Horror movies distract us from the fact that real life can be much, much more terrifying. There are many real life murderers who are in fact quite a bit more over-the-top than even the cheesiest B-movie bad guys. Ted Bundy once said, “Sometimes I feel like a vampire.” He looked like a human, he talked like a human, but under that skin was a monster. Read more below for some of the worlds most notorious, bizarre and brutal serial killers. Let us know what you think in the comments box provided below!
Born on August 27th 1906, Ed Gein is the man that influenced the creation of several fictional killers in horror. Characters include Norman Bates from the movie and novel Psycho, Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Jame Gumb (Buffalo Bill) from the novel The Silence of the Lambs. As well as Bloody Face of the series American Horror Story: Asylum and Ezra Cobb from the film Deranged.
Gein deeply loved his mother, Augusta, who used to preach to her boys about the innate immorality of the world, the evil of drinking, and the belief that all women (except herself) were all prostitutes and instruments of the devil. Augusta would reserve time every afternoon to read to her boys from the Bible, usually selecting graphic verses from the Old Testament concerning death, murder, and divine retribution.
While Gein was devoted to making his domineering mother happy, Augusta was rarely pleased with her boys, believing that they were destined to become failures and alcoholics just like their father. In their teenage years and early adulthood, Henry, Ed’s older brother and Ed remained detached from people outside of their farmstead, only having each other for company.
Henry died in 1944 from asphyxiation with Augusta suffering a paralyzing stroke shortly after his death, prompting Gein to dedicating himself to taking care of her. She suffered a second stroke soon after, and her health deteriorated rapidly. She died in 1945, at the age of 67. It is said that the death of his beloved mother is the event that prompted Ed Gein to begin his devilish shenanigans.
In 1957, the police had been given a tip off and suspicion to believe Ed had something to do with the disappearance of a local woman Bernice Worden. Upon searching his home they found a number of grizzly discoveries including; A lampshade made from the skin of a human face as well as another nine masks of human skin. Whole human bones and fragments, nine vulvae in shoe box, a belt made from female nipples and Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack, just to name a few.
When questioned by authorities, Gein told investigators that he had made as many as 40 nocturnal visits to three local graveyards to exhume recently buried bodies while he was in a “daze-like” state. On about 30 of those visits, he said he came out of the daze while in the cemetery, left the grave in good order, and returned home empty handed. On the other occasions, he dug up the graves of recently buried middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother and took the bodies home, tanning their skins to make his paraphernalia.
Ed Gein was declared unfit to stand trial when being prosecuted and was sent to a mental hospital. He was later successfully tried and convicted but due to prohibitive costs, was tried for only one murder—that of Mrs. Worden. He was declared legally insane and spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital.
On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory failure due to lung cancer at the age of 77 in Stovall Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His gravestone was frequently vandalized over the years, with souvenir seekers chipping off pieces before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was then recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is now in storage at the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department.
One of the most notorious serial killers in the US history, Ted Bundy is famous for all the wrong reasons.
Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy (real name Theodore Robert Cowell) was born illegitimately on the 24th November 1946 to Eleanor Louise Cowell (known for most of her life as Louise). To avoid social stigma at the time, Bundy’s maternal grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, claimed him as their son.
Family, friends, and even Ted from a young age were told that his mother was his older sister. Eventually Bundy discovered the truth, though exactly how and when is not absolutely clear. It was first thought that a cousin showed him a copy of his birth certificate after calling him a “bastard”, but he told biographers Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth that he found the certificate himself. Biographer and true crime writer Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally, believes that he tracked down his original birth record in Vermont in 196. Bunday had expressed a lifelong resentment toward his mother for lying about his true parentage and leaving him to discover it for himself.
Bundy spoke warmly of his grandparents in some interviews, describing his grandmother, Eleanor, as a timid and obedient woman who periodically underwent electroconvulsive therapy for depression. He told Ann Rule that while he respected his grandfather, it was also said by Bunday and other family members that Samuel Cowell was a tyrannical bully and a bigot who hated blacks, Italians, Catholics and Jews. It was said that he used to beat his poor wife and the family dog, also swinging neighborhood cats around by their tails.
Young Ted was known to torture animals, was obsessed with knives, and engaged in voyeurism. Years later, while on Florida’s death row, Bundy would describe a part of himself that, from a young age, was fascinated by images of sex and violence. In early prison interviews, Bundy called this part of himself “the entity”. While still in his teens, Bundy would look through libraries for detective magazines and books on crime, focusing on sources that described sexual violence and featured pictures of dead bodies and violent sexuality. Before he was even out of high school, Bundy was a compulsive thief, a shoplifter, and on his way to becoming an amateur criminal.
