In today’s world of mass communication, gruesome content has become just about as normalized in our society as any other piece of information. We have websites dedicated to murderers and gore, live war videos, and live-streamed police shootings in our newsfeeds. It seems as if nothing is off-limits these days.
Still, some crimes are so astonishing that they simply defy comprehension—even to the most desensitized individuals. Here are 10 such murders committed by serial killers.
10 Richard Chase And Terry Wallin
Richard Chase (aka “The Vampire Killer of Sacramento”) was a serial killer who terrorized an otherwise peaceful Northern California during the late 1970s. His motive was clear: bloodthirst and cannibalism. Chase sought compulsively to drink the blood of animals, people, just about anything he could get ahold of.
Chase even used to inject the blood of animals as he thought that only animal (and later human) blood could cure him of whatever ailment his hypochondria and paranoid schizophrenia told him he had. Although he killed other people, the murder of Terry Wallin has to be the most shocking.
Terry was only 22 years old and pregnant when Chase broke into her house to ultimately kill, have postmortem sex with, and finally eat her. She had three other people with her who also became his victims. After Chase killed Wallin and had his way with her body, he needed her blood, which he put drank out of a yogurt cup.
9 Ed Kemper And Aiko Koo
Ed Kemper was a bit of a mama’s boy in the strangest of ways: His mother was a big factor in the emotional problems that compelled him to commit murder, he ended his spree after killing his mother, and he even lived at his mother’s house when he committed some of his murders.
Kemper would also bring his victims’ bodies, usually decapitated, back home to his mom’s house and tuck them away so that she wouldn’t find them. He would keep them for a few days while practicing necrophilia.
One of the most brutal murders took place on September 14, 1972. Kemper picked up a 15-year-old Korean girl, Aiko Koo, who was hitchhiking. He quickly drew his firearm, holding the poor girl hostage at gunpoint. Right there on the side of the road, Kemper proceeded to strangle her to death.
Kemper also liked to collect body parts as tokens of his victims. He placed Koo in the trunk of his car, stopped off to have a few beers, and then drove home with the dead body in his trunk as if nothing had happened. Once he got home, Kemper had sex with Koo’s dead body before dissecting her and cutting her into pieces.
At the time, Kemper lived with his mother. He buried Koo’s head in his mother’s garden and later joked that his mother “always wanted people to look up to her.” Almost none of Koo’s remains were found.
8 William Bonin And Donald Ray Hyden
One of the lesser-known serial killers was William Bonin (aka “The Freeway Killer”). Like the “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez and the “Hillside Stranglers” Angelo Buono Jr. and Kenneth Bianchi, Bonin employed the vast Los Angeles and Orange County freeway systems to pick up his victims and later dispose of their bodies.
Bonin ended up killing at least 21 youths in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The murder of 15-year-old Donald Ray Hyden stands out as especially brutal.
August 27, 1979, was Hyden’s last night alive. He was last seen on Santa Monica Boulevard at around 1:00 AM. Later that day, his lifeless body was found beaten and strangled in a dumpster. There was evidence that Bonin had attempted to remove the boy’s testicles while he was still alive and that he had been sodomized.
This wasn’t unusual for Bonin as he allegedly liked to torture his victims with ice picks and coat hangers before strangling them to death with their own T-shirts. Bonin also attempted to slash Hyden’s throat.
7 Andrei Chikatilo And Irina Pogoryelova
Cannibal, murderer, rapist, and pedophile. All these terms apply to Andrei Chikatilo, who hails from the Soviet Union. Chikatilo’s heart was as cold as the icy Russian winters, and he was particularly fond of mutilating his victims.
On August 11, 1986, 18-year-old Irina Pogoryelova disappeared. She was found on the 18th, her body buried on a farm in Russia. Due to the brutal mutilations of the bodies found at each of Chikatilo’s crime scenes, Russia launched a massive manhunt in an attempt to catch this bloodthirsty madman.
Chikatilo had done to Irina to a greater degree what he had done to many others. He slashed their eyes with a knife during their rapes and murders. Sometimes, he removed their eyes from the sockets entirely. Chikatilo later commented that he held a deep belief that the eyes of his victims could “retain” the face of their killer and needed to be destroyed or removed. This was actually his modus operandi.
Chikatilo had sex with Pogoryelova’s dead body. He also removed her genitals and ate her sexual organs. Then Chikatilo bit off her lips, tongue, and fingertips and tasted her blood.
6 Joachim Kroll And Marion Ketter
In what would be the last of a murderous rampage, Joachim Kroll (aka “The Ruhr Hunter” and “The Duisburg Man-Eater”) killed four-year-old Marion Ketter and dismembered her body. Even by serial killer standards, the crime was brutal, inhuman, and downright gruesome.
