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 Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez
14
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: February 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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. 

 2 Eric Rudolph

Eric Rudolph
4
Famous As: Terrorist
Birthdate: September 19, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

Eric Rudolph is a terrorist convicted for a series of bombings in the southern US between 1996 and 1998. He is also known as the Olympic Park Bomber. He was listed as one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives for five years before being captured. He is currently incarcerated at the ADX Florence Supermax prison. 

 3 Ted Kaczynski

Ted Kaczynski
2
Famous As: Terrorist, Anarchist
Birthdate: May 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

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.

 4 Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer
1
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Nationality: American

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.

 5 Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy
5
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: November 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
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.

 6 Charles Manson

Charles Manson
1
Famous As: Criminal and Murderer
Birthdate: November 12, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
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.

Recommended Lists:

 7 Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer
3
Famous As: Serial Killer, Sex Offender
Birthdate: May 21, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
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.

You May Like

 8 Yolanda Saldívar

Yolanda Saldívar
2
Famous As: Murder Convict
Birthdate: September 19, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Yolanda Saldívar is serving a sentence for the murder of Latin pop star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in March 1995. Yolanda managed Selena’s fan club and fashion boutiques and was fired for embezzling money from both. When Selena confronted her, Yolanda refused to submit the financial records and shot her to death.
Recommended Lists:

 9 Frank Abagnale

Frank Abagnale
2
Famous As: Impostor, Fraudster
Birthdate: April 27, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

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.

 10 Al Capone

Al Capone
1
Famous As: Gangster
Birthdate: January 17, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
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.

Recommended Lists:

 11 D. B. Cooper

D. B. Cooper
0
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Nationality: American
Died: November 24, 1971

 12 Mark David Chapman

Mark David Chapman
4
Famous As: Killer of John Lennon
Birthdate: May 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

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.

 13 Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
1
Famous As: Armed force officer
Birthdate: October 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
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.

 14 Edmund Kemper

Edmund Kemper
0
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: December 18, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

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.

 15 Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Gypsy Rose Blanchard
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: July 27, 1991
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
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.

 16 Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes
3
Famous As: Business Woman
Birthdate: February 3, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

 17 John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy
3
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: March 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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.

 18 Dennis Rader (BTK Killer)

Dennis Rader (BTK Killer)
5
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: March 9, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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.

 19 Rodney Alcala

Rodney Alcala
0
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: August 23, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Rodney Alcala received a death sentence for five murders in the 1970s, and 25 years for two more murders. Known as “The Dating Game Killer” for his appearance on the show The Dating Game in the middle of the murders, Alcala also collected explicit photos of his victims.

 20 James Earl Ray

James Earl Ray
0
Famous As: Assassin
Birthdate: March 10, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: April 23, 1998

James Earl Ray was charged with assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis on April 4, 1968 and was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1969. He served 29 years of his sentence before he died at the age of 70 from problems related to kidney disease and liver failure caused by hepatitis C.

 21 Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh
2
Famous As: Terrorist
Birthdate: April 23, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
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.

 22 Ed Gein

Ed Gein
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: August 27, 1906
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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.

 23 John Gotti

John Gotti
0
Famous As: Mobster & Mafia
Birthdate: October 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
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.

 24 Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos
1
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: February 29, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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.

 25 Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli
1
Famous As: Executive
Birthdate: March 17, 1983
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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.

 26 Gary Ridgway

Gary Leon Ridgway
0
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: February 18, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
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.

 27 Henry Hill

Henry Hill
0
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: June 11, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
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.

 28 David Berkowitz

David Berkowitz
0
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: June 1, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

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.”

 29 Andrew Cunanan

Andrew Cunanan
0
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: August 31, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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.

 30 Frank Lucas

Frank Lucas
0
Famous As: Drug Trafficker
Birthdate: September 9, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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.

 31 Richard Kuklinski

Richard Leonard Kuklinski
6
Famous As: Contract Killer
Birthdate: April 11, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: March 5, 2006
Richard Kuklinski, known as The Iceman, was a contract killer who worked for various mafia families. He earned his nickname after he froze the body of a victim. He received a life sentence for killing two gang members and two associates and later received 30 more years for another murder.

