Mass murderers, mad scientists, cannibals. There are a lot of creeps out there, and the creepiest thing about them is they can seem just like you and me. Let’s take a look at them—but please, be careful: some of these people are still out there.
22. Demon Summoner
Gilles des Rais was a 15th century French nobleman and a lieutenant of Joan of Arc. He also abused, murdered, and mutilated as many as 150 children, and was even said to participate in a demon summoning.
21. Cannibal King
In France in 1981, Issei Sagawa killed and then subsequently ate his classmate from the Sorbonne, Renée Hartevelt. Sagawa claimed he wanted to absorb her energy, and had been suffering from cannibalistic fantasies since he was a child. In 1986, Sagawa checked himself out of the hospital where he had been committed. He became a minor celebrity in his native Japan, and even wrote restaurant reviews after his release.
20. Male Seeking Male
In 2001, Bernd Brandes placed an online ad looking for someone to cook and eat him. As one does. Over the course of two days, Armin Meiwes, who responded to the ad, cut off and cooked parts of Brandes’ body for the two men to eat. Meiwes then killed Brandes. According to Meiwes, the “Master Butcher,” the flesh “taste[d] like pork but stronger.”
19. The Angel of Death
Josef Mengele is notorious for the nightmarish experiments he performed as Hitler’s top scientist at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Following the war, Mengele fled to Argentina where, under an assumed name, he occasionally practiced medicine without a license.
18. Discomfort Food
Nathaniel Bar-Jonah had been in and out of prison most of his adult life for attacks on young boys. Bar-Jonah was living in Montana when 10-year-old Zachary Ramsay went missing. Police began investigating Bar-Jonah and found notebooks filled with recipes titled “Little Boy Pot Pie” and “French Fried Kid.” Police fear Ramsay’s flesh may have even been fed to unsuspecting neighbours at a barbecue.
17. The Devil in the White City
Often referred to as “the Beast of Chicago,” H.H. Holmes was a conman who built a hotel in the city around the time of the World’s Fair in 1893. He used a variety of contractors to fill the hotel with secret passageways and false doors. It was in this “Murder Castle” that Holmes would kill his guests. Erik Larson’s book The Devil in the White City follows Holmes’s crimes.
16. False Imprisonment
For 24 years, Josef Fritzl imprisoned his own daughter, Elisabeth, in a dungeon beneath his house. Over the years, he fathered more than a half-dozen children with her. It was only after one of the children fell ill, and Fritzl allowed her to go to the hospital, that the imprisonment finally came to light.
15. Eternal Love
Carl Tanzler, a radiologist, was infatuated with his patient, Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos. There was just one problem: Elena was dying of tuberculosis. Two years after Elena died, Tanzler dug up her corpse and, with the help of wax, wires, and glass eyes, “restored” Elena’s thoroughly decayed body. It was seven years before anyone discovered Tanzler’s ghoulish act, during which time he periodically did some cosmetic upkeep and covered the stench with a myriad of oils and perfumes. That’s true love.
14. The Monster of the Andes
After a deeply traumatic childhood that saw him abused, abandoned, and eventually incarcerated, Pedro Alonso Lopez spent his adulthood trying to force that same pain on others. For over a decade, Lopez preyed on young girls, sometimes killing as many as three a week. As of 2017, his exact whereabouts (though he is likely in prison) are unknown.
13. You’re so Vain
Luka Magnotta seemed desperate to be famous: he had acted in adult films, and auditioned for several reality shows. Fame finally came for Magnotta after he killed and dismembered Lin Jun, sending his victim’s hands and feet to elementary schools and political parties alike. In June 2012, he was nabbed at an Internet cafe—he had been reading news about himself.
12. Dr. Kitty
Jingyi Wang performed plastic surgery out of her Toronto basement under the name “Dr. Kitty.” Needless to say, the 19-year-old was in no way qualified or licensed to perform these operations. She was arrested following a complaint by a “patient” of Dr. Kitty; the patient’s botched surgery had led to a massive infection.
