Disturbing Facts About Infamous American Serial Killers
Unfortunately, the United States has been host to numerous prolific and terrifying serial killers. Some committed their heinous misdeeds over a period of decades, committing crimes against humanity and evading capture.
Eventually, these monsters were ultimately caught, leaving behind more questions than answers. Read below for interesting and strange facts about some of America’s most notorious serial killers.
Jeffrey Dahmer, an American sex predator and serial killer, was known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or Milwaukee Monster. He committed murders and dismemberment against 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991.
Dahmer was born May 21st, 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and died in November of 1994 in the Columbia Correctional Institution, Portage, WI. Below are eight spooky and odd facts about him.
Dahmer’s First Heinous Crime Was While He Was Working as a Medic
In a strange twist of irony, Dahmer served in the military for two years and worked as a U.S army medic. The infamous serial killer was 19 years old at the time. He was the rank of Private Class (PFC) and served from January 1979 until March 1981.
Dahmer’s first murder occurred in 1978 alongside his service. While Dahmer was presumably saving lives or at least lending a hand, he acted on his murderous instincts. According to him it was “not planned.”
Dahmer’s First Victim Was a Hitchhiker
Dahmer’s first victim, Steven Hicks, was 18 years when he got into the car with one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Dahmer took Hicks to his parent’s home in Ohio and proceeded to strangle the young man and beat him with a barbell.
Dahmer then dismembered Hicks and put him into trash bags. According to Dahmer, he had fantasies leading up to the event of picking up a hitchhiker and having “complete dominance and control over him.”
Dahmer Had Many Run-Ins with the Law
Dahmer was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct in September 1981. The following year, Dahmer was again picked up for exposing himself at a Wisconsin State Fair Park.
In August 1986 Dahmer was arrested for touching himself inappropriately in front of two boys. Dahmer claimed he was only urinating. Nevertheless, he was charged with disorderly conduct and sentenced to a year of counseling. In 1988, he was arrested for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old. In 1989 Dahmer is registered as a sex offender for another sexual assault.
He Committed Three of His Crimes at His Grandmother’s House
After Dahmer was arrested, his parents sent him to live with his grandmother in an attempt to help him clean up his act. Instead, Dahmer committed atrocities in the old woman’s basement. Not only did he torture and murder boys and men he brought back to his grandmother’s home, but he also dismembered their bodies there.
The woman became disillusioned with his habit of bringing home men at late hours and allegedly did not like to smell emanating from his basement, so she gave him the boot.
Jeffrey Dahmer Was Turned in By a Would-Be Victim
Tracy Edwards escaped Dahmer’s apartment in 1991 after hitting the killer over the head while his eyes were closed, as he chanted while The Exorcist was on for both of them to view.
Dahmer and Edwards had been chummy when Dahmer offered Edwards $100 to pose nude for him. Subsequently, he chained him and produced a large knife. Edwards was held captive for 5 hours and once escaped, he reported Dahmer to the authorities. Unfortunately, Edwards went on to do jail time sexual assault, drug possession, and most notably for a drowning homicide in 2011.
Dahmer’s Apartment Held a Lot of Gruesome Evidence
When investigating officers were sent to Dahmer’s apartment to corroborate Tracy Edward’s story, they discovered a number of disturbing pieces of evidence. Authorities found body parts belonging to a whopping 11 different people, including three heads in the freezer, another in the fridge, along with other body parts that Jeffrey referred to as “meat” as he would eat his victims.
Dahmer also had painted skulls, jars with genitalia, and photos of dismembered bodies. Dahmer was subsequently subdued and arrested.
Dahmer Tried to Claim Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Dahmer’s defense attempted to angle Dahmer as a madman. His attorneys claimed that only a truly insane person could have committed the atrocious acts that he committed, describing in great detail what he perpetuated against his victims.
The prosecution argued that Dahmer knew his acts were evil and committed them anyway. Ultimately, the jury spent 10 hours of deliberation and came to the conclusion that Jeffrey Dahmer was guilty and sane. He received 15 life sentences equating to 957 years in jail.