 32 Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht
2
Famous As: Drug Trafficker
Birthdate: March 27, 1984
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Ross Ulbricht, or "Dread Pirate Roberts,” created the dark market site Silk Road, which let people make anonymous drug deals, using bitcoins. He was eventually convicted of a number of crimes, including hacking and money laundering, and was sentenced to a double life imprisonment plus 40 years without parole.

 33 Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger
0
Famous As: American convicted murderer and former organized crime figure
Birthdate: September 3, 1929
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

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.

 34 Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams
2
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: May 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Wayne Williams is an American serial killer currently serving life imprisonment for the murders of two men in Atlanta, Georgia. Although he is convicted of only two murders, Wayne Williams is suspected to have committed at least 23 of the 30 murders that took place in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981. His chilling story has inspired TV series and films.

 35 Michael Alig

Michael Alig
1
Famous As: Club promoter
Birthdate: April 29, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 36 Albert Fish

Albert Fish
0
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: May 19, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
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.

 37 H. H. Holmes

H.H. Holmes
2
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: May 16, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: 1896 AD
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.

 38 Robert Hansen

Robert Hansen
1
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: February 15, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
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.

 39 Popcorn Sutton

Popcorn Sutton
2
Famous As: Criminal, Non Fiction Writer
Birthdate: October 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: March 16, 2009

Popcorn Sutton was an American bootlegger and moonshiner whose autobiographical guide to moonshining production made him a popular figure. He also released a home video showcasing his moonshining activities before he was sentenced to prison for offenses related to illegal firearm possession and moonshining. After his death by suicide, a new company and its whiskey brand were named after him.

 40 Frank Sheeran

Frank Sheeran
1
Famous As: Teamster
Birthdate: October 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: December 14, 2003
Teamsters Union official Frank Sheeran, also known as "The Irishman,” was accused of being associated with the Bufalino crime family. He was sentenced to 32 years behind bars for labor racketeering. His confession of killing Jimmy Hoffa in Charles Brandt’s book inspired the Martin Scorsese film The Irishman.

 41 Steven Avery

Steven Avery
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: July 9, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Steven Avery is an American murderer who was convicted in 2007 for the murder of Teresa Halbach. He was previously convicted in 1986 of attempted murder, only to be acquitted in 2003. His 2003 exoneration encouraged the enactment of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, which aims at preventing wrongful convictions. His 2007 murder trial inspired the series Making a Murderer.

 42 Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson
2
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: October 24, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

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.

 43 Jared Fogle

Jared Fogle
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 23, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

 44 Michael Franzese

Michael Franzese
1
Famous As: Crime Boss
Birthdate: May 27, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Michael Franzese's story of being an influential member of the Colombo crime family to becoming a motivational speaker and writer inspired several works of art, including Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas where he was played by actor Joseph Bono. In 1986, he was named in Fortune magazine's list of Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses.

 45 Richard Wershe Jr.

Richard Wershe Jr.
0
Famous As: FBI Informant, Drug Dealer
Birthdate: July 18, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Richard Wershe Jr. became the youngest FBI informant when he was around 14 to 16 years of age. He had started selling cocaine as a teenager and was arrested at 17. He was sentenced to life but was granted parole later. He inspired the 2018 movie White Boy Rick.

 46 Henry Lee Lucas

Henry Lee Lucas
0
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: August 23, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: March 12, 2001
Henry Lee Lucas, also known as “The Confession Killer,” had confessed to killing over 600 people. However, most of his confessions were said to be false. He was convicted of 11 killings and received a death sentence, later commuted to life, for the murder of Debra Jackson.

 47 Sammy Gravano

Sammy Gravano
0
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: March 12, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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.

 48 Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid
0
Famous As: Gunman
Birthdate: November 17, 1859
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
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.

 49 John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Jr.
0
Birthdate: May 29, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Obsessed with actor Jodie Foster, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress her. Reagan survived the attack. Hinckley was sent to psychiatric care, after being found not guilty, due to insanity. Public outrage over the incident led to the passage of the Insanity Defense Reform Act.

 50 Larry Nassar

Larry Nassar
0
Famous As: Doctor
Birthdate: August 16, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

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.