Society’s Top 10 Most Depraved Serial Killers

(Warning Graphic Video Enclosed)

In The Darker Side of Evil we took a look at 10 of the most deadly Black serial killers in history. We also examined the media’s role in facilitating their crime spree. Several months of research has gone into this list. I’m basing inclusion on several factors such as body count, level of depravity, manner of murder, contrast between public and private life and post mortem victim interaction, (necrophilia, cannibalism etc.) I’ve put together a list of 10 of the most prolific serial killers of all time. Some of the names mentioned you will recognize from past posts, others are brand new to you and me. The list is not in any particular order but through my findings these are indeed 10 of the most depraved serial killers ever.

Edmund Kemper 

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Edmund Kemper

Edmund began his murderous career on August 27, 1964 at the tender age of 15. Kemper’s paternal grandmother, Maude Matilda Hughey Kemper, was sitting at her kitchen table working on her latest children’s book when she and Edmund had an argument. Enraged bythe argument, Kemper stormed off and grabbed the .22 caliber rifle which his grandfather had given him for hunting. He then fatally shot her in the head before firing twice more into her back. From that point Kemper dragged her body out of the kitchen and into her bedroom. Edmund returned from inside the house just as Ed Kemper Sr. returned home from buying groceries. Edmund took aim and shot him in the back of the head as he began to unload the truck. Confused, dazed and worried about the heinous acts he had just committed, he called his mother Clarnell in Montana. After a half an hour of pleading she finally convinced Kemper to call the sheriff. After confessing to both murders. Edmund Kemper, at 15 years old, was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic as well as being psychotic and sentenced to Atascadero State Hospital, criminally insane unit.

Released on his 21st birthday and held his murderous urges in check until May of 1972. From that point he went on an 11 month killing spree that included five college co-eds, one high school student, his mother and his mother’s best friend. It was not only his victims that got Kemper included to this list. Unlike most serial killers Kemper did not have a specific manner of murdering his victims, he would shoot, stab, smother or strangle them. He would then take their lifeless bodies back to his home where he would perform irrumatio on their severed heads, have sex with their corpses and then dissect and dismember them. Edmund Kemper was indicted on eight counts of first-degree murder. On November 8, 1973, a jury convened for five hours before declaring Kemper sane and guilty on all counts. Judge Harry F. Brauer, ignoring Kemper’s request for the death penalty; sentenced Kemper to seven years to life for each count, with these terms to be served concurrently, and was sentenced to the California Medical Facility for incarceration and medical observation.

Carl Panzram

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Carl Panzram

Evil personified is the only way to truly describe Carl Panzram with any level of accuracy. The only time this man smiled is when he caused pain, degradation and death to his many victims. Born June 28, 1891, Panzram was a serial killer, rapist, arsonist and burglar. Based on his autobiography, Panzram suffered a myriad of abuses during his youth. Caught for shoplifting at the age of 12 Panzram was sent to the Minnesota State Training School. According to his journals and personal testimony it was here that he was repeatedly beaten and tortured by staff members. Released from the school in 1905, Carl was a teenage alcoholic and constantly in trouble with the authorities. He ran away from home at the age of 14 and traveled via train cars. It was during this period in his life that Panzram claimed that on one train he was gang raped by a group of hobos.

As a young adult Panzram became a thief to survive. On June 1, 1915, Panzram burglarized a house in Astoria, Oregon and was arrested soon after while attempting to sell some of the stolen items. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. The ever defiant Panzram waged a war against the staff of the Oregon State Penitentiary and escaped from custody on at least two occasions; once for good.

In 1920 Panzram began his murderous rampage. While living in New York he would lure sailors on leave away from the local taverns. Panzram would then rape and murder the intoxicated sailors, shoot them and dump their bodies in the river. Upon his final capture in 1929 Panzram summed up his life in this statement, “In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry.”

Carl Panzram’s victims ranged from 10 year old boys on up. Panzram didn’t care about race of his victim, he didn’t care if the victim was alive or dead, just as long as he could destroy and *. His reign of destruction and degradation came to an end on September 5, 1930 when he was executed

Ahmad Suradji

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Ahmad Suradji

Ahmad Suradji was a well-respected 48 year-old witch doctor in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra. Born on January 10, 1949 and raised as a cattle-breeder; many in Indonesia trusted the man for guidance on matters such as love and money and health.  Suradji, using aliases such as “Nasib Kelewang” and “Datuk Maringgi”, billed himself as a shaman, able to heal any and all of his people’s ailments. Innocent women would come to see this sorcerer who had promised them financial gains or potions to making themselves beautiful or more attractive to male suitors. Many women brought their daughters seeking remedies. Suradji took his female clients to a sugarcane field near his home in western Indonesia. As a part of their “healing” process he buried them up to the waist. Once immobilized into the ground, Suradji would strangle them. Immediately after death Suradji would drink the saliva emitted from the corpse’ mouth, a ritual that he believed enhanced his powers. He would then dig the victims up and rebury them with their heads facing his house, which he believed would give him extra power as a sorcerer.

The serial killer was arrested in May 1997 following the discovery of a body in the field in Lubukpakan, a village in North Sumatra province. Upon searching his property the bodies of women ranging from 11 years old to 30 years old were found buried. During interrogation he admitted to murdering 42 female victims. When asked why Suradji told police that in 1988 his father’s ghost came to him in a dream and told him to kill 70 women and carry out the ritual so that he could become a “dukan”, or mystic healer. On Monday, 27 April, 1998 a Sumatra court sentenced Ahmad Suradji to death. Originally indicted with Suradji were his three wives, (all sisters) however the only one found guilty was his senior wife, Tumini. Tumini was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ahmad Suradji was executed by firing squad on July 10, 2008.

