We ranked the worst real-life serial killers in the United States by two factors: number of victims, and brutality of the killings. Many of these serial killers are suspected of killing more than what could be proven, but here we just show the number of “proven” victims. The list of the 20 worst serial killers in U.S. History:
1 – Gary Ridgeway, years of serial killing: 1981 to 2000
Texas. 49 proven victims. AKA the “Green River Killer,” a truck painter who confessed to killing 71 women, even though only 49 could be proven. He is suspected of killing over 90 people, almost all women. Arguably the worst real serial killer in the U.S.
2 – Ted Bundy, serial murders from 1974 to 1978.
Many states, including Colorado and Utah. 35 proven victims. Police estimates the number of victims is over 100. Infamous for murdering multiple women in one day, sometimes within hours of each other in the same area. In 1989 he was executed by electric chair.
3 – John Wayne Gacy, 1972 to 1978.
Illinois, 33 victims, most were teenagers. AKA the “Killer Clown” since he often entertained children at parties. He buried victims in the crawlspace under his house. Executed in 1994 by lethal injection.
4 – Dean Corll, 1970 to 1973
Texas, 28 victims. AKA the Candy Man, Corll was eventually murdered by his accomplice Elmer Wayne Henley. They tortured and murdered teens in Pasadena, Texas and elsewhere in southeast Texas.
5 – Juan Vallejo Corona, 1971. California, 25 victims, all orchard workers.
6 – Ronald Dominique, 1997 to 2006. Louisiana, 23 killings. AKA the Bayou Strangler.
7 – William Bonin, 1979 to 1980, L.A., California, 21 known victims. AKA the Freeway Killer.
8 – Paul John Knowles, 1974.
Texas, Nevada, Florida, and other states. Proven to have killed 18 people, but claimed to have killed 35. AKA the “Casnova Killer” shot down by FBI agents.
9 – Jeffrey Dahmer, 1978 to 1991.
Ohio and Wisconsin, killed 17 victims and ate some of them. He kept body parts in the freezer.
10 – Randy Steven Kraft, 1971 to 1983, convicted of 16 murders, but left behind a list of 65 he claims to have killed. That would make him a worse serial killer than even Bundy, if proven to be true.
11 – Larry Eyler, 1982 to 1984, 19 killings proven (more suspected) in multiple U.S. states. Known as the “Interstate Killer”.
12 – Robert Hansen, 1980 to 1983.
Alaska. After torturing them, he released 15+ women into the Alaskan wilderness and hunted them down. Police suspect there are many more victims never found.
13 – Carl Watts, 1974 to 1982. Aka the Sunday Morning Slasher.
Texas, proven to have killed 14 victims, all women, but claims to have killed 40, and is suspected of killing 80 women. Arrested in Houston, Texas, in 1982.
14 – Randall Woodfield, 1979 to 1981, victims: 18. Oregon and California. A former NFL draft pick. One of many pro football players convicted of murder, but Woodfield might be the worst.
15 – Wayne Williams, 1979 to 1981, Atlanta, Georgia. He was convicted of 2, and later of 24 victims, but the proof was “shaky” and he always claimed he was innocent.
16 -Robert Lee Yates, 1975 to 1988 in Spokane, Washington, 16 murders by gunshot to the head, all of his victims were women.
17 – Jane Toppen 1885 to 1901, was a nurse who poisoned her patients. Possibly 31 killings. One of only 2 women on our list of worst serial killers.
18 – Arthur Shawcross, 1972 to 1989. New York, killed 14 women after being paroled from a manslaughter charge.
19 – Kenneth McDuff, 1966 to 1992. Texas. 9 known murders and 16 suspected, most in Waco, Texas.
20 – Aileen Wuoronos, 1979 to 1990, Florida, brutally killed 7 men (suspected of many more). The film “Monster” was based on her life.
Longest span of killings: Caroll Cole, killed sixteen people from 1948 to 1980 in Texas, Nevada, and California.
The U.S. State with the most serial killers: Texas.
The U.S. State with the fewest serial killers: Delaware.
The decade with the most serial killings appears to be the 1970s. But maybe they’ve just gotten more clever and evasive since then? Oddly, the most famous serial killers are not always the worst. David Berkowitz is famous as “the Son of Sam,” but only had 6 fatal victims, which isn’t enough to get him on the list.
See Also: Top 20 Serial Killer Movies
Serial Killers Who Were Never Caught
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