There are many real life murderers who are more terrifying than the most notorious horror movie characters many of us have come to know and love. Read more below following on from our previous posts of some of the worlds most notorious, bizarre and brutal serial killers. Let us know what you think in the comments box provided below!
FRED AND ROSE WEST-
Fredrick and Rosemary West were an English married couple who killed young British girls, some of them even their own daughters.
Fred West was born in Herefordshire, England, on the 29th September 1941. He was the second of six children and by Fred’s own account, sexual abuse was common within the household. His father sexually abused his own daughters and taught him bestiality. It has been said that Fred’s mother began sexually abusing him when he was 12, but these claims have never been confirmed by Fred himself and regardless of that Fred was very close to his mother.
While married to Catherine “Rena” Costello, 27 year old West met his next wife, Rosemary Letts, on the 29th November 1968, on Rosemary’s 15th birthday. On her 16th birthday she moved in with him and a few months later they moved from the caravan to a two-storey house in Midland Road, Gloucester.
Rosemary Letts was born in Devon, England on the 29th November 1953. Her household was troubled and abusive and her father, Bill Letts, was a schizophrenic who constantly disciplined her, her siblings and their mother, Daisy. While Daisy had been pregnant with Rosemary, she had received electroconvulsive therapy as treatment for her severe depression. Rosemary was sexually abused by her father growing up and when she was a teenager, became more sexually active. Rose was even caught getting into bed with one of her younger brothers and sexually fondling him. When Rosemary was 15, her mother finally had enough of her husband’s abuse, took Rosemary and moved in with one of her adult daughters and her husband. Later that same year, Rosemary, surprisingly, moved back in with her father. Not long afterwards, she met Fred West, who was 12 years her senior.
While Fred did several stints in jail for thefts and failures to pay his fines for past offenses, Rosemary became pregnant with his child, a girl they named Heather. Rose also took care of Fred’s children from his previous marriage on her own. Because of her temper problems and her resentment about caring for children who weren’t hers, she often treated her stepdaughters badly.
In the summer of 1971, Rosemary apparently lost it completely and killed her stepdaughter Charmaine. After severing her fingers and toes, Fred buried her body under their kitchen floor. In August of 1971, the mother Rena Costello mysteriously disappeared when she came looking for Charmaine.
When Fred and Rose married on January 29th, 1972, Fred encouraged Rosemary to have sex with other men, both for money and for fun, and often watched her through a peephole. He also took erotic photos of her and posted them in swinger magazines as ads for prostitution.
In June of 1972, they had another daughter together, Mae West. In order to make room for their expanding family and Rosemary’s business, they moved to 25 Cromwell Street, where they carried out their rapes and murders. Rosemary continued working as a prostitute from their home in a room fitted with peepholes for Fred to use and a red light outside that would be lit to tell the children not to enter. Over the following years, she gave birth to seven more children, of which three were fathered by Fred. Another may have been conceived by Rosemary and her own father, who kept engaging in incest with her even after she gave birth to her fourth child. The other three, who were of mixed race, were fathered by her clients.
In October of 1972, Fred and Rosemary hired a young woman named Caroline Owens to work for them as a nanny for their children. They kept making sexual advances on her, but she declined every time. One night in December, after they both unsuccessfully tried to seduce her, she tried to leave only to be held captive overnight. When Fred threatened to let some of his friends “have” her and that he would then kill her, she complied. The next day, she was released. Though she pressed charges, Fred was able to convince the court that the acts she was forced into had been consensual, so he and Rosemary were instead only fined £50 for indecent assault. Over the next six years, they killed at least eight young women who made their way to 25 Cromwell Street as lodgers or employees, together. It’s unknown if the Wests killed more over the following years, if they did, which is not improbable, the bodies weren’t buried on their property. Some of the girls are known to have been abducted, raped, and then released.
