List of serial killers before 1900

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The following is a list of known serial killers active before 1900, in roughly chronological order.

Active before 1800[edit]

Name Country Years active Claimed victims Notes
Ancient Rome Poison Ring Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Roman Republic 331 BC Unknown Several Roman men died in what was believed to be a plague, until a servant woman revealed that they had been poisoned by a conspiracy of matrons. Two patrician women arrested admitted to preparing concoctions but claimed that they were medicinal; when they drank themselves to prove it, at their own suggestion, they died immediately. A total of 170 matrons were arrested. According to Livy, "their act was regarded as a prodigy, and suggested madness rather than felonious intent".[1]
Liu Pengli Western Han 144-116 BC 100+ Prince of Jidong during the reign of the Emperor Jing, his uncle. Helped by slaves, he attacked civilians in his lands during the night, killing over a hundred. Though the court advised the Emperor to execute him, the emperor only reduced him to a commoner and exiled him to Shangyong (modern Zhushan County, Hubei Province).[2]
Anula of Anuradhapura Flag of Dutthagamani.png Anuradhapura Kingdom 50-47 BC 5 Poisoned her son and four husbands before holding the throne as queen regnant for five years, after which she was overthrown and burned alive.[3]
Locusta of Gaul[4] Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Roman Empire 54-55 AD 5-7+[4] 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.[5]
Alice Kyteler Banner of the Lordship of Ireland.svg Ireland 1324 and earlier 3-4 "The Witch of Kilkenny". Hiberno-Norman noblewoman prosecuted in the first modern witch trial in the British Isles, for the alleged poisoning of her four husbands, heresy and witchcraft. Fled to England, her ultimate fate unknown. Her servant was tortured and burned at the stake in her place.[6]
Gilles de Rais Pavillon royal de la France.svg France 1432-1440 140+ French nobleman accused of torturing, raping and murdering over 140 children.[7] Rais and several accomplices in the murders were hanged on October 26, 1440.[8]
Pierre Burgot and Michel Verdun Pavillon royal de la France.svg 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.[9]
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.[10]
Peter Niers Holy Roman Empire 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.[11]
Gilles Garnier Pavillon royal de la France.svg France 1572 4 Hermit known as "The Werewolf of Dole". Confessed to strangling 4 children and eating their flesh.[12] Garnier was caught attacking a young boy and burned at the stake in 1573.[12]
Niklaus Stüller Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire c.1577 4 Executed for shooting a cavalryman and disembowelling three pregnant women.[13]
Elizabeth Báthory Coa Hungary Country History (19th Century).svg Royal Hungary 1585-1610 80-650[14] Known as "The Blood Countess"; tortured servant girls to death. Accomplices were executed and she was imprisoned until her death in 1614.[15]
Björn Pétursson Denmark Dano-Norwegian Iceland 1596 and earlier 9-18 Called Axlar-Björn ("Shoulder-Bear"). Farmer that robbed and killed people who traversed his land. Beheaded.[16]
Werewolf of Chalons Kingdom of France 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.[9]
Jean Grenier Kingdom of France 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.[13]
Catalina de los Ríos y Lisperguer Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg 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.[17]
Hyeronima Spara and Giulia Tofana Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Sicily
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Naples
Coat of arms Holy See.svg Papal States
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spain (alleged)
Kingdom of France France (alleged)
England England (alleged)
1650-1719 600-1000 Teacher and disciple poisoners, often confused for each other. Purported to have invented the Aqua Tofana, a poison that could not be detected and killed a man with four to six drops. Before her 1723 execution in Rome at age 70, Tofana admitted to poisoning 600 men over a 50-year period, both by her own hand or by assisting or supplying poison to women in unhappy marriages who wished to eliminate their husbands. She charged her services except when the demandant was poor, in which case she'd do it for free.[4]
Jasper Hanebuth Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire 1652 and earlier 19 Former mercenary in the Swedish Army turned highwayman who 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.[18]
Catherine Monvoisin Kingdom of France France 1660s-1679 1000-2500[9] 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.[9] Also tried to poison Louis XIV. She was 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 Kingdom of France France 1666-1670 3-50+[9] Lovers, they poisoned d'Aubrey's father and two brothers to inherit their estates, 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.
Luísa de Jesus Portugal Portugal 1760s-1772 28-33 Baby farmer from Coimbra who murdered babies in her care. Last woman executed in Portugal.[19]
Lewis Hutchinson Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg 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.[20]
Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova Russia 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.[21]
Klaas Annink, Anne Spanjers and Jannes Annink Dutch Republic 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.[22]
El Comegente ("The People Eater") Spain 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.[23]
Thug Behram Mughal Empire
Flag of Awadh.svg Oudh State[24]
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.[25] Thuggee victims were travellers that the Thuggees latched to and befriended before strangling them with a ceremonial handkerchief (rumal) and stealing 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.[26]
Samuel Mason United States United States
Spain Spanish Louisiana
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.[27]

