A Serial killer is a person who murders three or more people, in two or more separate events over a period of time, for primarily psychological reasons. In many cases, the exact number of victims killed by a serial killer is not known, and even if that person is convicted of a few, there can be the possibility that he/she killed much more.
As for what would make a person want to kill multiple other people, often in cruel ways? This question has plagued law enforcement personnel, psychologists, and the general public for decades. Different theories have been proposed as to what triggers someone to become a serial killer – some even suggesting that damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, the part responsible for planning, motivation, and decision-making, may be a trigger for murderous tendencies in a person.
Law enforcement agencies and psychologists have often tried to assess serial killers who have been caught in order to better understand their reasons for acting violently. However, it has been noted by these assessments that most of the Serial killers usually come from dysfunctional families or have had one parent abandon them at an early age.
The following 10 is the list of modern serial killers currently with the highest verifiable murder count, who are non-medical and working alone. Have a look at Top 10 most prolific serial killers in history:
10. Alexander Pichushkin (Russian Serial Killer)
Alexander Pichushkin is a Russian serial killer also infamously known as the Chessboard Killer. He is convicted of murdering 48 victims and suspected of killing 60.
According to his own words, the reason for all these murderers is his goal of becoming Russia’s most prolific serial killer.
He was arrested on 16 June 2006, and convicted on 24 October 2007 of 49 murders and 3 attempted murders. He asked a Russian court during his trial to add an additional 11 victims to his body count, bringing his claimed death toll to 60, and 3 surviving victims.
He was sentenced to life in prison by Russian court with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.
9. Gary Ridgway (American Serial Killer)
Gary Ridgway is an American serial killer and was also known as the Green River Killer. He was initially convicted of 49 separate murders and is presumed to be responsible for more than 90.
He was the most prolific American serial killer in history according to confirmed murders. A truck painter by profession, he exclusively targeted sex workers from Seattle, suspected of killing over 90 victims, confessed to 71, convicted of 49.
He was apprehended November 30, 2001, and sentenced to life without parole.
8. Anatoly Onoprienko (Ukrainian Serial Killer)
Anatoly Onoprienko was a Ukrainian serial killer and was also known by the nicknames The Beast of Ukraine, The Terminator, and Citizen O.
Convicted of the murders of 9 people in 1989 and 43 people in 1995–1996. He travelled through Europe illegally from 1990 to 1995 and did numerous killings.
After police arrested him on April 16, 1996, Onoprienko confessed to killing 52 people.
He was apprehended on April 16, 1996, and sentenced to death, later commuted to life in 1995 as Ukraine had entered the Council of Europe and thus (at the time) it undertook to abolish the death penalty.
Onoprienko died of heart failure in the prison of Zhytomyr on August 27, 2013, at the age of 54.
7. Andrei Chikatilo (Soviet/Russian Serial Killer)
Andrei Chikatilo was known as “The Butcher of Rostov”, “The Red Ripper” or “The Rostov Ripper” was convicted of the murder of 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990.
Chikatilo was known by such titles as the Rostov Ripper and the Butcher of Rostov because the majority of his murders were committed in the Rostov Oblast of the Russian SFSR.
He was apprehended on 20 November 1990, convicted and sentenced to death for 52 of these murders in October 1992 and subsequently executed in February 1994.
6. Stephen Paddock (American Serial Killer)
Stephen Paddock was a 64-year old American from Las Vegas – who was responsible for the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, during which he fired into a crowd of approximately 22,000 concertgoers at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
He committed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history – responsible for the killing of 58 people and injuring 546 people in a shooting on 2nd October 2017 at 10:00 PM.
He killed himself in his room on the 32nd-floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel before a police SWAT team burst in. Paddock’s motive for the shooting is still unknown.
5. Yang Xinhai (Chinese Serial Killer)
Yang Xinhai was a Chinese serial killer who confessed to committing 67 murders and 23 rapes between 1999 and 2003.
Infamously known as the “Monster Killer”, he enters victims’ homes at night and kills everyone with axes, meat cleavers, hammers, and shovels.
He was the most prolific known serial killer China has ever seen. He was apprehended on 3 November 2003 and was sentenced to death and executed in February 2004.
4. Pedro Rodrigues Filho (Brazilian Serial Killer)
Pedro Rodrigues Filho is a notorious Brazilian serial killer, also known as “Pedrinho Matador” or Killer Petey.
He has claimed to have killed over 100 victims, 47 of the inmates. He also killed his father and ate a piece of his heart. He killed his first two victims at the age of 14; he was first arrested in 1973.
He was arrested in 1973, and in 2003 he was convicted of murdering at least 71 people and sentenced to 128 years in prison. However, he was released in 2007, and his latest whereabouts are unknown.
Besides the number of killings, Filho became notorious in Brazil for promising the murder of other criminals, such as Francisco de Assis Pereira, a.k.a. The Park Maniac, another serial killer.
3. Daniel Camargo Barbosa (Colombian Serial Killer)
Daniel Camargo Barbosa was a Colombian serial killer. It is believed that he raped and killed up to 150 young virgin girls, in Colombia and Ecuador during the 1970s and 1980s.
Confessed to killing 72 victims, he strangled young girls in Colombia, He was first arrested in 1974, and then in 1984, but he managed to escaped from prison and then started killing in Ecuador.
He was re-apprehended in 1986 and was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, the maximum sentence available in Ecuador.
In November 1994, he was murdered in prison by Geovanny Noguera ( another prolific serial rapist and later a serial killer who is also active in Colombia and Ecuador).
2. Pedro López (Colombian Serial Killer)
Pedro López was known infamously as Child-murderer and rapist in Colombia, along with his nickname as “The Monster of the Andes”.
He was one of the most prolific serial killers of the 20th century. He was responsible for the killing of 80 young girls, but he also claims to have raped and killed more than 300 girls across his native country, then Peru and Ecuador, and possibly other countries.
He was apprehended multiple times but was released subsequently in the (Ecuador); after 14 years; and then sent to the psychiatric hospital (Colombia); but was released in 1998 for good behaviour, after initially being found insane.
His whereabouts are currently unknown.
1. Luis Garavito (Colombian Serial Killer and Rapist)
Luis Garavito, also known as La Bestia, is a Colombian rapist and serial killer. In 1999, he admitted to the rape, torture, and murder of 147 young boys.
He confessed to killing 147 boys between 8 and 16 years old over a seven-year period in Colombia, Ecuador and neighbouring countries.
He is widely suspected of murdering over 300 victims, mostly street children and was described by local media as “the world’s worst serial killer”.
Luis Garavito is currently serving his sentence in a Colombian prison, the exact location of which is unavailable to the public.
He was initially sentenced to 22 years in prison on April 22, 1999, and was scheduled to be released in the year 2021. However, Colombia law also states that those who have committed crimes against children do not receive any benefit with justice.
Therefore, he might end up staying in jail as high as 80 years (according to some reports).