Ask anyone on the street and I bet they can name at least 3 famous male serial killers before they start to wonder why a total stranger is asking them to name serial killers. But female serial killers always take a backseat in our minds and in the news. We usually picture serial killers as charmingly handsome yet criminally insane men with an insatiable blood lust and a trunk full of bodies but we never really think that the damsels in distress are actually the ones racking up body counts. A common reason for this is the way women kill. Most female serial killers go about their murders in more discrete ways than their male counterparts; opting for poison, drugs that mimic cardiac arrest, smothering and passing it off as death by natural causes, and other inconspicuous methods of murder. Another reason is that the women are more successful at manipulating the jury and judge into thinking that they were the victim all along or that they merely acted out of self defense. Below is a list of 15 of the most deadly, yet unheard of, female serial killers.
15 Genene Jones
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="511"] the-line-up.com[/caption]
This pediatric nurse took seeking attention and praise to an extreme when she injected the children she was supposed to care for with a lethal cocktail that was used to mimic cardiac arrest so that she could perform CPR on them after the attack and look like the hero. Sort of like when your brother punches you in the side so that by the time your mom turns around she only catches you getting your revenge and you get punished... except Jones's actions have a much higher mortality rate. Due to tampered files, the exact number of fatalities are unknown but it's estimated that they can range anywhere from 1 to 60+. According to Wikipedia, even though she was sentenced to 99 years with triple credit, she is scheduled for mandatory release in 2018 due to a Texas Prison overcrowding law.
14 Elfriede Blauensteiner
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="497"] murderpedia.org[/caption]
If you've ever seen the 90's family gothic classic, "Addams Family Values" then you are familiar with Elfriede's line of work. Though the character Debbie Jelinsky (played by Joan Cusack) was not directly based on this Austrian criminal, their crimes ring a similar bell. Elfriede was a "black widow" killer who decided that marrying men, poisoning them, and inheriting all of their spoils was the best way for her to get her jollies and to make ends meet. This case is unusual as she was 84 at the time of her conviction and when the average person pictures the sort of hardened criminal who can play god and take death into their own hands, we very rarely picture the elderly, especially elderly women who are generally considered frail and meek in our society.
13 Nannie Doss
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="527"] alchetron.com[/caption]
The Giggling Nanny was a special case. She coined her infamous nickname due to the fact that she would bust at the seams with a laugh she just couldn't stiffen anytime she would talk about the crimes she had committed. And what were those crimes? Nannie was charged with the murder of four of her husbands, her mother in law, her own mother, her sister, and her grandson. Her weapon of choice was the classic weapon in the utility belt of a serial killer who is in it for the long game-poison. Her last husband had a mighty sweet tooth and only her arsenic filled sweet potato pie could tame. According to Wikipedia, his autopsy revealed that his system had been filled with enough arsenic to kill 17 horses. However, she was only ever charged for her final husbands death and since she was a woman, she avoided the death penalty and died of leukemia in prison in 1965 instead.
12 Aileen Wuronos
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="250"] wikispaces.com[/caption]
Any fans of the South African actress Charlize Theron will be familiar with this 'monster.' This serial killer's actions and tragic backstory became the inspiration for several books, documentaries, films, and even an opera that was staged in San Francisco in 2001. Many argue that Aileen was set up to be the victim of a battery of harsh statistics when her father was arrested and then later committed suicide, her mother abandoned her to live with her incestuous brother and abusive grandfather, becoming sexually active for material gain at the age of 11, and having a child conceived during a rape at the age of 13/14. She supported herself in her late teens via prostitution and claims that all of the men she murdered were killed in self defense after they had attacked her. The array of bullets they were riddled with poked some...well....bullet sized holes in her defense and she was given the lethal injection in 2002.
11 Elizabeth Bathory
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="512"] coolinterestingstuff.com[/caption]
Let's go back in time for a little bit and visit the 16th century where the Guinness book of world record holder for "most prolific female murderer" (I beseech you all to not try and outdo her) killed, tortured, and maimed up to 650 people; but due to the prominence of their family, she was kept from facing trial, but was imprisoned. Elizabeth Bathory died shortly after she was imprisoned. If the name Elizabeth Bathory sounds familiar, it's because she is the person who we've heard sleepover scary stories about. The legendary woman who tortured young girls because she thought that their young blood would help her stay eternally youthful. The legend even went as far to claim that she would bathe in the blood.
