People have a tendency to equate mass murder with mass shooting, but not every killer used a firearm to slay their victims. In fact, some of the most “accomplished” and “successful” serial killers never fired a shot.
Here is a list of the 7 most terrifying killers who never picked up a gun.
1. H. H. Holmes – “America’s First Serial Killer”
Herman Webster Mudgett (a.k.a. “H. H. Holmes”) was born May 16, 1894 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. He was born to an affluent family and showed an unusual amount of intelligence at a young age. As a young man, he was involved in various scams and frauds, including stealing corpses as a med student in order to file false insurance claims.
In 1885, Holmes began construction on what would be later known as his “murder castle.” At the time, unsuspecting victims believed it to simply be a hotel that was located a convenient distance from the first ever Chicago World’s Fair. He actually had three construction teams work on it, so no one person aside from himself had the completed layout and could become suspicious of his plans. The building contained trapdoors and chutes that would be used to dispose of bodies, with most of his victims being single females who were seduced by the killer. Others came to the hotel with promises of employment and were murdered.
While he admitted to only 27 murders, historians estimate that he could have had as many as 200 victims.
2. Jeffery Dahmer – “The Milwaukee Cannibal”
Jeffery Dahmer was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 21, 1960. He was reported to have been a kind, energetic child until a surgery to repair double hernia appeared to have changed him forever. He became withdrawn, tense, quiet, and these traits only became worse when his younger brother was born.
He claims his penchant for necrophilia and murder began around the age of 14. This seems to be corroborated by the fact that his first murder was committed just after he graduated high school. He picked up a hitchhiker, took him home, got him drunk, and when the man attempted to leave, Dahmer struck him in the head and strangled him to death with a barbell.
This was a habit that could be seen in the rest of his murders. Dahmer would select victims (he had a soft spot for black males) from gay bars, malls, bus stops, etc., and would lure them to his house for sex. There, he would drug them and then strangle them, keeping their skulls or genitals as “souvenirs.”
Dahmer ultimately ended up taking a total of 17 victims, received 16 life sentences for his crimes, and was killed by a fellow inmate while serving his prison term.
3. Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Ted Bundy was born on November 24, 1946 in Burlington, Vermont and for all intents and purposes was raised in a relatively happy, middle-class household. About the age of three, he began expressing an unhealthy fascination for knives. As a teen, he stole things from other people and peered into windows like a peeping Tom.
While in college, he fell in love with a woman of wealth, power and influence, and was devastated by their breakup. It is said that many of his victims resembled his former lover. He also had a pattern of brutally raping his female victims before beating them to death.
Reports indicate that Bundy would lure young, kind women to his vehicle by pretending to be injured. That’s when he would kidnap, sexually assault, and then murder them with his bare hands. He admitted to having at least 36 victims, but many believe that he is responsible for missing women who were never found.
He was killed via the electric chair in Florida in 1989.
4. Andrew Kehoe
Andrew Kehoe was born on February 1, 1872 in Tecumseh, Michigan and moved to the small farming community of Bath, Michigan with his wife. The couple lived on their farm and was beloved in their community, with Kehoe even being elected to the school board and town clerk.
After falling on hard times that included an ill wife, losing his clerkship, struggling to keep his 80-acre farm and his seat on the school board, he formulated a plot that involved placing hundreds of pounds of dynamite in the bathroom of the Bath Consolidated School – which he had opposed. He first killed his wife and set their house and the surrounding buildings on fire, leading the people of the town to fight the blaze. In the confusion, he set the dynamite.
He had worked as a handyman during the building’s construction, so he was well aware of its layout. He took his revenge on the town and the children of the town at 8:45AM on May 18, 1927. Setting off the explosives killed 37 children and injured many others. But he wasn’t done yet. His truck, which was full of dynamite as well, was set off during an altercation with the school’s superintendent. That blast killed Kehoe, the superintendent, and several other people, effectively ending his rampage.
5. Richard Ramirez – “Night Stalker”
Richard Ramirez, also known as the “Night Stalker,” was born on February 29, 1960 in El Paso, Texas. He was born to a large family and experienced a number of head injuries at a young age, including being knocked out by a swing at the age of 5, when he started experiencing epileptic fits. At 13, Ramirez began hanging out with his cousin, who would supply the teen with marijuana. They discussed the brutal ways that his cousin had tortured Vietnamese women during the war, showing the young man photos to corroborate his stories. At this time, Ramirez also witnessed his cousin murder his wife.
After a series of arrests for petty crimes the Night Stalker claimed his first murder victim, raping, stabbing and murdering a 79-year-old woman during a home burglary. This became an obvious pattern during his crime wave, as well as leaving a Satanism-related calling card at the scene of the murders.
In all, he killed 14 people and raped and tortured dozens more, mostly during the summer of ’85. He was eventually captured and sentenced to death, and spent the rest of his life in the San Quentin Prison before dying of cancer in 2013.
6. Andrei Chikatilo – “The Red Ripper”
Andrei Chikatilo, (aka “The Butcher of Rostov,” aka “The Red Ripper” aka “The Rostov Ripper,”) was born on October 16, 1936 in Yablochnoye, Ukraine. He suffered from a difficult childhood and quickly associated sexual pleasure with violence and anger after a humiliating experience when he was 15. The story goes that he overpowered a young woman and during the attack he ejaculated quickly which lead to ridicule from his peers. It was perhaps this experience that prompted him to sexually assault his victims – both female and male – before he would use his knife to mutilate and murder them. Often he would eat their genitalia, or cut off the tips of their tongues or noses, having lured young runaways into local forests for his sick fetish. He even had a habit of slashing his knife across the sockets and removing the eyeballs of his victims, which he later admitted was due to his belief that it would leave the imprint of his face in their eyes, even after their death.
He claims that he took a total of 56 victims, only 53 of which could be verified. He was arrested in 1990 and was executed by a shot to the back of his head in 1994.
7. Albert DeSalvo – “The Boston Strangler”
Albert DeSalvo (aka the Boston Strangler) was born on September 3, 1931 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He had a rough childhood and was in and out of trouble with the law.
Between the years of 1962 and 1964, 13 women were found strangled to death, most of whom were elderly women. He had a trademark move of tying the victim’s clothing in bows. In one instance, it was a set of stockings, in another, a 65-year-old woman had her bra tied around her neck. She also had lacerations to her vagina and anus, showing the brutality of the criminal involved.
He was finally identified by a victim who had been tied to her bed and molested, but not killed. He admitted to being the Boston Strangler after a series of interrogations. He was sentenced, and was stabbed to death in prison.
There is some controversy regarding whether DeSalvo actually committed these crimes, with one of his victims’ family members maintaining that he is innocent, and that the real killer was still out there.