Andrei Chikatilo

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Andrei Chikatilo

After much deliberation it is the decision of the author that both of these Russian nightmares be included in our list. The atrocities committed by Andrei Chikatilo and Alexander Pichushkin embody the essence of depravity. Chikatilo, known by names such as The Butcher of Rostov or The Red Ripper or The Forest Strip Killer or The Rostov Ripper committed the sexual assault, murder, and mutilation of at least 52 victims between 1978 and 1990 in the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Uzbek SSR.

Oddly enough, Chikatilo began his life of perversion as a teacher. During a swimming session in 1973, he molested a 15 year old girl. While groping her breasts and genitals he ejaculated as she attempted to escape his grasp. In the same school, months later he sexually assaulted a female student he had locked in his classroom. Chikatilo was seen on several instances fondling himself in the presence of his students. Remarkably, Chikatilo was never once disciplined for any of his actions.

In December of 1978 Chikatilo attempted to rape a 9 year old girl. Unable to attain sexual gratification in the rape itself, Chikatilo ejaculated as he repeatedly stabbed the child in the abdomen. He then proceeded to strangle the rest of the life out of the little girl and simply tossed her body into the nearby Grushevka River. Andrei then went off the murder grid until 1981. In September of that year he met 17 year old Larisa Tkachenko standing at a bus stop. As he assaulted her he forced mud into her mouth and strangled her. Chikatilo the mutilated her by continuously biting her body, even going as far as to biting off one of the girl’s nipples. Nine months later he murdered 13 year old Lyubov Biryuk. Chikatilo inflicted 22 stab and slash wounds on the child’s head, neck, chest, and pelvic regions. From July to September 5 more women, ranging in age from nine to 18, were murdered in Chikatilo’s signature style of stabbing and strangulation.

Under constant observation authorities were sure that Chikatilo was the unknown murderer. In September 1984 Chikatilo was observed by an undercover detective attempting to lure young women away from a nearby bus stop. At that time Chikatilo was under investigation for theft; this gave authorities legal right to hold him for a prolonged period of time. While in custody, a sample of Chikatilo’s blood was taken and screened against semen samples found on the six victims allegedly murdered by Chikatilo throughout the spring and summer of 1984. The results of the blood type analysis largely discounted him as being the unknown killer. Chikatilo was found guilty of theft however, and served three months in prison. Authorities never quit investigating the murders, at times in a rush to judgment, innocents were incarcerated. Such was the case in 1984. Russian police had charged several mentally handicapped youths for more using coerced confessions. In October of 1984 evidence linked Chikatilo to 23 murders as a result of this the head of the Russian Public Prosecutors Office formally dropped charges against the previously charged youths.

In December of 1984 Chikatilo was released after serving his time for the theft conviction. He soon acquired employment with a locomotive factory in Novocherkassk. Andrei was able to keep his murderous impulses in check until the summer of 1985. In August of 1985 he met and murdered an 18-year-old woman, named Natalia Pokhlistova. Four weeks later, on 27 August, Chikatilo killed another young woman, Irina Gulyaeva, in Shakhty.

Chikatilo seemed to drop off of the map until early 1988. From that point the bodies of 19 more female victims would be found. Andrei had been under surveillance during this time however evidence against him was non existent until it was discovered that, unbeknownst to them at the time the blood test was taken, Chikatilo’s type A blood was a member of a minority group known as “non-secretors”, whose blood type cannot be inferred by anything other than a blood sample. As police only had a sample of semen, and not blood, from the crime scenes, Chikatilo was able to escape suspicion of murder. A frustrated police department enlisted the assistance of psychiatrist, Alexandr Bukhanovsky, who refined the profile of the killer, describing him as a “necro-sadist”, or someone who achieves sexual gratification from the suffering and death of others. Bukhanovsky also placed the killer’s age as between 45 and 50, significantly older than had been believed up to that point. Desperate to catch the killer, Burakov even interviewed a serial killer, Anatoly Slivko, shortly before his execution, in an attempt to gain some insight into his elusive serial killer.

Andrei Chikatilo was finally arrested on November 20th, 1990 after officers assigned to his surveillance witnessed Chikatilo exhibiting extremely suspicious behavior. He initially denied involvement in any murder until Dr. Bukhanovsky spoke with him. Believing that Bukhanovsky was interviewing him to understand the mind of a killer from a scientific context, Chikatilo revealed to Bukhanovsky that he indeed was the murderer. He not only revealed full details of each murder, he took authorities to previously undiscovered sites where he had hidden remains. By the end of the interrogation he had admitted to murdering 56 victims.

Chikatilo was arrested on November 20th, 1990. Charged with the murder of 53 victims, his trial began on April 14th, 1992 and ended in August. The verdict however, was not handed down until October 15th. On that date Andrei Chikatilo was found guilty of 52 counts of murder. On February 14th, 1994 Chikatilo was taken from his death row cell to a soundproofed room in Novocherkassk prison and executed with a single gunshot behind the right ear.

