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.
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.
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.
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.
Jack the Ripper was anl unidentified serial killer who predominantly targeted female prostitutes living and working in the ghetto of the East End of London. Since the murders were never solved, Jack the Ripper became infamous folklore in England. The murders were so cleverly done that the authorities were not even able to ascertain the killer's gender.
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 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.
13 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.
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.
15 Robert Durst
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.
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.
17 Tex Watson
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.
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.
21 Saeed Hanaei
22 Eric Harris
Luka Magnotta is a Canadian convicted murderer and former pornographic film actor. He was arrested for murdering Jun Lin, an international student from Wuhan. The murder was sensationalized by the media as Luka Magnotta mailed the victim's feet and hands to federal political party offices and elementary schools. The murder inspired a three-part documentary series titled Don't F**k with Cats.
26 Jesse James
27 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.
Currently serving a 28-year sentence for robbing and killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Peru in 2010, Dutch criminal Joran van der Sloot is currently also facing a probable 18-year sentence for smuggling drugs hidden in vegetables. He is allegedly also associated with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
30 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.
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.
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.
33 Issei Sagawa
Issei Sagawa is a Japanese murderer, necrophile, and cannibal. He garnered international attention when he murdered, mutilated, cannibalized, and raped Renée Hartevelt's corpse for several days in Paris in 1981. Although he was arrested, Sagawa was released two years later after being found legally insane. Issei Sagawa has been the subject of many documentary films.
34 Ned Kelly
The Robin Hood of Australia for many and villain for others, Ned Kelly become immortal not just for his murderous confrontation with the police, but also for his reported last words “such is life”. The bushranger and outlaw remains a cult figure in Australia even a century after his execution. His sympathizers considered his as a champion of the poor.
35 James Holmes
Nathuram Godse was an Indian man who gained notoriety for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, a popular figure in India's successful campaign for independence from British rule. He was an advocate of Hindu nationalism and opposed many of Gandhi’s political views. He shot Gandhi thrice at point-blank range on 30 January 1948. Godse was later executed for this crime.
40 Armin Meiwes
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.
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.
Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 29 others in the infamous Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007. He was a South Korean-born immigrant who studied at the university and had been known to suffer from mental issues. He committed suicide before the police could reach him.