While committing murders, Fred also sexually abused Anne Marie West, his daughter from his relationship with Rena Costello. She eventually became pregnant, but the pregnancy had to be terminated because it occurred in her fallopian tube. When she left home, he started abusing Heather West, who was conceived by Rosemary and possibly her own father, and one of his own daughters, Mae West. The couple came close to being exposed in 1986, when Heather told her friends about the abuse she suffered. In June of the next year, Fred and Rosemary strangled her to death to silence her. She was then dismembered and buried in the garden. The Wests were finally exposed in May of 1992, when Fred videotaped himself raping one of his daughters. When she told her friends, one of them reported the Wests to the police.
The pair were finally apprehended and charged in 1994. Fred West committed suicide before going to trial, while Rose West was jailed for life, in November 1995, after having been found guilty of 10 counts of murder.
Their house at Cromwell Street was demolished in 1996 and the space converted into a landscaped footpath, connecting Cromwell Street to St. Michael’s Square.
JOHN WAYNE GACY-
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 17th 1942. He was the second of three children born to John Stanley Gacy and Marion Elaine Robinson, and was of Polish and Danish heritage. He was close to his two sisters and mother, but endured a difficult relationship with his father, an alcoholic who was physically abusive toward his wife and children.
At the age of nine, Gacy was molested by a family friend, a contractor who would take Gacy for rides in his truck and fondle him. Gacy never told his father about these incidents as he was afraid his father would blame him.
When he was 20, in 1962 he found work within the ambulance service before he was transferred to work as a mortuary attendant in Las Vegas, Nevada. In this role, he observed morticians embalming dead bodies and later confessed to the fact that on one evening while alone, he had clambered into the coffin of a deceased teenage male, embracing and caressing the body before experiencing a sense of shock. The sense of shock prompted Gacy to drive back to live with his family in Chicago.
In August 1967, Gacy committed his first known sexual assault upon a teenage boy. The youth was a 15-year-old named Donald Voorhees. Gacy lured the youth to his house upon the promise of showing Voorhees pornographic films. Plying Voorhees with alcohol, Gacy persuaded the youth to perform oral sex upon him. Several other youths were sexually abused over the following months, including one whom Gacy encouraged to sleep with his wife before blackmailing the youth into performing oral sex upon him. Several teenagers were tricked into believing Gacy was commissioned with carrying out homosexual experiments in the interests of “scientific research,” for which the youths were each paid up to $50.
In March 1968, Donald Voorhees reported to his father that Gacy had sexually assaulted him. Voorhees Snr. immediately informed the police and Gacy was arrested and subsequently charged with oral sodomy in relation to Voorhees and the attempted assault of a 16-year-old named Edward Lynch. Gacy vehemently denied the charges and demanded to take a polygraph test but the results indicated Gacy was lying when he denied any wrongdoing in relation to either Voorhees or Lynch.
Upon advice from his attorney, Gacy entered a plea of guilty to one count of sodomy in relation to the charges filed against him by Donald Voorhees, pleading not guilty to the other charges lodged against him. Despite his lawyers’ recommendations for parole and Gacy’s pleas, Gacy was convicted of sodomy on December 3rd, 1968, and sentenced to 10 years at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Gacy’s wife divorced him and he never saw his first wife or children again.
Gacy was granted parole with 12 months’ probation on June 18th, 1970, after serving just 18 months of his 10-year sentence. Two of the conditions of his probation were that Gacy would relocate to Chicago to live with his mother and that he was to observe a 10p.m. curfew.
Gacy soon became aware of a “Jolly Joker” clown club whose members, dressed as clowns, and would regularly perform at fundraising events and parades in addition to voluntarily entertaining hospitalized children. By late 1975, Gacy had joined the Jolly Jokers and had created his own performance character, “Pogo the Clown.” Gacy designed his own costumes and taught himself how to apply clown makeup.
