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Ever wondered what most of the world's most infamous serial killers and mass-murderers did as a day-job, when they weren't busy killing people? What did they do to earn money? Did they have a profession which some people would see as "useful" for a serial killer (a butcher, a bin-man, or maybe someone who's highly experienced at lying, such as a politician), or perhaps they simply did a dull boring day-job to blend in? Whether as a part-time job, a hobby or a full-time career? Murder Mile blog investigates.
As this is a pretty big list, and requires a lot of research, I've listed the serial killers and murderers in alphabetical order and have split it in three lists. Part two will be available here in two weeks.
As always, this is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list, and it will be updated as-and-when new information arises, so if any specific detail is missing, don't get "stressy", share your knowledge with the rest of us, via my twitter handle @mmiletours. Enjoy the blog. Mx
Serial Killer & Mass-Murderers - Day-Jobs, Careers & Occupations
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Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Work. An annoying distraction to an otherwise delightful day, which – whether we like it or not, and usually it’s “not” – we put up with, as it funds our food, fags, frivolous trips and frequently boozy slips, all dubbed “fun at the weekend”, simply to help us forget that it’s almost Monday… again
And so, as you sit there, clock-watching, crisp-munching and counting down the hours till it’s time to bog off, wondering how many pee-breaks you can sneak in without anyone noticing, before it’s time to go home, a strange thought suddenly crosses your mind…
“Is my work colleague… a serial killer?”
Which is an odd thing to think, but this isn’t the first time you’ve thought that, now is it? I mean, yes they’re a little bit strange (or “eccentric” as they like to call it), but then again they’re also unnervingly handy with a letter opener, weirdly a “devout vegan” one week and a “true carnivore” the next, are always tired after a weekend but when asked “what did you do?” they always say “oh… nothing”, and keep in their drawer a roll of gaffer tape, a spare ID badge and a full can of Febreeze (the “odour eliminator”).
But, ask yourself “how well do you know your work colleague?” Especially given that having never met them before (until your boss, who doesn’t like you much, “interviewed them”), forcing your together, so now you spend more than half your day – more than most family members – within strangling range, sharing every secret, scandal and sordid detail about everything from your worst toilet habits to your so-called sex-life, accepting cups of tea off them without sniffing it first, and yet you’ve probably have never seen inside their home. Hmm, I wonder why?
So, “Is my work colleague… a serial killer?” Probably not. But statistically… there’s a chance.
Because, when they’re not murdering, serial killers are real people too, just like you. They lead regular lives, at regular times, in regular homes, by drinking in pubs, bathing in tubs, and collecting pay-stubs, for a day-job they can’t even bare, which covers the cost of their “fun at the weekend”. And when questioned by the Police, after the “incident”, their colleagues always say “we had no idea, they seemed so nice, so normal, so lovely, so… like us”.
What follows is a list of the TOP 15 “day-jobs” and professions undertaken by some of the UK and USA’s most notorious serial killers to help you decide if the person sitting next to you… is deadly:
#15 - Factory: Peter “Yorkshire Ripper” Sutcliffe was a factory worker, and Jeffrey Dahmer was a chocolate mixer, who kept the dismembered head of one victim, at work, in his work locker.
#14 - Hospitality: Richard Ramirez was night porter at the Holiday Inn, and Colin “The Gay Slayer” Ireland was barman at Admiral Duncan, Old Compton Street, Soho.
#13 – Driver: Fred West a van driver, Peter Sutcliffe HGV driver and Derrick Bird taxi-driver.
#12 – Government/State: Dennis Nilsen a civil servant, Theodore “Ted” Bundy an admin' assistant at Washington State Dept, and David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz was a postman.
#11 – Prostitution: Rosemary West, Aileen Wuornos, were all prostitutes, where-as Dorothea Puente was a brothel owner.
#10 - Landlady: Dorothea Puente, and Catherine Flannagan & Margaret Higgins - the “Black Widows of Liverpool” all owned boarding houses.
#9 – Crime: Richard Ramirez was a burglar, Henri “The Ladykiller” Desire Landru an embezzler, Peter “The Dusseldorf Vampire” Kurten and Colin Ireland both burglars.
#8 – Catering: Dennis Nilsen an army butcher, John Wayne Gacy manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Fred West ice-cream man, and Jeffrey “The Cannibal” Dahmer a sandwich maker.