Kroll was an immigrant in Germany who snuffed out 14 lives from 1955 to 1976. On July 3, 1976, he was arrested for kidnapping Ketter, and what the police were about to discover would shock and horrify them. Kroll was a cannibal who cut up and ate parts of his victims. His murders were unusual because he would kill people in the same place several years apart like clockwork.
After Kroll had a disturbing conversation about clogged pipes with one of his neighbors, that person complained to the police. Upon entering Kroll’s apartment, the officers asked him if he knew anything about what was stopping up the pipes. Kroll replied, “Guts.” Guts were stopping up the pipes.
The officers took Kroll to the police station for further questioning and returned to his apartment later to investigate. There, they found the remains of the four-year-old girl. Some parts were in the refrigerator, other small parts of the child were scattered about, and a small hand was simmering in a pan on the stove. Kroll wasn’t lying. It was, in fact, her guts that were clogging up the apartment plumbing system.
5 Peter Kurten, Gertrude Hamacher, And Louise Lenzen
Peter Kurten was a madman beyond anything this world has ever seen. Vile, disgusting, wretched, and completely ferocious, he was even a mystery to the professional psychiatrists who saw him after he’d been caught for his murderous crimes.
One psychiatrist said, “Kurten is the king of sexual delinquents because he unites nearly all perversions in one person. That is the dreadful thing: The man Kurten is a riddle to me. I cannot solve it. The criminal Haarman only killed men, Landru only women, Grossman only women, but Kurten killed men, women, children, and animals, killed anything he found!”
Arguably, his most brutal murders involved foster sisters—five-year-old Gertrude Hamacher and 14-year-old Louise Lenzen. At the time, a serial killer known only as “The Vampire of Dusseldorf” and “The Dusseldorf Monster” was prowling the streets. He beat, stabbed, and strangled his victims with impunity.
On the night of August 23, 1929—the last time either would be seen alive—the two girls left the fair in Flehe, Germany. Their paths fatefully crossed with The Vampire of Dusseldorf, who gave Louise money to buy him some cigarettes.
Once he had five-year-old Gertrude isolated, he picked up the small child and then proceeded to strangle her and slit her throat. Upon Louise’s return, he took his cigarettes and killed Louise. Then Kurten decapitated Louise.
4 John Wayne Gacy And John Butkovich
One of the most infamous, horrifying, and disturbing faces in serial killer history is that of Pogo the Clown, otherwise known as John Wayne Gacy. One could only imagine the sheer terror of having what seems like a fun, slightly overweight clown turn on you and become a psychopathic murderer.
Gacy killed at least 33 boys between 1972 and 1978, when he was finally arrested. Gacy’s murder of 17-year-old John Butkovich in 1975 was particularly disturbing. After having an argument with Gacy, who was his employer, Butkovich disappeared and was never heard from again. Gacy lured young boys with the promise of employment and then killed them.
Once Gacy had Butkovich in his hands, right where he wanted, he pulled the ultimate terrifying ruse. Gacy used clown antics and magic to trick his victims into submission. For example, Gacy used “the handcuff trick.”
His victims agreed to be handcuffed after he promised to show them a cool magic trick once they were cuffed. Then Gacy would torture them mercilessly, gagging them by stuffing their own clothing into their mouths, raping them repeatedly with objects, and completely transforming from a lovable fat guy to a sadistic murderer.
With Butkovich, Gacy not only hit, choked, and raped the boy but also sat on Butkovich’s chest with all his weight for an extended period of time. Finally, Gacy stabbed the boy in the chest with a knife.
3 Jeffrey Dahmer And Konerak Sinthasomphone
Jeffrey Dahmer’s name has been etched into our historical memory as almost synonymous with the word “cannibal.” The year was 1991, and anyone alive at the time remembers the iconic footage of authorities taking a litany of vile items from the home of this brutal serial killer: body parts, dismembered corpses, and the infamous big blue barrels in which he dissolved human bodies in hydrochloric acid.
His trial became a spectacle of angry mourners, with the families of his victims screaming and shouting about how much they hated him. Picking just one murder as the most gruesome from Dahmer’s 17 brutal killings is hard to do. It’s almost amazing that a jury found him sane and fit to stand trial.
Nevertheless, the murder of a 14-year-old Laotian boy named Konerak Sinthasomphone strikes us as particularly scary. Of course, the age of the victim plays a role in the horror of this crime. But it’s especially disheartening to realize that Konerak had a chance to escape a murder so brazen that it makes us question the effectiveness of our authorities and wonder what more we could do to capture these monsters.