1800 to 1830[edit]

Name Country Years active Claimed victims Notes
Sophie Charlotte Elisabeth Ursinus Holy Roman Empire 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.[28]
Chloe (no surname) United States United States 1801 2 18-year-old slave who drowned her mistress' two younger children to get back at her, in separate occasions. Hanged.[29]
Patty Cannon's gang United States United States 1802[30]-1829 4-25+[30] Kidnapped slaves and free blacks in the Delmarva Peninsula and sold them to slavers down south. Cannon, reportedly aroused by the sight of black males being beaten into submission, was arrested when four skeletons (three children, one male adult) were found buried in her property, though ironically most of the gang's victims were probably rival white slavers. Cannon died in prison while awaiting trial, under unclear circumstances.[30][31]
Mary Bateman  United Kingdom 1803-1808 1-4 "The Yorkshire Witch". Leeds career con woman and thief, hanged in 1809 for the arsenic poisoning of a married couple she had been scamming (the husband survived). Suspect in three more deaths.[32]
"Red Inn" murderers France French Empire
Pavillon royal de France.svg 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[33] 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.[34][35]
Andreas Bichel Kingdom of Bavaria Bavaria 1806?-1808 2[36]-50+[37] "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 bound 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 up incriminating him. Sentenced to break at the wheel, later changed to decapitation, and executed in 1809.[37]
John Brown and Richard Lemon United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land 1807-1808 5-9 Bushrangers fugitive of a British penal colony in the Tamar Valley that murdered three soldiers, a fellow fugitive and at least one Aboriginal Tasmanian. Lemon was killed by bounty hunters in 1808, who also captured Brown. Brown was taken to Sydney where he was hanged.[38]
Anna Maria Zwanziger Kingdom of Bavaria 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.[39]
John Williams United Kingdom 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.[9]
Gesche Gottfried Bremen (state) Bremen
Kingdom of Hanover Hanover
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.[40]
Samuel Green and William Ash United States United States
United Kingdom 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.[41]
Thomas Jeffries (or Jeffrey) United Kingdom United Kingdom
United Kingdom New South Wales
United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land
1820-1826 1-8 Called "The Monster" and "Captain Jeffries" (name he gave himself). Navy deserter, robber and conman deported to Australia in 1820. Escaped with other convicts and joined a bushranger gang, partaking in survival cannibalism twice before he was apprehended again and sent to Tasmania, in 1822. After rising to flogger and jailer, in 1825 Jeffries was accused of raping free and imprisoned women alike and fled to the bush with three prisoners. In their month-long rampage they robbed several farms, killed an infant and four men (one of them a fellow fugitive, who was cannibalized), wounded two more and raped a woman. Hanged.[42][38]
Robert Greenhill United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land 1822 1-3+ Former seaman who led the escape of 8 convicts from Macquarie Harbor, including Alexander Pearce. Greenhill was the first to propose cannibalism when the group run out of food, saying that it was the custom of the sea and that he had eaten human flesh before, and offered himself as executioner. It is unclear which members of the party were murdered by Greenhill and which by Pearce, before Pearce murdered Greenhill.[38]
Edme Castaing Pavillon royal de France.svg France 1822 1-2 Physician believed to have poisoned two lawyer brothers with morphine in the span of three months, although he was only convicted of murdering the second victim and destroying the will of the first one. Guillotined in 1823.[43]
Alexander Pearce United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land 1822-1823 2-5 Irishman deported in 1819 to Tasmania for thieving six pairs of shoes, whence he escaped with seven other convicts in 1824. The group resorted to cannibalism after running out of food; except for 2 that deserted early, all other members were murdered with an axe and eaten one by one until only Pearce was left to reach the eastern settlements. Pearce was recaptured and sent back to Macquaire Harbor, as his claims of murder and cannibalism weren't believed, and escaped soon after with another convict. This time Pearce killed and ate his companion in less than ten days, when he surrendered voluntarily to the authorities. Hanged in 1824.[44][38]
Charles Routley United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land 1824-1828 6 Armed robber and duffer who murdered a shopkeeper, a shepherd and four of his own accomplices. At least two victims were also tortured. Hanged in 1830.[38]
Jane Scott United Kingdom United Kingdom c.1828 1-4 Hanged for poisoning her mother. Also believed to have poisoned her father, son and niece.[30]
William Burke and William Hare United Kingdom 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.[45]
Thomas Griffiths Wainewright United Kingdom 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.[46]
Charles Broughton and Matthew McAvoy United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land 1830 3 Escapees of Macquaire Harbor that butchered and cannibalized three fellow convicts. Surrendered to authorities after a month and were hanged.[38]
John Bishop and Thomas Williams United Kingdom United Kingdom 1830-1831 5 Called the "London Burkers". Copycats of Burke and Hare that were active in London.[47] Hanged.[48]