On January 2nd, 1972, Gacy picked up 15-year-old Timothy Jack McCoy from Chicago’s Greyhound bus terminal with the promise that he could spend the night and be driven back to the station in time to catch his bus in the morning. Gacy later said that he awoke the following morning to find McCoy standing in his bedroom doorway with a kitchen knife in his hand. After McCoy tried to surrender, Gacy twisted the knife from McCoy’s wrist, banged his head against his bedroom wall and grabbed the youth, wrestling him to the floor. He then stabbed him repeatedly in the chest as he straddled him with his body. Gacy subsequently buried McCoy in his crawl space and later covered the youth’s grave with a layer of concrete.
In an interview after his arrest, Gacy stated that immediately after killing McCoy, he felt “totally drained”, yet noted that he had experienced orgasm as he killed the youth. In this 1980’s interview, he added: “That’s when I realized that death was the ultimate thrill.”
After suspicion and tip offs following a number of murders and disappearances the police soon started to visit Gacy regularly. After one police officer noticed a smell that can only be described as rotting flesh coming from a heating duct, a full search of Gacys house was warranted. After being informed that police had found human remains in his crawl space and that he would now face murder charges, Gacy told officers he wanted to “clear the air,” adding that he knew his arrest was inevitable since he had spent the previous evening on the couch in his lawyers’ office.
In the early hours of December 22nd, 1978, Gacy confessed to police that since 1972, he had committed approximately 25 to 30 murders, all of whom he falsely claimed were teenage male runaways or male prostitutes. He would lure the victims by force or conned into believing Gacy was a police officer. Once back at Gacy’s house, the victims would be handcuffed or otherwise bound, then choked with a rope or a board as they were sexually assaulted. Gacy would often stick clothing in the victims’ mouths to muffle their screams. Many of his victims had been strangled with a tourniquet, which Gacy referred to as his “rope trick.” Occasionally, the victim had convulsed for an “hour or two” after the rope trick before dying.
Most victims were buried in Gacy’s crawl space where, periodically, he would pour quicklime to hasten the decomposition of the bodies. Gacy stated he had lost count of the number of victims buried in his crawl space and had initially considered stowing bodies in his attic before opting to dispose of his victims off the I-55 bridge into the Des Plaines River. Thus the final five victims—all killed in 1978—were disposed of in this manner because his crawl space was full.
John Gacy was brought to trial on February 6th, 1980, charged with 33 murders.
After an extensive trial the jury deliberated for more than two hours before they returned with their verdict: Gacy was sentenced to death for the twelve counts of murder upon which the prosecution had sought this penalty. An initial date of execution was set for June 2nd, 1980.
Upon being sentenced, Gacy was transferred to the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois, where he was to remain incarcerated on death row for 14 years.
On the morning of May 9th, 1994, Gacy was transferred from the Menard Correctional Center to Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill to be executed. That afternoon, he was allowed a private picnic on the prison grounds with his family and that evening, he observed prayer with a Catholic priest before being escorted to the Stateville execution chamber to receive a lethal injection.
Harold Fredrick Shipman, born January 14th 1946, Nottingham, was a doctor by profession and a convicted English serial killer.
Harold was the second to four children and his working class parents were devout Methodists. Shipman was particularly close to his mother, who died of cancer when he was 17.
Shipman received a scholarship to medical school, and graduated from Leeds School of Medicine in 1970. In 1974 he took his first position as a general practitioner (GP) at the Abraham Ormerod Medical Centre in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.
In 1975 he was caught forging prescriptions of pethidine for his own use and was fined £600, briefly attending a drug rehabilitation clinic in York. After temporary work as a medical officer he became a GP at the Donneybrook Medical Centre in Hyde, Greater Manchester, in 1977.
Shipman continued working as a GP in Hyde throughout the 1980’s and founded his own surgery on Market Street in 1993, becoming a respected member of the community.
In March 1998, Dr. Linda Reynolds of the Brooke Surgery in Hyde expressed concerns to John Pollard, the coroner for the South Manchester District, about the high death rate among Shipman’s patients. In particular, she was concerned about the large number of cremation forms for elderly women and suspected Shipman was, either through negligence or intent, killing his patients.