Alexander Pichushkin

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Alexander Pichushkin

On April 9th 1974, while Chikatilo was carrying out his murderous existence, somewhere else in Russia an equally evil entity was being born. Despite Alexander Pichushkin’s normal childhood was he born to be the sadistic killer that he became?  According to research, a childhood accident with a swing set created monster that some called The Chessboard Killer or The Bitsa Park Maniac.

Pichushkin began his murderous rampage in 1992. From that point he had admitted to murdering 61 victims. Pichushkin has said his aim was to kill 64 people, the number of squares on a chessboard. He recanted this at a later time admitting that even if he had gotten to 64 victims he would’ve continued to kill until he was caught.  Targeting elderly men mainly, he killed without reservation and had no problem with murdering women and children as well. Pichushkin met many of his victims while playing chess in the park. In most cases he would invite his victims to drink vodka with him, catch them from behind and bash them about the head with a hammer. He then stuck vodka bottles in their skulls to ensure that they did not survive. Authorities in Russia speculate that Pichushkin felt a need to kill motivated not only by socio-psychotic impulses but as a direct desire to outdo the body count of Andrei Chikatilo.

On June 16th, 2006 Pichushkin was arrested. During the filming of his arrest and interrogation investigators were amazed at how easily he recalled exactly how he killed many of his victims as well as the locations where he buried their remains. During his interviews many times his ego would take over as he spoke of his crimes in a boastful tone. When investigators asked Pichushkin why he committed these murders he claimed that while killing people he felt like God as he decided whether his victims should live or die. “In all cases I killed for only one reason. I killed in order to live, because when you kill, you want to live,” he once said. “For me, life without murder is like life without food for you. I felt like the father of all these people, since it was me who opened the door for them to another world.”

On October 27th 2007 Judge Vladimir Usov convicted Alexander Pichushkin of 49 murders and 3 attempted murders. He was sentenced to life in prison with the first 15 years to be spent in solitary confinement.

Luis Garavito

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Luis Garavito

Next up is La Bestia, (The Beast) Luis Garavito. Garavito was convicted of the rape, torture and murder of 147 boys, though actual counts have his victim list at somewhere near 300. Described by local media as “the world’s worst serial killer”, the worst thing about this case is that he may be RELEASED IN 2021.

Luis Garavito was born in January 25th, 1957 in Génova, Quindío, Colombia. The eldest of 7, Garavito was allegedly the victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse as a child. Spending most of his days drunk, Garavito wandered from town to town in Colombia finding work where he could. The impulses to kill overcame him in 1992 and Garavito began passing himself off as a street vendor, monk, indigent, disabled person or a representative of fictitious foundations for the elderly and children’s education, to gain entrance to schools as a speaker. Garavito lured children into hidden areas that were over- grown with high plants. He promised either payment for easy work, or drugs, or made other offers. The children were tied up, tortured, raped and killed by at least one cut in the lateral part of the neck, or by decapitation. During the killings, Garavito was drunk.

Unfortunately, disappearing children is commonplace in Colombia as well as other poverty stricken cities. The majority of his victims seem to have been “street children,” children that look to the streets as a way of sheer survival. Many times they will work odd jobs, beg, sell newspapers, chewing gum, shine shoes, basically anything they could think of to turn a buck. Political violence as well as poverty would separate these children from their families. In “The Darker Side of Evil,” we use the term, “throwaway people” to classify the people most often targeted by serial killers.

Due to the sheer ghastly nature of the children’s remains, authorities initially believed that a satanic cult was at work.  Several discoveries alerted police that this was more than the usual missing children of day today Colombian life.  One such discovery was a mass grave of 25 boys, found on November 1997, in a ravine in the western coffee-growing city of Pereira. Another was In February 1998, 2 naked corpses of children were discovered lying next to each other outside of the town of Genua, Colombia. A third corpse was found the next day, only feet away. As a matter of fact, a great many corpses were being discovered throughout various towns. Several corpses; that fitting various modus operandi; which meant several different serial killers operating simultaneously in the same geographical area. One of these killers; Pedro Alonso Lopez, (strangler of the Andes) was suggested but after further review it was noted that Lopez’ 70 known victims were women and girls only.

Due to governmental financial restraints, profiling as we know it was not an option. A four man task force was put together to cross reference similarities in murders as well as other likenesses. As investigations heated up Garavito began to make mistakes in discretion. Bodies of boys being found were traced directly back to him being the last individual the child was seen with alive. Garavito, being an alcoholic, began leaving liquor bottles at crime scenes; more evidence that would assist in his eventual capture.

Garavito was captured on April 22nd, 1999. He confessed to murdering 140 children. However, he is still under investigation for the murder of 172 more children in more than 59 towns in Colombia. The court found Garavito guilty of 138 counts of murder, however he is still under investigation for the murder of over 200 other children. Garavito’s sentence of 1,853 years and 9 days is symbolic. Colombian law prohibits anyone to serve any longer than 30 years in prison. To add insult to injury; because he helped police find some bodies, as well as to his confessions, his sentence was further reduced to 22 years. In actuality he may possibly qualify for even earlier release for further cooperation and good behavior.

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes/Herman Webster Mudgett

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H.H. Holmes

As I leave the post office I turn around to take one last look before I go. Not that there is anything amazing about the architecture of this particular building, I look back and marvel at the fact that approximately 125 years ago, in this very location stood the murder castle.

Dr. H.H. Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett on May 16th, 1861 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. A bright child, Holmes excelled at scholastics, which made him a target for bullies. On one occasion his classmates forced young Herman to stand face to face with science skeleton, even placing the bony hand upon Holmes’ shoulder and head. Initially frightening him, Holmes began a lifelong fascination with death. As he got older Holmes took up the hobby of dissecting animals.