1831 to 1850[edit]

Name Country Years active Claimed victims Notes
Delphine LaLaurie US flag 24 stars.svg 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.[49] Died of natural causes between 1842 and 1849.
John "Rocky" Whelan United Kingdom Van Diemen's Land
United Kingdom New South Wales (alleged)
1831?-1855 5-6 Irish career criminal deported to Australia in 1829 and to Tasmania in 1853. The day before his execution by hanging in 1855, Whelan confessed to have shot five men in the head to rob them; an unconfirmed report also links him to the "murderous attack" on a woman in New South Wales.[38]
Giorgio Orsolano Kingdom of Sardinia Piedmont-Sardinia 1832-1835 3 “The Hyena of San Giorgio.” Raped, butchered and cannibalized three girls aged nine to fourteen, burying the remains in the country or throwing them in a river. Hanged.[50]
Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh United States United States 1833-1845 2 Poisoned two alcoholic husbands with arsenic. Hanged in 1846.[51]
Hélène Jégado France 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.[52]
Pierre François Lacenaire France France 1834-1835 2 Poet, army defector and thief. Helped by two accomplices, Lacenaire stabbed a former prison cellmate and his mother in Paris, and later attacked a bank employee that survived. They intended to rob the victims but none of the hits produced any money. While in prison for an unrelated offense, one of the accomplices, Victor Avril, blamed Lacenaire for the murders, and Lacenaire reacted by making a detailed confession that ensured both Lacenaire and Avril would be found guilty and executed. Lacenaire's response and his willingness to answer letters and receive visitors in prison, along with the publication of his memoirs, made him a celebrity. The two men were guillotined in 1836.[53][54]
Frances Billing and Catherine Frary United Kingdom United Kingdom 1835 3 Poisoned Frary's husband and child and the wife of Billing's lover in the span of two weeks. Hanged.[55]
Hannah Hanson Kinney United States United States 1835-1840 0-3 Believed at the time to have poisoned two husbands and a father in law; although arsenic was found in two bodies, she was found not guilty because of lack of further evidence.[56]
John Lynch United Kingdom New South Wales 1835-1841 9-10 "The Berrima Axe Murderer." Irish convict turned bushranger who killed his victims with a single hatchet blow to the back of the head. His acquittal at a murder trial in 1835, while his two accomplices were hanged, had convinced him that God approved of his crimes. Hanged in 1842.[57]
Diogo Alves Portugal Portugal 1836-1840 70+ Galician-born robber-murderer known as "The Assassin of the Águas Livres Aqueduct" because he threw the bodies of his victims from the top of this location to pass them as suicides. He was possibly helped by his lover Gertrudes Maria, A Parreirinha. Last man executed in Portugal; was hanged in 1841.[58]
Elizabeth Eccles United Kingdom United Kingdom 1840-1842 3 Poisoned her stepson and daughters with arsenic. Hanged in 1843.[30]
Sarah Dazley United Kingdom 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.[59]
Sarah Freeman United Kingdom United Kingdom 1840-1845 4 Poisoned her husband, son, mother and brother with arsenic. Hanged.[30]
Eliza Joyce United Kingdom United Kingdom 1841-1843 3 Poisoned her daughter and step-children with laudanum. Though acquitted in 1843 because of lack of evidence, she confessed after being disowned by her family and living in poverty for a year, and was hanged in 1844.[30]
John Johnston (or Johnson) United States United States 1843-? 300+ Mountain man called "Liver-eating Johnson" and Dapiek Absaroka ("Crow Killer" in Apsáalooke). Moved to the Rocky Mountains with frontiersman John Hatcher in 1843; the two killed four Arapaho and Hatcher taught Johnson to scalp them. In 1847 his pregnant wife, a member of the Flathead Nation, was killed and scalped by Crow warriors. Johnson is said to have embarked then on a vendetta against the Crow Nation that lasted for years and during which he murdered, scalped and ate the livers of 300 Crow warriors, although Thrapp (1991) considers this number inflated and incompatible with the Crow population at the time.[60] Died of natural causes in 1900.[61]
Jonathan Balls United Kingdom United Kingdom 1843-1846 2-5+ Believed to have poisoned his invalid wife, four grandchildren and possibly others. No crime investigation took place before Balls' own suicide by arsenic in 1846.[62]
Manuel Blanco Romasanta Spain 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, whom he murdered, later selling their clothing (and according to rumor, also making 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. He 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. He died in jail in 1863.[63]
Edward Rulloff United States United States 1844-1870 2-7 Called "The Genius Killer" and "The Man of Two Lives". Medical doctor and philologist who had a parallel career as an armed robber and con man. Tried for the murder of his wife and daughter in 1846, he was given ten years for kidnapping because neither body was ever found; he was arrested again in 1870 for the murder of a clerk during a robbery. Hanged in 1871.[64]
Sarah Chesham United Kingdom United Kingdom 1845?-1850? 0-4 Nicknamed "Sally Arsenic". Hanged in 1851 for the attempted murder of her husband. The coroner found arsenic in the victim's body, but not in enough quantity to kill him, and the cause of death was ruled as tuberculosis. Chesham had been suspected five years earlier of poisoning two of her children, and also a neighbor's illegitimate baby after the father allegedly hired her to murder him. Although arsenic was found in both of her children's bodies, she stood trial for only one and was found not proven, as there was no evidence that she had been the person who had administered the poison. The trial for the other victim ended with both accused cleared because arsenic was not found and the symptoms were compatible with an infection caused by drinking raw milk. The claim that Chesham was an acknowledged poisoner for hire and had multiple female pupils in rural Essex appears to be an invention of yellow journalism.[62]
William Palmer United Kingdom United Kingdom 1846?-1855 1-10 Gambling-addicted physician who poisoned friends and relatives with strychnine and ammonia, usually to collect life insurances or to keep money that the victims lent him; also suspected in the death of four of his newborns. Tried for one murder and hanged in 1856.[65]
Mary Ann Milner United Kingdom United Kingdom c.1847 3 Poisoned her in-laws (father, mother, sister) and a niece with arsenic. The man survived but sustained brain damage. Killed herself in prison the day before her execution.[30]
Mary Ann Geering United Kingdom United Kingdom 1848 4 Hanged in 1849 for the poisoning of her husband and three sons with arsenic.[66]
Antonio Boggia Flag of Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.svg Lombardy-Venetia 1849-1859 4 Called "The Monster of Milan" and "The Monster of Bagnera Street". Killed and dismembered three men and one woman with an axe, then feigned documents where the victims named him manager of their possessions in their absence. Before the discovery of the murders, he was briefly committed to a mental asylum for attacking a fourth man, who managed to escape. Hanged in 1862.[67]

