American Criminals

America, a country known for its tall skyscrapers, redwood forests, amazing beaches, sun-bleached hillsides and larger than life cities, has attracted tourists in thousands, thanks to its geographic mainstays. Then there is this influential lot of rich, famous, and powerful Americans and its king-sized attractions that has made the country even more tempting to the world outside. But under all the fun and beauty, lurks a doomed, depressing side of America. That is right! America has been home to some of history's classic lawbreakers, infamous crooks, and criminals who have time and again pushed America into headlines and for all the wrong reasons. Discover all about some of America's most infamous criminals in this section. We trail down the feats and deeds of some of America's most wanted criminals in the trivia, timeline, and interesting facts presented in the biographies below.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Rank the Most Wicked American Criminals

 1 Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer
24
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: United States

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.

 2 Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy
68
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: November 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Burlington
Died: January 24, 1989

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.

 3 Larry Hoover

Larry Hoover
22
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: November 25, 1950
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi, United States
Gang leader Larry Hoover, also known as King Larry, established the Chicago street gang known as the Gangster Disciples. He later named the gang Growth and Development and focused on community service. He is currently in prison, serving six life sentences, including one for a murder committed in 1973. 

 4 Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur
95
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: June 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: September 13, 1996

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.

 5 Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes
92
Famous As: Business Woman
Birthdate: February 3, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, USA

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.

 6 Robert Durst

Robert Durst
27
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: April 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York,City New York

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.

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 7 Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer
60
Famous As: Serial Killer, Sex Offender
Birthdate: May 21, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: November 28, 1994

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.

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 8 John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy
41
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: March 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: May 10, 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.

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 9 Charles Manson

Charles Manson
33
Famous As: Criminal and Murderer
Birthdate: November 12, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: November 19, 2017

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.

 10 Ted Kaczynski

Ted Kaczynski
41
Famous As: Terrorist, Anarchist
Birthdate: May 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago

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.

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 11 Gary Ridgway

Gary Ridgway
19
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: February 18, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Nicknamed “the Green River Killer,” Gary Ridgway is a serial killer convicted of killing 49 women by driving them to remote locations, strangling them, and then disposing of their bodies in the Green River. DNA technology helped the police nab him. He had served in the Vietnam War earlier.

 12 Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos
32
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: February 29, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rochester, Michigan, United States
Died: October 9, 2002

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.

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 13 Al Capone

Al Capone
18
Famous As: Gangster
Birthdate: January 17, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: January 25, 1947

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.

 14 Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez
71
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: February 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, United States
Died: June 7, 2013

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. 

 15 Mark David Chapman

Mark David Chapman
24
Famous As: Killer of John Lennon
Birthdate: May 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas

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.

 16 Frank Abagnale

Frank Abagnale
26
Famous As: Impostor, Fraudster
Birthdate: April 27, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bronxville, New York, United States

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.

 17 Alpo Martinez

Alpo Martinez
7
Famous As: Former drug kingpin known for his notorious ways throughout the 1980's and 1990's in New York and Washington, D.C.
Birthdate: June 8, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: East Harlem, New York, United States
Died: October 31, 2021

 18 Bonnie Parker

Bonnie Parker
14
Famous As: Thief
Birthdate: October 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rowena, Texas, United States
Died: May 23, 1934

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

Frank Lucas
10
Famous As: Drug Trafficker
Birthdate: September 9, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: La Grange, North Carolina, United States
Died: May 30, 2019
Frank Lucas was a notorious drug trafficker from the 1960s and the 1970s. Legends state that he bought drugs from the "Golden Triangle" and smuggled them into the U.S. using the coffins of servicemen. His 70-year prison sentence was commuted to a 5-year sentence, after he became an informant.

 20 Ed Gein

Ed Gein
18
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: August 27, 1906
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: La Crosse County, Wisconsin, United States
Died: July 26, 1984

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
6
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: United States
Died: November 24, 1971

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.

 22 Edmund Kemper

Edmund Kemper
18
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: December 18, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Burbank, California

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.

 23 Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
16
Famous As: Armed force officer
Birthdate: October 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Died: November 24, 1963

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
9
Famous As: Gangster, Crimeboss
Birthdate: October 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States
Died: June 10, 2002

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.

 25 Dennis Rader (BTK Killer)

Dennis Rader (BTK Killer)
27
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: March 9, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pittsburg, Kansas, United States
Dennis Rader, better known as BTK, an abbreviated form of “blind, torture, kill,” is an American serial killer. He murdered 10 people and then sent letters to the police and the media, explaining his crimes. Following a 10-year hiatus, he began sending letters again, leading to his arrest and conviction.

