Zodiac Killer was an the unidentified American serial killer who spread terror in the northern California from late 1960s to early 1970s. In his letters to police and press, he claimed to have killed 37 people, out of which five were confirmed. Though he was never caught, his case inspired numerous books, films and television series including Clint Eastwood’s classic Dirty Harry.
Ted Bundy was an American serial killer who kidnapped, raped and murdered a number of women and girls during the mid and late 1970s. He ultimately confessed to his crimes and was sentenced to death by electric chair. Later, the life of one of the most notorious criminals of the late 20th century inspired a number of books and movies.
Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac or Makaveli, is considered as one of the greatest American rappers of all time. Talent and trouble went hand in hand in Shakur’s journey to fame; the higher Shakur rose in his iconic status, the deeper he became entangled in gang violence and an infamous rivalry, which sadly led to his untimely demise.
Elizabeth Holmes is a former businesswoman who is credited with founding the now-defunct health technology company Theranos . It was later revealed that Elizabeth Holmes had deceived her investors with false claims. The rise and fall of her company inspired a book titled Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.
Robert Durst is a real estate heir and suspected killer of three people, including his first wife Kathleen McCormack Durst and longtime friend Susan Berman. The events surrounding Durst's trial have inspired films and TV series like All Good Things and The Jinx. His life also inspired the book A Deadly Secret, which was later adapted into a TV film.
One of the most notorious serial killers ever convicted in America, Jeffrey Dahmer terrorized the Milwaukee region in the 1980s. He targeted young men and boys, who he would lure to his house on some pretext before torturing and killing them. Finally arrested and imprisoned in the early 1990s, he was killed by a fellow inmate in 1994.
John Wayne Gacy was a sex offender and a serial killer. He assaulted, raped and murdered at least 33 boys and young men in 1960s and 1970s. He tortured and killed all his victims inside his ranch house near Norridge, a village in Norwood Park. He was given death sentence in March 1980 and was executed in May 1994.
Criminal and cult leader Charles Manson was the leader of the notorious Manson Family, a criminal cult that committed a series of murders in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was arrested and imprisoned many times in his life and died in 2017 while serving his life sentence at California State Prison.
From a brilliant mathematician and an assistant professor at University of California, Theodore Kaczynski became the notorious American criminal—Unabomber—who was responsible for mail bombs that killed three people and injured 23 in eighteen years. He was eventually caught and sentenced to life imprisonment after his anti-technology essay sent to the media was recognised by his brother.
11 Gary Ridgway
Sexually and physically assaulted by her own grandfather during her childhood and teenage years, Aileen Wuornos took to prostitution to support herself. From becoming pregnant at age 14 to engaging in sexual activities in exchange for drugs, Aileen's early life played a major role in turning her into a serial killer. Her story eventually became quite famous in popular culture.
13 Al Capone
Al Capone, also known by the nickname Scarface, was one of the most notorious American gangsters who controlled the organised crime in Chicago between 1925 and 1931. He was known for violence and cruelty in eliminating rival gang members, the most infamous incident being the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. His life inspired numerous books and films.
American serial killer, rapist, and burglar, Richard Ramirez terrorised the people of California, primarily Los Angeles, between 1984 and 1985 before being eventually captured by the police. The brutal criminal, also known as Night Stalker, was finally found guilty of 43 charges, including 13 murders and was sentenced to death. While on a death row, he died of cancer.
Mark David Chapman gained notoriety after murdering popular English singer-songwriter, John Lennon, of Beatles. A fan of the Beatles, Chapman said he was frustrated with Lennon's public statements and lifestyle. He even admitted that he contemplated murdering Paul McCartney, Ronald Reagan, and Johnny Carson. His story formed the bases of films like Chapter 27 and The Killing of John Lennon.
Frank Abagnale’s life story inspired the film Catch Me If You Can. He was a con man, imposter and did check forgery from the age 15 to 21. He assumed the identities of an airline pilot, a physician and a lawyer, among others. He was eventually arrested and after spending few years in prison started working for the federal government.
Best known as part of the legendary criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie Parker was infamous for her bank robberies with her partner Clyde Chestnut Barrow. They apparently murdered several policemen, too. Their crimes were romanticized in many movies including a 1967 film starring Faye Dunaway as Bonnie.
19 Frank Lucas
20 Ed Gein
Popularly known as the Butcher of Plainfield, Ed Gein was a murderer and body snatcher. His spine-chilling life insane acts like exhuming corpses and making keepsakes and trophies from their skin and bones, inspired films like The Silence of the Lambs, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Psycho.
21 D. B. Cooper
D. B. Cooper is a media epithet for an unidentified man, who in 1971 hijacked a Boeing aircraft for four parachutes and $200,000. On receiving the ransom, he released the passengers; but forced the pilot to fly towards Mexico City, jumping off the plane with the $200,000 somewhere between Seattle and Reno. Nothing has been found about him since then.
Edmund Kemper is a serial killer, rapist and a necrophile. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to eight concurrent life sentences in 1973 for murdering ten people, including his paternal grandparents and mother. Most of his victims were female college students and hitchhikers, whom he lured into his vehicle and then killed them. He later decapitated and violated them.
Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for killing Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. Further investigation suggested that he had murdered US President John F. Kennedy about 45 minutes before murdering Tippit. Though he denied the accusations, he was charged with the murder of Kennedy. While in police custody, Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner.
24 John Gotti
John Gotti was the boss of the Gambino crime family, described as America's most powerful crime syndicate. It made millions per year from criminal activities like racketeering, loan sharking, drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, pornography and illegal gambling. The FBI convicted him in 1992 and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole and later died of throat cancer.
26 Meyer Lansky
Joseph James DeAngelo is an American serial killer, rapist and burglar who carried out his crimes for many years in 1970s and 1980s and was finally captured by the police in 2018. The former police officer and auto mechanic, who was known by various names like Golden State Killer and Visalia Ransacker, was sentenced to life in prison in 2020.
Billy the Kid was a gunfighter of the American Old West whose notoriety grew when he escaped from jail after killing two sheriff's deputies. He remains one of the most notorious personalities of the American Old West, whose life has been often dramatized in popular culture. His story has inspired over 50 films, including Billy the Kid, and The Outlaw.
Andrew Cunanan was an American spree killer who killed five people, including world-renowned fashion designer Gianni Versace and business tycoon Lee Miglin, during a three-month period. The motive behind the killings remains unknown as he killed himself shortly after the murders. His story has inspired several films and TV series, including the 1998 movie The Versace Murder.
31 Larry Nassar
A convicted sex offender, Larry Nassar was once the USA Gymnastics national team doctor. He is a former professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. At least 250 young women and girls have accused him of sexual assault. He is currently in prison on charges of sexual assault of minors and child pornography.
Former salesman, Scott Peterson, is a convicted murderer who is imprisoned in San Quentin State Prison. Peterson was convicted for the murder of his seven months pregnant wife, Lacy, and unborn son, Connor. Though Lacy’s family initially thought him to be innocent, evidence gathered later proved otherwise. The case attracted tremendous media attention and even inspired numerous movies and documentaries.
A convicted serial killer, David Berkowitz is believed to have killed six people and wounded seven others. He eluded the police for several months before being captured. He is currently serving six consecutive life sentences in the maximum-security prison, Shawangunk Correctional Facility. He was popularized by the media under the name “Son of Sam.”
34 Albert Fish
Albert Fish was an American cannibal, child rapist, and serial killer. Fish confessed to three murders out of the five murders for which he was suspected. However, he claimed to have victimized about 100 people and boasted of having children in every state. His crimes and the subsequent execution by electric chair were dramatized in the film The Gray Man.
35 Eric Harris
Anthony Weiner is an American convicted sex offender and former politician. A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 9th congressional district, Anthony Weiner stirred controversy in 2011 when a sexually provocative photo, which he sent to a woman, was publicized. He landed in trouble again in 2017 for sending obscene material to a minor.
38 Jack Ruby
Jack Ruby was a Dallas nightclub owner who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of the 35th US President, John F Kennedy. Jack Ruby was charged with first-degree murder. He died of cancer in January 1967 in a hospital just after The Texas Court of Appeals had reversed his death sentence and was slated to grant him a new trial.
One of America’s most notorious serial killers, Robert Hansen was called ‘The Butcher Baker’ as he owned a bakery. He is said to have killed seventeen women and raped many others in and around Anchorage, Alaska, during the 1970s and 1980s. Most of his victims were strippers and sex workers. He was sentenced to 461 years in prison in 1984.
42 Jared Fogle
43 H. H. Holmes
44 Bugsy Siegel
Notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel held significant influence within the Italian-American Mafia and was regarded as a “celebrity gangster.” Good-looking and charismatic, he was an enigmatic figure. He played a key role in the development of the Las Vegas Strip. Noted for his prowess with guns, he met a grisly end when he was shot dead in 1947.
45 Henry Hill
Leslie Van Houten is a convicted murderer. A former member of the infamous Manson Family, Houten played a major role in the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969. Since her highly publicized court trials, Leslie Van Houten has been portrayed in several films; she has been played by actresses like Kristen Hager, Tania Raymonde, Greer Grammer, Hannah Murray, and Victoria Pedretti.
American teacher Mary Kay Letourneau was pleaded guilty in 1997 to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child. She began a sexual relationship with her sixth-grade student Vili Fualaau and had two children with him. Letourneau served two prison sentences as their relationship was forbidden by law. The two got married in 2005 and got separated in 2019.
A Gulf War veteran, Timothy McVeigh made headlines after carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. He defended his actions saying that he wanted to inspire a revolution against what he considered a tyrannical government. The bombing remains the most malignant act of domestic terrorism in American history. He was executed by lethal injection in 2001.
Whitey Bulger was an Irish-American FBI informant and organized crime boss. His arrest and subsequent trial exposed FBI handler John Connolly who had helped Bulger in return for the latter's information about the Patriarca crime family. Bulger's life and work inspired the 2015 film Black Mass. Many fictional TV and film characters have also been inspired by Whitey Bulger.