1851 to 1880[edit]

Name Country Years active Claimed victims Notes
Boone Helm United States United States
United Kingdom British Columbia
1851-1864 8-24+ Desperado active through western North America who killed several men in alcohol-induced fights or to rob them. Engaged in survival cannibalism at least once. Hanged.[68]
Mary Ann Cotton United Kingdom United Kingdom c.1852-1873 21 Poisoned her husbands, lovers and children with arsenic. Hanged.[69]
Catherine Wilson United Kingdom United Kingdom 1854[30]-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.[70]
Martin Dumollard France 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.[71] She died in 1875.
Mary Jane Jackson United States United States
 Confederate States
c.1855-1861 4 New Orleans prostitute nicknamed "Bricktop" for her red hair, she clubbed one man to death and stabbed three others. The last one was John Miller, her boyfriend and a former prison guard whom she met while in remand for the third murder (the charges for which would be dropped without trial). Imprisoned for Miller's murder, she was let go less than one year later when Union troops seized the city and military governor George Shepley emptied the prisons, and left New Orleans. Her ultimate fate is unknown.[72]
Lydia Sherman United States United States 1858[73]-1871 10 "The Derby Poisoner". Confessed to poisoning three husbands and seven children with arsenic.[74] Died in prison.
Sε□αkmän˙a CanadaCanada (Nuxalk) c. 1860s 3 confirmed, most likely dozens more Indigenous Nuxalk trader who was known to have lured many hunters to their deaths and sold their goods to the Hudson's Bay Company. When asked why he murdered so continuously and so frequently, he claimed that "it was involuntary, his parents having smeared him with ashes from a wasp's nest when an infant." He is also said to have killed for favors. Nuxalk chief and clan officials eventually executed him (execution by shooting) for his crimes. [75]
John Haley United Kingdom Tasmania 1859-1861 4 Violent Scottish robber deported to Tasmania in 1850. Killed a man, two women and a child, using a club and an ax. Hanged.[38]
Joseph Philippe France France 1862-1866 8 Stabbed seven prostitutes and one child in Paris. Guillotined.[76]
Edward William Pritchard United Kingdom United Kingdom 1863?-1865 2-3 Doctor who poisoned his wife and mother-in-law with antimony; also a suspect in the death of a maid who had officially died in a fire two years earlier. Hanged.[77]
The Bloody Espinosas United States United States 1863 8[78] 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.[78]
Dan Morgan United Kingdom New South Wales
United Kingdom Victoria
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.[79]
Clarke brothers United Kingdom New South Wales 1861-1867 5 Violent bushrangers who robbed travelers and farms and shot and killed five Police officers. Hanged.
Martha Grinder United States United States 1865 and earlier 2-20 "The American Lucrezia Borgia." Hanged in 1866 for poisoning a tenant she had pretended to care for while he was sick, with no monetary gain. Also confessed, while awaiting execution, to have poisoned her maid, but denied any part in the deaths of other friends and relatives of which she was suspected.[80]
Matti Haapoja Flag of Finland 1918 (state).svg Finland
Russia Russia
1867-1894 3-10 Known to have killed 3 in Finland and suspected of 7 more murders, 5 of them in Siberia, whence he had been exiled in the 1880s. Also wounded 6 people. Killed himself in prison in 1895.[81][82]
Sher Ali Afridi Flag of Imperial India.svg British Raj 1869-1872 2 Pashtun sowar deported to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for murder, where he killed the visiting Viceroy of India, Lord Mayo. Hanged.[83]
Margaret Waters United Kingdom United Kingdom 1870 and earlier 19 Baby farmer who drugged and starved children in her care. Convicted of one murder and hanged.[71]
Vincenzo Verzeni Kingdom of Italy Italy 1870-1871 2 Strangled women until he orgasmed, never penetrating his victims. If they were still alive, he let them go. The two who died were mutilated, and Verzeni drank blood from one after biting her in the thigh. Sentenced to life in prison in 1872,[13][84][85] served as house arrest from c.1900. Died of natural causes on New Year’s Eve 1918.[86]
