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Protectors to Predators: 10 Lawmen Who Became Serial Killers

Cases That Shook the Publics Trust

By Matthew JackPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 7 min read
Protectors to Predators: 10 Lawmen Who Became Serial Killers
Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

It’s a chilling thought, yet history and headlines have occasionally revealed a dark truth: not all law enforcement officers uphold the noble ethos of their badge. This article delves into the unsettling reality of law enforcement officers who crossed the line to become serial killers, shattering the trust and safety we associate with their roles. From the guise of authority to their eventual unmasking, we explore the twisted journeys of these protectors turned predators, uncovering their crimes’ psychological, historical, and societal impact.

1. Joseph James DeAngelo

Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer, was a former police officer who committed numerous crimes across California. His criminal activities included 51 rapes, 120 burglaries, and 13 murders between 1976 and 1986. DeAngelo’s law enforcement background helped him evade capture for decades until DNA evidence finally led to his arrest.

2. Mikhail Popkov

Mikhail Popkov, a former Russian police officer, was convicted of killing 78 women between 1992 and 2010. Known as “The Werewolf,” Popkov used his position to gain the trust of his victims, often offering them rides late at night before committing the murders. His intimate knowledge of police procedures allowed him to cover his tracks effectively.

3. Gerard John Schaefer

Gerard John Schaefer was a former Florida police officer who was responsible for the murders of at least two women, with suspicions that he may have committed over 30 murders. Schaefer often used his authority as a police officer to detain his victims under false pretenses before torturing and killing them.

4. Stephane Bourgoin *

Stephane Bourgoin is a French individual who claimed to be a serial killer expert and profiler, with assertions of having a career in law enforcement. However, he later admitted to fabricating his entire career, including his work in law enforcement and his involvement in serial killings, casting doubt on any claims of him being a serial killer or a law enforcement officer.

5. Arsen Bayrambekov

Arsen Bayrambekov, a Russian ex-police officer, was convicted of participating in a series of ritualistic murders. His crimes were particularly heinous, involving the sacrifice of his victims in a misguided attempt to gain wealth and power.

6. John Christie

John Christie, a British serial killer, served as a War Reserve Police officer during World War II. He committed multiple murders at his residence on Rillington Place and even managed to frame his neighbor for one of his crimes. Christie’s police background gave him insights into evading detection.

7. Yevgeny Chuplinsky

Yevgeny Chuplinsky, a former Russian police officer known as the “Novosibirsk Maniac,” was responsible for the murders of women between 1998 and 2006. His position as a police officer allowed him to avoid suspicion and continue his killing spree for several years.

8. Beltrán Cortés

Beltrán Cortés, a Costa Rican former judicial investigator, was convicted of several murders. His role in law enforcement gave him access to information and techniques that likely aided him in committing and covering up his crimes.

9. Christopher Dorner

Christopher Dorner was a former LAPD officer who, in February 2013, went on a series of shootings as a form of retaliation against his former department. Dorner felt wronged by the police department and sought revenge, leading to a massive manhunt.

10. Tore Hedin

Tore Hedin was a Swedish police officer who killed ten people in what is known as the worst mass murder in Swedish history. His crimes shocked the nation, and his role as a police officer added a layer of betrayal to the already heinous acts.

*Please note that the case of Stephane Bourgoin is unique as he fabricated his claims of being a serial killer and having a law enforcement background. Therefore, his inclusion in this list is based on his false claims rather than confirmed criminal acts as a law enforcement officer.

Common Characteristics

The common characteristics of serial killers who were law enforcement officers are not very different from other serial killers. These identified characteristics have been found within most serial killers overall, not just former law enforcement officers.

1. Psychopathy

Serial killers often display psychopathic traits, which include a profound lack of remorse or guilt, a tendency towards impulsive behavior, and a predatory stance towards their victims. These traits can be particularly dangerous in serial killers with law enforcement backgrounds, as they may use their authority to evade detection and manipulate investigations.

2. Charm and Manipulation

Many serial killers are adept at charming and manipulating those around them, skills that can be enhanced by the trust and respect typically afforded to law enforcement officers. This can make it easier for them to allay suspicions and gain access to potential victims.

3. Narcissism

Narcissism is a trait often found in serial killers, characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a belief that they are superior to others. This can drive them to commit crimes to validate their sense of superiority, and in the context of law enforcement, it may also lead to a belief that they are above the law.

4. Desire for Power and Control

Serial killers frequently have a desire for power and control over their victims, which can be exacerbated by the power they hold as law enforcement officers. This power can be abused to intimidate and control victims, making it easier for them to carry out their crimes.

5. Lack of Empathy

A lack of empathy is a hallmark of many serial killers, allowing them to inflict harm without feeling remorse. When combined with a law enforcement role, this lack of empathy can be particularly insidious, as it may be hidden behind a facade of public service.

6. Escalating Violence

Serial killers often exhibit escalating patterns of violence, with their crimes becoming more severe or frequent over time. Law enforcement officers with this trait may use their knowledge of crime scenes and forensics to cover their tracks, making their escalation harder to detect.

7. Intelligence

Intelligence levels among serial killers can vary, but those with law enforcement experience may possess a higher-than-average intelligence that aids them in planning and executing crimes without leaving evidence. Their understanding of the criminal justice system can also help them avoid capture.

8. Planning and Methodical Approach

Serial killers with law enforcement backgrounds may plan their crimes with a high degree of precision, using their knowledge of investigative techniques to avoid leaving clues. This systematic approach can make their crimes particularly difficult to solve.

9. Ability to Lead Double Lives

The ability to lead a double life is common among serial killers, allowing them to maintain an appearance of normalcy while engaging in criminal activities. Law enforcement officers may find it easier to maintain this facade due to the trust placed in their professional role.

10. Abuse of Power

Serial killers who have worked in law enforcement may abuse their power to facilitate their crimes. This can include using their badge to coerce victims or leveraging their position to obstruct justice. Their role can provide them with opportunities and means to commit crimes that would be unavailable to other individuals.


The cases of serial killers who were once law enforcement officers serve as a chilling reminder of the potential for abuse of power and the betrayal of public trust. Individuals like Joseph James DeAngelo, Mikhail Popkov, and John Christie, among others, used their positions to facilitate their heinous crimes, exploiting their knowledge of police procedures and investigative techniques to evade capture and continue their killing sprees. These cases underscore the importance of thorough background checks and psychological evaluations for those entering law enforcement roles, as well as the need for ongoing monitoring and support to ensure that individuals in positions of authority do not misuse their power. The revelation of these individuals as serial killers also highlights the complexities of human behavior and the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in identifying and addressing potential threats from within their ranks.


About the Creator

Matthew Jack

My 30-year law enforcement career fuels my interest in true crime writing. My writing extends my investigative mindset, offers comprehensive case overviews, and invites you, my readers, to engage in pursuing truth and resolution.

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