Movies Inspired by Real Serial Killers
2181 6.7 6.91. From Hell (2001)
Birth Name: Unknown
Alias: Jack The Ripper
Span of killings: 1880s
Number of Victims: It is unclear just how many women the Ripper killed. It is generally accepted that he killed five, though the public, press, and even many junior police officers believed that the Ripper was responsible for nine slayings.
Method: The Ripper seized the women by their throats and strangled them. No sign of intercourse was ever detected nor did the Ripper masturbate over the bodies. Usually he took a piece of the victim's viscera.
Real Story: The muderer who terrorized the streets of London in the 1880s was never caught. His killings happened between september and november 1888, and became really popular on the newspapers. The nickname "Jack The Ripper" was given by the ripper himself, on letters written for the newspapers, but there is no evidence to suppose that the letters were actually written by him and the police seem convinced that they were the work of a journalist.
2819 7.1 7.72. Zodiac (2007)
Birth Name: Unknown
Alias: The Zodiac Killer
Number of Victims: 5 killed, 2 injured; 37 claimed.
Span of killings: 1968 (possibly as early as 1963) –1969 (possibly as late as 1973).
Film: Dirty Harry(1971), The Zodiac Killer (1971), The Zodiac (2005), Zodiac Killer (2005), Zodiac (2007)
Real Story: The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s. His identity remains unknown. The Zodiac killer coined his name in a series of taunting letters he sent to the press. His letters included four cryptograms (or ciphers), three of which have yet to be solved. The Zodiac murdered five known victims between December 1968 and October 1969. Four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29 were targeted. Numerous suspects have been named by law enforcement and amateur investigators, but no conclusive evidence has surfaced. In April 2004, the San Francisco Police Department marked the case "inactive" but re-opened it some time before March 2007. The case also remains open in the the city of Vallejo as well as in Napa and Solano Counties. The California Department of Justice also has maintained an open case file on the Zodiac murders since 1969. In August 2008, a Sacramento man claimed he had discovered evidence that pointed to his deceased stepfather being the Zodiac Killer named Jack Tarrance. A black hood, a knife encrusted with blood, writing samples, and rolls of photographic film were collected by the FBI. The FBI has not said when it will release the results of its tests. To date, those tests have neither concluded nor ruled out the suspect as the Zodiac Killer, and the FBI continues to collect more evidence to build a DNA profile.
23 6.6 4.73. The Helter Skelter Murders (1970)
Birth Name: Charles Milles Manson
Number of Victims: Unknown
Span of killings: Late 60s
Penalty: Death, reduced by abolition of death penalty to life in prison. Ineligible for parole consideration until 2012.
Film: The Helter Skelter Murders (1970), The Manson Family (2003)
Real Story: If ever a kid had a miserable start in life Charles Manson was it. An illegitimate and unplanned child, he was born in 1934 to Kathleen Maddox, a promiscuous sixteen-year-old who drank too much and got into a lot of trouble. Kathleen was briefly married to William Manson who gave his name to the boy. Rejected by his mother, he began to steal at a very young age and lived entirely by stealing and burglary. He spent half his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offenses. He's known as the man who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. Manson established himself as a guru in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, which, during 1967's "Summer of Love", was emerging as the signature hippie locale. Expounding a philosophy that included some of the Scientology he had studied in prison, he soon had his first group of young followers, most of them female. Manson and other members of his so-called family were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area during two August nights in 1969. Prosecutors said that Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war that he believed was prophesied in the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter." Manson was also convicted of the earlier murder of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home, and the slaying of former stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea at the Spahn movie ranch in Chatsworth, where Manson had his commune. Manson initially was sentenced to death. A 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court found the state's death penalty law at the time unconstitutional and his death sentence was changed in 1977 to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The septuagenarian has made 11 failed bids for parole since 1978, the last in 2007 when he was ordered to continue serving life sentences. Manson's next parole hearing is scheduled for 2012.
