15 Most Dangerous Criminals That Terrified the World
Published June 16, 2023
The world has seen its fair share of dangerous criminals. The criminals we will talk about in this article have left a trail of destruction and fear in their wake. They have committed heinous crimes, instilling terror in the hearts of people around the globe. From cult leaders to drug lords, serial killers to international terrorists, their actions have forever shaped history. This article will explore the lives and crimes of the 15 most dangerous criminals that have terrified the world.
15 Most Dangerous Criminals
Some are still at large, while others have been captured and brought to justice. Regardless of their current whereabouts, the names of these infamous criminals have become ingrained in our collective consciousness, a reminder of the horrors that humans are capable of.
1. Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony is the former leader of the rebel group named Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). He is known for his involvement in many crimes and human rights abuses.
The LRA funded itself through looting, pillaging, and committing massacres. Kony and the LRA gained notoriety for mass abducting both children and adults. The rebel group will force children to kill their relatives and civilians, and girls will be subject to sexual violence. These events forced families to abandon their homes without their essential needs.
Joseph Kony is still free after decades of searching, the deployment of thousands of soldiers, and spending nearly $800 million.
2. Oakland County Child Killer
For more than four decades, the people of Michigan have been troubled by a case known as the Oakland County Child Killer. It happened between 1976 and 1977 when an unknown person abducted and took the lives of at least four children, all between the ages of 10 and 12. These innocent victims were kept captive before being killed, and their bodies were left in public places.
The identity of the babysitter killer remains a mystery. The investigation into the case has been filled with controversy and errors, raising doubts about whether justice will ever be served. Despite many suspects and leads, the killer has managed to evade capture for over 40 years.
The Oakland County Child Killer case serves as a reminder to trust carefully and to focus on the safety of our children. It highlights the need to always be vigilant and attentive to their well-being.
3. Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer was a known American serial killer and sex offender. He gained notoriety in the 1990s for committing a series of gruesome crimes. Dahmer was responsible for the rape, murder, dismemberment, and sometimes cannibalism of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991.
Dahmer would lure his victims to his apartment, where he would drug and strangle them before dismembering their bodies and disposing of the remains. Dahmer’s crimes shocked the nation, and he was finally apprehended in 1991, found guilty, and given numerous life sentences in prison. In 1994, a fellow prisoner took his life.
Even though many years have passed, the case of Jeffrey Dahmer is still one of the most talked about and studied examples of serial murder in modern times.
4. Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Theodore “Ted” Bundy, one of the FBI most wanted criminals, was a notorious American serial killer. In the 1970s, he admitted to kidnapping, raping, and murdering at least 30 young women.
Bundy targeted his victims, often college-aged women, by using his charm and deceit to gain their trust. He would lure them to secluded places, brutally attacking and ending their lives. His crimes involved sexual assault, necrophilia, and at times, mutilation of the victims’ bodies.
Due to the extreme nature of his crimes, Bundy’s case garnered significant media attention. He was found guilty and received many death sentences. In 1989, Bundy met his final fate in Florida, where he was executed in the electric chair.
5. Harold Shipman
Dr. Harold Shipman, a former general practitioner in the United Kingdom, had a medical career spanning over two decades. But, behind his trusted façade, he carried out unspeakable acts, murdering a significant number of his patients. It is estimated that he killed 218 people, with some sources estimating 250.
Shipman’s method involved administering lethal doses of diamorphine and other drugs to his patients, claiming that it would ease their pain. Most of his victims were elderly women, though the motives behind his crimes remain uncertain. It is believed that he sought personal satisfaction or control through these horrifying acts.
In 1998, Shipman was finally apprehended and brought to justice. He faced trial for 15 counts of murder, and the evidence against him was overwhelming. He was guilty on all counts. Yet, the true extent of his crimes may never be known, as it is suspected that he was responsible for even more deaths. As a result, Shipman received a life sentence for his atrocities, and in 2004, he died by suicide in his prison cell.
6. John Wayne Gacy
Gacy, “The Killer Clown,” was responsible for the sexual assault and murder of at least 33 young boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. Gacy lured his victims to his home by offering them construction work or money. He would restrain and sexually assault the victims before strangling them.
After killing his victims, Gacy would dispose of their bodies by burying them in the crawl space beneath his house or dumping them in nearby rivers. It wasn’t until 1978 that his crimes were uncovered when the disappearance of one of his victims led to a police investigation.
Upon his arrest, the true extent of Gacy’s crimes came to light. His house became known as the “house of horrors” due to the discovery of multiple bodies buried there. Gacy was convicted of his crimes and sentenced to death.
7. Pedro Lopez
Lopez, the “Monster of the Andes,” is a Colombian serial killer convicted of murdering at least 110 young girls. His crimes took place during the 1970s across several countries in South America.
Lopez targeted vulnerable girls, often between the ages of 8 and 12. He would lure them with promises of gifts or money before leading them to secluded areas where he would rape and murder them.
Due to the transient nature of his crimes and the lack of coordinated efforts between law enforcement agencies in different countries, Lopez managed to evade capture for a significant time. But, in 1980, he was apprehended in Ecuador after attempting to abduct another young girl.
