33 Chilling Photos Taken Inside The Homes Of The Worst Serial Killers In History
By All That's Interesting | Edited By Erik Hawkins
Published November 21, 2022
From the everyday suburban dwelling of BTK Killer Dennis Rader to mad preacher Gary Heidnik's basement pit full of sex slaves, these serial killers' houses are some of the most disturbing places you'll ever see.
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The so called "Murder Castle" of serial murderer H.H. Holmes. In 1892, Holmes built the home specifically for killing — and he's believed to have killed upwards of 20 women there.Library of Congress
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The exterior of Dennis Rader's home in Park City, Kansas, looked perfectly normal. And, indeed, the maniac now known as the BTK Killer hid in plain sightCarl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
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Rader lived in the normal-looking house with his wife and daughter, and seemed like a devoted family man to all that knew him. Here he is with his daughter, Kerri, in their house in 1984.Kerri Dawson
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Rader's loved ones couldn't have imagined that he delighted in binding, torturing, and killing innocent victims — and that he even recreated his crimes by photographing himself bound and wearing his victims' clothing.
Between 1974 and 1991, Rader killed 10 people.True Crime Mag
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The home of Ohio serial killer Anthony Sowell — better known as the "Cleveland Strangler." In 2009, police recovered the bodies of 11 people from his property.J.D. Pooley/Getty Images
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A search of Sowell's home revealed grisly details, like a fresh grave in his basement, and a human head in a bucket.Murderpedia
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The Philadelphia house of serial killer Gary Heidnik looks unassuming from the outside, but Heidnik used his property as a home base for his disturbing crimes.
Between 1986 and 1978, Heidnik kidnapped six women, who he tortured in his basement. Two died from his abuse, and Heidnik was later sentenced to death Heidnik's story was so disturbing that infamous fictional serial killer Buffalo Bill was based on it.David Rentas/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images
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Police excavate the backyard of Gary Ridgway — the "Green River Killer — in 2001.
The Seattle-area serial killer was later convicted of killing 49 women in the 1980s and 1990s.MIKE URBAN/Seattle P.I.
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Dorothea Puente, who ran a boarding house for elderly and disabled people in Sacramento, California, looked like a sweet grandma. But she actually spent years quietly killing her tenants, burying their bodies in her backyard, and cashing their Social Security checks.Genaro Molina/Sacramento Bee/MCT/Getty Images
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After conducting a wellness check in 1988 on one of Puente's missing tenants, police decided to dig up her backyard. Puente gave them permission and offered them an extra shovel, then asked to buy a coffee and went on the lam for five days. Here she is leaving her home.
The police then dug up seven bodies in her backyard. They tracked Puente down to Los Angeles and arrested her.Facebook
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Police search the back garden of serial killer Dennis Nilsen at 23 Cranley Gardens in London, England, in 1983.
Between 1978 and 1983, Nilsen murdered at least 12 young boys and men at this address, and at a previous residence. Police found a number of human remains while searching the premises.Dennis Hart/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
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The basement of the Gloucester, England, home owned by Fred and Rosemary West. The couple were convicted of 10 murders — and Fred an additional three — which took place between the 1960s and the 1980s.
The murderous couple used this cellar to hold many of their victims, where they were raped, tortured, killed, and sometimes buried.PA Images via Getty Images
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The Wests also buried a number of their victims in their garden, seen here. Barry Batchelor – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images
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Serial killer Nathaniel White brought a number of his victims to this abandoned farmhouse in upstate New York. He was later found guilty of killing six women in the 1990s.Twitter
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For anyone frightened of clowns, John Wayne Gacy seemed scary enough. But his house at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue near Chicago, pictured here, hid more horrors than Gacy's neighbors realized.Chicago Tribune/Twitter
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By day, Gacy seemed like a good and helpful neighbor. He would often lend a hand to people living around him, and was known for throwing parties with his wife, Carole, as evidenced by this tiki bar set-up.
But between 1972 and 1978, Gacy lured dozens of young men and boys to his home and killed them.
Cook County Circuit Court
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Gacy told police he killed all his victims at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue. Here, authorities remove a body from the home.
Gacy was later convicted of 33 murders.Bettmann/Getty Images
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Dean Corll, seen here in bed holding a stuffed animal, was a serial killer who kidnapped, raped, and tortured at least 28 teenage boys and young men between 1970 and 1973 in Houston, Texas.YouTube
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From a distance, Ed Gein's farmhouse in Plainfield, Wisconsin seemed like an idyllic place. But Gein was a killer with a fascination with human body parts. Bettmann/Getty Images
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After a local woman went missing, police descended on Gein's home and uncovered a house of horrors, packed with a number of grisly objects, like this chair made of human skin.
Police also found bowls and spoons made of human bone, a lampshade made from a human face, and a belt made of nipples, among other gruesome items.Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Ed Gein, seen here being led away from his home after his arrest, later claimed that he wanted to create a "body suit" so that he could impersonate his dead mother.
Gein admitted to killing two women, and claimed that most of the body parts in his home came from graveyards. JOHN CROFT/Star Tribune via Getty Images
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John Christie killed eight between in the 1940s and 1950s, and hid many of their bodies at his 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London, home.
Here, a policeman crouches in the back room, where Christie hid one of the bodies.
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Serial killer Kendall Francois killed at least eight women between 1996 and 1998 in Poughkeepsie, New York, and hid his victims' bodies in his house.