In 1884 Mudgett graduated from University of Michigan’s Department of Medicine & Surgery and immediately began pulling insurance scams with laboratory cadavers. He also traveled extensively during this time. Holmes was known for meeting a woman in one location, marrying her; then moving across the country and do the same thing but never bothering to get divorced; all the while taking advantage of his new wife as well as her money.

Holmes arrived in Chicago in 1886 and soon met Elizabeth S. Holton. Elizabeth and her husband owned a drug store and hired Holmes. After the passing of her husband Holmes made Elizabeth an offer for the store. Using the store’s inventory and fixtures as collateral Holmes obtained the funds necessary to purchase the store. Oddly enough, Mrs. Holton came up missing soon after the transaction. When asked about her whereabouts and well-being, Holmes would tell concerned inquirers that she had moved to California to be close to relatives. Finally, having obtained necessary finances, Holmes constructed a three story hotel across the street from the drug store.

“The World’s Fair Hotel,” located at 601-603 West 63rd Street, was enormous for its time leading neighborhood residents to dub the building, “the castle.” Measuring 162 feet long and 50 feet wide; the castle was constructed to house visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The hotel’s ground floor consisted of commercial space as well as Holmes’ relocated drug store. From the exterior the hotel was a grand creation and a blessing to the city; within the walls of the hotel a different and horrific story was told. To the untrained, unsuspecting eye, visitors saw basic everyday hotel rooms. Unbeknownst to everyone, the hotel contained a labyrinth of rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly-angled hallways, stairways leading to nowhere, doors that could only be opened from the outside and a host of other strange and deceptive constructions. Some rooms were soundproofed, others were gas chamber type. The sinister purposes of these odd assemblies were about to unfold.

The atrocities that took place within this hotel were mind boggling. Hundreds of guests were killed for the sheer delight and comeuppance of Holmes. He didn’t limit his murderous tendencies to guests; many hotel employees became victims of their demented employer. As a condition of employment they were required to take out life insurance policies, for which Holmes would pay the premiums, but was also the beneficiary. The consummate ladies’ man and hustler, Holmes dated a number of women; some married, some single; all disappeared. The bottom line was that many people came to Chicago to see the World’s Fair but, for one reason or another, never returned home. Some victims were killed with rooms filling with poisonous gas. Others were submerged in acid pits. Guests were hung up by chains as their skin was methodically removed. Skeletal remains were sold to nearby colleges and universities, remains that couldn’t be salvaged were disposed of inside two giant furnaces.

According to missing persons report from that time as many as 200 victims may have met their end due to Holmes. However, when Holmes was finally apprehended in Philadelphia, he was charged with insurance fraud. Chicago police had begun investigations into the goings on within the hotel. Attempting to come up with an actual victim count was near impossible because bodies in the basement were so badly dismembered and decomposed that it was difficult to tell how many bodies there actually were. As Philadelphia police investigated Holmes, they too found that he had committed at least one murder in their jurisdiction.

In October 1895, Holmes was put on trial for insurance fraud and murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Once Holmes had been found guilty has confessed to 30 murders he has committed. During his stay in prison he wrote an unabridged confession of his diabolical activities at the murder castle. On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison.

Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuck

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Viktor Sayenko  &                             Igor Suprunyuk

(Warning Graphic Video Enclosed)

Known as the the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs; Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuk, are two 19 year olds convicted of 21 murders in the Ukraine. These demented youths had the audacity to videotape some of their crimes in an attempt to become famous. A third accomplice Alexander Hanzha was charged only with two armed robberies that took place before the murder spree.

Suprunyuk and Sayenko began their murder spree on June 25, 2007. Ekaterina Ilchenko was walking home from her friend’s apartment. According to Sayenko’s confession, he and Suprunyuck were out for a walk Suprunyuck brandished a hammer and as Ilchenko walked past, Suprunyuck spun around and struck her in the side of the head. Later that same night they murdered Roman Tatarevich. Tatarevich was asleep on a bench. Suprunyuk and Sayenko smashed his head in with blunt objects rendering him unrecognizable.

Murders such as these carried on throughout July of that year. They seemed to select their victims at random or by opportunity. Most of their targets were vulnerable to attack, including women, children, elderly, vagrants, or people under the influence of alcohol. Not particular in how they killed, Suprunyuk and Sayenko tended to use whatever was available to them. Most of the victims were killed using blunt objects, including hammers and steel construction bars. They directed their attacks at the victims’ faces, leaving them unrecognizable. If time permitted, some victims were mutilated and tortured; some had their eyes gouged out while they were still alive. One of the victims was a pregnant woman, whose fetus was cut out of her womb.

Due to the manner in which victims were killed, investigators initially made no connection in the killings. The crimes began to be linked when Vadim Lyakhov survived an attack from the two. Lyakhov was originally thought of as a suspect and was even charged until it became clear that he couldn’t have committed these crimes. He then cooperated with the investigators to create sketches of the attackers.  On July 14, residents of the village of Diyovka reported seeing 45‑year-old Natalia Mamarchuk riding her scooter. Witnesses then told authorities that two men knocked her down then took out a hammer or a pipe and bludgeoned her to death as she lay on the ground. The men then jumped on her scooter and drove off. Onlookers gave chase, but quickly lost sight of the attackers. Ironically, two children hiding in a tent nearby, saw the crime and gave descriptions of the men that matched descriptions given by Lyakhov.

