Often, people concentrate on wicked men and overlook the equally nefarious women throughout history. The author aims to remedy this by presenting a list of not only serial killers, but also other appalling women who have inflicted pain and suffering on countless individuals. Without delay, here are the top 10 most malevolent women in history.
10. Queen Mary I
Born: 1516; Died: 1558
Mary, the sole surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was crowned queen after the deaths of her half-brother Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey's removal from the throne. Her reign is remembered for her violent and temporary return of England to Catholicism, during which numerous prominent Protestants were executed, earning her the nickname "Bloody Mary." As a result, about 800 Protestants fled the country, and were unable to return until her death. Notably, Elizabeth I is also included on this list for her similarly reprehensible conduct, sharing the tenth position.
9. Myra Hindley
Born: 1942; Died: 2002
Myra Hindley and Ian Brady committed the "Moors murders" in Manchester from 1963 to 1965, killing five children and teenagers. Evidence found in a left-luggage depot, including a tape recording of a victim's screams, led to their arrest. Before being incarcerated, Hindley became arrogant and uncaring, as witnessed by a police secretary who saw her eating sweets with her upset mother outside the courthouse.
8. Isabella of Castile
Born: 1451; Died: 1504
Isabella I of Spain and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon were responsible for unifying Spain under their grandson Carlos I. Isabella appointed Tomás de Torquemada as the first Inquisitor General, and the Alhambra Decree of 1492 forced the expulsion or conversion of Jews and Muslims, leading to the persecution of conversos by the inquisition. Isabella's cause for beatification was opened in 1974, and she is titled Servant of God in the Catholic Church.
7. Beverly Allitt
Beverley Gail Allit, known as the "Angel of Death," was a pediatric nurse who murdered four children and injured five others by injecting them with insulin or potassium to cause cardiac arrest, or by suffocating them. She attacked 13 children over 58 days before being caught. Allit's motive for the crimes remains unknown, but it is speculated that she had Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a personality disorder where one harms someone in their care for attention. Allit had a history of wearing bandages and casts without allowing examination.
6. Belle Gunness
Born: 1859; Died: 1908
Belle Gunness was a Norwegian-American female serial killer who likely killed her husbands and children, and definitely murdered most of her suitors, boyfriends, and two daughters for their life insurance policies and assets. She was over 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. She is believed to have killed over 20 victims, and possibly more than 100 over several decades. Inconsistencies during her post mortem examination led to her becoming a notorious figure in American criminal history.
5. Mary Ann Cotton
Born: 1832; Died: 1873
Mary Ann Cotton was an Englishwoman who was a for-profit serial killer. She married at 20 and had five children, four of whom died of "gastric fever and stomach pains." Her second husband, George Ward, and one of her remaining children also died of intestinal problems. She had lost three husbands, a lover, a friend, her mother, and a dozen children, all to stomach fever. Mary Ann was eventually caught and hanged for murder by arsenic poisoning. She died slowly as the hangman used too short a drop for a "clean" execution.
4. Ilse Koch
Born: 1906; Died: 1967034
Ilsa Koch, also known as the Witch of Buchenwald or the Bitch of Buchenwald, was the wife of Karl Koch, a concentration camp commandant. She reveled in torture and obscenity, and was infamous for taking tattoos from murdered inmates as souvenirs. She was promoted to chief overseer of the female guards at Buchenwald after stealing 250,000 marks from inmates. Ilsa committed suicide in 1967.
3. Irma Grese
Born: 1923; Died: 1945
Irma Grese, also known as the "Bitch of Belsen," was a female guard at several Nazi concentration camps. She was promoted to Senior Supervisor at Auschwitz in 1943 and was in charge of over 30,000 Jewish female prisoners. She enjoyed inflicting torture on prisoners using her trained dogs, a plaited whip, and even selecting prisoners for the gas chamber. She was known for her physical and emotional cruelty and carried a pistol and wore heavy boots to facilitate it.
2. Katherine Knight
Katherine Knight is the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. She had a violent history with her partners, including killing her ex-husband's puppy in front of him. She stabbed John Charles Thomas Price, her partner, at least 37 times, skinned him, and hung his "suit" from a door frame. She also cut off his head, baked his buttocks, and prepared a meal with vegetables and gravy. Fortunately, the police found the meal and a note for the children before they arrived home.
1. Elizabeth Bathory
Born: 1560; Died: 1614
Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a notorious serial killer in Hungarian/Slovak history, believed to have killed hundreds of peasant girls over a 25-year period. She was known for inflicting severe beatings, using needles, burning or mutilating victims' hands, biting off their flesh, and starving them. King Mathias II sent men to investigate rumors about missing girls and they found one dead and others locked up. Due to her social status, Bathory was not brought to trial but was kept under house arrest until her death. Contrary to folklore, she did not bathe in the blood of her victims.