Thankfully, with the rapid advances in DNA, finger-printing, psychological profiling and forensic science, along with living in a world awash with CCTV, security devices and social media covering every inch of the globe (with practically every person clutching a lightweight camera which beams images around the world in seconds), many modern-day mass-murderers are all too quickly caught. Hence why - in western society at least - we've had so few serial killers in recent years.
But that doesn't mean there aren't still serial killers out there? Not just new ones, but many who have never been caught. What follows is a non-comprehensive list of the world's most infamous serial killers and mass-murders... who were never caught. Sleep well.
The Zodiac Killer: Between 20th December 1968 and 11th October 1969, in California and possibly Nevada, The Zodiac Killer stalked, shot and stabbed 4 men and 3 women, all aged 16-29, with 2 surviving their horrifying injuries, although his death toll may have been as many as 28 (he claimed to have killed 37). The Zodiac Killer got his nickname from the symbol he used on a series of cryptograms he sent to the press, giving clues to his identity. Read more here.
Stone Man: In the last half of 1989, a serial killer known as Stone Man brutally bashed in the skulls of at least 13 homeless people in Calcutta and 12 in Bombay, using a single rock which weighed as much as 30kg, whilst his victims slept. Even today, it is unknown whether this was the work of one person, a few , a group, or a series of copy-cat killings.
The Northern Line Serial Kiiler - In the late 1970's/early 1980's, a serial killer stalked London Underground's Northern lines (Kensington, Clapham Common, Oval, Stockwell and Tottenham Court Road, to name but a few) where he killed 18+ people by pushing them in front of a tube train. This story went unreported by the press as nobody wanted a panic on their hands. That said, there is a lot of dispute over who Kelly actually killed.
Although the killer himself - Kieran Kelly, a violent alcoholic - was arrested for many other crimes, including murdering a homeless beggar in Soho by stabbing him with a broken bottle in his anus, Kieran Kelly was never tried or arrested for the murder of 18 people on the tube. Read more.
Charlie Chop-Off: Between 9th March 1972 and 7th August 1973, a sadist affectionately known as "Charlie Chop-Off" - because of his fondness for mutilating the penis of his victims - brutally stabbed and severed the penises of either 5 or 7 young black children in the Manhattan area of New York. Although Erno Solo (a serial child abductor) confessed to being "Charlie Chop-Off", he was deemed unfit to stand trail, and was sent back to the mental asylum. Read more.
The Axeman of New Orleans: Between 22nd May 1918 to 27th October 1919, a jazz-loving serial killer known as The Axeman terrorised the New Orleans, killing 6-7 people and injuring 6-7 others, by breaking into their homes and attacking them with an axe. Oddly, on 19th March 1919, The Axeman sent a letter to the press stating that he wouldn't kill anyone who was playing jazz music. That night, the city echoed to the all-night buzz of sultry sax solos, and (true to his word) nobody died. Read more:
The Servant Girl Annihilator: Between 30th December 1884 and 24th December 1885, in Austin (Texas, USA), 7 women and 1 man were murderered, with another 6 women and 2 men seriously injured. Many were dragged from their beds, knocked unconscious, severely mutilated and then deliberately posed, with some having had a sharp object thrust into their ears. This became the grisly calling-card of The Ssrvant Girl Annihilator, who it has been speculated was James Maybrick, a possible suspect in the Jack the Ripper case three years later. Read more.
The West Mesa Murders: On 2nd February 2009, a dog-walker in West Mesa (Albuquerque, New Mexico) found a human bone, this discovery lead to the mutilated remains of 11 female prostitutes, aged between 15 & 32, of mostly Hispanic origin, all of whom had disappeared between 2001 to 2005. Although there have been many suspects, no-one has been arrested for these murders, so until further evidence emerges the case remains open. Read more.
Jack the Stripper: Between 2nd February 1964 to 16th February 1965, 6 female prostitutes (and possibly 2 others) were murdered, stripped and dumped around West London, most notably near Hammersmith Bridge and floating in the River Thames, hence they are often referred to as the "Hammersmith Nudes", which was also the inspiration for Alfred Hitchock's penultimate film - Frenzy. Oddly, on many of the bodies, unusual flecks of paint were found, but were never attributed to a specific location or culprit. Read more.
* Statistically, there are on average 300+ murders in the United Kingdom each year, but it is 42 times more likely that, than the average person - if you work in the sex-trade - that you will be murdered.
Bible John: Between 22nd February 1968 and 31st October 1969, three women were strangled and raped having met a man called "John" at the Barrowland Ballroom (Glasgow); 25 year old nurse Patricia Docker, 32 year old mother of three Jemima McDonald and 29 year old Helen Puttock. Helen's sister Jean described "John" as "well-dressed, tall, slim, with reddish hair, who was polite, well-spoken" and quoted from the Bible on the taxi ride home, hence his nickname of "Bible John". Unusually, these killings have uncanny similarities to those of the Scottish serial killer Peter Tobin who lived in Glasgow at the time, but this has never been proven. Read more.
The Doodler: Between 24th January 1974 to 4th June 1975, five gay men - Gerald Earl Cavanaugh, Joseph Steven, Klaus Christmann, Frederick Elmer Capin and Harald Gullberg - were stabbed to death, in remote locations around San Fransisco Bay, having met their killer first in a bar or nightclub, for the purposes of sex.
The Doodler's unusual nickname came about owing to his habit of sketching his victim... prior to their deaths. And although The Doodler is believed to have been responsible for 14 deaths and 3 attempted murders, many witnesses refused to come forward to the Police as "being gay" was still considered a crime in 1970's America. Read more.
Obviously this is just a few of the serial-killers who were never caught, there has also been unsolved serial killings in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bowraville, Claremont, Cleveland, Colonial Parkway, Connecticut River Valley, Daytona Beach, Edgecombe County, Frankford, Gypsy Hill, Honolulu, Hwaseong, New Bedford, Lisbon, Long Island, Udine, Novosibirsk, Oakland County, Ohio, Santa Rosa, The Monster of Florence and the Texarkana Moonlight Murders. As well as Alphabet Murders, Atlanta Ripper, B1 Butcher, Beer Man, February 9th Killer, the Flat-Tire murders, the Freeway Phantom, Jeff Davis 8, I-70 Killer, Redhead murder, Smiley Face and the Night Stalker, to name but a few.
And last, there is - of course - Jack the Ripper: Supposedly, "London's most notorious serial killer" even though no-one is certain whether he killed 3 women, or 5, 7, 9, 11... or 22, if at all, with no conclusive evidence and 106 current suspects (many of which are preposterous). What it is though is a very clever piece of media manipulation using a wildly salacious story, spawned during the birth of tabloid news to lure in a new less-educated working-class customer... which the tabloids still do today. And yet as a piece of storytelling, you have to applaud its simplicity, as we're still talking about it over 140 years later. If you want to know the truth about Jack the Ripper? Book onto Murder Mile Walk.
If you "enjoyed" this blog post, why not take a peek at; London's Deadliest & Often Forgotten Disasters, Are More Serial KIllers Born During a Full Moon, Killer's Birthdays / Star Signs, Serial Killers Who Were On TV, Celebrities Who Have Killed, London's Railway of Death, Serial Killers as Kids and the World's Weirdest Death Rituals
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 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 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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