Dahmer Gained a Prolific Following While in Jail
Hybristophilia or “Bonnie and Clyde syndrome” occurs when someone has a sexual attraction to a person who committed crimes or caused outrage. Jeffrey Dahmer found himself on the other end of this strange attraction while in jail. He amassed quite the following of which composed of mostly women or “serial killer groupies” …
The serial killer who committed torture, murder, necrophilia, and cannibalism to young men and boys apparently turns a profit on Etsy for those who want Jeffrey Dahmer jewelry.
He Suffered a Painful Death in Prison
In November of 1994 Jeffrey Dahmer was beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver. Scarver beat both Dahmer and a man named Jesse Anderson to death with a metal bar taken from the weight room after the three men were assigned to a work detail together.
The three convicted killers were left alone by prison guards when Dahmer and Anderson began to taunt Scarver. Scarver claimed he was disturbed by Dahmer’s crimes and his antagonizing nature and he just snapped.
John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy, or “the Killer Clown” as he became known, was an American serial killer and sex offender who terrorized at least 33 young men and boys.
He received his namesake as he enjoyed dressing up as a clown for charitable events and children’s hospitals as “Pogo the Clown” or “Patches the clown.” He died in Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, IL in 1994.
JWG Intentionally Got a Job in a Mortuary
A variety of serial killers are known to intentionally place themselves in close proximity with death and corpses due to their morbid inklings and impulses. The case was no different with John Wayne Gacy. At 20 years old, Gacy left Chicago for Las Vegas where he took on a cleaning job at a mortuary.
Gacy apparently lived at the funeral home and was often alone with the dead while he cleaned and worked as the morgue’s janitorial staff. This is where he initially developed and later indulged in necrophilia.
His Criminality May Be Linked to an Abusive Childhood
During Gacy’s trial, the defense argued that Gacy’s father traumatized the boy turned murderer and damaged him. Allegedly, Gacy Senior wanted a more manly and tough son and perceived feminine traits in his only son.
It was said that Gacy Senior would intentionally humiliate his son in front of his sisters, hurling verbally abusive sentiments at him to demean and lower John Wayne Gacy’s self-esteem. Gacy’s mother apparently was incredibly kind to Gacy to make up for his father’s abuse.
Living a Lie
Gacy moved back home in the early 1960’s and attained a degree in business school. From there he became engaged to his first wife and wed in 1964.
He became the manager at KFC with a good income and was “happily” married. His father began to respect him, and he seemed like an average straight white man. However, Gacy was hiding his true sexuality and began seducing male employees at KFC and in 1967 was convicted of sexual assault.
After His Psychological Examination He Never Saw His Family Again
Before his sexual assault trial, Gacy underwent a psychological examination and was deemed a true and incurable psychopath who was a permanent threat to society.
Gacy was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for his crime on December 3rd, 1968. That same day, his wife filed for divorce which was granted the following year. He never saw his first wife or his children ever again. Strangely enough, Gacy seemed to thrive in prison and was released after only 18 months into his prison sentence for good behavior.
He Liked to Dress as a Clown
JWG enjoyed dressing as a clown for fundraisers, in hospitals, and children’s parties, which is where he got his namesake, “the killer clown”. He also would fool his victims by showing them a “trick.” After luring the unsuspecting victim to his home, he would handcuff the young man or boy under the guise of play.
He would allow the victim to become irritated in their handcuffs before flipping the switch on them, revealing his true intentions, and torturing them.
Gacy Hired a Boy to Dig His Graves for Him
A young man named David Cram confessed that he was able to escape sexual assault and torture from John Wayne Gacy by agreeing to dig trenches in his backyard. According to Cram, he walked into Gacy’s house, and he was dressed as a clown.
He told Cram after handcuffing him that he was going to sexually assault him, but Cram kicked him in the head. Over a period of 2.5 years Cram dug graves in Gacy’s backyard.
26 Bodies Were Found in Gacy’s Crawl Space
After John Wayne Gacy was arrested he directed investigators to the crawl space below his home to uncover the bodies of his victims. Upon days upon days of digging, investigators continued to uncover a ghastly and numerous amount of victims.
Gacy had 16 bodies crudely stashed in the crawl space under his house. A total of 29 bodies were found on the property, and according to Gacy, he murdered 33 people.
His Final Moments Were Bizarre
As his death sentence approached Gacy began to claim (after already confessing 13 years earlier) that he was in fact innocent. Gacy claimed that his employees had committed the murders and planted all 29 of the bodies. He even pursued interviews and attempted to paint himself as the “34th victim.”