"I could have kept going," Francois later testified of his crimes, "it would have gone on and gone on, and they never would have found a thing.”Wikimedia Commons
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The exterior of the apartment building where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer killed 17 young boys and men, 11 at his apartment.
Ralf-Finn Hestoft/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
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Some areas of Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment looked normal enough, like this corner with a fish tank and a plant.Milwaukee Police Department
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But others hinted that Dahmer's apartment had become a violent place. Here, the wall above the bed has an unsettling red stain.Milwaukee Police Department
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Members of the Manson family at Spahn Ranch.
The murderous followers of cult leader Charles made the ranch their home base on the late 1960s.Michael Haering/Los Angeles Public Library
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Serial killer Maury Travis is believed to have killed between 12 and 20 women, many of whom he raped and tortured — often on camera — in the basement of his Ferguson, Missouri, home.
He allegedly bound several of his victims to a wooden beam while torturing them.St. Louis Police Department
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The Wilseyville, California, cabin rented by serial killer Leonard Lake. In the 1980s, he and his accomplice Charles Ng raped, tortured, and killed up to 25 people. They even recorded themselves as they tortured some of their victims.murdepedia
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This hidden room was used by Lake and Ng to torture their victims.Mike Maloney/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
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Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, killed 13 women between 1975 and 1980. Though he targeted sex workers away from home, Sutcliffe kept hammers, knives, and screwdrivers, in his garage, and used his back garden to burn evidence.Drew Varley/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
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Serial killer Ed Kemper killed at least 10 people in California during the 1960s and 1970s.
Here, the head of one of Kemper's victims is dug up by Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies on April 26, 1973.Bettmann/Getty Images
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Robert Berdella abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered at least six young men in Kansas City, Missouri, between 1984 and 1987.
This is the skull of one his victims, 23-year-old Robert Sheldon, which police found in a closet.Kansas City Police Department
33 Chilling Photos Taken Inside The Homes Of The Worst Serial Killers In History
Often more disturbing than serial killers themselves are the homes that they lived in. There, some of history's most depraved killers often stored their weapons, tortured and killed victims, and hid bodies.
Like the killers themselves, their homes often looked perfectly normal from the outside. Ed Gein's Plainfield, Wisconsin, farmhouse seemed idyllic, just as Jeffrey Dahmer's Milwaukee, Wisconsin apartment building looked nondescript. They hid the horrors that happened behind their walls — until their owners got caught.
Then, the serial killer homes in the gallery above became active crime scenes. More than that, they transformed into witnesses of the crimes committed within, as investigators found body parts, blood stains, and gruesome evidence like journals and videotapes.
Above, look through 33 photos of serial killers' homes. And below, read about how some killers used their home as their primary place to kill.
The Creepy Truth About Serial Killers' Homes
Many of the 20th century's worst serial killers operated from a home base. Murderers like Dorothea Puente, Anthony Sowell, and Fred and Rosemary West all used their homes as a place to kill their victims.
For Puente, her Sacramento, California, home offered both a place to find and murder victims. There, Puente accepted elderly or disabled boarders and then quietly killed them off, buried them in her garden, and cashed their social security checks. It wasn't until 1988 that police discovered the truth — and the seven bodies in her garden — during a wellness check.
Likewise, Anthony Sowell used his Cleveland, Ohio, home as a place to kill his victims and bury their bodies. In 2009, he killed 11 women there. And when police finally descended on his property, they found victims buried in the basement or backyard and stuffed in crawlspaces.
J.D. Pooley/Getty ImagesAnthony Sowell used his Cleveland, Ohio, home as a place to kill and hide his victims.
And Fred and Rosemary West also used their Gloucester, England, home as a place to kill victims. In the 1970s and 1980s, they kidnapped, raped and killed women, then disposed of their bodies in their basement and garden. It's no wonder that their home became known as the "House of Horrors."
But perhaps no serial killer's home is quite as terrifying as John Wayne Gacy's.
John Wayne Gacy's Terrifying Double Life
To most people who knew him, John Wayne Gacy seemed perfectly normal — fun, even. By day, Gacy worked at birthday parties and hospitals as "Pogo the Clown" and even threw raucous neighborhood gatherings of his own.
But his Chicago ranch home, located at 8213 W. Summerdale Ave, had a dark secret. In fact, it had dozens. For between 1972 and 1978, Gacy raped and murdered at least 33 young men and boys. And he kept the remains of 29 of them in his home, which he shared with his wife, Carole.
Bettmann/Getty ImagesPolice eventually found the remains of 29 of John Wayne Gacy's victims in his ranch-style home near Chicago, Illinois.
The truth about this serial killer's house came to light in 1978, when police were able to connect a missing teenager named Robert Piest to Gacy. Though Gacy had already killed Piest and disposed of his body, he confessed the truth — that he'd been murdering boys and young men for years.
For Gacy and other serial killers in the gallery above, their homes acted as an important tool in their murder arsenal. They used the space — and often, the privacy — to store murder weapons, hold captives, and torture, kill, and dispose of their victims.
If the walls of these houses could talk, they'd have gruesome stories to tell.
After looking through these photos of serial killers' homes, look through these chilling photos taken by serial killers. Or, discover the story of serial killer Rodney Alcala, the winner of the TV show 'The Dating Game.'