Juan Díaz de Garayo Spain 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.[87]
La Bande de la Taille ("The Carving Gang") France France 1871 8 13 Italian immigrants (9 men, 4 women) who robbed and killed people with clubs and cleavers in Provence, often for little actual profit. The leader, Joseph Fontana, died of tuberculosis before trial. The two most violent members, Antoine Galetto (grandson of serial killer Giorgio Orsolano) and Louis Garbarino, were guillotined in 1872. Others were imprisoned and, in some cases, sentenced to forced labor.[88]
Jesse Pomeroy United States United States 1871-1874 2 Called "The Boy Fiend" and "The Inhuman Scamp". Beginning at age 12, he lured younger children and tortured them for his sexual pleasure, killing two. Youngest person sentenced to death by the state of Massachusetts, later changed to life in prison under solitary confinement which was only lifted in 1917. Died in prison in 1931 of natural causes.[89]
Eusebius Pieydagnelle France 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.[13][90]
The Bloody Benders United States United States 1872-1873 10-12[30] Family of four who owned an inn and small general store in Labette County in southeastern Kansas from 1871 to 1873. They murdered around 11 clients, using a mallet and a knife to rob them,.[30] They fled when their crimes were discovered.[91] Their fate is considered uncertain, although two members of the posse that found the bodies made deathbed confessions decades later where they claimed to have tracked down and murdered the family.[30]
Thomas Piper United States United States 1873-1875 7[13] The "Boston Belfry Murderer". Church bellringer who battered, strangled and sometimes raped girls, the youngest being 5. Hanged in 1876.[92]
Callisto Grandi Kingdom of Italy Italy 1873-1875 4 Called Ammazzabambini ("Child killer"). Murdered four children who ridiculed him for his deformity and buried them in his backshop of Incisa Valdarno, near Florence.[93] He was discovered while attacking a fifth child that survived. Released after 20 years in prison, whence he entered a mental asylum voluntarily. Died of natural causes in 1911.[94]
Joseph Lapage United States United States 1874-1875 2 French Canadian woodcutter who clubbed, raped and mutilated two women in New England; the second was also decapitated. Hanged in 1878.[95]
Stephen Richards United States 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.[96][97][98]
Bochum Serial Sex Murderer German Empire Germany 1878-1882 8 Raped, strangled and mutilated women walking or working alone in the country. Wilhelm Schiff was found guilty of three murders and beheaded in January 1882, but the crimes continued until May of that year. Panic over the serial killings contributed to the full restoration of capital punishment in the German states by 1885, after a hiatus of ten to fifteen years.[99]
Thomas Neill Cream  Canada
United States United States
United Kingdom United Kingdom
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.[100]
Amelia Dyer United Kingdom United Kingdom 1879-1896 6-400+ Baby farmer who strangled the babies in her care. Hanged.[101]
Alexe Popova Russia Russia 1879-1909 300 Samara poisoner for hire who was employed by women in unhappy marriages. After her arrest she confessed to have poisoned some 300 men in a 30-year period, but was adamant that she had never killed a woman. Executed by firing squad in Saint Petersburg.[102]
Catherine Flannagan and Margaret Higgins United Kingdom United Kingdom 1880-1883 4-8[30] "The Black Widows of Liverpool". Killed at least 4 people by poisoning in order to obtain insurance money. Hanged in 1884.[103]
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, she died in 1915.[104]
Robert Butler  New Zealand
1880-1905 1-4 Irish-born burglar and highwayman. Arrested in 1880 for the murder-robbery of a family of 3 in Dunedin, but acquitted because all evidence was circumstancial. Hanged years later in Queensland for shooting a man.[105]
Francisco Guerrero  Mexico 1880-1908[106][107] 21 Known as El Chalequero ("The Vests Man"). An open misogynist, between 1880 and 1888 he raped and killed 20 women in Mexico City, often claimed to be prostitutes, strangling them or cutting their throats, in some cases also decapitating 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.