Dahmer usually lured men and boys to his apartment in Milwaukee with the promise of money for nude photos, sex, or both. In 1991, he had lured Konerak into his home and drugged him, which was Dahmer’s usual modus operandi. Then Dahmer got so drunk that he passed out.
When he awakened to find the youth gone, Dahmer charged outside his apartment. The boy had been found wandering in the streets—bloodied, dazed, and naked—by three women. The concerned women called the police.
Dahmer told the police that the boy was his young lover, that the two were having a fight, and that the boy had accidentally drunk too much alcohol. He successfully convinced the police of all this, including that the boy was of age to be drinking.
The police escorted Dahmer and the boy back to the serial killer’s apartment, where Dahmer readily volunteered nude photos of the boy as evidence that the two had a relationship. As Konerak was too dazed from the drugs to effectively communicate, the police had no idea that the boy was only 14 and had posed for the photos in exchange for money.
Even when a bloodied, handcuffed, naked boy was found in the street, the police still somehow let him go right back into the hands of his soon-to-be murderer. One of the women later protested. An officer replied, “Ma’am, I can’t make it any more clear. It’s all taken care of. He’s with his boyfriend and in his boyfriend’s apartment. [ . . . ] It’s as positive as I can be. [ . . . ] I can’t do anything about somebody’s sexual preferences in life.”
Dahmer had experimented with giving frontal lobotomies to his victims in an attempt to create mindless sex zombies for his pleasure. After twice attempting unsuccessfully to administer a chemical lobotomy to Konerak, Dahmer finally strangled the boy before ultimately having sex with, dismembering, and eating some of his corpse. The rest of the boy’s remains were dissolved in a big blue barrel of acid.
2 Richard Speck And The 1966 Nurses
The American serial killer Richard Speck earns a place on this list due to the sheer number of victims in his last murder rampage. Speck killed eight people in one evening, the record for any serial killer ever. Most of them typically kill one victim at a time. Speck was the stereotype of sociopathy—unhinged, dangerous, reckless, a thief and burglar, a sex addict, and a nomadic criminal.
Speck was a perfect example of the typical 1960s bad boy we see in a lot of beat literature. Alcoholic as well as drug and sex addicted, Speck lived fast and hard. His body count on that infamous night of July 13, 1966, would have been nine, but one victim survived. That was the downfall of Richard Speck.
Speck went to a dorm for nurses and simply knocked on the door. A Filipino girl answered, and that’s when Speck began his rampage. At least one of the nine victims was raped. Others were savagely beaten, strangled, stabbed, and killed.
Speck ended up on the run. After coming to his senses from a booze-and-alcohol mixture, Speck realized what he had done and unsuccessfully attempted suicide. Afterward, he was taken to a nearby hospital where they noticed the tattoo on his arm: “Born To Raise Hell.” This was later identified by the surviving victim and proved vital in the prosecution of Richard Speck. He spent the rest of his life behind bars.
1 Albert Fish And Grace Budd
In what would be one of the most shocking and brutal murders of all time, Albert Fish killed 10-year-old Grace Budd. He was an old man serial killer who came off as gentle and kind until he had his victims right where he wanted them. Fish had no problem brazenly taking Budd out of her family’s loving arms and into a depraved world of madness, torture, and cannibalism.
After responding to an advertisement in the local newspaper for Grace’s 18-year-old brother, Edward, who was looking for work, Fish met the Budd family and instantly decided that he wanted to kill Grace. Appearing to be a gentle old man, Fish simply invited the young girl to a supposed party with his niece, and her parents let her walk right out the front door with him.
Grace would never be seen alive again. Fish strangled and tortured the young girl before dismembering her and eating her remains. However, he insisted that he did not have sex with her. In a detailed letter, Fish anonymously detailed Grace’s murder to her mother. Here’s an excerpt:
On the pretense of taking her to a party, you said yes, she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not, I would get her blood on them.
When all was ready, I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in the closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked, she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her, and she said she would tell her mamma.
First, I stripped her naked. How she did kick, bite, and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take the meat to my rooms, cook, and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me nine days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her, though I could have if I wished. She died a virgin.
In all, over 50 fingers and other bones were found at the home in which Fish murdered his victims, including Grace Budd. Police uncovered a den of horror not seen since H.H. Holmes and his infamous torture chamber.
I like to write about the dark side of humanity, sexuality, psychology, philosophy, and history. I own and operate several Facebook pages, Serial Killer Memes, Murderworks Horror, Beautifully Disturbed, Satan Everything, Goatwhore I & II (the blogs, not the band’s page), and more.