#7 – Administrative: Dennis Nilsen was a job centre manager, Moor’s Murderer Ian Brady a clerical assistant), Joel Rifkin a records clerk at Times Square Stores, Moor’s Murderer Myra Hindley a junior clerk & typist and Theodore “Ted” Bundy was a researcher for DES, a government agency involved in the “search for missing women”, yes you read that correctly.
#6 – Children’s Services: John Wayne Gacy clown & children’s entertainer, Fred West ice-cream man, Beverly Allitt babysitter, Amelia Dyer a nanny and - Wisconsin serial killer, cannibal, grave-robber, necrophiliac and inspiration for the film Psycho - Ed Gein was also a baby sitter, and apparently a very good one too.
#5 – Retail/Sales: Henri Desire Landru was a 2nd hand furniture dealer, Michael Ryan part-time antiques dealer, Ed Gein insurance salesman, Michael Lupo florist, Michael Lupo sales assistant at Yves Saint Laurent on Brompton Road, London, Joel Rifkin florist’s clerk, and John “The Acid Bath Murderer” George Haigh was... a life insurance salesman.
#4 – Military: Dennis Nilsen army cook, Richard Ramirez US army in Vietnam, Henri Desire Landru French army, David Berkowitz US army, Michael Lupo Italian army, Jeffrey Dahmer US army. William Burke officer’s servants in the army, and Albert “Boston Strangler” DeSalvo US army. Note: all were army, no navy or RAF. For RAF, see “The Blackout Ripper”.
#3 – Housewife/Mother (f/t): Rosemary West, Cynthia Coffman, Faye Copeland, Janie Lou Gibbs, Judy Buenoano, Kristen Gilbert, Mary Elizabeth Wilson, Rhonda Belle Martin all had multiple husbands, and Tillie Klimek, who all murdered their own husbands and children.
#2 – Construction & Engineering: John Wayne Gacy was a builder, Fred West builder, Albert Fish painter & odd-job man, Michael “Hungerford Massacre” Ryan handyman, Ed Gein carpenter, Ian Brady labourer, Joel Rifkin landscape gardener, Anthony “Camden Ripper” Hardy engineer, John George Haigh mechanic / engineer, William “Body Snatcher” Burke navvy/labourer, and William “Body Snatcher” Hare navvy/labourer.
#1 - Medical: Dr H H Crippin homeopath / ear & eye specialist, Orville Lyn Majors nurse, Harold Shipman GP/doctor, Thomas “The Lambeth Poisoner” Neil Cream doctor, Beverly Allitt nurse, Amelia Dyer nurse, Amy Archer-Gilligan nurse & nursing home owner, Dorothea Puente nurse’s aide, Jane Toppan nurse, Judy Buenoano nurse, Kimberly Clark-Saenz nurse, Kristen Gilbert nurse, Linda Hazzard unqualified nurse, and Velma Barfield nurse.
Oddly, a list of the professions you are most likely to trust.
Surprised? You probably thought that truck drivers, butchers and army soldiers would be higher on the list, but they aren’t? Maybe you thought teachers might appear somewhere, well they do, but just not in the UK/USA (see Mohan Kumar, Kevin Paulus, Andrei Chikatilo, Ronald Janssen and Atalay Filiz)? And what about “medical”, how did that become number one? Well, in truth, it wasn’t. It was way down on the list of male serial killers, but when I added in the females, it shot up to the top.
Statistically, female serial killers are young, middle-class, usually married and (oddly) devoutly Christian, who work in “the caring profession” with vulnerable people. And given that they are more inclined to poison their victims (a method which leaves very little trace of the perpetrator), female serial killers are less likely to be caught, and often have a longer career as a killer, with men lasting two years, and women lasting between eight and eleven. Read more in this Washington Post article.
And yet, one profession was almost ominously absent, with the exception of David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz? The Postman. Why was there only one postal worker on the list of serial killers, given the prevalence of the phrase “to go postal”, meaning to “shoot your co-workers dead”, with 40+ people being gunned down from 1986-97 by postal workers in the US alone.
Because, even though a killing spree by a postman does seem to be an oddly recurring occurrence, the killer tends to target very few victims (usually less than three), specifically chosen, and usually ending with themselves. The pattern is unmistakably ominous. They include:
So, “Is my work colleague… a serial killer?” That's down to you. But if you're still unsure, feel free to compare your co-worker to my two other serial killer blogs, "Were You Born To Kill... Because Of Your Name?" and "100 Top Tips To Decide If Your Work Colleague Is A Serial Killer". Either way... it was nice knowing you.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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