knows? People are weird. But if it’s morbid weirdness that gets us off, at least we should be well educated on the subject. You may be a fan of killers, but why guys like John Wayne Gacy and David Berkowitz when there are far more prolific killers out there who need a fan base, too? Say, is this guy writing a funny article about murderers? You bet!!
So without further ado, here’s a list of the heavy hitters in the world of serial killing. You like Dexter? You think Charles Manson is an interesting guy who might be fun to play Boggle with? Check out these nut bags.
Henry Lee Lucas
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Body Count: Potentially 600
Henry Lee Lucas was convicted of 11 murders in total, and confessed and recanted that confession for a number of other murders. Initially he claimed 60 murders, then 100, then 3000. Somewhere that became 600 and then dropped to 350 “believable” ones according to a task force investigating the crimes.
Things get tricky when you dig into Lucas’ story as some people believe the man may not have murdered anyone and was railroaded from the beginning. His confessions in some cases look suspiciously like he was trying to get law enforcement to stop abusing him and in others the details are either extremely sketchy or just plain wrong. Of course this is the sort of zany stuff a real serial killer might do also, meaning that this guy either spent the rest of his life in prison because he legitimately was a total whack job, or because some terrible cops screwed him over for sa whole bunch of killing he never really did. Depends if you want to believe Amnesty Interational or the Texas cops who put him away.
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Body Count: 350+
Because not just Americans are good at stabbing, Colombian Pedro Lopez ranks on the list for his prolific career in which over 300 victims may be laid at his feet.
In 1980, Lopez led police to the graves of over 50 victims, then confessed to about 300 more. All of his victims were young girls from Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. For this he got 16 years in prison (they let him out early) and then another 3 years in a nuthouse, from which he was also let out early. Remember that the next time the American justice system lets you down. Because it should never let you down that badly.
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Body Count: 650+
Is it possible the killingest of all killers was a lady? The Hungarian countess, along with a few friends, were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls. However, then, as now, when you’re famous you can get away with a hell of a lot, just look at Justin Bieber. Her family’s influence kept her from any real punishment and she was given house arrest – in a castle.
Bathory was believed to be partially responsible for the myth of Dracula (it’s said she drank the blood of virgins, which probably wasn’t true, not that it matters) and over 300 witnesses testified against her and her creepy compatriots. The fact her house was actually full of dead and dying girls really made the case cut and dry, but the total count will likely never be known since it seems like her killing spree went over for about a quarter of a century.
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Body Count: 400+
Another Colombian, Garavito was known as The Beast. Responsible for the deaths of 147 boys, Garavito was given 30 years and began to reduce his sentence by confessing to more crimes thus exhibiting good behavior. While in prison he confessed to the killings of and drew maps to the locations of upwards of 300 more. Unsurprisingly, the people of Colombia were not thrilled that doing this was actually reducing his sentence, however Colombia’s legal system had never really had to deal with serial killers before so punishing someone for a crime of this magnitude was pretty much unprecedented. Luckily the system changed afterwards and Garavito can be held accountable for other crimes he was not originally convicted of.
While in prison, Garavito, who at the time was expecting to be released in only a few years, expressed interest in starting a political career when he got out so that he could help children, like the several hundred he murdered. And you thought politicians here sucked.
Gilles de Rais
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Body Count: Up to 600
Another blast from the past, Gilles de Rais is actually famous not for murder, but for his part in helping Joan of Arc rise to fame. While many were set against the idea of a woman who claimed to speak to God leading armies, de Rais’ was one of her earliest supporters. It’s just a shame that later on it turned out maybe he kind of sort of raped and murdered hundreds of children.
This case, of course, is another one of those that maybe isn’t true at all, but we’ll never know thanks to the way history unfolds. Some believe de Rais was the victim of a smear campaign and subsequent set up to make him look like a monster when in fact there was no evidence he had ever done the crimes he was accused of. Despite that, the testimony they came up with to convict him was both damning and pretty much disgusting as all hell (go on and Google it, we can’t reprint a lot of it here) and so he was found guilty and executed.
Wasn’t this just an upbeat article? Clearly we can all see why everyone loves serial killers so much now.