107 5.7 5.54. Karla (2006)
Karla Homolka & Paul Bernardo
Birth Names: Karla Leanne Homolka and Paul Kenneth Bernardo
Span of killings: 1991 to 1993
Number of Victims:
17 5.1 4.95. Starkweather (2004)
Name: Charles Starkweather
Number of Victims: 11
Span of Killings: 1957 - 1958
Country: USA States: Nebraska and Wyoming
Method: Rifle shots and knives.
Penalty: Death (eletric chair)
Films: The Sadist (1963), Badlands (1973), Murder in the Heartland, Natural Born Killers (1994), The Frighteners (1996) and Starkweather (2004).
Real Story: 17 year old Charlie Starkweather, and his girlfriend, 14 years old Caril Fugate, murdered 10 people in one week, in Nebraska.
In november 1957, Charles killed a man in a convenience store in 1957 after he refused to sell a gift he wanted to give Caril Ann, but the police had no evidence against him. After a fight in Caril's house in January 1958, Charles shot her parents and her two year old sister, killing all. The couple stole a car and ran towards Mexico, killing seven people on the way. Three days later they were caught by the police. A year later Starkweather was put to death on the electric chair. Fugate was sentenced for life but was released in 1976.
1567 7.1 7.36. Monster (2003)
Name: Aileen Carol Wuornos
Number of Victims: 7 (men)
Span of killings: 1989 - 1990
Country: USA State: Florida
Penalty: Death by lethal injection.
Film: Monster (2003)
Real Story: Like most serial killers, Aileen Wuornos had a traumatic childhood. She never knew her father, as he was imprisoned for the rape of a 7-year-old girl shortly before Wuornos was born and hanged himself in prison in 1969. In January 1960, her mother abandoned Aileen and her older bother Keith, leaving them with their maternal grandparents. They were legally adopted in 1960 by the Wuornoses and took their surname. From a young age, Wuornos engaged in sex with multiple partners, including her own brother. At age 15, after her adoptive mother's death in 1971, Wuornos was rendered homeless by her grandfather and entered into prostitution.
She killed 7 men in Florida, later claiming they raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders, and executed via lethal injection on October 9, 2002.
87 7.5 7.67. 10 Rillington Place (1971)
Birth Name: John Reginald Halliday Christie
Alias: The Monster Of Rillington Place
Number of Victims: 8
Span of killings: 1943–1953
Penalty: Death (hanged)
Method: Stranglement and post-mortem rape.
Film: 10 Rillington Place
Real Story: John Christie was born in Yorkshire in 1898, and grew up in a household largely dominated by his martinet father and over-protective mother and sisters, with the result that he grew up to be a sexually dysfunctional, control-obsessed hypochondriac, with an inherent dislike of women. Christie's first known victim was killed sometime in 1943: 21-year-old Ruth Fuerst, an Austrian girl whom he was having an affair with at the time, whom he impulsively strangled during sex, and then buried in the communal garden at Rillington Place. Excited by the ultimate power thrill that the death of his victim had afforded, he took great care in planning his next attack, on 32-year-old neighbour, Muriel Eady. On 8th November 1944, he invited her around, claiming to be able to cure a recurring chest ailment with a special inhaler, which actually contained carbon monoxide; once she was rendered unconscious he strangled her whilst raping her, and she died during the process. She too joined Fuerst in the back garden.
Christie killed 7 women (including his wife) and a one year old girl, daughter to one of his victims. He was arrested in 1953 and charged with his wife's murder. While in prison, he confessed to murdering all the women, but he never admitted to killing the baby (experts alleged that Christie's murder of Geraldine may have disturbed him to such an extent that he subsequently blocked it out of his mind). He was arrested, tried, and hanged for murder in 1953.
96 7.3 7.28. The Boston Strangler (1968)
Birth Name: Albert DeSalvo
Alias: The Boston Strangler
Number of Victims: 13
Span of killings: 1962 - 1964
Method: Rape and stranglement. He left the bodies naked and positioned as if they were posing for erotic photographs.
