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Who are serial killers? Murdering people for personal (mostly sexual) gratification, these are people who have committed more than three murders. Serial killers commit murders in order to experience the excitement that they feel from the act of murder. Their modus operandi for committing these murders almost never changes and their victims tend to possess similar traits. They more often than not have a high IQ and a troubled childhood. If you look back at the life histories of some of the most famous serial killers in history, you will notice this to be true. Most serial killers have a fascination for violence and indulge in sadomasochism, fetishism, and pornography.

Famous Female Serial Killers

Most women who become serial killers tend to become murderers either to fulfill some material need or because of emotions of passion and vindictiveness. Many female serial killers tend to be suffering from a syndrome known as the M√ľnchausen syndrome but this may not be the case always. It is much more difficult to pin down the psychological motivation of female serial killers compared to men.

Aileen Wuornos
If you have watched the blood-chilling movie Monster, then you probably know the story of Aileen Wuornos. She had a tough childhood and at the age of 14 she was the victim of sexual assault by a stranger which left her pregnant. All these circumstances had a huge effect on her psyche and led her to choose a life as a commercial sex worker. It was in this phase of her life that her violent streak started displaying itself. She killed seven men, all of whom were people she had solicited. She would shoot them and rob them. On being apprehended in 1991 she claimed to have killed these men in self defense. She was sentenced to death by lethal injection and was executed in the year 2002. She was probably one of the most famous serial killers in America.

Amelia Dyer
For over twenty years, Amelia Dyer terrorized the city of London killing innocent babies, gaining the moniker of Baby Butcher in the process. Her modus operandi was simple. She would advertise in the paper and offer adoption services to unmarried women charging them a certain amount in return. She would take the babies and promise the mothers of giving them a life they would have dreamed of. Once she adopted these babies she would completely neglect them, which caused their death in several cases. Later she started strangulating them and using opium injections to kill them. Caught in 1896, and sentenced to death, she was one of the most prolific female serial killers killing almost 247 babies.

Belle Sorenson Gunness
It is still uncertain whether Belle Gunness committed the murders for money and property, or whether she was affected by the circumstances of her life. It wasn't for nothing that Belle was known as the Black Widow after the species of spider that eats its own mate. She would give out matrimonial ads for partners, marry these men, adopt their children (if any) and ask them to shift to her house in La Porte. Once they were there, she would drug them and slaughter them in the same fashion as she would her pigs. She would then bury them in the land around her farm. This continued for several years before, in 1908, her farm was reduced to ashes by a fire. It is believed that Belle Gunness died in this fire. It was in the aftermath of the fire, that many of the severely butchered bodies were discovered.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory
This Hungarian Countess has been held responsible for almost 650 murders. All her victims were young girls. Tales abound that the Countess used the blood of these young girls to have baths to retain her beauty and youth. As many as 300 witness accounts were collected against accomplices. She was never tried or even convicted but she was kept under house arrest at her castle where she died four years later. It is believed that the character of Count Dracula is partially based on her. Countess Elizabeth Bathory has always been an interesting case study for experts studying serial killers' psychology.

Madame Popova
Whether or not Madame Popova can be called a serial killer is a bone of contention as she killed abusive husbands for a profit. She charged a fee from women who were being abused by their husbands and killed these men using poisons and a variety of other methods. She killed almost 300 men till she was arrested in 1909 and executed by a firing squad.

Famous Male Serial Killers

Most serial killers are men. This is because generally, serial killing is result of a need for sexual gratification. Many infamous killers have also committed crimes due to a perverse interest in death, a need to fantasize about murder, and insanity.

Ed Gein
Norman Bates from Psycho and Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs are just two fictional characters inspired by the real life serial killer who was Ed Gein. He would kill his victims, skin them and use different parts of their body as decorations for his house. When the police apprehended him, Gein had killed almost 15 women and used their skulls as bowls, skin as jewelry, and genitalia for making masks. He was convicted and sent to the Waupun State Hospital as he was found mentally unstable. Ed Gein died from cancer at the age of 78.

Gilles de Rais
A French army leader, a fellow in arms of Joan of Arc, and a murderer of children. Gilles de Rais is probably one of the names that will always crop up when you talk about the top 10 serial killers. Tales suggest that he killed most of these children as sacrifice, in order to gain wealth. He would kidnap kids, pamper them, and then take pleasure in shocking them by narrating to them in minute detail how he planned to murder them. He would cut their throats, slaughter them, beat them with sticks, etc.

Jack the Ripper
Till date no one knows the actual identity of Jack the Ripper. Conspiracy theorists continue to debate about the identity of this famous serial killer who terrorized London. His victims were prostitutes who resided in the Whitechapel area. The killer would murder the victims by strangulation and then remove their internal organs. The precision with which this was done led to speculation that the killer had surgical and anatomical knowledge. Jack the Ripper has been the center of a lot of attention in the past many years.

Ted Bundy
No list of serial killers in America would ever be complete without a detailed description of Ted Bundy who famously said, "We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow." His modus operandi would be the same. He would approach potential victims asking them for help, take them to his car and then render them unconscious by hitting them with a crowbar. His good looks and natural charm made it very difficult for people to be suspicious of him. His victims would be raped repeatedly and then killed. It is said that he also engaged in necrophilia, sleeping with the corpses till they decayed. He confessed to the murders of forty young women.

Zodiac
This serial killer known as Zodiac would probably come out on top in any list of famous serial killers. Like Jack the Ripper the identity of this serial killer remains unknown. He would send letters to the press about the murders he was committing sending cryptograms with the letters. It is believed that Zodiac is responsible for almost thirty seven murders.

This was a list of the most famous serial killers in history. Murder was, is, and always will be one of the most wicked and heinous crimes that anyone can commit. These people killed and took an abnormal and perverse pleasure in it.