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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8 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.
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.
10 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
19 Tex Watson
20 Eric Harris
21 Dylann Roof
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.
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.
25 Jesse James
26 Susan Atkins
Susan Atkins was an American murderer who was convicted for participating in eight killings, including the infamous Tate murders, carried out by members of the Manson Family. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Atkins was the longest-serving female inmate in California history at the time of her death.
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.
28 Steven Avery
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.
Christopher Scarver is a convicted murderer whose physical assault on Jesse Anderson and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer at the Columbia Correctional Institution resulted in the death of both Anderson and Dahmer. Already sentenced to life for killing a man named Steve Lohman, Christopher Scarver received two more life sentences for killing Anderson and Dahmer.
A former member of the notorious Charles Manson's "Family," Patricia Krenwinkel is a criminal who has participated in multiple murders. She was part of the gang that murdered actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time of her death. Krenwinkel has been denied parole fourteen times and is currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Women.
32 Susan Smith
Susan Smith is an American murderer who was convicted for murdering her children, Michael and Alexander, who were three-year-old and 14-month-old respectively. She falsely claimed that her kids were kidnapped by a black man before being adjudged guilty of the crime. Sentenced to life in prison, Smith is currently incarcerated at the Leath Correctional Institution in South Carolina.
34 James Holmes
35 Diane Downs
Charles Harrelson was a hitman who was convicted of assassinating John H. Wood Jr., a U.S. federal judge. Harrelson was the father of Woody Harrelson, who became an actor later, though Harrelson mostly remained estranged from his son. Harrelson's story inspired the 10-episode podcast Son of a Hitman.
40 Michael Jace
Best known for her role in HBO production, The Wire, Felicia Pearson started dealing in drugs as a teenager before being incarcerated for second degree murder, earning her GED while in prison. On her release, she was picked up for a role in The Wire, kickstarting her career as actor and rapper. She published her memoir, Grace After Midnight, in 2007.
42 Richard Loeb
John Muhammad was an American criminal, most infamous for the D.C. sniper attacks which he carried along with a juvenile partner, killing 10 people in 2002. Born John Williams, he changed his surname and was believed to be an admirer of Osama bin-Laden. He was executed with a lethal injection. He had also faced charges of abuse by his ex-wife.