Real Story: Between June 14, 1962 and January 4, 1964, 13 single women between the ages of 19 and 85 were murdered in the Boston area; they were eventually tied to the Boston Strangler. Most of the women were sexually assaulted in their apartments, then strangled with articles of clothing. The eldest victim died of a heart attack. Two others were stabbed to death, one of whom was also badly beaten. Without any sign of forced entry into their dwellings, the women were assumed to have either known their killer or voluntarily allowed him into their homes. The police were not convinced that all of these murders were the work of a single individual, especially because of the wide gap in the victims' ages; much of the public believed the crimes were committed by one person, however. Despite all the efforts of all involved trying to solve the case, it was the strangler himself who caused his own capture. On 27th October, 1964, he entered a young woman's home posing as a detective. He tied his victim to her bed, proceeded to sexually assault her, and suddenly left, saying "I'm sorry" as he went. The woman's description to the police led to his identification as Albert De Salvo, with the publication of his photo resulting in women coming forward in droves identifying him as the man who had assaulted them. At this point, De Salvo was not suspected of being involved with the spate of stranglings that had taken place over a period of nearly two years, and wasn't until he was being held on a rape charge that he confessed in great detail his activities as the Boston Strangler.
However, there was no evidence to substantiate his confession, and as such, stood trial for earlier, unrelated crimes of robbery and sexual offences. He was sent to prison for life in 1967, but was to be murdered six years later while in his cell.
48 6.5 6.29. Evilenko (2004)
Birth Name: Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo
Alias: Butcher of Rostov
Number of Victims: 53
Span of killings: 1978 - 1990
Country: Soviet Union
Penalty: Death (execution - gunshot to the head))
Method: He raped and stabbed his victims to death. They were mostly women and children that he would atract to deserted locations promissing sweets for the children and money for the women.
Films: Citizen X (1995) and EvilEnko (2004).
Real Story: Chikatilo started his "killing career" late, at the age of 32. He was married and had 2 children. He tried a career as a teacher in the 70s but it ended after several complaints of attempted molestation. He eventually took a job as a clerk for a factory.
In 1978 he lured a 9-year-old girl into an old house which he had secretly purchased, and attempted to rape her but failed to achieve an erection. When the girl struggled, he stabbed her to death. He ejaculated in the process of knifing the child. From that point, Chikatilo was only able to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm through stabbing and slashing women and children to death. He never stoped.
The discovery of more victims in 1990 led a massive operation by the police, and even though Chikatilo was linked to a crime scene, the police never had enough evidence for arrest and prosecution. The strategy chosen by the police force to make him confess was to give him hope that they all believed he was a sick man and needed medical attention. They hoped to make him believe that if he confessed he would not be prosecuted by reason of insanity. Finally a psychiatrist was invited to assist in questioning Chikatilo. After a long conversation, Chikatilo confessed to the murders. Again, confession was not enough to prosecute him. Interrogators still needed hard evidence. Chikatilo volunteered to provide evidence, showing buried bodies that the police had not yet discovered. That gave investigators sufficient evidence to prosecute. Between November 30 and December 5, Chikatilo confessed to and described 56 murders. Three of the victims had been buried and could not be found or identified. On February 1994, Chikatilo was taken to a soundproofed room in prison and executed by a single gunshot behind the right ear.
93 5.5 5.610. Dahmer (2002)
Birth Name: Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer
Number of Victims: 17
Span of killings: 1978 - 1991
Penalty: Life imprisonment
Method: His murders were particularly gruesome, involving rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism.
Film: The Secret Life: Jeff Dahmer (1993) Dahmer (2002), Raising Jeff Dahmer (2006)
Real Story: Jeffrey Dahmer was born to fundamentalist Christian parents. Some feel that repressed homosexuality may have contributed to his hatred of homosexuals. He killed seventeen men between 1978 and 1991. Most of his victims were young, homosexual or bi-sexual black men whom Dahmer subjected to sexual assaults prior to murdering. He achieved notoriety after his arrest following the discovery of his victims' decaying bodies in acid vats in his apartment, including severed heads in his refrigerator and other human body parts around his home, an altar of candles, and human skulls. Dahmer took photo's of each stage of his victims death, including the sexual explicit acts he performed on his victims at each stage. The explanation offered by Dahmer himself was that he was attempting to remove free will from his victims to create an "automaton", compliant to his wishes and acquiescent to his sexual desires. He got what he deserved when he was beaten to death with a broomstick by a fellow inmate in prison.