A manhunt of over 2000 investigators ensued. Suprunyuk and Sayenko were arrested on July 23, 2007 when Suprunyuck attempted to sell a mobile phone stolen from one of the victims in a local pawn shop. When the phone was turned on to show that it worked, its location was traced by law enforcement agents. Hanzha was arrested later that day at home. The three suspects attended school together and had been life long friends.  During interviews, investigators were made aware of the existence of video tapes of murders.  The suspects’ mobile phones and personal computers contained multiple video recordings of the murders. Early videos captured Suprunyuk and Sayenko torturing and killing animals in the neighborhood. Latter videos showed the suspects torturing, murdering and mutilating humans. A video was leaked to the Internet, showing the murder of 48‑year-old Sergei Yatzenko.

(Warning Graphic Video Below)

http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=e22736517838

On February 11, 2009, the court in Dnepropetrovsk found Igor Suprunyuk and Viktor Sayenko guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced both to life imprisonment. Suprunyuk was found guilty of 21 murders, Sayenko of 18. They also received fifteen-year sentences after being found guilty on the robbery charges. Alexander Hanzha, who was not involved in the killings, was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Moses Sithole

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Moses Sithole

Moses Sithole, aka “The ABC Murderer” is South Africa’s worst serial killer to date. The media gave him the nickname because his murders began in Atteridgeville, continued in Boksburg and finished in Cleveland, a suburb of Johannesburg.  Sithole was born November 17th, 1964 in Vosloorus, a poor neighborhood of Boksburg, Gauteng in apartheid-era South Africa. His father died when Sithole was young. Unable to handle the parenting responsibilities alone, Sithole’s mother left him and his siblings in the care of local police causing them to spend the next three years in an orphanage. Citing mistreatment as the reason, Sithole ran away from the orphanage and back to his mother. He would eventually take up residence with an older brother.

Sithole began his criminal life in his twenties as a rapist. It would be his third victim that stepped up and testified against him. For his crimes Moses spent 7 years in prison. During his time in prison Sithole claimed that he had been sexually assaulted by other inmates. Released in 1994, Sithole began a murder spree that South Africa had not ever seen before.

Pretending to be a businessman, Sithole would gain the confidence of young ladies. Employment was scarce in the impoverished town of Atteridgeville so it was not difficult for Sithole to fool his victims using potential job opportunities as a lure. Gaining their trust, he would walk them out to the field then overpower, rape and strangle them.

By the summer of 1995, Sithole had claimed over 30 victims and the public was in an uproar for answers. At that time South Africa had more than their share of serial killers so authorities reached out to former FBI profiler Robert Ressler for assistance. Bodies fitting the same modus operandi had been found in Atteridgeville, Boksburg and Cleveland so the media gave the unknown perpetrator the title “The ABC Murderer”. In October 1995 witnesses reported to authorities that Sithole had been seen with a victim. Investigators pulled his file and retrieved information concerning his prior rape conviction. Police began keeping an eye on Sithole, but he soon vanished. While in hiding Sithole contacted South African journalist Tamsen de Beer and identified himself as the wanted murderer. Sithole told the reporter that the murders were in retaliation for being sent to prison though he was innocent. He also claimed that he had murder 78 women, twice as many as police had previously thought. To prove his claim, Sithole told the reporter of the whereabouts of the remains of one of his victims. Authorities found Sithole in Johannesburg. Sithole was shot as he attacked an officer with a hatchet during the arrest. As he was being treated Sithole was found to be HIV positive.

On December 5th 1997, Justice David Carstairs sentenced Sithole to 50 years’ imprisonment for each of the 38 murders, 12 years’ imprisonment for each of the 40 rapes, and five years’ imprisonment for each of the six robberies, all sentences to run consecutively; the total effective sentence is 2,410 years. Judge Carstairs went on to say that had it not been abolished, he would have sentenced Sithole to death.

 

The Personification of Evil……….Carl Panzram

The true crime genre has given me insight on some of the most wicked people to walk the face of the earth. At times I sit in utter amazement as well as in true disgust as I read and research the atrocities committed by the men and women.  The most frightening thought is that these people look exactly like anyone else. There is no visible indicator that would identify any of the people as inherently evil or dangers to humanity, yet as we read we realize that we share this planet with individuals that give no regard to human life.

After hundreds of hours of reading, interviewing and film, I thought that I had reached a point of numbness in respect to the depravity of these crimes. I felt that by constantly being exposed to these crimes I would develop a mental callousness to these people and their exploits and honestly in a way….I had. However, my next subject made me realize that I’m not quite as tough as I thought I was.

In 39 short years on earth, Carl Panzram would murder at least 22 people and sodomize 1000’s of males. Panzram was born on June 28, 1891 in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  The last of 8 children, Panzram was a mischievous child; when he was eight he was convicted of drunk & disorderly conduct behavior. Carl broke into a neighbor’s home when he was 11. He stole anything he could get his hands on, including a handgun. He was quickly found out by his brothers, who beat him unconscious. Panzram received beatings from his brothers regularly and for any reason, no matter how insignificant. Carl was later arrested for the burglary.  In 1903, at the age of 12, he was sent to the Minnesota State Training School. During his two year stay, Panzram was repeatedly raped, beaten, and tortured by staff members. In retaliation, young Carl burned down the school’s warehouse.  By the time he was released in 1905, Carl was a teenage alcoholic filled with hatred and rage. Panzram developed a propensity for running away from home. When he was 14 he ran away and was reportedly gang raped by a group of hobos.