10 Juana Barraza
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="220"] wikia.com[/caption]
Another case of childhood trauma resulting in a insatiable blood lust. Juana's alcoholic mother was so desperate for a drink that she sold her own daughter's body for beer (this eventually even led to pregnancy) which, according to many people who have studied her case (and even Juana herself – though it can be argued that she was trying to lessen her sentence by garnering some sympathy), provided the motive for Juanna's crimes. Juanna was reported to have "bludgeoned, strangled, and robbed" up to 48 elderly women over an eight year period and earned a 759 year sentence (including 16 charges of murder and aggravated assault and 11 charges of good old fashioned murder) for it and had to give up her dream of becoming a luca libre champion.
9 Rosemary West
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="498"] mirror.co.uk[/caption]
Fred and Rosemary West were not your typical #relationshipgoals. Some couples enjoy long walk along the beach, romantic candlelit dinners, sending so many eggplant emojis that you feel uncomfortable in the vegetable section of the supermarket, or something as relaxed as Netflix and chill. This couple got their thrills from something more along the lines of Netflix and kill (you know, if Netflix had existed in 1990s England... Blockbuster and kill? Betamax and kill?). After the couple was charged for extreme incidences of child abuse, the police connected the dots and realized that the Wests lied about their dead daughter being away for work and Rosemary was charged for 10 of the 12 murders they, as a couple, committed even though she insisted that he husband acted alone and she was ignorant to all charges. Though her husband avoided sentencing by the way of suicide, she became the second woman in modern English history to be sentenced to life in prison without tariff.
8 Jane Toppan
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="220"] wikipedia.org[/caption]
Jane Toppan was an ambitious lady who, when charged for over 30 murders, claimed she wanted "to have killed more people, more helpless people, than any man or woman who ever lived..." And on that bright note we shall delve into the life and death of Jane. With a dead mother and a father so off the rocker that his insanity became that of local legend (some people claiming that the Irish immigrant sewed his own eyelids shut), Jane (born Honora) was not off to a shining start in life. Her father abandoned his two daughters at a local insane asylum for indigent girls from which she was unofficially adopted shortly after. Jane worked as a nurse and decided, what better way to spend her down time than by mixing up deadly drug cocktails to bring her patients near death while she held them? Jane claimed that she did this to study the effects of the drug on their nervous systems. She began attacking and killing off her foster family and even tried poisoning herself in a failed attempt to invoke sympathy. According the Wikipedia, she was committed for life (not jailed due to an insanity plea).
7 Jeanne Weber
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="307"] murderpedia.org[/caption]
Finding a good babysitter is a task that any parent looks at with dread. Sometimes you have to wonder, is dinner and a movie really worth the interviews, the reference checks, the stress, and reviewing the nanny cam footage? But better safe than Jeanne Weber is what I always say. This child hating monster puts Ms Trunchbull to shame as she strangled pretty much every child that was put in her care. Every child she babysat wound up dead and the doctors ignored the clear marks of strangulation on their necks and wrote their death off as some sort of awful illness people got before we had vaccines. When she was caught she got a good lawyer, changed her name, moved to a new town, and begun babysitting again. After doing this for a while, she decided that the one or two children she got during babysitting wasn't enough and begun work at the holy grail of her sick hobby: a children's hospital. She was eventually was found out, was placed in an asylum for a short period of time, got out, found a man, strangled his kid too, and was finally committed... where she strangled herself shortly after.
6 Delphine LaLaurie
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="463"] flavorwire.com[/caption]
Picture my surprise when I discovered that the old racist torture lady from American Horror Story: Coven was real. The creepy thing is is that, according to her Wikipedia page, very few details of her life and death were sensationalized. The racist murderer, though kind and respectful to all people in public, really did have an attic full of tortured, bound, dead, and abused slaves. One time a slave girl who was brushing her hair hit a snag and ended up jumping out a window to avoid punishment from a whip wielding Delphine. What's most interesting about this serial killer is her death. Just like in the aforementioned programme, before her death, an angry mob of torch bearing locals who had heard of Delphine's house of horrors came crashing down upon her. Some sources say she fled to France and later died there in a boar hunting accident, but there isn't enough evidence to that claim to mark it as a truth. Maybe a witch did trap her under the city for all eternity after all...
