Focus keyword: Female Serial Killers
We’ve all heard about Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy, but there are a few more female serial killers who are less well known. They may have killed fewer people than their male counterparts, but they still did some pretty despicable things. Here are 20 of the worst female serial killers in history.
Female Serial Killers
Women are indeed more likely to be the victims of violent crime than they are to commit it. But it’s true that some of history’s most dangerous serial killers have been female.
Most serial killers operate alone and keep their murderous activities secret. Still, there are some female serial killers who work with accomplices—or even entire groups—to kill multiple people on an ongoing basis.
While many of these horrific crimes were never solved and remain unsolved today, others fell apart when caught by law enforcement officers and were punished accordingly.
Nannie Doss was a serial killer who murdered 11 people in the 1940s and 1950s. She was born in Blue Mountain, Alabama, in 1905.
Nannie married a farmer and had three children with him. She became twice more pregnant by different men after her husband’s death but never had more children.
She was charged with killing four husbands, one sister-in-law, and seven of her children during her lifetime on charges ranging from murder to poisoning through arsenic ingestion over an eight-year period between 1920-1928.
Jane Toppan was a nurse in Massachusetts who killed at least 31 people between 1895 and 1901. She was known as the “Jolly Jane” because she would inject her patients with morphine and then watch them die, often singing songs or reading to them as they passed away. When it became too much for her, she would turn off the lights and go home to sleep.
In her defense, Toppan was raised by a mentally ill mother who suffered from severe hallucinations and violent outbursts. Her mother once threw herself into an open furnace because she thought that Jesus wanted her to do so (and no one stopped her). It’s not hard to see how this might have led Toppan toward becoming a serial killer—her mother had some issues!
Antonia “La Guera Loca” and Maria de la Soledad “Chente” Martinez
Antonia and Maria Martinez are sisters, born in Mexico and California, respectively. Antonia has been convicted of second-degree murder, while her sister Maria is a serial killer who murdered seven people.
The two sisters grew up together in Los Angeles, where they were both involved with a man named Tony Cisneros. Eventually, the couple moved to San Diego, California, where they started a family with their son Justin.
One night, while Tony was at work at the restaurant he owned and Maria was babysitting her nephews at home, she stabbed one of them 27 times with an ice pick before turning on his older brother, who was also stabbed multiple times but managed to escape after he ran from the house naked through the streets screaming for help.
Carol Bundy, who was given the nickname “the Sunset Strip Killer,” was a serial killer who murdered at least seven people in California.
Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian countess who is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of between 40 and 650 girls.
Bathory was known as the “Blood Countess” and “Countess Dracula” because of her bloodthirsty tendencies. She is one of the most infamous serial killers in history, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding her life, including where she buried all those bodies.
There’s no doubt that this woman deserves a spot on any list ranking female serial killers; however, there are some who think that she may have been innocent or at least less evil than people think.
Belle Gunness is one of the most infamous female serial killers in American history. She emigrated from Norway in 1881 and settled in Chicago, where she married Mads Ditlev Anton Sorenson three years later. Together, they had four children, but only two survived past infancy.
In 1908, Belle advertised for suitors through local newspapers and by word of mouth that she was a successful businesswoman who needed a farm manager to help run her property near La Porte, Indiana (a town near Chicago). After several men applied for the position, Belle invited them over for an interview at her home on April 28th, 1908 – this would be their last day alive. Over the course of several days, law enforcement discovered seven bodies buried on her property; five were found partially burned, while two others were completely charred beyond recognition due to an explosion caused by kerosene stored nearbythath ignited during the fire (they believe these bodies belonged to those who did not answer Mrs. Gunness’ ad).
Authorities also uncovered remains from eleven babies between six months old and one year old who died from starvation or strangulation; these infants may have been killed so that their mothers could care for them full-time instead of working around the clock trying to make ends meet like everyone else under Belle’s employ.
Aileen Carol Pittman was an American serial killer, who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. She claimed that she killed them in self-defense and stated that her victims had either raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute.
Wuornos was sentenced to death in 1992 and executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. The life story of Aileen Wuornos is one of the most controversial cases ever seen on film, having been depicted in several biographical films such as Monster (2003) starring Charlize Theron as Wuornos, along with documentaries like Aileen: Life & Death of a Serial Killer (2003).
Dorothea Puente was a serial killer who murdered and buried her elderly tenants in the backyard of her home in California. She was convicted of murdering 9 people, but the real number is thought to be much higher.
Puente ran a boarding house for elderly people and took them in as her tenants. One by one, she would poison them with arsenic so she could collect their social security checks for herself. She would also sell their possessions and even have sex with men who came to visit their family members staying at her home.
The police began investigating after several deaths occurred at Puente’s residence at the same time without any explanation as to why they had died or any family member coming forward to claim their bodies or belongings after they passed away.
Beverly Allitt was a British nurse who killed four children and injured nine more at the Grantham and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire, England. She is known as one of the country’s most notorious serial killers.
Allitt was born in 1967, not long after her father had undergone open-heart surgery. He died shortly after her birth, leading to speculation that she may have been born with severe physical defects, perhaps even mental retardation or autism. A series of illnesses exacerbated these problems during her childhood and adolescence she claimed to have suffered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia as well as epilepsy, which meant she required regular doses of Valium to control her seizures.