After 1881[edit]

Name Country Years active Claimed victims Notes
Sarah Jane Robinson United States United States 1881-1887 8 "The Massachusetts Borgia". Administered arsenic to friends and relatives to cash on their life insurance policies. Sentenced to hang in 1888, but changed to life in solitary confinment following a petition of clemency signed by 500 people. Died of natural causes in 1906.[108]
Servant Girl Annihilator United States United States 1884-1885 8 Unidentified killer, also nicknamed "The Austin Axe Murderer". Abducted women from their bedrooms at night, raped and killed them, hitting them with an axe or stabbing them with a knife or other iron implement, always in the head. Two husbands sleeping with their wives were dispatched first with a single strike from an axe (one died) but children, when present, were usually not harmed. The first five women targeted were black servants sleeping in cabins; the last two, white women in houses.[109] Some sources name Nathan Elgin (1867-1886), an African-American cook shot by police while he was assaulting a girl, as the likely culprit.[110][111]
Martha Needle Victoria (Australia) Victoria
Flag of the Governor of South Australia 1870-1876.svg South Australia
1885-1894 5 Poisoned her husband and three children, and her new fiancé's two brothers (one of whom survived) with arsenic. Hanged.[112]
Jane Toppan United States 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.[113]
Minnie Wallace Walkup United States United States 1885-1914? 1-3 Acquitted after a very unusual trial of poisoning her much-older husband with strychnine and arsenic, only one month after marrying him, when she was 16. Another husband and a boyfriend would die decades later under suspicious circumstances. Died of natural causes in 1957.[114]
Mary Ann Britland United Kingdom United Kingdom 1886 3 Murdered her daughter, husband and the wife of her lover with mice poison. Hanged.[115]
H. H. Holmes United States United States
Canada Canada
1886[116]-1894 9-230+ 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. He cashed on the victims' life insurance and sometimes kept and mounted their skeletons to sell them to medical institutions. Also killed an accomplice (by burning him alive) and three of his accomplice's children. Confessed to 27 murders, although the police estimated 230 victims in Chicago alone after examing the "Castle". Hanged in 1896.[117][118]
The Kelly Family United States United States 1887 11 Killed nine men and two women that stayed at their ranch in Kansas, by dropping them through a trap door. If the fall didn't kill them they finished them and buried the bodies in the barn and stables. The murders were discovered when the Kellys left for Texas. A posse tracked them down and lynched them.[119]
Guadalupe Martínez de Bejarano Mexico Mexico 1887-1892[107][120] 3 Tortured three servant girls until they died of starvation. Died in prison.
Sarah Jane Whiteling United States United States 1888 3 Poisoned her husband and two children with rat poison in Philadelphia, each victim one month after the previous one. Hanged.[121][80]
Jack the Ripper United Kingdom United Kingdom 1888-1891? 5-11 Unidentified killer who stabbed at least five prostitutes and mutilated four in the Whitechapel district of London.[122] Several suspects have been named over the years.
Johann Otto Hoch United States United States
 Austria-Hungary (alleged)
France France (alleged)
United Kingdom 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.[123]
The Managua Ripper Flag of Nicaragua (1839-1858).svg Nicaragua 1889 6 Also called "The Managua Killer". Unidentified killer who murdered and mutilated prostitutes in the periphery of Managua. In 2005, Trevor Marriott proposed that the Managua Killer and Jack the Ripper were one and the same, a merchant sailor that worked on the route between Britain and the Caribbean.[124][125]
Minnie Dean  New Zealand 1889?-1895 3+ Baby farmer hanged for the murder of three infants that were found buried in her property.[126] Only woman executed in the History of New Zealand.
Tadeo Fulgencío Mejía Mexico Mexico 1890-1900? 2+ Several human bones were found in the attic and the basement of his property after to he committed suicide. He bought the mansion of marquis of San Clemente's daughter, localized in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, in 1890 for his wife, but she was murdered during a failed rob. Supposedly this caused him a severe psychosis, murdered men and women in pairs during spiritualism rituals motivated for the delirious idea of to contact with his dead wife, dismembered the victims bodies, burned it and buried it. Now his house is known as "House of laments", alleged to be haunted.[127]
