11 Serial Killers You’ll Wish You’d Never Heard Of

Published May 31, 2015
Updated February 28, 2019
Published May 31, 2015
Updated February 28, 2019

Brutal murderers are all over the headlines, but you've never heard of these serial killers — and you're probably better off that way.

Rodney Alcala Portrait Face

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesRodney Alcala. 1980.

There is a class of killers that everybody knows about, a group of murderers whose crimes were so sensational that they exploded into the national consciousness when they were first discovered and never left it. These are the Jeffrey Dahmers, the Ted Bundys, and the John Wayne Gacys of the world.

But there are other, stranger stories of serial killers — stories that didn’t receive the same degree of coverage in the media. Sometimes it was because of the times in which they happened; it’s hard to keep track of the number of people disappearing at home when there’s a war on, after all.

Then there are simply regions that don’t get the same attention: endemic urban poverty and police corruption obscure secret horrors.

And there are the stories of killers that are so strange and disturbing that it’s hard to believe they happened at all.

These are the true stories of 11 killers that most people have never heard of — and will wish they hadn’t.

Luis Alfredo Garavito

Luis Garavito Child Murderer

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Luis Alfredo Garavito, perhaps the deadliest serial killer of all time, preyed on young Colombian boys in the 1980s and 1990s.

His crimes were made possible in part by another tragedy: the casualties and losses of the Colombian civil war.

In the years following the conflict, the streets were overrun with homeless children and orphans who eked out a living by picking up odd jobs on the streets.

In that climate, Garavito had his choice of victims. He frequently disguised himself as a farmer or a priest and approached boys, usually between the ages of six and sixteen, with a promise of work for cash.

He then lured them to a remote location and held them prisoner, raping, torturing, and eventually killing his victims.

He murdered freely for years, knowing his victims had no one waiting at home to file a police report. It wasn’t until the police began to discover mass graves in 1997 that the Colombian authorities realized they had a serial killer on the loose.

An excerpt from a documentary that focuses on Garavito’s confession and the psychological factors that drove him to murder.

When he was finally tried in 1999, Garavito confessed to the murder of 140 children, while some estimates place his total number of victims at more than 300.

And he could be up for release in 2021. Because Colombia does not allow life imprisonment, Garavito was sentenced to just 40 years in prison, which was further reduced to 22 after plea deals and rewards for good behavior.

Upon release, Garavito plans to run for political office and start a program to help abused children. He is an expert, after all.

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