11. Big Ed
At 6’9” and weighing over 250 pounds, Ed Kemper seemed like a gentle giant. He was friendly, self-effacing, intelligent, and well-spoken. Inside, however, lurked a violent misogynist. Kemper killed 10 people—including his own mother and his grandparents. Kemper has been frank about the murders, and has declined opportunities for parole. He even asked for the death sentence at his trial.
10. The Silent Twins
Jennifer and June Gibbons were unusually close, even for twins: they spoke in a secret language, mirrored each other’s movements, and after an arson spree, the two were incarcerated at England’s Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital. It was here that the twins explained to a psychiatrist that they agreed one of them would have to die so the other could live a more normal life. Not long after, Jennifer died of perfectly natural causes.
9. You Think Norman Bates Is Scary
Raised by an alcoholic father and a religious zealot mother on an isolated farm in Wisconsin, murderer/graverobber (great credentials) Ed Gein embodies a standard horror movie-trope. In fact, his horrific crimes were the inspiration behind Norman Bates, Leatherface, and dozens of other movie monsters since.
8. Cat Killer
Since 2015, someone has mutilated more than 250 cats and foxes in and around London’s Croydon neighbourhood. There were so many that the local RSPCA ran out of money trying to autopsy them all. The killings have only spread, and evidence suggests the Croydon Cat Killer has been active as far away as Manchester and the Isle of Wight.
7. The Watcher
Shortly after Derek and Maria Broaddus bought their home in Westfield, New Jersey, they received a strange letter. It was from the Watcher, who explained his father had watched the house, and his grandfather before him, and now he would be watching them. Soon other letters followed, remarking on changes in the house and on the Broaddus children. The family is desperate to sell the house, and they have even sued the previous owners.
6. El Comegente
Over the course of two years, Dorangel Vargas murdered and ate at least 10 men in Venezuela. Upon his arrest, he was unnervingly casual about his diet, saying that men taste better than women and that he didn’t eat overweight men because “they have too much cholesterol.” Gotta watch that waistline.
5. Lee Harvey and Oswald
Just before US president Jimmy Carter was to give a speech, Secret Service agents picked up a suspicious looking man. Raymond Lee Harvey was carrying a .22 plus several rounds of ammunition, and he explained that he and three other men, including a man named Osvaldo Ortiz, had been sent to assassinate Carter. Others have noted the names Raymond Lee Harvey and Osvaldo Ortiz are eerily similar to Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
4. The Toy Box Killer
David Parker Ray, known as the Toy Box Killer, would abduct and torture women. He was also very likely a serial killer, but was never convicted of murder. Ray spent over $100,000 on a custom torture chamber, and police believe he was responsible for up to 60 murders.
3. The Iceman
Richard Kuklinski killed his first victim, a neighborhood bully, while still in high school, and quickly discovered he had both a taste and an aptitude for murder. His willingness to kill anyone for random reasons won him steady work from several crime families, even as he maintained a normal family life. Kuklinski earned the moniker “Iceman” because he would freeze his victims in order to obscure their time of death.
2. The Macedonian
Alexander Solonik had been expelled from the Soviet police force for extreme violence before finding himself in prison for rape. While there, he caught the attention of Russian gangsters by fighting up to 12 inmates at a time. Upon his release, he began a career as one of the world’s most prolific hitmen. He was called not only “The Macedonian” but “Superkiller.” Don’t really want to know what that Marvel movie would be about.
1. Southern Hospitality
Madame LaLaurie’s lavish parties were the toast of antebellum New Orleans. Like many wealthy southerners in her time, her largesse was the product of slave labour, but none could imagine the cruelty with which she treated her slaves. When a fire broke out at the LaLaurie mansion, firefighters found a grisly scene: people shackled and maimed in Madame LaLaurie’s attic, some only inches away from death. Even at a time of widespread racism and injustice, her brutality was so shocking that a mob gathered and chased her out of town.