His last meal before execution was a meal from KFC, a nod to his former role as manager, and his famous last words before he met death’s door? “Kiss my a**.”
The Zodiac Killer
The “Zodiac Killer” is a pseudonym for a still unidentified American serial killer who committed his slayings in Northern California in the late 1960’s. He is considered the most famous unsolved murder case in United States history, and because of this has become a fixture within American culture.
The killer has five confirmed deaths, two injured, and has taken responsibility for a total of 37 deaths. Because his identity remains a mystery, we’ve compiled both facts and theories of the infamous murderer.
Two of His Victims Survived His Attack
In 1969 the killer targeted Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau in Vallejo Park by shooting them both down. Darlene did not survive, but Michael did and was able to provide crucial details to the police afterwards.
A year later the killer struck again, targeting another couple with a knife. While Cecilia Shepard succumbed to her injuries, her partner Bryan Hartnell survived his multiple stab wounds and could recount Zodiac’s outfit and the conversation he had with him.
He Used a 13th Century Alphabet in His Letters
Many of Zodiac’s cipher symbols in his letters belonged to a 13th century alphabet that was named none other than the “Zodiac alphabet.” Some theories speculate that the serial killer had some form of personal connection to the Medieval times.
Bryan Hartnell told authorities that he wore a Medieval executioners costume, including dark clip-on glasses, a black hood with his signature symbol across his chest, that looked hand-made when he attacked them with a knife.
Police Missed an Opportunity to Apprehend Him
Briefly after Zodiac had shot and killed a taxi driver, he fled the scene on foot. There were three teenage witnesses who, upon seeing the incident, called the police. The police arrived at the murder scene quickly.
The killer walked past police and pretended to walk to a nearby home as though it was his own. The suspect was identified on the police radio as a Black male, which Zodiac was not. He referenced this lapse in strong police work in one of his letters.
He May Have Served in the Military
According to investigators, the 340-cipher used by the Zodiac killer can be found in a 1950’s army cryptography field manual. While the killer put his own take it by altering the direction that the notes had to be read (Zodiac made his diagonal and therefore harder to figure out).
Another piece of evidence is a shoe print found at the scene of one of the crimes. It was revealed to be a military boot primarily used by men in the Navy.
He Praised the Same Movie as Jeffrey Dahmer
In his final letter, written on January 29th, 1974, the Zodiac killer referenced the movie The Exorcist, which was a favorite of the aforementioned Jeffrey Dahmer. The letter, which came three years after his last, was credited with being the “best” in terms of satire and humor.
At the bottom, the Zodiac killer signed, “Me = 37, SFPD = 0” presumably referencing the number of murders he claimed to have committed and the San Francisco Police Department’s failure to stop him.
Golden State Killer
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., more commonly known as the Golden State Killer, is an American serial rapist, serial killer, and burglar. He is a former police officer for the state of California as well as a decorated Vietnam vet.
He has committed at least 13 murders, 50 sexual assault, and 120 burglaries across California between 1974 and 1986. DeAngelo was arrested on April 25, 2018, at the age of 72 and is currently in prison for life without the chance for parole.
He Bound, Threatened, Sexually Assaulted and Murdered Victims
DeAngelo would break into the victim’s house and typically tie them up with items he found at their own home. After binding them he would violently sexualyl assault them before murdering them.
If the woman’s partner was there, DeAngelo would leave the man bound and stomach down with objects such as metal lids or saltshakers. He told the men that if he heard the objects fall that he would immediately kill the woman.
He Would Stake Out and Stalk Victims Prior to Attacks
Before the Golden State Killer would execute his attack, he would take the time to sneak into their homes prior and learn the layout of their home, studying family photos and names.
Police also found shoe prints outside of his victim’s home, leading them to believe that he was a voyeur and documented details about his victims. To give himself an advantage he would unlock windows, disable porch lights and hide shoelaces and rope in advance within the home to use as ties.
He Would Terrorize His Victims Before and After Attacks
The Golden State Killer would often obtain his victim’s phone number during his initial break-in, land lift his victim’s phone number off their home rotary phone. From there he would begin placing either hang-up and/or threatening phone calls.