The matter was brought to the attention of the police, who were unable to find sufficient evidence to bring charges. Between 17th April 1998, when the police abandoned the investigation, and Shipman’s eventual arrest, he killed three more people. His last victim was Kathleen Grundy, a former ceremonial Mayor of Hyde, who was found dead at her home on 24th June 1998. Shipman was the last person to see her alive, and later signed her death certificate, recording “old age” as cause of death.
Grundy’s daughter, lawyer Angela Woodruff, became concerned when solicitor Brian Burgess informed her that a will had been made, apparently by her mother, although there were doubts about its authenticity. The will excluded her and her children, but left £386,000 to Shipman. Burgess told Woodruff to report it, and went to the police, who began an investigation. Grundy’s body was exhumed, and when examined found to contain traces of diamorphine, often used for pain control in terminal cancer patients. Shipman was arrested on 7th September 1998, and was found to own a typewriter of the type used to make the forged will.
The police then investigated other deaths Shipman had certified, and created a list of 15 specimen cases to investigate. They discovered a pattern of his administering lethal overdoses of diamorphine, signing patients’ death certificates, and then forging medical records indicating they had been in poor health.
On 31st January 2000, after six days of deliberation, the jury found Shipman guilty of killing 15 patients by lethal injections of diamorphine, and forging the will of Kathleen Grundy. The trial judge sentenced him to 15 consecutive life sentences and recommended that he never be released.
Shipman consistently denied his guilt, disputing the scientific evidence against him. He never made any statements about his actions. His defense tried, but failed, to have the count of murder of Mrs Grundy, where a clear motive was alleged, tried separately from the others, where no obvious motive was apparent. Shipman’s wife Primrose was apparently in denial about his crimes as well.
The Shipman Inquiry concluded Shipman was probably responsible for about 250 deaths and also suggested that he liked to use drugs recreationally.
Despite the prosecutions of Dr John Bodkin Adams in 1957, Dr Leonard Arthur in 1981, and Dr Thomas Lodwig in 1990, Shipman is the only doctor in British legal history to be found guilty of killing his patients.
On 11th February 2000, ten days after his conviction, the General Medical Council formally struck Shipman off its register and on the 13th January 2004, Shipman committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield prison in West Yorkshire.
Dennis Andrew Nilsen was born on the 23rd November 1945 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
The second of three children born to Elizabeth Duthie Whyte, and Olav Magnus Moksheim (who had adopted the surname Nilsen), Nilsen was of Scottish and Norwegian heritage. Nilsen was a quiet, yet adventurous child and has described his childhood as being of contentment, and his grandfather, Andrew Whyte, being his “great hero and protector”. By 1951, Nilsen’s grandfather’s health was in decline and on 31st October 1951, while fishing in the North Sea, Andrew died of a heart attack. His body was brought ashore, subjected to an autopsy and returned to the Nilsen family home prior to burial.
In the years following the death of his grandfather, Nilsen became more quiet and reserved. Nilsen’s mother noted her son would actively repel any attempts by family members to demonstrate their affection towards him.
At the onset of puberty, Nilsen discovered he was homosexual, which initially both confused and ashamed him, not divulging this information to his family or few friends, keeping his sexuality a secret. He made no efforts to seek sexual contact with any of the peers to whom he was sexually attracted, although on one occasion, he did kiss and caress the body of his older brother as he slept.
After stints in the army and moving to London to serve as a police constable, Nilsen began to drink alone in the evenings; becoming familiar with homosexual pubs and engaging in several casual liaisons with men throughout the summer and autumn of 1973. Following a failed attempt to form a lasting relationship with one man whom he had met in August, Nilsen became even more promiscuous in his sex life. He also came to the conclusion his personal lifestyle was at odds with his professional life. He resigned from the Metropolitan Police on 9th December, 1973, after eight months’ service.