As he entered adulthood, Panzram became a proficient thief and burglar. He went through varied periods of incarceration until he joined the United States Army in 1907. While serving his country Panzram was convicted of larceny and served a prison sentence from 1908 to 1910 at Fort Leavenworth. During his time in prison, Panzram tallied numerous violations of prison rules, each carrying its own punishment, usually merciless beatings from prison guards. Upon his release from Leavenworth in 1910, Panzram realized that he was virtually homeless. Having spent most of his life behind bars, Carl Panzram had become irreversibly and totally evil, void of any level of kindness.

To call Carl Panzram a rapist would be like calling the North Pole “chilly.” From the time he was released from prison, Panzram robbed and raped his way around the country. He rode the trains over vast distances and spent time in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Utah, cutting a path of destruction across the country in a methodical, relentless way that kept police hot on his trail but a step behind. He raped without mercy, rarely passing up an opportunity to take on a new victim.  In his autobiography

Carl Panzram

Carl Panzram

Panzram stated, “Whenever I met one that wasn’t too rusty looking I would make him raise his hands and drop his pants. I wasn’t very particular either. I rode them old and young, tall and short, white and black. It made no difference to me at all except that they were human beings.”  Panzram also had an affinity for fires also. In his own words he states, “I burned down old barns, sheds, fences, snow sheds or anything I could, and when I couldn’t burn anything else I would set fire to the grass on the prairies, or the woods, anything and everything.”

In the summer of 1911, Panzram went about the business robbing and burglarizing. He would make his escapes by hopping boxcars and rolling to the next town. He jumped a freight train heading northwest and brought along some stolen guns that he had buried outside town before he got arrested. While he was in a boxcar with two other bums, he saw another opportunity for rape. Just as he was about to make his move a railroad cop appeared.  Panzram got the drop on the officer, raised his pistol and robbed the cop of his watch and whatever money he had. Then, while the other two men watched, he raped the officer at gunpoint. He then forced the other two men to do the same.

Carl continued his travels around the country using various assumed names. On June 1, 1915, Panzram burgled a house in Astoria, Oregon. and was arrested soon after while attempting to sell some of the stolen items. Law enforcement promised Panzram a light sentence if he revealed the whereabouts of the rest of the stolen goods. Though he complied, Panzram was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Feeling double-crossed, he broke out of his cell and burnt down the jail. Panzram was immediately transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary. Once at the prison, Panzram got into trouble almost immediately for rule violations, and punishment became routine; as did his escapes from prison. On May 12, 1918, Carl escaped from the Oregon Prison for good. He sawed through the window bars using a hacksaw blade and jumped down off the prison walls. As frantic guards fired hundreds of rounds at the fleeing convict, Panzram made it into the woods and disappeared from sight. He later hopped a freight train heading east and left the Pacific Northwest forever.

In the summer of 1920, Panzram ended up in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. He found an old three-story colonial located at 113 Whitney Avenue. Once inside, Panzram found a large amount of jewelry, bonds and a .45 caliber automatic handgun. The name on the bonds was William Howard Taft; yes the 27th President of the United States. Panzram had burglarized the home of ex-president Taft.  Taft’s Colt .45 caliber handgun would go on to be used in several murders. After stealing everything he could carry, Panzram escaped through the same window that he entered and hit the streets carrying a large bag of loot.

In 1920, Carl Panzram crossed from thief and rapist to serial murderer. He traveled to the lower east side of Manhattan and sold most of the stolen jewelry and bonds. Using some of the money he gained from the burglary, Carl bought a yacht named the Akista. He sailed the boat up the East River, eastward through the Long Island Sound past the south shore of the Bronx, the City of New Rochelle, and Rye and onto the rocky coast of Connecticut. As he traveled he would burglarize several boats, he would steal booze, guns, supplies and anything else that he could make a buck from. He docked the Akista at the New Haven yacht club; it was there that the seed of a murderous future was planted.

While at the yacht club, Panzram noticed the constant flow of sailors. He realized many of them were looking for work on outgoing freighters or local boats. Panzram concocted a scheme to hire sailors as deckhands for his ship then rob rape and kill them. From his confession Carl admits, “Every day or two I would go to New York and hang around 25 South Street and size up the sailors. We would wine and dine and when they were drunk enough they would go to bed. When they were asleep I would get my .45 Colt automatic, this I stole from Mr. Taft’s home, and blow their brains out.” He would then tie a heavy rock to the body and toss the deceased sailor overboard. Panzram murdered at least 10 sailors in this fashion. Local residents became suspicious when he would dock to buy supplies; regularly carrying a different crew. Upon realizing that he was arousing the curiosity of the locals, Carl sailed down the coast of New Jersey with his last two passengers until he reached Long Beach Island, where he intended to kill them both. In late August 1920, a huge gale hit and the Akista smashed to pieces against the rocks. The three men swam to shore and parted ways.

In 1921, Panzram served six months in jail in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for burglary and possession of a loaded handgun. When released he stowed away on a ship and landed in Angola, a Portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa. Panzram landed a job with the Sinclair Oil Company as a foreman on an oil-drilling rig. The company was involved in searching for new sources of oil in Africa. Once there Panzram raped and murdered an 11 year old African boy. He gives the account in chilling detail, “A little nigger boy about 11 or 12 years old came bumming around,” he said. Panzram lured the boy back to the Sinclair Oil Company grounds where he sexually assaulted and killed him by bashing his head in with a rock. “I left him there, but first I committed sodomy on him and then I killed him,” Panzram wrote in his confession. “His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him and he will never be any deader.”