Ted was regarded as handsome and charming and he would exploit these traits with young women. He would typically approach them in public places, feigning injury by wearing a sling or a cast. Sometimes he would pretend to be a public official like a fireman or a policeman before overpowering and assaulting them at more secluded locations. He sometimes revisited his secondary crime scenes for hours at a time, grooming and performing sexual acts with the decomposing corpses until putrefaction and destruction by wild animals made further interaction impossible. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims, and kept some of the severed heads in his apartment for a period of time as mementos. On a few occasions he simply broke into dwellings at night and bludgeoned his victims as they slept.
Initially incarcerated in Utah in 1975 for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault, Bundy became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in multiple states. Facing murder charges in Colorado, he engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in Florida in 1978. He received three death sentences in two separate trials for the Florida homicides.
Ted Bundy died in the electric chair at Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida, on January 24, 1989. Biographer Ann Rule described him as “a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human’s pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after.” He once called himself; “The most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet” and Attorney Polly Nelson, a member of his last defense team, agreed, “Ted”, she wrote, “was the very definition of heartless evil.”
HENRY LEE LUCAS & OTTIS TOOLE-
Henry Lee Lucas was born on August 23, 1936 in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Both his parents were alcoholics, introducing Henry to alcohol at a young age. Henry’s mother, Viola Lucas, was a prostitute and ruled the household, a one-room log cabin, dishing out abuse not only to her children but regularly to her husband, Anderson Lucas. Anderson was a former railroad employee who had lost both of his legs.
Henry was the youngest of nine children and when he was just eight years old he was beaten by Viola on the head with a wooden plank so hard that he spent three days in a coma. There was also an incident where Henry was given a mule as a gift from his father friend only to see his mother shoot and kill it, just out of spite. A horrible woman and mother, Viola would also make Lucas watch her have sex with her lover, “Uncle Bernie”, and a number of strange men and dress him up in girls clothing.
When Lucas was ten years old, he suffered an accidental injury to his left eye during a fight with his brother. The injury was ignored by Viola for days until it was infected so badly that the eye had to be removed and replaced with a glass eye. By then, Henry was already almost alcohol dependent and his older half-brother and Uncle Bernie had introduced him to bestiality (sex with animals) and animal torture.
In 1949, Henry’s father Anderson Lucas passed away from hypothermia after passing out drunk in a blizzard. Shortly after this, aged nearly 15, Lucas committed his first murder. By his own less-than-reliable account due to continually retracting his statements in later time, Lucas abducting an unknown teenage girl from a bus stop. He beat her unconscious before raping and strangling her to death. He said the reason he murdered this teenage girl was to see what it was like to have sex with a human. The next year, Lucas received his first prison sentence when he and two of his half-brothers were arrested for burglary. He spent a year at a school for juvenile delinquents in Beaumont, which with its electricity and running water was luxurious to Henry compared to the cabin he lived in.
In June 1954, he was sentenced to six years’ incarceration for a dozen counts of burglary and was released on September 2, 1959, after two failed escape attempts. He moved to his sister’s place in Tecumseh, Michigan, but his mother Viola soon got back in touch. When she wanted him to come back to take care of her. T`hey got into an argument that resulted in her death when he stabbed her in the neck, causing her to have a fatal heart attack. Though he claimed self-defense, he was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison, serving just ten years.
As soon as he was released, he got another three and a half years for trying to kidnap two girls. Released yet again, he moved to Pennsylvania and got married in 1975, but abandoned his wife when she accused him of molesting her daughters. That’s when the one-eyed killer started to travel and in 1976, met Ottis Toole, a fellow sexual deviant from Jacksonville, Florida.
Ottis Toole was born in 1947 and came from a background similar to that of Lucas. His mother was an abusive religious fanatic. He claimed that he had been sexually abused by his own family and that his grandmother had been a Satanist. He had an estimated IQ of only 75 and was also diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. He frequently ran away and was a serial arsonist at a young age, being a pyromaniac. He knew he was gay at the age of 10 and often supported himself through prostitution.
The two struck up a friendship and Lucas moved into Ottis’ home in Jacksonville, where he fell in love with Lucas’ 10-year-old niece, Frieda “Becky” Powell.
From 1979 to 1981, Lucas and Toole worked together at a roofing company (some sources claim they were in a homosexual relationship). Lucas later claimed to have committed hundreds of murders during that time, 108 of which were committed together with Toole. Sometimes the murders were on the orders of a satanic, cannibalistic cult called “The Hands of Death”. Lucas claimed that Toole’s preferred M.O. in these killings was to crucify his victims, then barbecue and eat them (though none of the known murders Toole confessed to were committed that way). Lucas claimed that he never took part in those acts himself because he didn’t like barbecue sauce.
