According to experts, there are between 25 and 50 active serial killers in the United States at any given time. Of these, only a fraction will actually be caught due to the difficulties involved in tying together evidence from various cases, sometimes across numerous counties or even states. It’s a scary thought, but serial killers are out there. It could be a neighbor or a coworker or someone you pass on the street. Listed below are ten notorious serial killers that have never been caught.
10Oakland County Child Killer
The Oakland County Child Killer, also known as the Babysitter killer preyed on the children of Oakland County, Michigan for 13 months from February 1976 to March 1977. The killer abducted and eventually killed four children – 12-year-old Mark Stebbins, 12-year-old Jill Robinson, 10-year-old Kristine Mihelich, and 11-year-old Timothy King. All four children were bathed and fed while held captive, and the killer even went so far as to feed Timothy King fried chicken after watching a interview of his mother stating that she was going to feed her son his favorite meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was returned to her. This earned the killer the title Babysitter Killer.
Mark Stebbins was found on a snow bank in an office parking lot while the other three children were all found in various locations on the side of the road. Kristine Mihelich and Timothy King were both suffocated and Mark Stebbins had been strangled. Jill Robinson was killed with a single shot-gun blast to the head. Both boys had been sexually assaulted.
The state police formed a task force, but no suspects were ever charged, despite all of the publicity and manpower given to the case.
9The Freeway Phantom
From April 1971 to September 1972, the Freeway Phantom went on a killing spree in Washington D.C., killing six African-American girls ranging in age from 10 to 18 years of age. All six were abducted, raped, and then strangled before being dumped along the highways of D.C.
On April 25th, 1971, 13 year old Carol Spinks failed to return home after walking to the store. She was discovered six days later on I-295. 16 year old Darlenia Johnson was the Phantom’s next victim. She was abducted on July 8th, 1971 and her body was discovered 11 days later approximately 15 feet from where Carol Spinks was found.
On July 27th, 1971, ten year old Brenda Crockett was abducted when she walked to a store near her home on an errand from her mother. A hitchhiker found her body several hours later on route 50 near I-295 in Maryland.
The next victim was 12 year old Nenomoshia Yates, who was kidnapped as she walked home from the store on October 1st, 1971. Her body was discovered several hours later on Pennsylvania Avenue in Maryland. It was at this time that the killer was given the name “Freeway Phantom” by the media.
The fifth victim, 18 year old Brenda Woodward was abducted on November 15th, 1971 after having dinner with a friend. She was found by a police officer on route 202 just six hours later. A coat had been draped over Brenda’s body, and a note from the killer was found in a pocket stating:
“This is tantamount to my insensititivity [sic] to people especially women. I will admit the others when you catch me if you can!”
The final known victim of the Freeway Phantom was Diane Williams. She was last seen alive boarding a bus to head home after visiting with her boyfriend on September 5th, 1972. Her body was found a few hours later on I-295, south of the District line.
The only strong lead investigators had was in relation to Robert Elwood Askins, a violent criminal known for his hatred of women. Askins was imprisoned in the mid-70s for the abduction and rape of two women in the Washington D.C. area. He was questioned about the Freeway Phantom killings, but Askins denied any involvement and no physical evidence was found. It was noted by co-workers that Askins was very fond of the word “tantamount”, a word noted in the note found on Brenda Woodward.
8The Connecticut River Valley Killer
From 1978 until 1987, seven women were murdered in the Connecticut River Valley spanning Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. All seven women had been stabbed and they all had their throats slit.
On October 24th, 1978, Cathy Millican was found with 29 stab wounds in New London, New Hampshire, where she had been photographing birds at a local wetland preserve. The next victim was Mary Elizabeth Critchley, a 37 year old student who disappeared while hitchhiking to Vermont from Massachusetts on July 25th, 1981. Her body was found on August 9th in Unity, New Hampshire.
Bernice Courtemanche was last seen alive on May 30th, 1984. The 17 year old nurse’s aide was hitchhiking on New Hampshire route 12 to her boyfriend’s home. Her body wasn’t found until April, 1986 when a fisherman found her in Kellyville, New Hampshire. Another nurse, 27 year old Ellen Fried disappeared on July 20th, 1984. She had stopped at a pay phone late that evening to call her sister. During the phone call, she mentioned that she had spotted a strange car that seemed to be circling the local vicinity. The following September, her body was found in a stand of woods in Kellyville.
On July 10th, 1985 27 year old Eva Morse was last seen hitchhiking in Charlestown, New Hampshire on route 12. Loggers found her body in 1986, around 500 feet from where Elizabeth Critchley’s remains were discovered. The killer then took a different approach. On April 15th, 1986, 36 year old Lynda Moore was last seen outside her Saxtons River home doing yard work. When her husband arrived home later that evening, he found the body of his wife, dead from multiple stab wounds. Several individuals came forward to report seeing a 20 to 25 year old man lurking about Moore’s home the day she was killed. A composite sketch was released to the public, but there were no helpful leads.
Barbara Agnew, a 38 year old nurse was returning home from a ski trip on January 10th, 1987. Her body was found on March 28th, 1987 in Hartland Vermont with multiple stab wounds.