5 Kristen Gilbert
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="429"] alchetron.com[/caption]
Yet another nurse who decided she had to be the very best, like no one ever was, and everyone had to know about it. Kristen, nicknamed "The Angel of Death", would mix epinephrine into her patients IV which would cause them to go into cardiac arrest, which she would promptly cure. According to her friends and family, she was a habitual liar and manipulator who liked to fake suicide attempts for attention and pity and would often violently threaten others. She committed 4 successful murders (there were also failed attempts and one intentional scalding of a handicapped child). She evaded the death penalty and was instead sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 20 years on top of that as well.
4 Karla Homolka
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="572"] cbc.ca[/caption]
Another husband and wife murder duo, this time with a Canadian twist. This frequently name changing murderer helped her horrific hubby kill, sexually assault, and drug 3 girls over the span of 2 years. Although, if you ask Karla, you'd get a very different story. According to her testimony, she claimed that she was not the criminal mastermind she was thought to be but rather just another victim of her husbands twisted obsession. This case was filled with controversy as the early parts of the trial were shrouded with a media ban (that was protested by her husband's lawyers as it was assumed that it could change the public and the jury's perception of him since his was successfully playing the victim) and it was later revealed that Homolka had entered into a plea bargain for a reduced sentence (which was offered to her before the video evidence condemned her). She was unconditionally released in 2005.
3 Myra Hindley
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="630"] thejournal.ie[/caption]
The last ion our list of blood lusting lovers are the Moors Murderers. These sadistic sweethearts assaulted, killed, and buried five children over the span of two years in the Saddleworth Moors (hence the ever so creative nickname the journalists reporting on the case saddled them with); giving Myra the title of 'The Most Evil Woman in Britain." After several failed appeals under the claim that she had found God and realized the error of her ways, she died in prison at the age of 60 in 2002 while her husband, who was given the title of "criminally insane" is currently rotting in Ashworth Hospital and is, reportedly, begging for death himself. Despite their seemingly remorseful states, during the trial they displayed a false sense of nonchalance that quickly turned, in Myra's case, into a desperate attempt to use the stereotypes of her gender to convince the jury and the media that she was the innocent victim in all of this which, humorously, made the media hate her even more.
2 Leonarda Cianciulli
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="397"] wikipedia.org[/caption]
Eat your heart out Pinterest because Leonarda takes DIY to the next level with her soap and teacakes, which she served to anyone who came to visit, made from human flesh. Leonarda was a heavily superstitious woman who was told by two separate fortune tellers that all of her children would die and that she would end up in either a criminal asylum or prison. Between miscarriages and illness, only 4 of her 17 pregnancies resulted in fully grown children and when she found out that her eldest and favourite (sorry other three children) was joining the military she did what any good mother does and began on a quest of human sacrifices to secure her son's safety. Unlike many of the other women on this list she did not try to convince anyone that she was innocent and spent 30 years in prison and 3 in asylum.
1 Amelia Dyer
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="220"] wikipedia.org[/caption]
We end our list with one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. In the end, Amelia was only hung for the six murders they could confirm was done by her hand, however, she was tied to the deaths of up to 400 others. How was she able to commit so many murders with little to no proof you may ask? Baby farming. In 19th century England, babies born to the poor, the unwed, and those who slept with men below their class had nowhere to go so women like Amelia posed as adoption agents and took these babies off these new mothers hands, for a fee, with the promise that they would find loving homes. The reality was that these babies would be left to starve and these false social workers would pocket the fee and find more children. Since infant mortality rates were so high and written agreements were scarce due to the fear that someone would find out and scandals would emerge, it was very difficult to prove that the baby farming had actually taken place. With success came arrogance which led to her dropping a wrongly weighed package off at the Thames by Reading and when it was inspected, the body of a baby girl was found inside of it. They were able to find an address on the package and traced it back to Amelia who was eventually convicted and hung.