1. Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614)
Otherwise known as Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, this Hungarian noblewoman is one of history’s greatest serial killers and mass murderer. Born in 1560, she holds the record as being the most prolific female murder of all time. The exact number of her victims is unknown, but at her trial in 1609 it was estimated that between 1585 and 1609 she had tortured and killed 650 women. 300 witnesses testified to her brutal methods which involved selecting the adolescent daughters of local gentry and then subjecting them to beatings, burnings and mutilations. She also bit her victims, burned them and covered them in honey and left them to the ants. She was eventually caught in the act by the local magistrate. She was tired, convicted, and because she was noble and a woman, spared execution – instead she was bricked into a set of rooms and died in solitary confinement fiveyears later.
2. Myra Hindley (1942 – 2002)
One half of the infamous Moors Murders, Hindley, with her lover Ian Brady, kidnapped, sexually assaulted, tortured and killed 5 children in and around Manchester, England between July 1963 and October 1965. As if that wasn’t bade enough, what really elevates her to most evil status is that the killers recorded the children being assaulted and pleading for their lives. The police have never released the recordings as they are said to be so devastating to anyone who hears them. The killers hid the children’s bodies on the bleak remote Yorkshire Moors, and even now one victim, twelve-year-old Keith Bennett, has never been found, despite repeated pleas from the boy’s mother to the killers over the years. Tried and convicted, Hindley was lucky that the death penalty had recently been abolished in England. She was imprisoned for life and died aged 60 in 2002. Brady, confined to a criminal mental hospital died in 2017.
3. Darya Saltykova (1730-1801)
Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova was another murderous noblewoman. This time from Russia. Widowed at the age of 26, Saltykova inherited a substantial estate from her husband, and estate that included an large number of serfs. It was these serfs, particularly the females, who were the objects of Saltykova’s fatal attentions. With a modus operandi that is remarkably like Elizabeth Bathory, she beat and tortured the poor girls before killing them. When she was arrested in 1762 she was charged with killing 138 people and convicted of 38 deaths. Once more, the killer did not face execution, the death penalty having been abolished in Russia ten years earlier, so the Czarina, Catherine the Great, had her chained in public for an hour with sign around her neck giving her crimes, and then imprisoned for the rest of her life in a dungeon. Saltykova died 32 years later. At the age of 71.
4. Juana Barraza (1957 – )
Barraza is a former professional wrestler from Mexico. She was convicted in 2006 of killing between 42 and 48 women over the age of 60. Her victims mostly lived alone, and she tricked her way into the unsuspecting victims’ homes by posing as a social worker. Once inside, she bludgeoned the women to death and then rob their house. Diagnosed as a psychopath, she showed no remorse for her crimes. On conviction she was sentenced to 759 years in prison, and it’s a safe bet that she will die there.
5. Miyuki Ishikawa (1897 – ????)
A midwife, Ishikawa killed around 103 infants during the 1940s. Most of her victims were newborns on her maternity ward. When she decided that an infant was facing a life of poverty with a mother who couldn’t provide much of a future, Ishikawa took matters into her own hands and deliberately neglected the infants, leading to their quick deaths. She is Japan’s most prolific serial killer, and yet when convicted after autopsies showed that some babies had not died of natural causes, her crimes were classed as crimes of omission and she was sentenced to only eight years in prison.
6. Rosemary West (1953 – )
West and her husband Fred, raped tortured and killed at least 10 young women in at their home in Gloucester, England between 1973 and 1987. While most of the killings were a joint venture with her husband, she is known to have killed her stepdaughter while Fred was serving a short sentence in prison. The bodies of the victims were hidden in the basement and buried in the garden. In August 1992, Fred was arrested for raping his 13-year-old daughter, and Rosemary was arrested for child cruelty. While that case collapsed, police were suspicious and began a major investigation and slowly one body after another was found in what the British press dubbed the House of Death. Convicted on 10 murders, Rosemary West is inside for like. Fred committed suicide while awaiting trial.
7. Aileen Wuornos (1956 – 2002)
Wuornos killed seven men in Florida in 1989/1990 by shooting them at point blank range. She claimed that she killed in self-defence as the men all tried to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She had a violent and deprived past, but her murders appeared to be for gain. She eventually admitted that the first victim only had tried to rape her, but that she feared that the others were about to. However, she changed her story several times and her exact motive is not known. She was diagnosed as a psychopath. Convicted of six of the murders, Wuornos was executed in 2002. Charlize Theron won an Oscar in 2004 for her portrayal of Wuornos in the movie Monster.