In January of 1978, detectives put a tap on one of his sexual assault victim’s phone and captured what they believe is a recording of DeAngelo. In it, he whispers “Going to kill you,” over and over before hanging up.
Before He Began Killing, He Was a Serial Offender
Prior to becoming a serial killer, the Golden State Killer was a serial rapist. He was known at the time as the East Area Rapist, or Original Night Stalker. His modus operandi was to target women in their on-story homes in middle- and upper-class suburban areas between Sacramento to San Ramon.
In some cases, he would target houses that were only yards from each other. He would attack in the dead of night, wearing a ski mask, and blinding his victims with a flashlight as he awoke them.
He Would Take Items from Victim’s & Eat Their Food
Like many serial killers, the Golden State Killer would leave the crime scene with personal items that he lifted off the victim themselves or from their home. Items included cufflinks, wedding rings, driver’s licenses, jewelry, and more.
There is also evidence that he would eat his victim’s food. In 1979 two bodies were discovered along with a cellophane-wrapped turkey. In another instance he stopped to eat a slice of apple pie during an attack.
Investigators Traced DNA back to DeAngelo’s Great-Great-Great Grandparents
Four decades of dead ends finally ceased when investigators utilized DAN research to pinpoint the notorious killer. Paul Holes and his research team traced ancestry all the way back to the early1800’s. They traced back roughly 25 family trees with thousands of relatives that led to the modern era.
By comparing census records, obituaries, gravesite locators, and multiple databases, Holes and his team were able to isolate a single suspect to at minimum 13 murders, 50 sexual assaults, and 100 burglaries.
He Called One of His Victims His Ex-Fiancée’s Name
DeAngelo was engaged as a teenager to a woman named Bonnie Colwell Ueltzen. Ueltzen apparently broke off the budding romance as she found DeAngelo becoming increasingly abusive towards her.
According to investigators, one sexual assault victim’s account of her assault helped them lead them to DeAngelo. Apparently, while he was raping her, DeAngelo shouted “I hate you, Bonnie.” Ueltzen went on to say that she and everyone else in his life were just “props in his big story, where he’s always been a criminal underneath.”
DeAngelo’s Ex-Wife’s Role Remains Unclear to Some
Sharon Huddle and DeAngelo tied the knot in 1973 and a year later the Golden State Killer became a police officer while Huddle continued to study law, eventually becoming a family law attorney. The pair separated in 1991 but remained legally married until 2019.
While Huddle claimed she had no knowledge of her husband’s criminality, many have accused her of being privy to his true nature—perhaps unkindly. DeAngelo and Huddle share three daughters.
Samuel Little was an American serial killer who confessed to the slaying of 93 people, mostly consisting of women, with 60 of those victims actually confirmed. He was known as “The Choke and Stroke Killer” as he would beat and then strangle his victims, sometimes while preforming lewd acts.
He was born in Reynolds, Georgia in 1940 and fell into a life of crime at an early age. He died in Los Angeles, California in 2020.
Arrested at 16, Leading to a Life of Crime
In 1956, Little was arrested for burglary in Omaha, Nebraska. He was sent to a juvenile institution meant to rehabilitate him, which it did not.
His life revolved around crime. He was arrested countless times, mainly for shoplifting, and supported himself this way (apart from the odd cemetery worker job). He would jump cities, stealing from major shops, and then head to the next by day. By night, he would prey on prostitutes and drug addicts.
He Found a Creepy Hobby in Prison
In prison, Little picked up a disturbing hobby, albeit helpful to authorities. Little began to draw portraits of the many women that he beat, strangled, and murdered. Little claimed the only things he was ever good at was “drawing and fighting.” He also had a photographic memory
Calling the women he drew “his babies” he claimed to live only in his mind with the women, remembering their death through his pictures. Authorities hope that they can match the sketches to missing women and bring closure to families
His Mother Abandoned Him
Little claimed that his mother was a “lady of the night” who abandoned him on the side of a dirt road when he was an infant. He went on to say that he was raised by his grandmother in Lorain, Ohio.
Little predominately killed marginalized people such as drug addicts and prostitutes. Perhaps there was more to who he chose to abuse and murder than just their vulnerability and his motives were more psychologically personal in nature.
