Serial killers are a disturbing reality across the globe. These chilling cases not only send shivers down our spines but also reveal the darkest aspects of the human psyche. While some of the most infamous serial killers hail from the United States, we learn that these heinous crimes transcend borders and culture. Even countries with low crime rates, such as Japan, are not immune to the evil lurks in unexpected places.
The United States has witnessed a staggering number of serial killers throughout its history, earning it the dubious distinction of being home to some of the most notorious murderers in the world. From the likes of Ted Bundy, who left a trail of death across several states, to John Wayne Gacy, who preyed on young boys in Chicago.
Another standout example of an American serial killer, is the case of Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer. Ridgway was convicted of murdering 49 women in the 1980s and 1990s, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. His reign of terror took place in and around Washington State, leaving a community in fear for years.
England is no stranger to the horrors of serial killers. One of the most infamous cases is that of Harold Shipman, known as Doctor Death. This British doctor used his position to murder at least 218 patients. His crimes were only discovered when a suspicious death was reported to the authorities, leading to an investigation that unearthed a horrifying history of patient murders.
In a different vein, the Moors Murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, brutally murdered five children in the 1960s. The pair lured their young victims before sexually abusing and killing them, burying their bodies on the bleak Saddleworth Moor.
And we’d be remiss if we did not mention the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who killed more than 13 women and attempted to kill countless more throughout England between 1975 and 1980.
South Africa, too, has had its share of serial killers. In the 1980s and 1990s, the nation was terrorised by the "Hammer Killer," also known as Cedric Maake. Maake was responsible for a series of gruesome murders, using a hammer as his weapon of choice. His reign of terror was marked by extreme brutality and left communities living in fear.
With the fall of Apartheid in South Africa in the early 1990’s, many rural women flocked to the cities, looking for work. When police uncovered body after body in the veld outside Johannesburg and Pretoria, they informed the public they were dealing with a serial killer. All the victims had arranged to meet a man for job interviews and were never seen alive again. He struck in the areas of Atteridgeville, Boksburg and Cleveland, and was thus named the ABC Killer. Police eventually identified him as Moses Sithole, and his victim count is estimated to be more than 38.
Canada, often praised for its low crime rates, has seen its own share of serial killers. Notably, Robert Pickton, also known as the "Pig Farmer Killer," sent shockwaves through the country. Operating from his farm in British Columbia, Pickton targeted vulnerable women, many of them involved in the sex trade, and brutally murdered them. His case exposed the vulnerabilities of marginalised communities and led to significant changes in how law enforcement and society deal with cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
It was 1989 and the scenic area of New Brunswick’s Miramichi was under siege. Elderly people were brutalized, raped and murdered. Once buzzing with locals and holiday makers, the streets in The Miramichi were quiet. People were simply too scared to go out. They barricaded themselves into their homes. The quiet streets were dotted with police checkpoints and black-suited members of the RCMP Emergency Response Team, patrolled the area with guns, large vans and helicopters. The Monster of The Miramichi, Allan Legere, was brought to justice and sentenced to life in prison. His most recent request for parole in 2021 was denied.
Italy, renowned for its rich cultural history and art, has its own dark chapter in the annals of serial killers. One particularly haunting figure is Leonarda Cianciulli, often referred to as the "Soap-Maker of Correggio." In the 1930s, Leonarda lured three women into her home, murdering them in gruesome ways before using their remains to make soap and teacakes. Her motive was rooted in superstition and the belief that human sacrifices would protect her family from harm.
Another Italian serial killer that cannot be overlooked, is the infamous, yet to be identified, "Monster of Florence" who terrorized the region for decades. This serial killer was responsible for a series of gruesome murders of young couples in the countryside around Florence, often leaving sexually explicit clues at the crime scenes. The case remains one of Italy's most baffling unsolved mysteries, with a mix of intrigue, conspiracy theories, and the enigmatic identity of the killer contributing to its enduring notoriety.
Japan, a nation known for its low crime rates, has also had its share of serial killers. One notorious case is the "Otaku Murderer," Tsutomu Miyazaki. Active in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Miyazaki targeted young girls, often mutilating their bodies post-mortem. His case shocked Japanese society, leading to calls for stricter law enforcement measures.
The name Takahiro Shiraishi is now associated with one of the most chilling and recent serial killer cases in Japan. Known as the "Twitter Killer," Shiraishi was arrested in 2020 after a string of gruesome murders. He used social media platforms, particularly Twitter, to lure vulnerable individuals into his clutches, offering them companionship and understanding before ultimately taking their lives. Shiraishi was convicted of murdering and dismembering nine people, mostly young women, in a deeply disturbing case that shook Japan and raised concerns about the dangers of online interactions.
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