Panzram then moved to an area called Lobito Way and lived in a fishing village. The locals suspected him of murder but had no proof. He eventually hired six natives to assist him in the lucrative but dangerous occupation of crocodile hunting. While in the jungle the six men demanded a share of the profits. In return, Panzram shot each native in the back of the head then fed the bodies to the hungry crocodiles; he then rowed back to Lobito Bay. Realizing that many people saw him leave with the men and come back alone, he knew he had to relocate.

Panzram then headed north up the Congo River toward a place called Point Banana and then made his way to the Gold Coast. Robbing local village farmers along the way, he eventually got enough money to buy a fare to the Canary Islands. From there he stowed away on a ship to Lisbon, Portugal. Upon his arrival, he soon discovered that the local government knew about his crime spree in Africa and cops were on the lookout for him. Fortunately for Panzram he found another ship headed for America. Stowing away on the ship he soon found himself back in the United States by the summer of 1922.

Soon after he arrived in the U.S. Panzram renewed his captain’s license and retrieved the papers for his yacht, the Akista. His plan now was to steal another boat and register it with his yacht’s name. On July 18, 1922, while searching unsuccessfully for a similar boat to steal, Carl came across a 12 year old boy walking alone on the west side of Salem, Massachusetts. The boy’s name was George Henry McMahon who lived at 65 Boston Street in Salem. He had spent most of the day in a neighbor’s restaurant until the owner, Mrs. Margaret Lyons, asked George to run an errand. Panzram kept the boy for 3 hours where he reportedly sodomized the child six times before bashing his head in with a large rock. During the rape, Panzram stuffed magazine pages down the child’s throat and after the murder; the boy was left covered up with tree branches.

In haste, Panzram rushed to separate himself from the crime scene. As he fled the wooded area where he left McMahon’s body; two Salem residents passed by. The pair noticed how nervous and fidgety Panzram seemed, but they continued on their way. Though young George Henry’s body would be found three days later, the crime would go unsolved until 1928.

Panzram continued his search for a replacement boat and early in the summer of 1923 he stole a ship out of a Providence, Rhode Island marina. Panzram sailed the boat up the Hudson River to Yonkers. In Yonkers Carl met 15 year old George Walsoin. Panzram used the teen’s infatuation with sailing to lure him into his clutches. Promising that he would allow the boy to work with him on his trip upriver, Panzram waited til late in the night and sodomized the child.

Arriving in Kingston, a small bay off the Hudson, Panzram met a young man that seemed interested in purchasing the boat.  Panzram took the buyer out to the yacht on the night of June 27 where they had a few drinks together. Unbeknownst to Panzram, the young man had no intention of purchasing the boat but to simply rob Carl of all he possessed. Realizing the true objective of his guest, Panzram shot the man, tied a metal weight onto the body and threw the man overboard; young George Walsoin stared in utter shock.

The next morning, Panzram and Walsoin, sailed into Poughkeepsie, NY.  Panzram went on shore and stole a quantity of fishing nets worth more than $1,000. They set sail again and cruised across the river to Newburgh.  After the boat dropped anchor, George jumped ship and swam to shore. He eventually made his way back to Yonkers the next day and told the police about being sexually assaulted by Panzram.

Area police were on the lookout for Panzram and his ship. After staking out the marina all night, Panzram docked and on the morning of June 29, 1923, the officers boarded the yacht and arrested Panzram. Using his sailing name, “Captain John O’Leary,” Panzram answered questions from the investigating detectives who charged him with sodomy, burglary and robbery. The next day he was placed in the Yonkers City jail awaiting court appearance. Panzram used his boat as collateral to hire an attorney. In turn, the lawyer arranged bail for Panzram, who immediately skipped. The lawyer, attempting to verify his property, was alerted by authorities that the boat was stolen and must be immediately confiscated. The attorney was left with nothing for his services.

On August 26, 1923, Panzram broke into the Larchmont train depot on Chatsworth Avenue. While rifling through passenger luggage he was confronted by a Larchmont cop, Officer Richard Grube, who was making his rounds. After wrestling with and disarming Panzram, he placed him under arrest. Still using the name John O’Leery, Panzram confessed to three additional burglaries. In village court the next morning, Judge Shafer set bail at $5,000 and remanded Panzram to county jail pending grand jury action. While in the village jail, Panzram told cops he was an escaped prisoner from Oregon where he was serving a 17-year sentence for shooting a police officer.

Larchmont police sent telegrams to Oregon. On August 29th, they received a reply citing that “Jeff Baldwin,” was a wanted man in Oregon. Telegrams came from various regions of the United States, each with various names but all describing the same man, verifying that indeed this man is wanted with several bounties on his head. Panzram even tried to claim a $500 bounty on himself using the logic that since he confessed, he should receive the reward.

Larchmont sentenced Panzram to prison for a five year term. He was taken to Dannemora, just 10 miles from the Canadian border, in October 1923. During an escape attempt, he climbed one of the prison walls and immediately fell 30 feet below onto a concrete step.  He broke both legs and ankles. His spine was also badly injured. He received no medical attention for his injuries. He was carried into a cell and dropped on the floor. In July 1928, after serving five long, hard years, Panzram was discharged from Dannemora. Permanently crippled by lack of medical attention and certifiably insane, Carl Panzram was free again.