He Was Caught Yet Only Got a Wrist Slap
In 1984, Little was first arrested in San Diego for kidnapping, beating, and strangling 22-year-old Laurie Barros. Barros survived. Somehow, only a month later, a police officer discovered Little in a car with a badly beaten and unconscious women who had also been strangled. She too survived.
Little served only two and half years for both attempted murders. He moved to Los Angeles following his release.
He Targeted Mainly Black Women
Samuel Little mainly targeted vulnerable Black women. While one could surmise this came from a deep hatred towards his mother or women in general, apparently it is common for serial killers to target victims of the same race.
Little sustained his murderous spree by committing his atrocities and then skipping town. He repeated the process and although was arrested many times for shoplifting and burglary, avoided blame for his crimes against humanity.
He Saw Himself as an Angel of Mercy
In an interview with journalist Jillian Lauren, Little claimed that the women he chose were “half-dead in the eyes” anyway and that he was simply finishing the job. Little told Lauren that he saw himself as an angel of mercy of sorts.
“Killing felt like heaven. Felt like being in bed with Marilyn Monroe,” he said. He also told Lauren that she was his “angel” to come visit him, as she was one of the very few members of press to interview the serial killer.
Little Had No Remorse
In one interview, Little seemed to claim that he was self-reflecting by trying to trace what attracted him to “a woman’s throat,” but was not quite sure where the attraction was drawn from.
Disturbingly, he went on to claim that the women he stole life from had death wishes when he found them and wanted to die at his hands. He said all the women were his favorites for the way they died and that he loved them all.
His Killing Spree Lasted 35 Years
Samuel Little was able to beat, strangle, sexually assault, and murder nearly 100 women over a span of 35 years. His murderous hurricane spanned across more than a dozen states in the U.S and went from 1970 to 2005.
He was able to continue with a string of “lucky breaks” and short jail times, until he was finally arrested for good in 2005 at a Christian homeless shelter.
Ted Bundy was a disturbed serial killer who targeted, assaulted, and killed young women. When he was finally caught and convicted of his crimes he confessed to 30 accounts. 20 victims have been confirmed.
However, some people think he had many more victims than that. He would lure young brunette athletic women to his car with some kind of story and take them. His reign of terror lasted from 1974 to 1978 before he was finally caught and sentenced to death row.
He was known for being charismatic
One of the things that sets Bundy apart from many other serial killers is that he was known for being handsome and charismatic. Naturally, many people were confused by this because serial killers are known to be withdrawn and somewhat odd, for lack of a better word.
His charm and good looks were a major part of his ploy to lure young girls to his car. He had a facade of being a gentleman which made girls feel comfortable and let their guard down around him.
He was his own lawyer
When Ted Bundy was finally caught, he decided to represent himself in court. He had studied law but never became an actual lawyer. Despite professional recommendations he was his own lawyer during his trials.
He enjoyed the media attention and publicity he got from the case, which spoke to his narcissistic nature. He mentioned that it was even “a thrill” to fight for his own life. He was unsuccessful in representing himself and eventually received the death penalty.
A witness at his trial fell in love with him
Carol Ann Boone attended Bundy’s trials and fell in love with him over the course of his case. In an incredibly unbelievable moment in the case, Bundy asked her to marry him while she was a witness and he was acting as his own lawyer.
To the surprise of everyone, she said yes and they did get married while Bundy was in jail. Most likely, Bundy enjoyed the drama and the surprising nature of their relationship. One year after he was sentenced to death, she gave birth to their daughter.
Contractors think Ted Bundy’s childhood home is haunted
Interestingly, a construction company that worked on Ted Bundy’s home in Tacoma, Washington claims that the house is haunted. Workers claimed they heard doorknobs jingle. On more than one occasion, a worker would hear a knock at the door and open it to see absolutely no one.
In the 7 months that they worked on the house, there were at least 30 unexplainable incidents that led the crew to believe the home was haunted. One of the most shocking incidents was when they found the words “leave” and “help me” written in the sawdust in the basement.
He escaped during his trial
During the media circus that was Ted Bundy’s trial, the killer actually managed to escape. When Bundy was acting as his own lawyer, the judge did not require him to be shackled. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
During the trial, Bundy asked to be excused so he could go to the law library to study his case. From the library, he escaped through a window. He went on the run for a week before they found him and brought him back.