On August 6th, 1988, the killer struck a final time. 22 years old and seven months pregnant, Jane Boroski stopped to purchase a drink from a vending machine on her way home from a fair in Keene, New Hampshire. A man pulled her from her car and stabbed her 27 times. He then drove away, leaving her in the vacant parking lot to die. Seriously injured, Boroski still managed to get back in her car and drive to a nearby friend’s house. She and her unborn child survived the attack and she was able to provide the police with a partial license plate number as well as a description of her attacker. After this final attack however, there were no more killings with the same M.O. and the case was designated as a cold case.
7The Cleveland Torso Murderer
From September 1934 to August 1938, Cleveland, Ohio was terrorized by the presence of a brutal killer known as the Cleveland Torso Murderer, the name given due to the individual’s penchant for dismembering the bodies of his victims. A total of 12 bodies were found, all having been decapitated and many having had limbs removed. Some of the bodies had also had their genitals severed as well.
Of the 12 bodies, only three were positively identified, and it was believed that the potential number of victims might be much higher. Edward Andrassy was the first body to be found and he was discovered in the Jackass Hill area of Kingsbury Run on September 23rd, 1935. The third body discovered was Florence Genevieve Polillo and she was found on January 26th/February 7th, 1936 in the downtown Cleveland area. The eighth body found was believed to be that of Rose Wallace, but there were concerns about the validity of the dental records used for positive identification. She was found on June 6th, 1937 near the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
The killer targeted lower class individuals, depositing their remains in and around Kingsbury Run. Eliot Ness, the Public Safety Director of Cleveland, took it upon himself to apply his skills as a detective to try and bring some resolution to the case in 1936. The killer chose to taunt Ness, leaving the last two of the twelve bodies in an abandoned site in plain view of Ness’ office window. Ness responded with a raid on Kingsbury Run, arresting approximately 63 men before burning the town. Ness met with disapproval from the public, with many believing that his raid would not halt the killer, but no other bodies were discovered after the raid. Several suspects have been considered in this case, but the identity of the killer remains a mystery.
6Jeff Davis 8
Between 2005 and 2009, Jennings, Louisiana was subjected to the cold reality of a killer on their streets. For over four years, the bodies of women would be discovered in the swamps surrounding Jennings. In total, eight young women were discovered, all of them from Lake Arthur or Jennings. All of the women were involved in prostitution and drug addiction, both issues that had slowly begun to take a toll on the small city.
On May 20th, 2005, Loretta Lewis, age 28 was discovered by a fisherman in a local river. Seven more bodies would follow. The remaining victims were Ernestine Marie Patterson, age 30, Kristen Lopez, age 21, Whitnei Dubois, age26, Laconia Brown, age 23, Crystal Zeno, age 24, Brittany Gary, age 17, and the final victim found, Necole Guillory, age 26. Guillory was found in 2009 off of interstate 10 in Acadia Parish.
It was determined that Patterson and Brown had both had their throats cut. The bodies of the other six victims were too badly decomposed to positively determine a cause of death, but the coroner suspected that asphyxia was the most likely cause.
There were numerous issues with the investigation of this case. Even though a task force was created to address the case, there was a lot of speculation on the conduct of the police department, with allegations of cover-ups and corruption. The case still remains unsolved.
5The Long Island Serial Killer
The Long Island Serial Killer began taking the lives of sex workers as far back as 1996, claiming at least ten victims and possibly more. In 2010, the work of this killer finally came to the attention of law enforcement officers while they were searching for Shannan Gilbert, a missing escort. Officers were searching Gilgo Beach in Long Island, New York in December 2010, and while Gilbert wasn’t found until 2011, four other bodies were discovered. The four victims were Maureen Brainard-Barnes, age 25, Melissa Barthelemy, age 24, Megan Waterman, age 22, and Amber Lynn Costello, age 27. Six more bodies were eventually discovered in the Gilgo Beach area, a location that was relatively isolated due to contamination issues. Of the six additional victims, only Jessica Taylor, age 20 was positively identified. All of the victims had been strangled, and some had been dismembered. Some of the first bodies discovered were also wrapped in burlap sacks, but the bodies that were discovered later were not.
The five victims who had been identified were all escorts who advertised on Craigslist. All five had also mentioned to friends and colleagues that they were meeting clients on the night of their disappearance. It was likely that they had been contacted by the Long Island Serial Killer.
There have been several persons of interest in this case including former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, but none of these leads came to fruition. It has been speculated that the killer might have some type of police experience due to their ability to cover their tracks and out-maneuver the police investigation.
4The West Mesa Bone Collector
On February 2nd, 2009, 11 women ranging in age from 15 to 32 years were discovered in the desert on the West Mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico. A woman who was walking her dog discovered a human bone and contacted the police. The bodies were discovered over 92 acres of land and it took investigators several weeks to recover all of the bodies.