In November 1975, Nilsen encountered a 20-year-old named David Gallichan being threatened outside a pub by two other men. Nilsen intervened in the altercation and took the youth to the room in which he then lodged at Teignmouth Road in the Cricklewood district of London. The two men spent the evening drinking and talking, with Nilsen learning that Gallichan had recently moved to London from Weston-super-Mare, was homosexual, unemployed and resided in a hostel. The following morning, both men agreed to reside together in a larger residence.
Within a year of both men moving to Melrose Avenue, the superficial relationship between Nilsen and Gallichan began to strain: both men slept in separate beds, and both began to bring home casual sexual partners. Although Gallichan insisted Nilsen had never been violent towards him, he was regularly berated by Nilsen, and by the spring of 1976, the pair began arguing with increasing frequency. Nilsen later stated that, following a heated argument in May 1977, he had demanded Gallichan leave the residence.
Throughout 1978, Nilsen spent most evenings would be spent consuming spirits and/or lager as he listened to music.
Between 1978 and 1983, Nilsen is known to have killed 15 men and boys, and to have attempted to kill seven others. The majority of Nilsen’s victims were homeless or homosexual men, although others were heterosexual individuals whom he would typically meet in bars, on public transport, or—on one occasion—outside his own home. All of Nilsen’s murders were committed inside the North London addresses where he alternately resided in the years he is known to have killed. His victims would be lured to these addresses through the offer of alcohol and/or shelter.
Inside Nilsen’s home, the victims were usually given food and alcohol, then strangled with a ligature either to death or until they had become unconscious. If the victim had been strangled into unconsciousness, Nilsen would then drown the victim in his bathtub, his sink, or a bucket of water, before observing a ritual in which he would bathe, clothe and retain the victims. All the bodies of the victims killed at Melrose Avenue would be dismembered after several weeks or months of internment beneath the floorboards. Nilsen recalled that the putrefaction of these victims’ bodies would make this task exceedingly vile; he recalled having to fortify his nerves with whisky, and his having to grab handfuls of salt with which to brush aside maggots from the remains. Often, he would vomit as he dissected the bodies, before wrapping the dismembered limbs inside plastic bags before carrying the remains to the bonfires.
Although Nilsen admitted to masturbating as he viewed the nude bodies of several of his victims, and to have engaged in sexual acts with six of his victims’ bodies, he was adamant he had never penetrated any of them.
Nilsen’s murders were finally discovered due to tenants’ complaints of blocked drains at 23 Cranley Gardens on 8th February, 1983. After investigation, three officers followed Nilsen into his flat where they immediately noted the odour of rotting flesh. As Nilsen queried further as to why the police would be interested in his drains, he was informed the blockage had been caused by human remains. Nilsen feigned shock and bewilderment, stating, “Good grief, how awful!” In response, one of the policeman replied: “Don’t mess about, where’s the rest of the body?” Nilsen responded calmly, admitting that the remainder of the body could be found in two plastic bags in a nearby wardrobe, from which DCI Jay and his colleagues noted the overpowering smell of decomposition emanated.
The officers did not open the cupboard, but asked Nilsen if there were any other body parts to be found, to which Nilsen replied: “It’s a long story; it goes back a long time. I’ll tell you everything. I want to get it off my chest. Not here—at the police station.” He was then arrested and cautioned on suspicion of murder, before being taken to Hornsey Police Station.
Convicted of six counts of murder and two of attempted murder at the Old Bailey, Nilsen was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 25 years’ imprisonment, on 4th November, 1983. He is currently incarcerated at the HMP Full Sutton maximum security prison in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.
Nilsen became known in the press as the Muswell Hill Murderer as his later murders, which led to his detection, were committed in the Muswell Hill district of North London. He also became known as the Kindly Killer due to his own belief that his method of murder was the most humane.
Nilsen has been described as the “British Jeffrey Dahmer”.
Which serial killer(s) do you find most terrifying from the above?