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 Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez
24
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 Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy
6
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.

 3 Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer
11
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.

 4 Charles Manson

Charles Manson
4
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.

 5 Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer
4
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.

 6 John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy
7
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.

 7 Clyde Barrow

Clyde Barrow
2
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: March 24, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: May 23, 1934
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 8 Dennis Rader (BTK Killer)

Dennis Rader (BTK Killer)
8
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.

 9 James Earl Ray

James Earl Ray
4
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.

 10 Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Gypsy Rose Blanchard
5
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.

 11 Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
2
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.

 12 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.

 13 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.

 14 Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos
3
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.

 15 Mark David Chapman

Mark David Chapman
8
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.

 16 Richard Kuklinski

Richard Leonard Kuklinski
7
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.

 17 Yolanda Saldívar

Yolanda Saldívar
7
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.

 18 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.

 19 Dylan Klebold

Dylan Klebold
0
Famous As: Mass Murderer
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Nationality: American
Died: 1999 AD

 20 Eric Harris

Eric Harris
4
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: April 9, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: April 20, 1999

 21 Steven Avery

Steven Avery
3
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.

 22 Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid
2
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.

 23 Sammy Gravano

Sammy Gravano
1
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.

 24 Jesse James

Jesse James
1
Famous As: American Outlaw & Gang Leader
Birthdate: September 5, 1847
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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.

 25 Robert Durst

Robert Durst
2
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: April 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

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.

 26 Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson
3
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.

 27 Christopher Scarver

Christopher Scarver
3
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: July 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

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.

 28 Susan Atkins

Susan Atkins
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: May 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
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. 

 29 Kenneth Bianchi

Kenneth Bianchi
1
Famous As: Serial killer
Birthdate: May 22, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 30 Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof
3
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: April 3, 1994
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 31 James Holmes

James Holmes
0
Famous As: Mass Murderer
Birthdate: December 13, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
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.

 32 George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman
6
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: October 5, 1983
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

 33 John List

John List
2
Famous As: American mass murderer
Birthdate: September 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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.

 34 Charles Harrelson

Charles Harrelson
0
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: July 23, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
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.

 35 Diane Downs

Diane Downs
1
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: August 7, 1955
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
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
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 6, 1941
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
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 Leslie Van Houten

Leslie Van Houten
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: August 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

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.

 38 Patricia Krenwinkel

Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 3, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

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.

 39 Grim Sleeper

Grim Sleeper
0
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: August 30, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Died: March 28, 2020

 40 Darlie Routier

Darlie Routier
3
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: January 4, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
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.

 41 Angelo Buono, Jr.

Angelo Buono, Jr.
0
Famous As: Criminal
Birthdate: October 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: September 21, 2002

 42 Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: November 19, 1904
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: August 29, 1971

 43 Richard Loeb

Richard Loeb
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: 1905 AD
Nationality: American
Died: 1936 AD

 44 Brendan Dassey

Brendan Dassey
2
Famous As: Convicted Murderer
Birthdate: October 19, 1989
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
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.

 45 Stanley Williams

Stanley Tookie Williams
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: December 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: December 13, 2005

 46 Michael Alig

Michael Alig
2
Famous As: Club promoter
Birthdate: April 29, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 47 Susan Smith

Susan Smith
1
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: September 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

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.

 48 John Allen Muhammad

John Allen Muhammad
1
Famous As: Serial Killer
Birthdate: December 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
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.

 49 Carmine Persico

Carmine Persico
0
Famous As: Boss of the Colombo Crime Family
Birthdate: August 8, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: March 7, 2019

Gangster and mafia boss Carmine Persico, also known as The Snake, Junior, and Immortal, led the New York-based Colombo crime family for a long time. He had been convicted for a number of crimes, including racketeering and loan-sharking and was serving a 139-year sentence when he died in 2019.

 50 Jared Lee Loughner

Jared Lee Loughner
0
Famous As: Murderer
Birthdate: September 10, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

Jared Lee Loughner is a mass murderer who has pled guilty to 19 counts of murder and attempted murder in connection with the January 8, 2011, Tucson shooting. He has been sentenced to life plus 140 years in federal prison. Due to his struggles with mental health issues, he is incarcerated in a prison for inmates with specialized health issues.