Frederick Bailey Deeming United Kingdom United Kingdom
Victoria (Australia) Victoria
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.[128]
John and Sarah Makin New South Wales New South Wales 1892 and earlier[129] 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.
Lizzie Halliday United States United States
Flag of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.svg Ireland (alleged)
1893-1906 (pre1887-1906?) 5 (8?) In 1893 acquitted on the grounds of insanity of killing her stepson, John Halliday, via burning down her New York State home. After her husband, Paul Halliday, disappeared a search of their farm found the bodies two woman in the hayloft who had been shot to death. Her husband's mutilated body was found under the floorboards of the house a few days later. Was convicted of murder and became the first woman sentenced to die in the electric chair but was found insane and sent to an asylum where she stabbed a nurse 200 times with a scissors 12 years later, killing her. She had been married five times before Paul Halliday and two of her husbands died within a year of marriage and a third was feed poisoned tea by Lizzie. One of Paul Halliday's sons claimed that Lizzie had confided to him that she murdered a previous husband in Belfast, but managed to conceal the crime, bringing her suspected death toll to at least 8 and maybe more.
Louise Vermilyea United States United States 1893-1911 9 Believed to have poisoned seven relatives and two boarders with arsenic in Chicago for economic gain. May have attempted suicide with arsenic while in home arrest in 1911,[130] if so she survived and saw all charges dismissed in 1915.[131]
Frances Knorr Victoria (Australia) Victoria c.1894 2 Baby farmer hanged for the murder of two babies that were found buried on her property.[132]
Harry T. Hayward United States United States 1894 and earlier 1-4 "The Minneapolis Svengali." Gambler and serial arsonist who confessed to three other unreported murders after being found guilty of one. Hanged in 1895.[133]
Joseph Vacher France 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.[134]
Schultz (given name unknown) German Empire German Empire
Germany German Republic
1894-1920 11 Random slayer active in Spandau. Victims included his two brothers-in-law.[135]
Theodore Durrant United States United States 1895 2 "The Demon of the Belfry". San Francisco sunday school teacher who raped and strangled two women who rebuffed his romantic advances, then abandoned their bodies in the church's library and bell chamber. Took part in the search for the first victim and suggested that she had been kidnapped and taken out of town. Hanged in 1898.[136]
Cayetano Domingo Grossi  Argentina c.1896-1898 5 Fathered five children with the two daughters of his lover and murdered the babies shortly after their birth. Executed by firing squad in 1900. The women were considered accessory and sentenced to three years in prison.[137][138]
New York Strangler United States United States 1896-1898 3-5 Possible serial killer who robbed and strangled up to six women in New York City (one survived, but could not identify her attacker). Most victims were attacked in their own flats and three had a sailor's knot tied around their neck.[139] Sailor John Brown was accused of one murder in 1898 but was acquitted when the prosecution's main witness did not appear before court.[140]
Edward Walton United States United States 1896-1908 5 Confessed the murders of two men and three women in five different states, including his common-law wife. Hanged.[141]
Belle Gunness United States United States 1896?-1908? 21-42+ Murderer for profit who killed her relatives, employees and several suitors that she contacted through lonely hearts ads in Norwegian language newspapers of the Midwest, dismembering and burying most under a chicken coop in La Porte, Indiana. The 1900 strychnine poisoning of Gunness' first husband is often reported as her first murder, but the deaths of two of her children in 1896 and 1898 (who were insured) manifested similar symptoms. Reported dead, along with her three remaining children, in a fire that destroyed her farmhouse in 1908, even though the children's bodies contained strychnine and the woman's body found next to them was decapitated and smaller than Gunness'. Several people claimed to see her alive in the following years.[142]
George Chapman United Kingdom 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.[143]

