The Silence of the Lambs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, Seven- these are some of the serial killer movies we like to indulge in on a boring afternoon. Kept constantly on the edge by the nail-biting suspense and gory details, we are gripped by the portrayed workings of their delusional minds and increasingly ruthless if imaginative ways of hunting down and killing their victims. However real life serial killers are far more vicious and psychotic, choosing their innocent victims with abandon and leaving behind gruesome and horrifying signatures of their own. They are human predators without a conscience, spawning havoc and panic wherever they choose to operate. These are some of the most infamous and depraved serial killers with spine chilling accounts of brutality and torture on their victims.
10. Alexander Pichushkin
Known as The Chessboard Killer or The Bitsa Park Maniac, Alexander Pichushkin born 1974, is a Russian serial killer currently serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of 49 people. Bullied throughout his adolescence for attending a school for children with learning disabilities, Pichushkin developed feelings of inferiority and aggression which later resurfaced during his sinister stint as a serial killer. Highly proficient in chess, he set out to kill the same number of people as the number of squares in a chessboard. He later confessed that he would have continued killing people if he had not been caught. His primary targets were elderly homeless men whom he lured with the offer of free vodka. After drinking with them he would kill the person with repeated hammer blows to the head and shove a vodka bottle into the gaping wound on their heads in his bizarre signature style. Pichushkin also targeted young men, children and women whom he always attacked from behind to take his victim by surprise and to avoid spilling blood on their clothes. He was attracted to the idea of having power over another person’s life or death and felt like a God while committing the heinous murders.
9. Henri Landru
Henri Landru, born in 1869, was a French serial killer and a real life Bluebeard. He operated during World War 1 which gave him a chance to lure in war widows with promises of matrimony through advertisements in the lonely hearts section of a local French newspaper. He would seduce the women after inviting them to his Parisian villa. He embezzled the women of their finances and later killed them after dismembering their bodies. Landru destroyed bodily evidence by incarcerating his victims in his oven and was careful enough to keep ledgers recording the victims and the numerous aliases he used with them. Due to the absence of bodies, his victims were simply reported as missing and the police had a hard time convicting him of his offences. However after discovering paperwork and other evidences, he was guillotined in Versailles.
8. Andrei Chikatilo
Nicknamed the ‘Butcher of Rostov’ and the ‘Red Ripper’ Andrei Chikatilo, born in 1933, is a Ukrainian serial killer and one of the most depraved men ever to have walked this earth. His killing spree began from 1978 and he butchered 53 women and children within 1990. After moving to Rostov, he first lured a nine year old girl and attempted to rape her. When the girl struggled he stabbed her and received sexual gratification from her cries for mercy. Thus began his reign of terror and thereupon he was aroused only when he butchered struggling women and children to death. Most of his victims were prostitutes and tramps lured in with the promise of alcohol or money. He attempted intercourse with them but unable to achieve an erection due to his own impotence, he flew into a murderous rage and slashed or stabbed them. He was not caught for a long time as Communist countries claimed that heinous crimes like rape occurred only in immoral Capitalist countries. He was finally convicted for his crimes in 1992 and was famously kept in a cage during the trial for his own protection. Family members of his victims demanded him to be handed over to them and threatened to lynch him for his horrific crimes. He was executed by a firing squad and was killed by a single shot to the head.
7. Ahmad Suradji
Ahmad Suradji was an Indonesian serial killer convicted for the ritualistic murders of forty two young women. He was arrested in 1997 after several bodies were found near his home on the outskirts of Medan, the capital of North Sumatra. He primarily targeted girls and women aged between eleven and thirty and strangled them with a cable after burying them waist deep in the ground. He later buried them near his home with their heads facing his house, believing that it would give him extra power. The women came to him as a sorcerer or ‘dakun’ seeking spiritual advice or spells to make themselves more beautiful and rich. He told the police that his father’s ghost came to him in a dream and told him to kill seventy women and drink their saliva to become a mystic healer. His three wives-all of them his sisters-were also implicated in the trial against him. He was executed by a firing squad in 2008.