 26 Meyer Lansky

Meyer Lansky
8
Famous As: Gangster, Mob's Accountant
Birthdate: July 4, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grodno, Belarus
Died: January 15, 1983
Meyer Lansky, or the "Mob's Accountant,” was key to the formation of the National Crime Syndicate along with Charles "Lucky" Luciano. A member of the Jewish mob, he built a worldwide gambling empire that included casinos in Las Vegas. Hyman Roth from The Godfather Part II was based on him.

 27 Joseph James DeAngelo

Joseph James DeAngelo
22
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: November 8, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bath, New York, United States

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.

 28 Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid
9
Famous As: Gunman
Birthdate: November 17, 1859
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manhattan
Died: July 14, 1881

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.

 29 Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Gypsy Rose Blanchard
37
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: July 27, 1991
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Louisiana
Gypsy Rose Blanchard came in the public eye after she teamed up with her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to murder her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. Dee Dee was suffering from Munchausen syndrome, which made her create an illusion that Gypsy suffered from several chronic illnesses, whereas Gypsy was a normal child.

 30 Andrew Cunanan

Andrew Cunanan
25
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: August 31, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: National City, California, United States
Died: July 23, 1997

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

Larry Nassar
40
Famous As: Doctor
Birthdate: August 16, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Farmington Hills, Michigan, United States

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.

 32 Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson
14
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: October 24, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Diego, California

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.

 33 David Berkowitz

David Berkowitz
34
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: June 1, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

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
13
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: May 19, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: January 16, 1936

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

Eric Harris
21
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: April 9, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: April 20, 1999

 36 Bernard Madoff

Bernard Madoff
29
Famous As: Fraudster
Birthdate: April 29, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States
Died: April 14, 2021

 37 Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner
4
Famous As: Former United States Representative
Birthdate: September 4, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States

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
6
Famous As: Assassin of of Lee Harvey Oswald
Birthdate: April 25, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 3, 1967

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.

 39 Robert Hansen

Robert Hansen
18
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: February 15, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Estherville, Iowa, United States
Died: August 21, 2014

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.

 40 Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli
10
Famous As: Executive
Birthdate: March 17, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Martin Shkreli, founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, received a 7-year prison sentence for securities fraud after he secured the manufacturing license for Daraprim and raised its price from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He had bought the only copy of the album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.

 41 Sammy Gravano

Sammy Gravano
6
Famous As: Mobster, Underboss of the Gambino crime family
Birthdate: March 12, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Sammy Gravano, also known as “Sammy the Bull,” was initially part of the Colombo crime family and later the underboss of the Gambino crime family. He became a government witness against John Gotti, the Gambino family boss. He was also involved in the murder of Gambino boss Paul Castellano.

 42 Jared Fogle

Jared Fogle
23
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 23, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

 43 H. H. Holmes

H. H. Holmes
13
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: May 16, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gilmanton, New Hampshire, United States
Died: May 7, 1896
American serial killer H.H. Holmes was sentenced to death for the murder of his accomplice Benjamin Pitezel but confessed to 27 murders and might have killed almost 200 people. He had set up a hotel, later known as the Murder Castle, specifically for this purpose. He inspired a bestselling book.

 44 Bugsy Siegel

Bugsy Siegel
0
Famous As: Mobster
Birthdate: February 28, 1906
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: June 20, 1947

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

Henry Hill
9
Famous As: Mobster
Birthdate: June 11, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: June 12, 2012
Henry Hill was a mobster from New York’s Lucchese crime family, who later testified against his former associates. His life inspired the book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family and the film Goodfellas. He was associated with crimes such as gambling, drug trafficking, and high-profile robberies at the JFK Airport.

 46 Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten
4
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: August 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Altadena, California, United States

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.

 47 Otto Warmbier

Otto Warmbier
18
Famous As: Criminals
Birthdate: December 12, 1994
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Died: June 19, 2017

 48 Mary Kay Letourneau

Mary Kay Letourneau
8
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: January 30, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tustin, California, United States
Died: July 6, 2020

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.

 49 Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh
15
Famous As: Terrorist
Birthdate: April 23, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lockport, New York, United States
Died: June 11, 2001

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.

 50 Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger
10
Famous As: Crime Boss
Birthdate: September 3, 1929
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 30, 2018

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.