341 6.5 6.611. Summer of Sam (1999)
Name: David Richard Berkowitz
Alias: Son of Sam, .44 Caliber Killer
Number of Victims: 6 killed, 7 wounded
Span of killings: 1976 - 1977
Penalty: 365 years in prison
Film: Summer of Sam (1999),
Real Story: His crimes had terrorized New York for a year. Shortly after his arrest in August 1977, Berkowitz confessed to killing six people and wounding seven others in the course of eight shootings in New York City between 1976 and 1977. Berkowitz subsequently claimed that he was commanded to kill by a demon who possessed his neighbor's dog. He later amended his confession to claim he was the shooter in only two incidents, personally killing three people and wounding a fourth. The other victims were killed, Berkowitz claimed, by members of a violent Satanic cult of which he was a member. Though he remains the only person charged with or convicted of the shootings, some law enforcement authorities argue that Berkowitz's claims are credible: according to John Hockenberry formerly of MSNBC, many officials involved in the original "Son of Sam" case suspected that more than one person was committing the murders. Hockenberry also reported that the Son of Sam case was reopened in 1996 and, as of 2004, it was still considered open.
99 5.3 5.912. Ted Bundy (2002)
Birth Name: Theodore Robert Cowell
Number of Victims: 26–35+
Span of killings: 1973 - 1978
Country: USA States: Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Florida.
Penalty: Death (eletric chair)
Method: Typically, Bundy would bludgeon his victims, then strangle them to death. He also engaged in rape and necrophilia.
Film: Ted Bundy (2002)
Real Story: He was born illegitimately and to avoid social stigma, Bundy's maternal grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, claimed him as their son. He grew up believing that his mother was his older sister.
The young Ted was known to torture animals, was obsessed with knives, and engaged in voyeurism. Years later, while on Florida's death row, Bundy would describe a part of himself that, from a young age, was fascinated by images of sex and violence. In early prison interviews, Bundy called this part of himself "the entity". While still in his teens, Bundy would look through libraries for detective magazines and books on crime, focusing on sources that described sexual violence and featured pictures of dead bodies and violent sexuality. Before he was even out of high school, Bundy was a compulsive thief, a shoplifter, and on his way to becoming an amateur criminal. Evidence suggests that Bundy began by killing a 9-year old schoolmate, who disappeared when he was 12. He escaped twice from prison before his final apprehension in February 1978. After more than a decade of vigorous denials, he eventually confessed to 30 murders, although the actual total of victims remains unknown. Estimates range from 29 to over 100, the general estimate being 35.
1191 8.5 8.513. M (1931)
Birth Name: Peter Kürten
Alias: The Vampire of Düsseldorf
Number of Victims: 9 murders, 7 attempted and unknown sexual assaults.
Span of killings: 1913–1930
Penalty: Death (decapitation by guillotine)
Films: M (1931), The Secret Killer (1965)
Real Story: As a child, he witnessed his alcoholic father repeatedly sexually assault his mother and sisters. He followed his father's footsteps, and was soon sexually abusing his sisters at a young age. He later claimed to have committed his first murders at the age of nine, drowning two young friends while swimming. He progressed from torturing animals to attacks on people. He committed his first provable murder in 1913, strangling a 10 year old girl, Christine Klein, during the course of a burglary. His crimes were then halted by World War I and an eight-year prison sentence. In 1921 he left prison and moved to Altenburg, where he married. In 1925 he returned to Düsseldorf, where he began the series of crimes that would last until his capture. Kürten confessed to 79 offenses, and was charged with nine murders and seven attempted murders. He went to trial in April 1931. He initially pleaded not guilty, but after some weeks changed his plea. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.
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