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Insanity is an undefined term. Anything or anyone outside the usual realm of our existence is classified as insane. Hence, it’s difficult for a ‘sane’ person to understand the psyche of a serial killer – these maybe individuals who derive perverse pleasure from killing innocent people or even intelligent individuals who kill others but also regret it once the moment has passed.
While there are many classifications by criminologists for the same, and no dearth of serial killers to list on, we take a look at some of the worst serial killers the world has ever seen:
- Elizabeth Bathory
Also known by the name of The Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory has been described by onlookers as “an incredibly beautiful woman with youthful skin that belied her age.” Born into Hungarian nobility, this trait may have had to do as much with her lineage as with her act of bathing int he blood of young girls – a procedure she believed would keep her forever young. Easily the most prolific and vilified female serial killer in history, she has confirmed 30 murders but the count others claim run up to 650.
While many claims that bathing in her victim’s blood was something dreamed up centuries later to add to her exotic story, there is no doubt about her criminal activities as on 29th December 1610, a garrison of soldiers burst into her castle and caught her in the act of burying a corpse. Over all, she was charged with a hundred counts of third-degree tortures, decapitating people, burning people alive, killing young girls and much more which were added after her death.
However, due to her political power and connections, while her other lady helpers had their fingers cut off and tossed into a burning pyre, Bathory was merely restricted to house arrest where she died four years later.
2. Count Dracula
Also known as Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, He ruled from 1431 to 1476 during which he killed an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 people including those burnt when he raided villages and fortresses and burnt them to the ground. In fact, once in a bid to get rid of all the poor people, he ordered a massive banquet in a mansion and asked anyone living below the poverty line to attend.
While in attendance and enjoying the gorgeous food, the burned the castle down, killing an estimated 300 people. His favourite form of punishment was impaling people who earned him his posthumous nickname of Vlad the Impaler. It is known that he killed people for the slightest of offences and enjoyed watching them being impaled while he had his breakfast. It is said that he roasted kids and forced their cannibalism on the family.
He often left impaled people on spikes outside for others to see. In 1462, Mehmed II returned to Constantinople after seeing 20,000 people impaled om spikes outside his capital. His death is uncertain, and descriptions range from being killed in a fight against the Turks to dying on a hunt to being decapitated by his soldiers. It is still unknown as to where his body was unceremoniously buried. It was earlier believed that he lay at the Snagov, a monastery in Budapest, an excavation carried out in 1933 proved the area contained only horse bones.
3. John Wayne Gacy
Known by the name of the Killer Clown because he used to dress up as a clown and offer his services at fund raising events. The surprising thing about Gacy was that when the police arrested him as a serial killer, everyone around him was surprised. They all described Gacy as a friendly person, one who they thought wouldn’t hurt a fly. Regular physical abuse as a child may have contributed to his twisted mentality. Most of his victims were young boys who were working under his construction service.
He also worked at a mortuary during his early days which is where his fantasies started to take form. Due to his involvement in politics, he had his first few charges dropped by claiming this political opponent were trying to taint his life. When several young boys seemed to disappear from his service and neighbours began to smell a putrid decaying smell emanate from his house, the police were called.
During a psychiatric evaluation, the psychiatrist said that Gacy had an ‘alibi’ for everything, was quick to put forward himself as a victim of various circumstances and stressed on the fact that everyone was out to get him. Lethal injection finally executed him after 14 years on death roll.
4. Jack, the Ripper
Undoubtedly a celebrity in the world of criminologists. However, ardent fans of the macabre may wonder why he is on the list at all when he killed only five people. The reason for his being on the list is not because of his repertoire but because he was the first modern serial killer – operating in the 1880s. He is the beginning of the first psychopath with the way he butchered up his victims – almost 100 years before others like Ted Bundy, who only followed a typecast.
Also, keep in mind that he sent constant anonymous letters to the police boasting about his prowess. One of them was signed as “From Hell” (pictured here) and was accompanied by one of the kidneys of Catherine Eddowes. He also mentioned that he ate the other one. Keeping the police in a state of psychological terror, his case remains unsolved even until today – over a century later.
Moreover, his famous Whitechapel murders included a string of murders done within a span on only a dozen of hours. Truly a master at his art, if there ever was one. Theories of his identity have ranged from him being a member of the royal family to being a school teacher to a butcher. Either way, Scotland Yard closed the case after 50 years of inconclusive evidence, most of which is attributed to lack of necessary technology.
5. Ted Bundy
Possibly the most fascinating serial killer was since he helped the police examine his case! Known as the “Angel of Decay”, Ted Bundy was an intelligent man and a student at a Law School in Utah. His killing spree began after his breakup with his girlfriend and several of his victims eerily resemble her.
Before he was finally executed, Bundy sat down for a chat with a journalist, refusing to talk to any reporters when he came clean about how he felt about the murders – he claimed that he did them on the spur of the moment and always felt terrible afterwards. During his trial, Ted acted as his attorney, cross-examining witnesses and even offered the police his assistance in figuring out the Green River case and understanding the mind of a serial killer.The police caught the Green River Killer only due to Bundy’s insight.
He confessed to 30 murders, but numbers could be higher. Due to attractive physical appearance, he gained his victim’s trust and voluntarily led them into danger. He was charged with counts of necrophilia as well and had a knack for butchering up his victims. Bundy escaped police custody twice and set up the bargain that he’d come clean about where he had buried or thrown his victims if they lessened his charges forever cut.
However after a point, even the judge declared that he would not allow Bundy to plead his case over “the decaying body of his victims.” He was put to death by the Electric Chair.These are only to name a few. Even the murder counts could be higher since most of them do not own up. Neither are all bodies ever found and identified. In the case of Ted Bundy, several bodies whose locations he told the police in exchange for a lighter sentence were never recovered.