6. Albert Fish
Albert Fish was an American serial killer who made the chilling claim of having children in every state possible. He was also known as the ‘Gray Man’, ‘Werewolf of Wysteria’, ‘Brooklyn Vampire’ and ‘The Boogey Man’. Fish was a cannibal and a child rapist and boasted of molesting about a hundred children. He is infamous for the sadistic murder of ten year old Grace Budd. He used to abduct children and kill them after brutally assaulting and raping them. He gouged out their eyes, drank their blood, cut of their body parts and ate them after cooking the body parts in a stew. Psychiatrists confirmed Fish’s sexual fetishes including coprophilia, urophilia, paedophilia and masochism. He was executed by electric chair in 1936 despite his pleas of insanity.
5. Luis Alfredo Garavito
Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, Luis Alfred Garavito is a Canadian serial killer and rapist. He was convicted in 1999 of raping and killing 147 young boys and is currently serving a thirty year life sentence in prison. He was subjected to emotional and sexual abuse in his childhood by his father. Garavito targeted children from economically poorer sections of the society, luring them with gifts and small amounts of money. He took them for a walk and when they got tired he would torture and rape them. After that he would slit their throats and dismember the corpses.
4. Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy is one of the most prolific names in criminal history. His reign of terror lasted from 1974 to 1978 when he brutally raped and murdered more than thirty young women in US. He was supposed to be handsome and charming and singled out his victims from public places by pretending to be injured. He also dressed up as a police officer or a fire-fighter and killed his victims by strangulating them or knocking them out by blows to the head. Bundy was highly intelligent and a meticulous researcher adept at minimizing physical evidence. He brutally raped his live victims and had sex with their corpses. He applied make-up on the corpses before indulging his necrophiliac tendencies. He decapitated his victims with a hacksaw and kept their heads as mementoes. He was enthralled by the idea of possessing his victims in life and even after death. Most of his victims were said to look similar to Stephanie Brooks, his fiancée whom he rejected earlier. Bundy died in the electric chair according to the laws of Florida.
3. Jack the Ripper
There are many scary myths about this unidentified serial killer who hunted down his victims in the Whitechapel district of London during 1888. One of the most infamous serial killers in history, Jack the Ripper was assumed to be a man of high intelligence who possessed medical knowledge. He targeted prostitutes working in the slums of London. He slit the throats of his victims and brutally mutilated them. All of the victim’s abdomens were slashed and internal organs were missing from all of them. Due to his unknown identity, Jack the Ripper remains one of the most notorious and legendary serial killers ever.
2. Countess Elizabeth Bathory
Also known as ‘Blood Countess’, Countess Elizabeth Bathory is one of the cruellest and prolific serial killers in history. Born in 1560, she was a Hungarian countess who tortured and murdered over six hundred young women in her castle. She was said to have vampire-like tendencies as her victims were totally drained of blood. She bathed in the blood of her victims, who were virgins, so as to maintain her youth and beautiful complexion. Due to her noble position the Countess was never tried although she was placed under house arrest where she died after living for four years in a bricked set of rooms in her own castle.
1. Gilles de Rais
A military captain and a companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc, Gilles de Rais is considered to be a precursor to the modern serial killer. Born in 1404, he is the most prolific serial killer in history. He raped, tortured, killed and mutilated hundreds of little children, mostly boys and often achieved sexual gratification over the dying victim. He was attracted to blonde haired and blue eyed boys who were similar in appearance to him when he was a child. He lured them to him with sweets and treats and enjoyed seeing them in agony while they were tortured. He enjoyed bathing in their spray of blood after having them stabbed in their jugular vein. He would kiss them after they were dead and the bodies were incarcerated in his huge fireplace. His servants aided him during the torture sessions and later cleaned the room which was often steeped in blood. After the horrific deed was done he would be overcome with guilt and sadness and fervently prayed in the chapel for forgiveness.
Contributor: Rajasee Chatterjee