According to The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, murderers have been found to have abnormally strong sex drives that may include active fantasies about having intercourse with dead people. In addition, many serial killers have reported having sexual fetishes and/ or acting out on those deviant impulses. Studies have shown that perps who start as harmless peeping toms often move on to rape — or eventually — murder.
Below, we examine the profiles four notorious serial killers who had a depraved appetite for defiling their victims and using sex as a tool to demean them.
GARY RIDGWAY: The Man Who Killed So Many, He Lost Count
- Years Active: 1982 -1998, but could be as late as 2001
- Number of Victims: Convicted of 49, admitted to 71, but believed to be 90+
- Nicknames: The Green River Killer, Green River Gary
- Murder Method of Choice: Strangulation, sometimes employing ligatures
Background: Gary Ridgway remains one of the most prolific serial killers in history. He haunted police for years, earning the nickname “The Green River Killer” when investigators uncovered five of his victims near Green River. As a child Ridgway was determined to have a low IQ and was the target of abuse at school and at home. At only 16 years old, Ridgway exhibited violent behavior, stabbing a 6-year-old boy.
Sexual Depravities: Mary Ridgway, Gary’s mother, often told her son inappropriate stories about her work in the men’s section of a department store. She reportedly discussed how customers would get aroused when she measured them for their suits. She would go into detail, telling her young son how the mens’ genitals smelled.
When he was a teenager, Ridgway admitted to having violent, sexual fantasies about his mother. As an adult Ridgway frequently had sex with prostitutes and requested that his wife have sex with him in public or near the bodies of his dead victims.
Praying on society’s nameless, Ridgway’s victims were almost exclusively prostitutes in Washington and California. Despite killing dozens of women and exhibiting twisted sexual tendencies, Ridgway was married three times and even fathered children. Although his wives were unaware that they had married a prolific killer, the women in Ridgeway’s life described his relentless sexual appetite, noting that he would demand sex multiple times a day. Without remorse Ridgway summed up his disturbing logic:
I hate most prostitutes. I didn’t want to pay them for sex. I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away, and might never be reported missing.
TED BUNDY: The Very Definition Of Heartless Evil
- Years Active: 1974-1978
- Number of Victims: Confessed to 31, but many believe he could have nearly 100 victims
- Nicknames: Lady Killer, The Campus Killer
- Murder Weapon of Choice: Metal Bar, Strangulation
Background: With 31 admitted murders, it’s no wonder the world is equally fascinated and terrified by Ted Bundy. Bundy was uniquely evil and cunning, committing murders across seven different states in a relatively short period of time. So how did Bundy select and hunt his female targets? His young victims, who bared a striking resemblance to his first fiancé, were often college students. Despite the jarring resemblance between his victims, Bundy balked at the possible connection to his former lover. With his good looks and charismatic nature, Bundy was apt at tricking women by faking an injury and asking for help. Earning the nickname “Campus Killer,” Bundy was known to beat, rape and/or strangle his victims.
Sexual Depravities: Bundy began reading soft-core pornography when he 13 years old and he routinely engaged in necrophilia as he got older. As if Bundy’s murders could get more twisted, he would pleasure himself at the scene of his previous crimes. During years of assaulting and killing women, Bundy married and had several girlfriend and close female friends. Attorney Polly Nelson sums up the killer’s legacy, calling him the “very definition of heartless evil.”
CARL PANZRAM: The Spirit Of Hatred And Vengeance
- Years Active: 1920 – 1929
- Number of Victims: 22
- Nicknames: 10 different alias
- Murder Weapon of Choice: Anything readily available
Background: Carl Panzram confessed to 22 murders and more than 1,000 counts of forces sodomy. Panzam was born in Minnesota and by the age of 12 entered a correctional facility. The training school was nicknamed “The Painting House” because children were deemed blank canvases before they left the facility painted with blood and bruises. Panzram loathed the school so much that he eventually burned the building to the ground. Upon his release from school Panzram claims he was gang raped by a group of roving homeless criminals.
Sexual Depravities: As an adult Panzram lived an endless cycle of alcoholism, criminal behavior and sexual abuse. Panzram detailed his drive to rape the men he robbed, calling himself “rage personified” and contending that his sexual acts were an attempt to dominate and humiliate his victims.
Panzram admitted to raping hundreds of men, as well as killing and raping boys as young as 11-years-old. In his autobiography Panzram described his complete disregard for human life in one sentence:
“Rob ‘em all, rape ‘em all, and kill ‘em all.”
JEFFREY DAHMER: The Loner Cannibal
- Years Active: 1978 -1991
- Number of Victims: 17
- Nicknames: The Milwaukee Monster, The Milwaukee Cannibal
- Murder Weapon of Choice: Strangulation, Botched/Crude Medical Experiments
Background: Although Dahmer’s victim count is the lowest on our list, his twisted and sexually motivated behavior is unparalleled in the history of serial killers. The “Milwaukee Cannibal” began his killing spree in 1978, murdering a hitchhiker after the pair had sex. Dahmer then casually buried the victim’s dismembered body parts in the woods behind his parent’s house. Despite waiting almost a decade before killing again, Dahmer went on to commit some of the most mind numbing acts, including cannibalism, necrophilia and bizarre attempts to preserve the victims’ bodies. Dahmer’s luck finally ran out in 1992 when police discovered photographs of his dismembered victims, included a picture of a head in the fridge. Ultimately, Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms before a fellow inmate beat him to death in 1994.
Sexual Depravities: Experts point to a corrective hernia procedure and the birth of his younger brother as the turning point in Dahmer’s early life. As a teen Dahmer was described as a loner with barely any friends and by 14 years old he became obsessed with the idea of necrophilia and murder.
By late 1985, he he began to frequent gay bathhouses, which he described as“relaxing places.” During these sexual encounters, he reportedly became frustrated when his partners moved during sex. He said, “I trained myself to view people as objects of pleasure instead of people.” During his killing spree, Dahmer targeted namely black gay men, focusing on poor and borderline criminals as a way to find less noticeable victims. He admitted to engaging in sexual acts with many of his victims’ viscera as he dismembered them in his bathtub.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons