List of serial killers before 1900
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The following is a list of known serial killers active before 1900, in roughly chronological order.
|Name||Country||Years active||Claimed victims||Notes|
|Liu Pengli||Eastern Han||Late 2nd Century BC||100+||Prince of Jidong, dispossessed for his crimes in 116 BC. Earliest serial killer attested by historical sources.|
|Queen Anula||Anuradhapura Kingdom||50-47 BC||5||Poisoned her son and four husbands before reigning in her own name for five years, after which she was overthrown and burned alive.|
|Locusta of Gaul||Roman Empire||54-55 AD||5-7+||Poisoner in the service of Emperor Nero. Executed by Galba in 69 AD.|
|Zu Shenatir||Himyarite Kingdom||5th Century AD||Unknown||Lured young boys into his home and sodomized them before throwing them out of a window. Stabbed by his last intended victim.|
|Gilles de Rais||France||1432-1440||140+||French nobleman accused of having tortured, raped, and murdered more than 140 children. Rais and several accomplices in the murders were hanged on October 16, 1440.|
|Pierre Burgot and Michel Verdun||France||1521||3||Self-proclaimed werewolves that confessed to killing and cannibalizing a woman and two children. Convicted of sorcery (along with a third man) and executed.|
|Peter Stumpp||Holy Roman Empire||c.1564-1589||16||"The Werewolf of Bedburg". Confessed under torture to murdering and cannibalizing 14 children, including his son, and two pregnant women. Broken at the wheel, beheaded and burned.|
|Peter Niers||Holy Roman Empire||c.1566-1581||544||Bandit leader that confessed under torture to killing 544 people, including the murder of 24 women and the use of their unborn children in Black Magic. Broken at the wheel and quartered alive.|
|Gilles Garnier||France||1572||4||Hermit known as "The Werewolf of Dole". Confessed to strangling 4 children and eating their flesh. Garnier was caught attacking a young boy and burned at the stake in 1573.|
|Niklaus Stüller||Holy Roman Empire||c.1577||4||Executed for shooting a cavalryman and disembowelling three pregnant women.|
|Elizabeth Báthory||Royal Hungary||1585-1610||80-650||Known as "The Blood Countess"; tortured servant girls to death. Accomplices were executed and she was imprisoned until her death in 1614.|
|Björn Pétursson||Dano-Norwegian Iceland||1596 and earlier||9-18||Called Axlar-Björn ("Shoulder-Bear"). Farmer that robbed and killed people who traversed his land. Beheaded.|
|Werewolf of Chalons||France||1598 and earlier||Unknown||Also called "The Demon Tailor". Lured children into his Parisian shop where he tortured and raped them before cutting their throats; he then butchered the bodies, cooked and ate their flesh. Barrels full of bleached bones were found in his cellar. All court documents were deliberately destroyed after his execution, causing his name to be forgotten.|
|Jean Grenier||France||1603||2+||Arrested at 14 after attacking and being beaten back by a girl; he claimed to be a werewolf that feasted on infants and girls during his transformations. Found insane and recluded in a monastery for life.|
|Catalina de los Ríos y Lisperguer||Spanish Chile||c.1630-c.1660||40||Aristocrat nicknamed La Quintrala, possibly after the local red-flowered mistletoe (quintral) and because of her long red hair. Investigated for the deaths of 40 servants and slaves in her property, but never tried or convicted. Died of natural causes in 1665.|
|Jasper Hanebuth||Holy Roman Empire||1652 and earlier||19||Former mercenary in the Swedish Army turned highwayman that was active in Eilenriede forest, then outside Hanover. Usually shot people from a distance, before knowing if they had any money. Confessed to the murder of 19 people including his "robber bride", and was broken at the wheel.|
|Catherine Monvoisin||France||1660s-1679||1000-2500||Known as "La Voisin". Alleged sorceress, fortune-teller, cult leader and poisoner for hire who confessed under torture to the ritual murder of over a thousand infants in black masses. Also tried to poison Louis XIV. Convicted along with 35 others as part of the Affair of the Poisons, and burned at the stake in 1680.|
|Marie-Madeleine-Marguerite d'Aubrey, Madame de Brinvilliers and Godin de Sainte-Croix||France||1666-1670||3-50+||Lovers, they poisoned d'Aubrey's father and two brothers to inherit their states, and an undetermined number of poor people in hospitals. Sainte-Croix died of natural causes in 1672, but d'Aubrey was tried, beheaded and burned at the stake in 1676. Her sensational trial led to the Affair of the Poisons.|
|Lewis Hutchinson||British Jamaica||1760s-1773||43+||Scottish doctor and rancher known as "The Mad Master" and "The Mad Doctor of Edinburgh Castle". Shot and robbed passers-by of all types in his property, sometimes with the help of accomplices, after which his slaves threw the bodies in Hutchinson's Hole where they were devoured by animals. Hanged.|
|Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova||Russia||1762 and earlier||38-147||Aristocrat who beat and tortured female serfs to death. Sentenced to life in prison in 1768, where she died of natural causes in 1801.|
|Klaas Annink, Anne Spanjers and Jannes Annink||Netherlands||1774 and earlier||Unknown||Family of robber-murderers active around Twente. Klaas (nicknamed "Huttenkloas") and his wife, Anne, were tried and executed in 1775.|
|El Comegente ("The People Eater")||Spanish Santo Domingo||1790-1794?||25-29+||Also called El Negro Incógnito ("The Unknown Negro"). Blamed for up to 29 murders or more, plus 27 injured, mill and plantation fires and animal deaths. The human victims, of all types but mostly women and children, were mutilated, had objects introduced in their orifices and could have been cannibalized in some cases. The killer, possibly more than one person, never robbed the victims. Several suspects were arrested, sentenced to forced work in plantations or executed.|
|Thug Behram||Awadh State||1790-1840||125||Leader of the Thuggee cult of murder-robbers in central India, also known as Buhram Jemedar and the "King of the Thugs". Behram is often cited as one of the most prolific serial killers in History (if not the most) with 931 victims, although he only admitted to have been present for that many murders, committing 125 himself and witnessing 150 or more. Thuggee victims were travellers that the Thuggees latched to and befriended before strangling them with a ceremonial handkerchief or rumal and robbing their belongings. Hanged by officers of the East India Company as part of the British colonial Thuggee and Dacoity Suppression Acts, 1836–1848|
|Micajah and Wiley Harpe||United States||1797-1803||40||Highwaymen and river pirates known as "Big" and "Little" Harpe, or The Harpe Brothers, who often killed people of all types for the thrill or minor slights without actual monetary gain, even babies. "Big" Harpe bashed his own infant daughter's head against a tree because her crying annoyed him; this was the only murder he claimed to feel sorry about. "Big" Harpe was shot and beheaded in 1799 by people who sought vengeance for the murder of a woman, while "Little" Harpe was arrested when he took fellow outlaw Samuel Mason's head to the authorities and tried to collect a bounty put on him in 1803, but was recognized, tried and hanged in 1804.|
|Samuel Mason|| United States
|1797-1803||20+||Highwayman and river pirate sometimes associated with the Harpe Brothers and other outlaws. After being arrested in Louisiana and turned over to American authorities, Mason overpowered his guards and escaped, but was shot in the process. His head was later given to the authorities by his accomplice Wiley Harpe who wished to collect the bounty on the fugitive Mason. It is unknown if Mason died of his injuries or Harpe killed him.|
1800 to 1850
|Name||Country||Years active||Claimed victims||Notes|
|Sophie Charlotte Elisabeth Ursinus||Holy Roman Empire||1800-1803||3||Prussian aristocrat who poisoned her lover, husband and aunt and tried to poison an unhappy servant, always with arsenic. Sentenced to life in prison but pardoned in 1833. Died of natural causes three years later.|
|"Red Inn" murderers|| French Empire
Kingdom of France
|1805-1830||1?-50+?||The owners, Pierre and Marie Martin, and a valet, Jean Rochette, were believed at the time to have murdered up to 50 or more travellers that stayed in their inn of Lanarce, Ardèche to rob them, but were tried for only one murder that has been questioned since by historians. All three were guillotined in front of the inn in 1833.|
|Andreas Bichel||Bavaria||1806?-1808||2-50+||"The Bavarian Ripper". Invited young women into his house under the pretense of showing them a "magic mirror" where they could see their future husbands. He blindfolded them and bind their hands behind their back, which he said was necessary for the ritual, and then hit them in the head, stabbed them in the neck and hacked them to pieces with an ax while they were still alive, burying their bodies in the mountains or under the woodshed in his own home. He kept his victims' clothing, which ended incriminating him. Sentenced to break at the wheel, later changed to decapitation, and executed in 1809.|
|Anna Maria Zwanziger||Bavaria||1808-1809||3||Housekeeper who poisoned her employers with arsenic and nursed them back to health to gain their favor; three died. Sentenced to beheading in 1811, which she welcomed as the only way to keep herself from poisoning people.|
|John Williams||United Kingdom||1811||7||Irish sailor who murdered two families and their servants in London's East End by bashing their heads with a hammer and cutting their throats. Hanged himself in prison while awaiting trial.|
|Gesche Gottfried|| Bremen
|1813-1827||15||Believed today to have suffered of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, as she poisoned several of her relatives and friends with arsenic for no apparent reason. Last person publicly executed in Bremen, where she was beheaded in 1831.|
|Samuel Green and William Ash|| United States
British North America
|1817-1821||Unknown||Itinerant burglars, robbers and counterfeiters, sometimes acting in solitary and others in association. Green, considered "America's first Public enemy number one", was also a rapist and the more violent and prolific killer of the two, while Ash helped him escape from prison multiple times. While serving a sentence for burglary, Green beat a fellow prisoner to death with an iron rod for informing the guards of an upcoming escape plan, and was hanged as a result in 1822.|
|Patty Cannon||United States||1821-1829||4+||Leader of a gang that kidnapped slaves and free blacks in the Delmarva Peninsula and sold them to slavers down south. The sight of black males being beaten into submission aroused her. Arrested after four skeletons (three children, one male adult) were found buried in her property. Died in prison while awaiting trial, under unclear circumstances.|
|Alexander Pearce||Van Diemen's Land||1824||2-4||Irishman deported in 1819 to a penal colony in Van Diemen's Land (modern Tasmania) for thieving six pairs of shoes, from where he escaped with three other convicts in 1824. One by one, each of his companions was butchered with an ax and eaten after the group run out of food, leading Pearce to gain a taste for human flesh. After only three months, Pearce was captured and imprisoned again, but escaped a second time with another convict that was killed and eaten even though there was still food left this time. Recaptured after 10 days, Pearce was tried and hanged for murder.|
|Thomas Jeffries||Van Diemen's Land||1825-1826||4+||A Scottish violent sexual offender exiled in 1825 to Tasmania, where he escaped to the woods with other convicts; afterwards killing and robbing several people. He later killed one of the convicts and ate part of his body. Jeffries also joined the gang of "gentleman bushranger" Matthew Brady, from which he was expelled shortly after because Brady could not stand his sexual crimes. In 1826 Jeffries was captured and hanged next to Brady, but not before Brady protested this decision for considering it demeaning.|
|William Burke and William Hare||United Kingdom||1828||16||Lured, intoxicated and murdered people to sell their bodies to Dr. Robert Knox who used them in his anatomy classes at Edinburgh Medical School. Their usual method was compressing the chest of the victims in a process henceforth known as "burking". Hare was given immunity in exchange for testifying against Burke, who was hanged in 1829, while Knox was never prosecuted. Burke's fiancée was also tried but her implication was found not proven.|
|Thomas Griffiths Wainewright||United Kingdom||1830||1-4||Writer and painter believed to have poisoned his sister-in-law to collect a life insurance he recently purchased, and possibly also his uncle, mother-in-law and a friend. Having fled to France, he was arrested upon his return to Britain in 1837, but could not be prosecuted for lack of evidence. Instead he was tried for, and found guilty of an unrelated case of forgery, for which he was exiled to Tasmania where he died of natural causes in 1847.|
|John Bishop and Thomas Williams||United Kingdom||1830-1831||5||Called the "London Burkers". Copycats of Burke and Hare that were active in London. Hanged.|
|Delphine LaLaurie||United States||1831-1834||2-4||New Orleans socialite that tortured and maimed slaves. Seven chained and mutilated slaves were rescued after a fire broke out in LaLaurie's mansion, of which two died of their injuries shortly after, and three buried skeletons were later discovered in her property (according to witnesses, one had died in an accident). The case caused outrage in Louisiana but LaLaurie fled to France and was never prosecuted. Died of natural causes between 1842 and 1849.|
|Hélène Jégado||France||1833-1851||23-36||Kleptomaniac domestic servant who robbed and poisoned her employers and relatives with arsenic and antimony. She poisoned during two different periods separated by ten years, 1833 to 1841 and her final spree in 1851. Because the statute of limitations for the first spree had already run out, she was only tried for three murders and three attempts and guillotined in 1852.|
|Diogo Alves||Portugal||1836-1840||70+||Galician-born robber-murderer known as "The Assassin of the Águas Livres Aqueduct" for throwing the bodies of his victims from the top of this location to pass them as suicides. In this he was possibly helped by his lover Gertrudes Maria, A Parreirinha. Hanged in 1841.|
|Sarah Dazley||United Kingdom||1840-1843||1-3||Hanged for the murder of her second husband, who was poisoned with arsenic. Believed to have poisoned her first husband and child as well.|
|Manuel Blanco Romasanta||Spain||1844-1852||9-14||"The Werewolf of Allariz". While on the run from his first murder (a constable killed over a debt), Romasanta assumed a new identity and offered his services as a mountain guide to women and children, which he murdered and later sold their clothing (and according to rumor, also soap made from their body fat). Following his arrest, he confessed to 13 murders, which he claimed were committed involuntarily during his transformation into a wolf as a result of a curse, and was found guilty of nine and sentenced to die by garrote. This was changed to life in prison following a petition by doctors who wished to study him further, and he died in jail in 1863.|
|William Palmer||United Kingdom||1846?-1855||1-10||Gambling-addicted physician who poisoned friends and relatives with strychnine and ammonia, usually to collect life insurances or keep money that the victims lent him; also suspect in the death of four of his newborns. Tried for one murder and hanged in 1856.|
|Mary Ann Geering||United Kingdom||1848||4||Hanged in 1849 for the poisoning of her husband and three sons with arsenic.|
|Name||Country||Years active||Claimed victims||Notes|
|Boone Helm|| United States
|1851-1864||8-24+||Desperado active through western North America who killed several men in bar fights or to rob them. Engaged in survival cannibalism at least once. Hanged.|
|Mary Ann Cotton||United Kingdom||c.1852-1873||21||Poisoned her husbands, lovers and children with arsenic. Hanged.|
|Martin Dumollard||France||1855-1861||3-30+||Lured women to Lyon with promises of work and then killed them. Tried and guillotined in 1862. His wife, Marie-Anne Martinet, was found guilty of assisting him and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor in a women's prison. She died in 1875.|
|Catherine Wilson||United Kingdom||c.1856-1862||1-8||Nurse believed to have poisoned her husband and 7 patients with colchicum (plus a failed attempt, with sulphuric acid), but tried for only one. Last woman publicly hanged in London.|
|Lydia Sherman||United States||1858-1871||10||"The Derby Poisoner". Confessed to poisoning three husbands and seven children with arsenic. Died in prison.|
|Joseph Philippe||France||1862-1866||8||Stabbed seven prostitutes and one child in Paris. Guillotined.|
|Edward William Pritchard||United Kingdom||1863?-1865||2-3||Doctor who poisoned his wife and mother-in-law with antimony; also suspect in the death of a maid that officially died in a fire two years earlier. Hanged.|
|The Bloody Espinosas||United States||1863||8||Gang formed first by Neomexicano road bandit brothers Felipe Nerio and José Vivián Espinosa, and after José Vivián's death by Felipe Nerio and nephew José Vicente, who acted in Conejos County, Colorado. Following a skirmish with the US Army, the Espinosas declared war on the United States and decided to kill as many Anglos as they could, until they were tracked and killed by adventurer Tom Tobin and soldiers of Fort Garland.|
|Dan Morgan|| New South Wales
|1864-1865||3||Violent bushranger who robbed railroad stations and shot hostages without necessity; one railroad worker and two police sergeants died. Shot dead in a standoff with Victoria police.|
|Matti Haapoja|| Finland
|1867-1894||3-10||Known to have killed 3 in Finland and suspected of 7 more murders, 5 of them in Siberia where he was exiled to in the 1880s. Also wounded 6 people. Killed himself in prison in 1895.|
|Margaret Waters||United Kingdom||1870 and earlier||19||Baby farmer that drugged and starved children in her care. Convicted of one murder and hanged.|
|Vincenzo Verzini||Italy||1870-1871||2+||Ambushed women in the country and strangled them to achieve erection, killing at least two. He then disemboweled them and drank their blood after biting them on the thigh. Sentenced to life in prison in 1872.|
|Juan Díaz de Garayo||Spain||1870-1879||6||Known as El Sacamantecas ("The Fat Extractor"). Strangled women after having sex with them - first willingly, then by force. Garroted in 1881.|
|Eusebius Pieydagnelle||France||1872 and earlier||6-7||Claimed to have a sexual obsession with blood, having orgasms at the sight and smell of it. His victims were extremely mutilated.|
|The Bloody Benders||United States||1872-1873||11||Family of four who owned an inn and small general store in Labette County of southeastern Kansas from 1871 to 1873. They had 11 known victims and fled when their crimes were discovered, with their fate uncertain.|
|Thomas Piper||United States||1873-1875||7||The "Boston Belfry Murderer". Church bellringer that battered, strangled and sometimes raped girls, the youngest being 5. Hanged in 1876.|
|Stephen Richards||United States||1878||6-9||"The Nebraska Fiend". Confessed to killing two men, one woman and her three children, in all cases but one to rob the victims. Hanged in 1879.|
|Thomas Neill Cream|| Canada
|1879-1892||5-8||Doctor known as "The Lambeth Poisoner". Poisoned one man and several women with chloroform and strychnine, attempting to frame and then blackmail other men for the murders in some cases. Allegedly confessed to be Jack the Ripper before his execution by hanging in 1892, although he was in prison at the time of the Ripper murders.|
|Amelia Dyer||United Kingdom||1879-1896||6-400+||Baby farmer who strangled the babies in her care. Hanged.|
|Catherine Flannagan and Margaret Higgins||United Kingdom||1880-1883||4||"The Black Widows of Liverpool". Killed at least 4 people by poisoning in order to obtain insurance money. Hanged in 1884.|
|Maria Swanenburg||Netherlands||1880-1883||27-90+||Killed at least 27 people by poisoning with arsenic, suspected of over 90 deaths. She murdered for the victims' insurance or inheritance. Sentenced to life in prison; died in 1915.|
|Francisco Guerrero||Mexico||1880-1908||21||Known as El Chalequero ("The Vests Man"). An open mysoginist, between 1880 and 1888 he raped and killed 20 women in Mexico City, often claimed to be prostitutes, strangling them or cutting their throats, and in some cases he also decapitated them. He then threw their bodies in the Consulado river. Tried for one murder and another attempt, his initial death sentence was changed to 20 years in prison and was indulted in 1904. In 1908 he raped and murdered an old woman and was again given the death penalty, but died in prison of natural causes before he could be executed.|
|Servant Girl Annihilator||United States||1884-1885||8||Also nicknamed "The Austin Axe Murderer". Killed and mutilated seven women and one man, most of them black, and injured eight more. No man was ever tried for the murders, although some sources name Nathan Elgin (1867-1886), an African-American cook shot by police while he was assaulting a girl, as the likely culprit.|
|Martha Needle|| Victoria
|1885-1894||5||Poisoned her husband and three children, and her new fiancé's two brothers (one of whom survived) with arsenic. Hanged.|
|Jane Toppan||United States||1885-1901||31||Nurse who confessed to poisoning 31 people in her care and lying in bed with them as they died for her own sexual gratification. Found not guilty by reason of insanity and recluded in a mental hospital.|
|Mary Ann Britland||United Kingdom||1886||3||Murdered her daughter, husband and the wife of her lover with mice poison. Hanged.|
|Guadalupe Martínez de Bejarano||Mexico||1887-1892||3||Tortured three servant girls until they died of starvation. Died in prison.|
|Jack the Ripper||United Kingdom||1888||5||Unidentified killer who stabbed and mutilated five prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London.|
|Johann Otto Hoch|| United States
United Kingdom (alleged)
|1888?-1905||1-50+||German con man who married women under false identities, swindled and poisoned them with arsenic. Hanged in 1906 for one murder, but suspected to have committed between 15 and 55.|
|Frederick Bailey Deeming|| United Kingdom
|1891||6||Killed his wife and four children (cutting their throats, except one daughter that was strangled) and buried their bodies in concrete under a rented house in Rainhill, England. He then fled with his mistress to Windsor, Victoria, where he bludgeoned her and cut her throat, and also buried the body in concrete in another rented house. The discovery of the last body led to his arrest and the uncovering of the ones in Rainhill, attracting the attention of the international press, which considered him the possible identity of Jack the Ripper. Hanged in 1892.|
|John and Sarah Makin||New South Wales||1892 and earlier||12-13||Baby farmers who murdered infants in their care. John was hanged in 1893 but Sarah's death sentence was commuted for life imprisonment and hard labor. She was paroled in 1911 and died seven years later of natural causes.|
|Elizabeth Halliday||United States||1893 and earlier||4+||Mentally ill Irish immigrant who shot two women, killed and mutilated her husband and set three fires, killing her stepson in one. Halliday had married five times before, always to much older men, and at least some of her other husbands' deaths were considered suspicious. Masculine-looking, she was accused of being Jack the Ripper, making her one of the few female suspects, but she denied it. Imprisoned.|
|H. H. Holmes|| United States
|c.1893-1894||9-200||Notorious for designing and building a "Murder Castle" where he tortured, killed, dissected and incinerated the bodies of people who had come to visit the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Also killed an accomplice and three of his accomplice's children. Hanged in 1896.|
|Joseph Vacher||France||1894-1897||11-27+||Mentally ill vagrant known as "The French Ripper" and the "Ripper of the South-East", although he was also active in central and northern France. Raped, stabbed and disembowelled women, teenage boys and girls who worked alone in the countryside. Guillotined in 1898.|
|Minnie Dean||New Zealand||1889?-1895||3+||Baby farmer hanged for the murder of three infants that were found buried in her property. Only woman executed in the History of New Zealand.|
|Edward Walton||United States||1896-1908||5||Confessed the murders of two men and three women, including his common-law wife.|
|George Chapman||United Kingdom||1897-1902||3||Poisoned three of his mistresses with tartar emetic. Suspected at the time of his execution by hanging in 1903 to be the real identity of Jack the Ripper.|
Legendary Serial Killers
The existence of the following serial killers is dubious or contradicts the accepted historical record:
|John Jarman and his wife||England||12th to 14th century||Claimed to have murdered between 13 and 60 people at the Ostrich Inn of Colnbrook, in the Middle Ages. Though the building is real (and still exists), it only dates to the 1500s, and the most famous description of the killers modus - involving a trapdoor in a bedroom that opened to a boiling pot in the kitchens beneath - is first described in a fiction work, Thomas Deloney's Thomas of Reading (1602).|
|Andrew Christie||Scotland||mid-14th century||Called "Christie-Cleek". Purported Perth butcher turned road bandit, murderer and cannibal during a severe famine.|
|Christman Genipperteinga||Holy Roman Empire||1568-1581||Claimed German bandit who was executed for 964 murders, according to a 1581 pamphlet. Possibly inspired by real bandit Peter Niers, who confessed under torture to 544 deaths and was executed in the same year, although similar characters appear in German fairy tales and folk songs from before that time.|
|Sawney Bean's clan||Scotland||late 16th to early 17th century||Claimed cannibal family that robbed, killed and ate travellers in a cave of Bennane Head, until their manhunt and execution by James VI. Contemporary documents make no reference to the hundreds of disappearances and murders said to have been carried by Bean's clan, which was probably inspired by the earlier legend of Christie-Cleek.|
|Agnus McVee, Jim McVee and Al Riley||Canada||1875-1885||Family claimed to have owned a hotel and store on the Cariboo Road of British Columbia during the Cariboo Gold Rush, where they killed miners for their gold and kidnapped women to make into sex slaves until their arrest and death in prison in New Westminster. The story comes from a single source and there are no denounces of disappearances in the area at the time of the murders nor existing death certificates of the supposed serial killers apprehended.|
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