During his capture, evidence of his horrific crimes was discovered. Lopez confessed to killing hundreds of young girls, providing details later verified by the recovery of many bodies in the areas where he had operated. The sheer size and brutality of his crimes shocked the world.
Lopez was convicted in 1983 and sentenced to prison. However, his current whereabouts are unknown due to a controversial ruling and subsequent release.
8. Jim Jones
Jim Jones was the leader of the Peoples Temple, a cult that ended in a mass murder-suicide known as the Jonestown Massacre. His crimes include the manipulation, abuse, and death of over 900 people.
On November 18, 1978, Jones convinced his followers that the outside world was a threat. According to Jones, they will face persecution and death if they leave Jonestown. He then ordered the mass consumption of Flavor Aid with cyanide. This resulted in the deaths of over 900 people, including children and Jones himself.
9. H.H. Holmes
H.H. Holmes, also known as Herman Mudgett, was a notorious serial killer in the late 19th century. His crimes included luring victims into his hotel known as “Murder Castle,” where he would torture, kill, and dispose of their bodies.
His crimes included luring unsuspecting guests into the hotel, many of whom were young women. Once inside, he would trap and murder them, often using methods such as suffocation, poison, or dismemberment. Holmes would then dispose of the bodies by cremation, burial, or selling the remains to medical institutions.
His killing spree is believed to have started in the late 1880s and ended in 1894. It is estimated to be as high as 200. Holmes was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
10. Joseph James D’Angelo Jr.
Joseph James D’Angelo Jr. has been called the Golden State Killer, although he was also known as the East Area Rapist. For years, his identity remained a mystery. But, in April 2018, authorities were able to use DNA evidence to determine that he was the culprit behind a string of crimes that spanned over a decade.
DeAngelo’s crimes began in the mid-1970s when he started a series of burglaries and sexual assaults in the Sacramento area of California. He would break into homes, often targeting single women or couples, and commit acts of sexual assault and theft. His methods included tying up his victims and subjecting them to psychological torture.
D’Angelo was responsible for at least 50 rapes and 13 murders throughout California in the 1970s and 80s. In 2020, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty.
11. Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer is an unidentified serial killer in Northern California during the 60s and 70s. The name “Zodiac” originated from cryptic letters and ciphers the killer sent to local newspapers, taunting the authorities and the public.
The Zodiac Killer is known to have committed at least five confirmed murders, although he claimed to have taken the lives of many more. His victims were mostly young couples who were targeted while they were in secluded areas.
Despite a massive investigation and numerous suspects over the years, the identity of the Zodiac Killer remains a mystery.
12. Al Capone
Al Capone was a notorious American gangster who rose to prominence throughout the 1920s and 1930s. He was the head of the Chicago Outfit at the time. Capone’s criminal empire illegally produced, distributed and sold alcoholic beverages.
Although Capone was involved in various criminal activities, including gambling, extortion, and prostitution. His role in the illegal alcohol trade earned him the most attention and wealth. Capone’s reign ended when he was finally arrested and convicted on tax evasion charges in 1931.
During his time in prison, Capone’s health deteriorated due to syphilis. After serving seven years, he was released on parole in 1939 and spent the remaining years in poor health.
13. Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer of Whitechapel, London, in the late 1800s. Jack the Ripper targeted female prostitutes, preying on vulnerable women in impoverished areas. His modus operandi involved mutilating his victims, leaving a trail of horror and fear.
The killings were characterized by the mutilation and slashing of the victims’ bodies. It often involves deep throat and abdominal cuts. A level of precision and knowledge of anatomy marked the murders. That led to speculation that the killer might have had some medical or anatomical expertise.
Despite extensive investigations, Jack the Ripper’s identity has never been determined. The case remains one of the most infamous mysteries in the world’s most dangerous criminals history.
14. Ed Gein
Gein’s crimes in the 1950s included the murder and mutilation of several women in his rural hometown. He would often visit local cemeteries and dig out corpses. He will get body parts and create keepsakes from their remains. Gein’s macabre actions were driven by a twisted fascination with death and a desire to create a “woman suit” to resemble his deceased mother.
In 1957, authorities discovered Gein’s horrifying activities when they searched his farmhouse. They found human remains, including furniture upholstered with human skin and skulls used as bowls. Following his arrest, Gein was found mentally unfit to stand trial and was committed to a psychiatric institution. He spent the rest of his life in confinement and died of respiratory failure.
15. Charles Manson
Charles Manson was an American cult leader who became infamous in the late 1960s. Manson formed a cult known as the Manson Family, which attracted followers who carried out his violent and heinous commands.
In August 1969, Manson orchestrated a series of brutal murders. Among the victims were the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, wife of director Roman Polanski, and several others who were in her company at the time. Manson’s followers carried out the murders under his instructions.
Despite maintaining his innocence, Manson was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, receiving a life sentence. On November 19, 2017, he died in the hospital from cardiac arrest.
The stories of these 15 most dangerous criminals have left a lasting impact on the world. Their heinous acts of violence and the fear they instilled in their victims and society are reminders of humanity’s dark side.
It is crucial to remember the victims and their families, whose lives were forever changed by the actions of these criminals. Their stories serve as a reminder of the importance of vigilance, community safety, and the pursuit of justice.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.