Shortly after both Lucas, Toole and Becky moved to Stoneburg, Texas, Becky had become smitten and sexually active with Lucas, but started feeling homesick. Lucas agreed to move back to Florida with her and they ran away together. Ottis was left behind and, he later claimed, became so enraged that he spent a little over a year killing a total of nine people in six different states. Toole received two death sentences but on appeal they were commuted to life in prison. He died in his cell from liver disease on September 15th, 1996.
Shortly after his arrest, Lucas confessed to having killed 60 people, a number he raised to 100 while in court. Outside of court he claimed to have committed up to thousands of murders, although he later recanted the confessions. He received a death sentence for the murder of an unidentified woman in Texas, but the penalty was commuted to life imprisonment on the basis of evidence that he was likely in Florida on the date of that murder.
Even though Henry had confessed to murdering hundreds of people, no proof existed beyond three known victims. Lucas died in a Texas prison from natural causes on March 12, 2001.
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Lionel and Joyce Dahmer.
From most accounts Dahmer was a happy child who enjoyed typical toddler activities. It was not until the age of six, after undergoing hernia surgery, that his personality began to change from a jubilant social child to a loner who was uncommunicative and withdrawn. He showed little to no interest in hobbies or any social interaction around the ages of 10 to 15, but a fascination with dead animals. He began drinking in high school which escalated so much his father made him enlist in the army, but he was kicked out within two years due to alcoholism.
Dahmer committed his first murder in the summer of 1978, at the age of 18, just three weeks after his graduation. At the time, he was living alone in the family home due to his parents’ recent divorce. His father temporarily lived in a nearby motel while his mother relocated to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin with his younger brother.
On June 18, Dahmer picked up an 18-year-old male hitchhiker named Steven Hicks, and lured the youth to his house on the pretext of the pair drinking alcohol together. After several hours of drinking and listening to music, Hicks informed Dahmer he wanted to leave, but Jeffrey didn’t want him to, so in response, Dahmer bludgeoned Steven with a 10kg dumbbell. Dahmer later stated he struck Steven twice from behind with the dumbbell as the young male sat upon a chair. When Hicks fell unconscious, Dahmer strangled the youth to death with the bar of the dumbbell, then stripped the clothes from his body before masturbating as he stood above the corpse.
When Dahmer moved in with his grandmother she began finding disturbing things in her home, including a .357 magnum under his bed and a male mannequin in his closet. He continued his fascination with dead animals, dissecting dead squirrels in the basement and dissolving them with chemicals. This strange behavior led his grandmother to ask him to move out.
Nine years passed before he killed again since Hicks, and it was with Steven Tuomi, September of 1987. Dahmer picked him up from a bar and later killed him on impulse. He stated that he had no memory of committing that crime. The killings occurred sporadically after Tuomi, with two in 1988 and one in 1989. He usually picked up his victims at gay bars and had sex with them before killing them.
In 1991, a boy was discovered wandering the streets drugged and confused, he was 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone and the women that found him called 911. Dahmer chased after his victim and stated to the police that he was his 19-year-old boyfriend and that he was just intoxicated. When police left Sinthasomphone with Dahmer, he took him back to his apartment and again injected muriatic acid into Sinthasomphone’s brain, and this proved fatal. His head was retained in the freezer and his body dismembered.
He began killing around one person each week by the summer of 1991. Dahmer had an idea that he could turn his victims into “zombies” to have youthful submissive sexual partners. He used many different techniques, such as drilling holes into their skull and injecting hydrochloric acid or boiling water into their brains.
On the day of his arrest, Dahmer had attempted to lure Tracy Edwards into his home. During a struggle within the apartment Edwards was able to get free and escape out into the streets where he flagged down a police car. Edwards alerted them to the knife that was in Dahmer’s bedroom and upon entering, pictures of dead bodies and dismembered limbs strewn around allowed the officers to arrest Dahmer. Further investigation of the home lead to a severed head in the refrigerator, three more severed heads within the apartment, multiple photographs of victims and more human remains in his refrigerator.
It was later assumed that he practiced necrophilia and cannibalism. A total of seven skulls were found in his apartment as well as a human heart in the freezer. An attempted alter was also constructed with candles and human skulls in his closet.
After being indicted on 17 murder charges the court declared him sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder. He was sentenced to 15 life terms, for a total of 957 years in prison. Following sentencing, Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions and wished for his own death. He was beaten to death on November 28, 1994 by an inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution, where he had been incarcerated.