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Most Famous Female Serial Killers

The vast majority of serial killers are men — but that doesn't mean girls are all innocent. Today, we're going to look at the most famous female serial killers, and the horrific murders they committed.

By Cato ConroyPublished 7 years ago 7 min read

Criminologists and psychologists have come up with a lot of statistics about the likelihood of someone becoming a serial killer in their time. Over the years, things like the Macdonald triad and other indicators that you're a serial killer in the making have been discovered and are even backed up by statistics.

Though 93 percent of all serial killers are male, there are some women serial killers out there. Female serial killers are much less likely to be caught, primarily because people don't suspect them — and, also because the methods they use often fly under the radar.

If you think girls are innocent in the serial killer game, take a look at the most famous female serial killers of all time. We're willing to bet that they will give you chills, and terrify you to the core.

Elizabeth Bathory

One of the earliest female serial killers to ever get attention was the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who created a reign of terror in her home country of Hungary during the 16th century. Bathory believed that the way to eternally youthful looking skin was to bathe in the blood of virgins.

In order to get her virgin blood baths, she would hire young girls to work in her castle and kill them — then, drain their blood into a bath tub. She's one of the most famous female serial killers of all time, and might also be the most prolific female killer in history.

Witnesses claimed they saw her biting into victims' corpses, drinking their blood, and just being insanely cruel to them before they were killed off. No one knows how many victims she had, due to the fact that the Hungarian court muffled rumors and hid the killings from outsiders.

Many people assume she's had over 600 victims during her lifetime, rightfully earning her a nickname, "The Bloody Countess."

Belle Gunness

One of the most famous female serial killers in Victorian American history was a matronly-looking woman by the name of Belle Gunness. Though she may appear to be a homely family matriarch, looks are very deceiving.

According to investigations, Gunness was responsible for killing 40-plus people back at the turn of the last century. Most of the victims were her suitors, her children, and family members, making her one of the most heartless of all killers on this list.

The way she'd find victims was to place an ad in need of a suitor. She'd marry him, take out a life insurance policy, then would hack him to death. Upon discovering the murders, police pursued Gunness, who ended up faking her death in a house fire while she fled.

The most messed up part of this? She chopped up her own children in their beds prior to lighting the house on fire to add "authenticity."

Amelia Dyer

In order to fully understand why Amelia Dyer was one of the most famous female serial killers of the 19th century, you need to know what happened to kids who were orphaned or born out of wedlock. During these times, there were institutions called "baby farms" out in Victorian England.

Baby farms were where women who were pregnant via illegitimate means would go to give birth for a fee. Once they gave birth, they would pay the baby farm to take care of the kid. In most cases, baby farms would arrange adoptions. If the babies couldn't get adopted, they would end up being left to die of malnutrition.

Amelia Dyer was a baby farmer — and after a while, she got sick of waiting for the babies to die. So, she started killing them. She was arrested for the murders of six babies... but, was likely to have killed as many as 400 in her time.

To fully illustrate how messed up last century was, she was caught and arrested for killing babies once. She was charged with "neglect," was given a hard labor sentence, and then resumed her baby killing thing. The next time she was caught, she was sentenced to death by hanging.

As one of the most famous female serial killers in British history, papers called her "the most prolific baby farm murderer of Victorian England." We're not sure what's worse, the fact that it means there were others, or the fact that only Amelia Dyer really seemed to get punished for this level of socially-acceptable murder.

Delphine LaLaurie

There have been many famous serial killers who have become part of pop culture lexicon — Charles Manson, for example, became one of the names to inspire the goth rocker name, Marilyn Manson. However, very few have the dubious honor of being so evil that they become part of ghost lore in a place as superstitious as Louisiana.

Madame LaLaurie, as Delphine was called, was a socialite in 18th century Louisiana. Like many others in the old South, she was a slave owner who used slaves to make sure her massive plantation was run perfectly, kept clean, and capable of holding lavish parties.

Unlike others in her time, LaLaurie's cruelty was so sickeningly horrific that she became known as one of the most famous female serial killers in Louisiana history.

For years, LaLaurie would savagely beat, torture, and even eviscerate slaves who made the slightest mistake. Somehow, over the years, she was able to keep the sheer level of cruelty of her slave treatment under wraps ...until one slave decided to set fire to the plantation in a wild bid to escape.

Townsfolk immediately rushed to the scene to ensure that everyone was evacuated from the mansion. What they found horrified them. In a secret chamber in the attic, LaLaurie kept slaves hung by their necks. One slave's skull was sawed off, his brains stirred with a spoon. Others had their legs and tongues chopped off — and, they were still alive.

Disgusted by the cruelty LaLaurie showed, an angry mob began to search for her. LaLaurie allegedly disappeared, never to be seen again. However, if you listen to ghost stories, her former slaves still show up from time to time, warning others of her cruelty from beyond the grave.

Waneta Hoyt

One of the more recent serial killers to be caught in the act was Waneta Hoyt, who was active from 1965 to 1971. She was caught killing five of her infant children by smothering them to death. The deaths were officially blamed on SIDS, however, after the fifth child died, police began to get suspicious.

Many psychologists believe that Hoyt suffered from an extreme form of Munchausen's by Proxy — a mental illness that causes parents to get addicted to making their children sick in order to get attention and sympathy from others.

This is a disease that has caused others to accidentally kill their children in the past, so it's very possible that this is what happened with Hoyt.

She was one of the most famous female serial killers to have been exonerated posthumously, however, most people agree that she was guilty of the murders.

Genene Jones

Over the years, there have been many "Angels of Death" in the nursing world. Angels of Death, as they're called, are nurses who intentionally kill their patients — and unlike Dr. Kevorkian, they don't ask for permission to do so.

Genene Jones was one of the most famous female serial killers in recent years to fit into this particular category of nursing. She was active during the 70s and 80s, and she was caught poisoning infants in the hospital. It seemed like the perfect murder, simply because no one would have guessed her to be capable of such cruelty.

Investigators found her to be responsible for the death of one infant, with her suspected kill rate including over 70 different infants in her ward. She ended up being the inspiration for Annie Walkes, in horror legend Stephen King's Misery.

Dagmar Overbye

In the 1920s, one of the most famous female serial killers in Europe was Dagmar Overbye. Overbye was initially employed as a carer for children who were born outside of marriage, and much like her fellow baby farmer, Dyer, Overbye got sick of caring for children — including one of her own.

She strangled them, drowned them, or even let them burn alive by throwing them in the furnace. She's suspected of killing at least 25 children, with at least half a dozen being confirmed. With the others, there was not enough evidence to charge her.

She was sentenced to death, but ended up having her sentence commuted to life in prison. Overbye's trial ended up being one of the biggest of the century, and changed childcare laws in her native Denmark due to the fact that lawmakers didn't want another Overbye case on their hands.

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos is, by far, one of the most famous female serial killers to date. This is surprising, since she's the least prolific of all the killers on this list. She was portrayed by Charlize Theron in the film, Monster, and was infamous for killing seven different men when she was a prostitute in Florida.

According to Wuornos, she killed them in self-defense, claiming that they attacked her. Eventually, she admitted that she murdered them with the encouragement of an ex-girlfriend. She was executed in 2002 after being found guilty of multiple murders.

In death, she continued to be mentioned in the news. Most recently, an artist involved a photograph of her last meal as part of an art exhibit depicting the last meals of serial killers.


About the Creator

Cato Conroy

Cato Conroy is a Manhattan-based writer who yearns for a better world. He loves to write about politics, news reports, and interesting innovations that will impact the way we live.

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