American Murderers

When you think of America, you think of bluegrass and beaches, staggering natural beauty and colossal skyscrapers, restaurant loving cities and big open skies. But did you know that America also lays claims to some of world's most spine-chilling, cold-blooded, grotesque killers, dangerous enough to have movies made on them. That is right! Call them mental, disturbed or plain evil, these murderers have skillfully committed most horrifying acts of killing, gross enough to send shivers down one’s spine. They are the epitome of sadism and notoriety. From the “Alligator Man” Joe Ball who killed as many as 20 women to Jeffrey Dahmer, another America’s most sinister serial killer, the history of America is tainted by the blood of many slayed victims. Explore the different, darker, lesser known side of the otherwise warm and welcoming USA in our murderers section where we explore the biographies, timeline, trivia and facts on some of the most shockingly, inhumane murderers to ever walk on the sand and streets of America.

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 Murderers

 1 Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer
14
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
53
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 Robert Durst

Robert Durst
15
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.

 4 Charles Manson

Charles Manson
29
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.

 5 Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer
45
Famous As: Serial Killer, Sex Offender
Birthdate: May 21, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: West Allis, Wisconsin, U.S.
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.

 6 John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy
31
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.

 7 Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez
62
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. 

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 8 Ed Gein

Ed Gein
14
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.

 9 Bonnie Parker

Bonnie Parker
11
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.

 10 John Gotti

John Gotti
7
Famous As: Mobster & Mafia
Birthdate: October 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York City, 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.

 11 Joseph James DeAngelo

Joseph James DeAngelo
17
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: November 8, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bath, New York

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.

 12 Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
15
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.

 13 Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid
7
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.

 14 Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger
8
Famous As: American convicted murderer and former organized crime figure
Birthdate: September 3, 1929
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dorchester

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.

 15 Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos
22
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: February 29, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Troy, 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.

 16 Mark David Chapman

Mark David Chapman
20
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.

 17 Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Gypsy Rose Blanchard
25
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.

 18 Sammy Gravano

Sammy Gravano
3
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: March 12, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, 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.

 19 Tex Watson

Tex Watson
2
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 2, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Farmersville, Texas, United States

 20 Eric Harris

Eric Harris
17
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: April 9, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: April 20, 1999

 21 Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof
11
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: April 3, 1994
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Columbia, South Carolina, USA

 22 Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson
10
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.

 23 Yolanda Saldívar

Yolanda Saldívar
31
Famous As: Murder Convict
Birthdate: September 19, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
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.

 24 Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten
3
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.

 25 Jesse James

Jesse James
3
Famous As: American Outlaw & Gang Leader
Birthdate: September 5, 1847
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kearney
Died: April 3, 1882
Jesse James was an outlaw from Missouri, who robbed trains, stagecoaches, and banks. He was also a guerrilla and led the James–Younger Gang. Along with his brother Frank, he joined pro-Confederate “bushwhackers” during the American Civil War. James became a legendary Wild West figure after his death.

 26 Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins
11
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: May 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Gabriel, California
Died: September 24, 2009

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. 

 27 James Earl Ray

James Earl Ray
9
Famous As: Assassin
Birthdate: March 10, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Alton, Illinois, United States
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.

 28 Steven Avery

Steven Avery
10
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: July 9, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States

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.

 29 Vincent Gigante

Vincent Gigante
1
Famous As: Mobster
Birthdate: March 29, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 19, 2005

 30 Christopher Scarver

Christopher Scarver
10
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: July 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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.

 31 Patricia Krenwinkel

Patricia Krenwinkel
2
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 3, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

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
7
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: September 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Union, South Carolina

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.

 33 Richard Kuklinski

Richard Kuklinski
11
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: April 11, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
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.

 34 James Holmes

James Holmes
7
Famous As: Mass Murderer
Birthdate: December 13, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: San Diego, California, U.S.
James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 more in the July 2012 Colorado shooting at a movie theater which was screening The Dark Knight Rises. He had also set up his apartment with bombs before the shooting. He received 12 consecutive life sentences and 3,318 years without parole.

 35 Diane Downs

Diane Downs
4
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: August 7, 1955
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Diane Downs killed her own daughter in 1983. She also tried killing her other children and then made up a story about how a man had tried carjacking her and had shot her children. She was sentenced to life plus 50 years but is eligible for parole at age 65. 

 36 Richard Speck

Richard Speck
3
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 6, 1941
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kirkwood, Illinois, United States
Died: December 5, 1991
Richard Speck sent shockwaves across Chicago when he killed eight student nurses in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood, in 1966. He strangled or stabbed all his victims, also raping one, while a ninth lady escaped by hiding. Speck was sentenced to death, but his sentence was later commuted to 400-1200 years. 

 37 Charles Harrelson

Charles Harrelson
1
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: July 23, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lovelady, Texas, U.S.
Died: March 15, 2007

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.

 38 John Eleuthère du Pont

John Eleuthère du Pont
2
Famous As: Philanthropist, Murderer
Birthdate: November 22, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 9, 2010

 39 George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman
23
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: October 5, 1983
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manassas, Virginia, U.S.

 40 Michael Jace

Michael Jace
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 13, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paterson, New Jersey, United States

 41 Felicia Pearson

Felicia Pearson
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 18, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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

Richard Loeb
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: 1905 AD
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: 1936 AD

 43 Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold
2
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: November 19, 1904
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: August 29, 1971

 44 John Allen Muhammad

John Allen Muhammad
10
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: December 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: November 10, 2009

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.

 45 John List

John List
4
Famous As: American mass murderer
Birthdate: September 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bay City, Michigan, United States
Died: March 21, 2008
John List murdered his mother, wife, and three children at their house in New Jersey in 1971. He then relocated to Denver, as Bob Clark, became an accountant, remarried, and even joined a Lutheran congregation. He was arrested and convicted through an America's Most Wanted episode, after 18 years.

 46 Stanley Williams

Stanley Williams
5
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: December 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Died: December 13, 2005

 47 Robert John Bardo

Robert John Bardo
3
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: January 2, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tucson, Arizona, United States

 48 Drew Peterson

Drew Peterson
0
Famous As: Police Officer
Birthdate: January 5, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bolingbrook, Illinois, United States

 49 George Hill Hodel

George Hill Hodel
1
Famous As: Suspected Murderer
Birthdate: October 10, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Died: May 16, 1999

 50 Darlie Routier

Darlie Routier
4
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: January 4, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States
Darlie Routier was convicted of stabbing her 5-year-old son Damon to death in 1996 and sentenced to death by lethal injection. She was also charged with killing her other son, 6-year-old Devon, but not tried for it. Following multiple appeals by her, fresh DNA tests were ordered and are pending.