Legendary serial killers[edit]

The existence of the following serial killers is dubious or contradicts the accepted historical record:

Name Country Time Period Notes
John Jarman and his wife England England 12th to 14th century "The Jarmans of Colnbrook". 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 stands), 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).[144]
Andrew Christie Lionrampant.svg Scotland mid-14th century Called "Christie-Cleek". Purported Perth butcher turned road bandit, murderer and cannibal during a severe famine.[145]
Bernabe Cabard and Pierre Miquelon Pavillon royal de la France.svg France 1410-1415 Barber and baker duo said to have murdered, robbed and butchered 143 men in Paris; Cabard, the barber, slashed the throats of his clients while shaving them and threw their bodies in a subterranean gallery through a trapdoor, where Miquelon took their meat to make pies.[146] Claimed sometimes to be the historical inspiration of Sweeney Todd and his ally Mrs. Lovett, but there is no record of them before Charles Dupressoir's Drames Judiciaires (1849), published three years after Todd's introduction in The String of Pearls. Mary Elliott's The Tell Tale (1824) details a similar story about a Parisian barber and whig-maker executed during the reign of Napoleon I, but they are not mentioned in the works of Joseph Fouché, the Paris police chief at the time.[147]
Christman Genipperteinga Holy Roman Empire 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.[148]
Sawney Bean's clan Scotland Scotland Around 1600 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.[149]
Juan Manuel de Solorzano, Count of la Torre Cosío y la Cortina Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg New Spain 1640 - 1641? Mexican Criollo nobleman and public employee during government of Lope Díez de Armendáriz, Marquis of Cadereyta, who was accused to murder to Francisco Vélez de Pereira, fiscal of Mexico City, motivated for jealousy.[150] [151] But according to the legend he would murdered several men motivated by jealousy with a serial or spree patron. Allegedly, he believed that his wife was unfaithful and contacted with a witch or wizard who said him that his wife saw to her lover at nights to 23:00 hours, so Juan Manuel stabbed to male passers who walked near to his house at night.[152] In October 19 of 1641, he committed suicide during his reclusion in the San Francisco Convent.[153]
Sweeney Todd Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg United Kingdom 1801 and earlier London barber said to kill his clients by slashing their throats and/or throwing them through a trapdoor, after which an accomplice would make pies with the meat of their bodies. Introduced in the 1846-1847 penny dreadful The String of Pearls, Todd was first claimed to be a real criminal in the first published edition of 1850, supposedly tried in December 1801 and executed in January 1802. Court records of the time do not mention Todd or anyone similar.[147]
Lavinia Fisher United States 1810? - 1820 Reported by some legends to have been the first female serial killer in the United States of America.[154] Alleged lady owner inn in Charleston, South Carolina who was hanged with her husband for highway robbery and murder to their guests.[155]
Agnus McVee, Jim McVee and Al Riley Canada 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 records of disappearances in the area at the time of the murders nor existing death certificates of the supposed serial killers apprehended.[156]

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