One of the most famous serial killers in history, Jack the Ripper, killed at least five women in the East London/Whitechapel area between August and November of 1888. Despite some pretty good theories about who he may have been, the crimes are still unsolved today.
Some of the most commonly cited suspects include Michael Ostrog; a Russian criminal and physician, Aaron Kosmininski; a Polish immigrant who lived in Whitechapel and fit the description, and Montague Druitt; a lawyer and teacher who also had great interest in surgery.
There are a dozen or so murders that many people believe were the work of the Ripper, but five that are more or less known. All five women were prostitutes, and all but one were working the streets at their time of death. The victims all had their throats cut, and their bodies mutilated in different ways; and the manner in which they were carved suggests the murderer had a reasonably good knowledge of human anatomy. The five women were Mary Ann Nichols (found August 31), Annie Chapman (found September 8), Elizabeth Stride (found September 30), Catherine Eddowes (found September 30), and Mary Jane Kelly (found November 9).
The name “Jack the Ripper” comes from a letter that was published at the time of the murders. In fact, several letters were written to the London police, supposedly from the murderer, adding to the whole mystery of the thing.
East London during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was a rough part of the city, despite it being a place where many skilled immigrants (mainly Jews and Russians) settled to start businesses. It was an area known for its poverty and violence. The area was home to countless brothels, which unfortunately attracted many untoward people, and gangs and petty thugs ruled the streets.
Most people are horrified by the thought of serial killers. There have been some truly terrifying and disgusting people; people who have done awful things. So it’s normal to be repulsed by them. But some people are drawn to this darker side of humanity. Many people want to know why and how someone could take another’s life. Some also try to relate to killers and humanize them. Making them pseudo-celebrities.
Here are some of the most notorious and well-known serial killers; immortalized in skin.
H.H Holmes is one of America’s most well-known serial killers. Holmes was convicted of 9 murders, confessed to 27, but is thought to have killed up to 200. He is known for building a “murder hotel”. In 1887 he constructed a hotel full of passages, dead ends, and trap doors. People would check in, get lost and wander the hotel sometimes for days at a time before he would finally kill them. In May 1896 Holmes was hanged for his crimes.
Richard Ramírez, also known as the “Night Stalker” brutally attacked and killed people in Los Angeles from 1984-1985. He was a known Satan worshipper, known for drawing pentagrams in blood in the homes of his victims. Ramírez was charged with 14 counts of burglary, 11 sexual assaults, 5 attempted murders, and 13 murders. His youngest victim was a 9 year old girl, and his oldest were a couple in their 60’s. He was sentenced to death and was on death row for 23 years before he died due to complications from lymphoma in 2013.
Jeffrey Dahmer, known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was an American serial killer and sex offender who raped, murdered, dismembered, and ate parts of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Along with cooking and eating parts of his victims, he also committed necrophilia on a number of the bodies. Dahmer was finally caught and convicted after a would be victim was able to over power him and call the police. In 1992 he was convicted of murder and given 15 life sentences. He died two years into his sentence when he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate.
Ted Bundy was an American serial killer and rapist who terrorized women and young girls during the 1970’s. Bundy was described as charming and handsome. He would lure his victims into secluded areas and then overpower them where he would sexually assault them and finally murder them. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims and kept the heads in jars in his apartment as trophies. Bundy was actually caught twice, escaping police and a court house, committing three more murders before finally being caught for good. He admitted to killing 36 people but it is believed he killed up to and possibly more than 100 people. He was put to death in 1989, by electric chair in Florida.
John Wayne Gacy, also known as “Pogo the Clown”, and, “The Killer Clown”, was an American serial killer from Chicago. He sexually assaulted and murdered 33 teenagers and young men 1972 and 1978. He was a trusted member of his community and was even involved in local politics. Gacy was also a party clown and would perform for children. He would lure his victims to his home with the promise of work before strangling them, then burying their bodies in his crawlspace. Gacy was convicted of 33 murders and was given the death sentence. He died by lethal injection in 1994 after spending 14 years on death row.
Edward (Ed) Gein, also known as “The Butcher of Plainfield”, was an American murder known for exhuming corpses from the local graveyard and creating decorations for his home from their bodies. He did also murder two women, but he is not actually a serial killer; though most people include him in their list due to his macabre hobby of crafting decorations made from corpses. Ed Gein also inspired Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and Tone Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Gein lost all of his family members, but it was when his mother died that he truly seemed to “lose it”. He boarded up rooms used by her to keep them in pristine condition, but quickly let the rest of the house fall into disrepair, and started filling it with macabre creations such as lamps made from bones, with lampshades made of human skin. Upon further inspection done by police, Gein had also covered chairs in human skin, put skulls on his bedposts, made bowls from skulls, masks made from female faces, and Mary Hogan’s face in a bag, and her skull in a box. Mary was one of Gein’s two victims. Other more gruesome items were also found in his home. He killed Mary Hogan in 1954, and Bernice Worden in 1957. He was found unfit to stand trial and put in a psychiatric hospital where he remained until he died at age 77 in 1984 from cancer of the liver.
Charles Manson is one of the most famous people on this list. He was a cult leader in California. Manson spent half of his life in correctional facilities for various crimes before trying to make it as a musician in California. He worked briefly with the drummer from The Beach Boys and recorded a few short albums of his own. Manson believed in “Helter Skelter”, a term he stole form The Beatles song. He used it to describe an impending race war he thought would happen. To start this war he convinced a number of young people to murder 7 people for him. These were people who followed his cult. Manson was charged with the murder of 2 people, and for the murder of 7 others, even though he did not actually kill them. His band of followers were known as the “Manson Family”, and they are most famous for brutally murdering actress Sharon Tate, Gary Hinman, and others. The “family” was also responsible for numerous thefts, assaults, and the attempted murder of President Gerald Ford. Manson was given the death sentence, but it was later ruled unconstitutional. He was in prison from 1971-2017 where he died from natural causes. Manson continued to have followers in prison and had hundreds of people (mainly women) writing to him.