Consumed with revenge, the six foot 200 lb. Panzram set to put in motion the killing spree he had concocted while incarcerated.  Within two weeks, he committed a dozen burglaries and killed at least one man during a robbery in Baltimore. Fortunately for the citizens of Washington DC, Panzram was arrested for burglary. It was during this period of incarceration that Carl would meet his one and only friend. Through this friendship the world would become aware of the true evil that coursed through the veins of Carl Panzram.

A naïve 26-year-old rookie guard named Henry Lesser had recently been hired to the jail in Washington DC. As Panzram was processed into the jail, an inquisitive Lesser asked Carl why he was here. In response Panzram said with a wry smile, “What I do is reform people.” The young guard monitored Panzram over the next few weeks. Unbeknownst to Lesser, Panzram wasn’t planning to hang around much longer. He had gradually been chipping away at the concrete surrounding the bars in the window of his cell so that he could eventually escape. His plans were thwarted by an overzealous inmate that informed the warden of his plans. As punishment Panzram was handcuffed to a pole and beaten mercilessly by guards. Lesser pitied Panzram and expressed his compassion by giving him a dollar to buy cigarettes and extra food. In a life filled with pain, this was the only act of kindness that was ever expressed to Carl Panzram. The two men became friends and confided in one another. Soon, Panzram agreed to write his life story for Lesser. And so, over the next few weeks, while Lesser supplied pencil and paper, Panzram wrote down the details of his twisted life of hate, depravity and murder.

Panzram wrote a 20,000 word confession. Within this journal of his life, Carl detailed the murders of at least 22 murders, over 1000 rapes and countless robberies and arsons; all eventually verified by the authorities of the various municipalities in which they occurred. As Panzram enlightened society to the true nature of his crimes, he felt obligated to divulge a trick used by criminals of his day to avoid capture. Criminals were frequently able to avoid arrest warrants by changing names. Panzram committed his transgressions against society under several names including, Jefferson Baldwin, Jeffrey Rhodes, John King and John O’Leery.

The document not only gave accounts of crimes but also contained Panzram’s opinions of the criminal justice system of the day. He gave graphic testimony of abuses he suffered while in prison. Prisons at that time were little more than hell holes, castles of pain designed to break unruly inmates; mentally and physically.  Wardens served as the kings of these castles of pain and used the guards to carry out their orders, often utilizing physical torture to ensure obedience. The purpose of prison was strictly punishment and detention with little to no emphasis placed on rehabilitation. Panzram’s descriptions of his treatment during his periods of incarceration led to major changes in corrections in prisons nationwide.

Void of guilt or remorse, Panzram wrote of his tyrannical exploits occurring around the globe. He proudly admitted being the perpetrator of these crimes and gave vivid accounts of each offense, given with disturbing detail. Panzram however, adamantly blamed the commission of these acts on the criminal justice system. He blamed his crimes, not on himself but on society and the prison system, which he said perpetuates itself by producing more criminals.

On November 12, 1928, his trial for burglary began. Acting in his own defense, Panzram was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 25 years. Panzram was promptly transferred to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. While in Leavenworth, Carl was assigned to work in the laundry facilities. Having told the warden that he would kill the first man to bother him, on June 20, 1929 he killed Robert Warnke, foreman of the prison laundry, battering him to death with an iron bar.  During the trial for this murder, the jury took just 45 minutes to arrive at a verdict. Carl Panzram was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

Panzram refused to file any appeals, threatening to kill human rights activists that attempted to appeal on his behalf. On September 5, 1930 Carl Panzram was hung at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. When they put the noose around his neck, he allegedly spat in his executioner’s face and declared, “I wish the entire human race had one neck, and I had my hands around it!” When asked by the executioner if he had any last words, Panzram barked, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”

Such was the end of arguably the most evil man in American history. In his own words, Carl Panzram describes his life, “I am 36 years old and I have been a criminal all of my life. I have 11 felony convictions against me. I have served 20 years of my life in Jails, Reform Schools and prisons. I know why I am a criminal. Others may have different theories as to my life but I have no theory about it. I know the facts. If any man ever was a habitual criminal. I am one. In my lifetime I have broken every law that was ever made by both Man and God. If either had made more, I should cheerfully have broken them also. The mere fact that I have done these things is quite sufficient for the average person. Very few people ever consider it worthwhile to wonder why I am what I am and do what I do. All that they think it is necessary to do is to catch me, try me convict me and send me to prison for a few years, make life miserable for me while in prison and then turn me loose again. That is the system that is in practice today in this country. The consequences are that such that any one and every one can see crime and lots of it. Those who are sincere in their desire to put down crime are to be pitied for all of their efforts which accomplish so little in the desired direction. They are the ones who are deceived by their own ignorance and by the trickery and greed of others who profit the most by crime. If you or anyone else will take the trouble and have the intelligence and patience to follow and examine every one of my crimes and actions you will find that I have consistently followed one idea thru all my life. I preyed upon the weak the harmless or unsuspecting. Those I have harmed were all either weaklings either mentally or physically. Those who were strong in either mind or body I first lied to and led into a trap where they were either asleep or drunk or helpless in some way. I always had all the best of it, because I knew ahead of time just what to expect and the others did not. I therefore was strong in my knowledge and stronger in body than those preyed upon. This lesson I was taught by others. Might makes right.”