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 Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy
173
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.

 2 Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer
51
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: United States of America

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.

 3 Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer
126
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.

 4 Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez
123
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. 

 5 John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy
114
Famous As: Serial Killer & Sex Offender
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.

 6 Ed Gein

Ed Gein
31
Famous As: Murderer, Suspected Serial Killer & Body Snatcher
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.

 7 Charles Manson

Charles Manson
67
Famous As: Led the Manson Family, a Cult Based in California
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.

You May Like

 8 Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos
84
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.

 9 Bonnie Parker

Bonnie Parker
27
Famous As: Bank Robber
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 Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid
21
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.

 11 John Gotti

John Gotti
16
Famous As: Boss of the Gambino Crime Family
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.

 12 Christopher Scarver

Christopher Scarver
32
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.

 13 Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
23
Famous As: U.S. Marine Veteran Who Assassinated John F. Kennedy
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.

 14 Joseph James DeAngelo

Joseph James DeAngelo
31
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.

 15 James Earl Ray

James Earl Ray
20
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.

 16 Jack Ruby

Jack Ruby
9
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.

 17 John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth
30
Famous As: Assassin of President Abraham Lincoln
Birthdate: May 10, 1838
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bel Air, Maryland, United States
Died: April 26, 1865
John Wilkes Booth was a stage actor belonging to the Maryland-based Booth theatrical family. He was a Confederate supporter and disagreed with President Abraham Lincoln. He thus shot and killed Lincoln in April 1865. Though Booth fled, he was tracked down and killed in Virginia 12 days later.

 18 Darlie Routier

Darlie Routier
9
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.

 19 Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins
23
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: May 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Gabriel, California, United States
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. 

 20 Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten
9
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.

 21 Joseph Lyle Menéndez

Joseph Lyle Menéndez
0
Famous As: American brothers who were convicted in 1996 for the murders of their parents
Birthdate: January 10, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, United States

 22 Susan Smith

Susan Smith
13
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.

 23 Diane Downs

Diane Downs
7
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. 

 24 Patricia Krenwinkel

Patricia Krenwinkel
6
Famous As: Murderer, Member of Manson Crime Family
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.

 25 Richard Speck

Richard Speck
7
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. 

 26 Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson
20
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.

 27 Lee Boyd Malvo

Lee Boyd Malvo
15
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: February 18, 1985
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica

Lee Boyd Malvo was involved in the Beltway sniper attacks of 2002, which killed 10 people and injured three in the Washington Metropolitan Area. He had befriended his accomplice in the act, John Allen Muhammad, as a juvenile. Malvo is currently serving multiple life sentences at a supermax prison.

 28 Tex Watson

Tex Watson
6
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 2, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Farmersville, Texas, United States

 29 Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur
19
Famous As: Murder Convict
Birthdate: July 14, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Assata Shakur is a former member of the revolutionary organization 'Black Liberation Army'. Sentenced to life for murder, Shakur escaped from the 'Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women' and was eventually granted political asylum in Cuba. She is the first woman to be added to FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. Her life inspired the documentary film Eyes of the Rainbow.

 30 Albert Anastasia

Albert Anastasia
5
Famous As: Mobster
Birthdate: February 26, 1902
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Parghelia, Italy
Died: October 25, 1957
Italian-American mobster Umberto "Albert" Anastasia, or Anastasio, co-founded the American Mafia and later co-established Murder, Inc. Nicknamed The One-Man Army, he later became the boss of the Gambino crime family and also began controlling the New York waterfront. He was killed on the orders of Carlo Gambino and Vito Genovese.

 31 Brendan Dassey

Brendan Dassey
7
Famous As: Convicted Murderer
Birthdate: October 19, 1989
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States
Brendan Dassey is a convicted murderer who confessed to the rape and murder of Wisconsin-based photographer Teresa Halbach and the mutilation of her corpse. His story was featured in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer. Dassey’s uncle, Steven Avery, too, was convicted of the crime.

 32 John List

John List
6
Famous As: 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.

 33 John Wesley Hardin

John Wesley Hardin
6
Famous As: Gunfighter
Birthdate: May 26, 1853
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bonham, Texas, United States
Died: August 19, 1895

 34 Vincent Gigante

Vincent Gigante
7
Famous As: Mobster
Birthdate: March 29, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 19, 2005

 35 Charles Harrelson

Charles Harrelson
4
Famous As: Hitman, Organized crime figure
Birthdate: July 23, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lovelady, Texas, United States
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.

 36 Johnny Ringo

Johnny Ringo
4
Famous As: American Old West outlaw
Birthdate: May 3, 1850
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Greens Fork, Indiana, United States
Died: July 13, 1882

 37 Stanley Williams

Stanley Williams
12
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: December 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Died: December 13, 2005

 38 Omar Mateen

Omar Mateen
5
Famous As: Terrorist
Birthdate: November 16, 1986
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New Hyde Park, New York, United States
Died: June 12, 2016

 39 Drew Peterson

Drew Peterson
1
Famous As: Police Officer
Birthdate: January 5, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bolingbrook, Illinois, United States

 40 Grim Sleeper

Grim Sleeper
11
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: August 30, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: March 28, 2020

 41 Erik Galen Menéndez

Erik Galen Menéndez
1
Famous As: American brothers who were convicted in 1996 for the murders of their parents
Birthdate: November 27, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Blackwood, New Jersey, United States

 42 Karla Faye Tucker

Karla Faye Tucker
3
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: November 18, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Died: February 3, 1998

Karla Faye Tucker was a convicted criminal who killed two people with a pickaxe during a burglary. She committed the crime with a few accomplices in 1983. She was convicted of murder the following year and sentenced to death. She was executed by lethal injection in 1998. She was the first woman to be executed in US since1984. 

 43 James Holmes

James Holmes
12
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.

 44 Robert Stroud

Robert Stroud
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: November 21, 1963

 45 Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold
3
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: November 19, 1904
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: August 29, 1971

 46 Richard Loeb

Richard Loeb
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: 1905 AD
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: 1936 AD

 47 Bernie Tiede

Bernie Tiede
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: August 2, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Abilene, Texas, United States

 48 James Burke

James Burke
3
Famous As: Mobster
Birthdate: July 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: April 13, 1996

 49 Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: September 12, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Anishinabe (Chippewa) Turtle Mountain Reservation, North Dakota, USA

 50 Cleveland Torso Murderer

Cleveland Torso Murderer
3
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: United States