She began working at Grantham Hospital as a trainee nurse in 1988 when she was 21 years old; within two months of beginning work there, she had been placed under investigation for medication errors involving patients’ dosages (one patient was given 3 times their prescribed dose). In 1991 Allitt left for another hospital but returned 18 months later when Grantham asked for help addressing staffing shortages due to increased demand from patients following new government guidelines limiting waiting lists across all departments within hospitals across England (including emergency rooms).
Kristen Gilbert was a nurse who killed four patients with overdoses of insulin. She was convicted of murder in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison but was suspected of killing up to 38 people.
Gilbert’s crimes were not discovered until 1991, when she told a fellow inmate about her murders. After being released from prison on parole, Gilbert killed herself by overdosing on insulin.
Lizzie Borden (1860-1927) was a young woman accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an ax. She was acquitted but never able to shake the stigma of being accused of murder.
Borden was born in Massachusetts in 1860, one of five children from Andrew Borden and Abby Durfee Gray Borden. Her father owned several businesses in Fall River, including a grocery store, livery stable and other properties that would bring him considerable wealth over time.
The family lived in Maplecroft on Second Street until 1892 when they moved into 92 Second Street—where Lizzie would later be charged with murder two years later after her brother found their bodies there on August 4th at around 11AM.
Gesche Gottfried was a German serial killer who murdered at least 11 people in the city of Brunswick in 1778. She was convicted of murder and executed by decapitation, her crimes were known as the “Brunswick murders”.
If you’re wondering why she’s included on this list, it’s because she killed multiple people before being caught—and even then, she managed to escape custody before being executed!
Myra Hindley was a British serial killer who was convicted of murdering two children with her boyfriend, Ian Brady. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966 and died in 2002 at the age of 60. She is considered by many to be one of the most evil women to ever live.
Juana Barraza is a Mexican serial killer who gained notoriety under the nickname “La Mataviejitas,” which translates to “the little old lady killer.”
She was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to 240 years in prison for killing eleven women throughout her life. The victims were all middle-aged single women whom she would befriend and then rob of their money. After this, she would kill them by suffocating them with a pillow, drowning them in buckets of water or strangling them with their own underwear.
Juana Barraza had many run-ins with the law before her arrest; she was able to evade capture because of her charming demeanor and tendency to use makeup (which she stole from one of her victims). When questioned about why she chose these specific victims, Barraza explained that they were “easy prey” as they were alone at night when walking home from work or going out for drinks after work.
Rose West was a British serial killer convicted of ten murders, including two counts of rape and one count of conspiracy to rape. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995.
West began murdering in 1967 when she was 17 years old, after being introduced by her husband Fred to his friend and fellow serial killer, Ian Brady. In 2002, Rose West confessed to killing nine young women whose bodies were found at their home or buried on their property in Gloucester, England.
Amelia Dyer was a baby farmer who murdered at least fifteen infants in Victorian England. She was hanged at Newgate Prison in June 1896, and remains the last woman to be executed in Britain.
Baby farming is where a woman adopts out babies that she does not have and then neglects them when they become inconvenient for her, or has no interest in raising them. This caretaker would often try to make money by selling their caretaker services to those who couldn’t afford proper childcare or were too busy with their own lives to raise children.
The babies would be left alone while the caretaker went off to find new business opportunities; this resulted in many deaths due to starvation or malnutrition. The cruelest part of this practice is that it wasn’t just one person committing these acts; there were many women abusing this system as well as men who had wives do all of their dirty work for them!
Joanna Dennehy is a British serial killer who murdered three men, tried to murder two other men and stabbed another two. She was sentenced to life in prison for her crimes.
Born in 1981 in Hertfordshire, England, Joanna had a troubled childhood that included an absent father and stepfather as well as an alcoholic mother who often beat her when she was young. As a teenager, Joanna ran away from home on multiple occasions only to return after being picked up by police or found sleeping on park benches in London.
By age 23 she had moved out of her mother’s home and into a rented flat where she met Kevin Lee who would later become her boyfriend. When they began living together Kevin noticed that he had begun losing weight but did not question his girlfriend about it until one day when he heard gunshots coming from outside their flat window; upon checking what was going on outside he saw his girlfriend pointing a gun at someone walking down the street below them before firing several shots at him which resulted in him dropping dead from his injuries sustained during the attack.
Amy Archer-Gilligan was a nurse who used morphine to kill patients in an Indiana hospital. She was convicted of murdering two patients and attempted murder of two others, and she received a life sentence without parole.
Archer-Gilligan is known for being one of America’s most prolific serial killers as well as one of its oldest female serial killers. The majority of her victims were elderly men, who she would inject with morphine when they were admitted to the hospital with non-fatal illnesses like pneumonia or high blood pressure.
Judy Buenoano was a serial killer who murdered six people, including her husband and children. She was sentenced to death, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
Buenoano was born in 1942 in Hialeah, Florida. Her father deserted the family when she was three years old and her mother struggled financially for a time before finding work as a restaurant waitress.
As a teenager, Buenoano became pregnant from an unknown man but later miscarried their child; she also married at age 16 but divorced less than one year later due to his infidelity.
In 1966, Buenoano married Air Force sergeant James Goodyear (who had recently been stationed at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma). Shortly thereafter they were transferred overseas where they lived until 1970; during this time she gave birth to two children (a boy named Michael who died shortly after birth and another unnamed boy who lived until age eight).
The couple returned home with their surviving son only briefly before being transferred again overseas—this time to Europe where they remained until 1974 when Goodyear retired from service after 23 years of military service.
We hope you enjoyed the list. While some of the women here may seem to have a lot in common with their male counterparts, others are very different. What do you think?