33 Famous Serial Killers Whose Crimes Shocked The World

Published October 4, 2021
Updated December 13, 2023

From the unhinged crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer to the sickening murders of Jack the Ripper, read about some of the worst serial killers in human history.

If cop shows and forensic dramas have taught us one thing, it’s that serial killers are a breed apart from other human beings. They’re the monsters that hide in the shadows, the diabolical predators lurking among normal people.

But what exactly are such monsters capable of? Discover the list of the most infamous and prolific serial killers of all time and learn the full stories behind the grisly crimes they committed in the gallery above.

H H Holmes Famous Serial Killer
Earle Nelson Famous Serial Killers
Alexander Pichushkin
John Wayne Gacy
33 Famous Serial Killers Whose Crimes Shocked The World
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Taking Down A Serial Killer

And after blood has been shed and lives have been taken, what does it finally take to bring a serial killer down?

Sometimes, it's a hero — a smart detective or an especially clever victim — who saves the day. For instance, it was a victim who brought down Jeffrey Dahmer, one of history's most famous serial killers. After Tracy Edwards was lured back to Dahmer's house and handcuffed, he pretended to befriend the man who was about to eat him — and used Dahmer's false sense of security to flee the house.

In another case, a talented FBI profiler was responsible for the arrest of Robert Hansen, the "Butcher Baker" of Alaska, who hunted his victims through the woods with a knife and a gun. Special Agent Roy Hazelwood told his colleagues to look for an experienced big game hunter with low self-esteem and a stutter — and led them right to Hansen's door.

Other times, no amount of courage or smarts saves the day — it's just sheer dumb luck. That was the case with serial killer Randy Kraft, who had been a suspect but was released for lack of evidence. He was finally caught when he was pulled over for drunk driving — with a dead man in his car.

Then there was Larry Eyler, a hot-tempered house painter who was serving a life sentence for the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Bridges. It was only after he died in prison that his lawyer released a list of 17 other names he'd compiled: his other, unknown victims who had been buried in graves that were never found.

In all, the stories contained in the list of famous serial killers above are truly disturbing.




Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 98: The Truth Behind The Legend Of H. H. Holmes And His 'Murder Castle,' also available on Apple and Spotify.


After looking at this list of infamous serial killers, read about Marcel Pétiot, one of the most despicable serial killers of all time. Then, have a look at some quotes from serial killers that will leave you deeply disturbed.

Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.