After the bodies were recovered, it took another year to identify all of the victims, of which ten were drug addicts and prostitutes. All of the women had been missing for some time before they were actually discovered – all having disappeared between 2001 and 2005. The victims were as follows: Jamie Barela, age 15, Monica Candelaria, age 22, Victoria Chavez, age 26, Virginia Cloven, age 24, Syllania Edwards, age 15, Cinnamon Elks, age 32, Doreen Marquez, age 24, Julie Nieto, age 24, Veronica Romero, age 28, Evelyn Salazar, age 27, and Michelle Valdez, age 22. Most of the women were Hispanic. Syllania Edwards was the only African American victim as well as the only victim who wasn’t from New Mexico. She was a runaway from Lawton, Oklahoma.
Police hoped to placate the families of the victims with promises that they would catch the killer, but there wasn’t a lot for them to work with, even with the aid of FBI profilers and state-wide cooperation of law enforcement agencies. There were no witnesses, and no forensic evidence to speak of where the bodies were found. The only things that the victims shared were their lifestyles and the fact that most of them were Hispanic. There have never been any official suspects in the case.
3The Atlanta Ripper
Beginning in 1911 and for the next four years, Atlanta was plagued with a murderer that was specifically targeting African American and mixed-race women. It’s believed that as many as 22 women were killed, all of them in their early to mid-20s. Most of the women had their heads crushed and their throats cut. Mary Putnam and Eva Florence also had their hearts removed and strangely enough, some of the women were also missing their shoes.
Emma Lou Sharpe had perhaps the most harrowing encounter. On July 1st, 1911, Sharpe went in search of her mother when she hadn’t returned from doing some shopping. She encountered a man who approached her, asking how she was feeling. Sharpe gave a response that she was fine and turned to walk away. The man blocked her passage and stated that he never hurt “girls like you.” He then stabbed Sharpe in the back with a knife. Sharpe managed to escape to safety, but her mother was later discovered dead nearby.
It has been argued that this case wasn’t given the attention it was needed by local law enforcement and the press due to racial inequality. Several women were killed before any real attention was given to the case by the press. In all, five suspects were arrested including Todd Henderson, John Daniel, Charlie Owens, Henry Brown, and Henry Huff, but the killings continued. Some believe that it was the work of multiple killers. Eventually the killings stopped as suddenly as they started.
From January 1974 until September 1975 the gay community of San Francisco was the target of a ruthless killer known as The Doodler. He was given this name because he would sketch his intended victims to intrigue them and put them at ease, usually at one of several gay clubs in San Francisco. He would then entice them into leaving the bar with him in search of a more private setting where he would first have sex with them before stabbing and killing them. In total, 14 men were killed and three others were assaulted by The Doodler.
The Doodler’s first victim, Gerald Cavanaugh, age 49 was found on San Francisco beach on January 27th, 1974. His next victim was Joseph “Jae” Stevens, a 27 year old female impersonator. It was thought that the killer had Stevens drive them to Spreckels Lake on June 25th, 1974 where Stevens was later found dead. Several more victims followed including Claus A. Christmann, age 31, Frederick Elmer Capin, age 32, and Harald Gullberg, age 66.
Three men survived assaults by The Doodler. No names or identities have ever been given, but it is believed that one was a popular entertainer, one was a European diplomat and one was a publicly recognized San Francisco figure. Because these gentlemen were concerned about their sexual preferences being revealed to the public, none were willing to come forward and testify when the police apprehended a suspect that they felt was responsible for the killings. Because of their unwillingness to come forward, the suspect was released and his identity was never revealed to the public.
1Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper was and still is one of the world’s most infamous criminals. He killed five prostitutes between August 31st and November 7th, 1888 in the Whitechapel district of London’s East End. There has been much speculation about who Jack the Ripper actually was, as well as what his profession might have been because of the precision with which he mutilated the bodies of his victims. It is thought that he had a keen understanding of human anatomy, leading many to believe that he may have been a doctor or some other professional with extensive medical knowledge.
Mary Ann Nichols was discovered on August 31st, 1888 with a slit throat that nearly decapitated her as well as numerous incisions to her abdomen. Annie Chapman was discovered next on September 8th, 1888. Her abdomen had been cut open and her throat had been cut. The killer had also taken her uterus as an apparent trophy. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were both discovered on September 30th, 1888. Stride’s throat had been cut, but there were no other mutilations, suggesting that the killer was interrupted. Eddowes was found approximately 45 minutes after Stride. She had received a deep wound to her abdomen, and her throat had been cut. She was also missing her left kidney and a large portion of her uterus. The Ripper’s final victim was Mary Kelly. Kelly was discovered on November 9th, 1888 in the room she rented at Miller’s Court. She had been brutally mutilated, with much of her skin flayed to the bone. Her throat had been severed to the spine and her abdominal cavity was emptied of the majority of her organs. Her heart had also been taken.
The killer was dubbed “Jack the Ripper” due to a letter written by an individual claiming to be the killer. The letter was ultimately considered to be a hoax, but the name stuck. Police officers attempted to discover who the killer was. Forensic evidence was gathered, house-to-house searches were performed, and over 300 people were questioned. The final number of suspects named as the possible killer reached over one hundred, but no definite answers were ever found. There has even been some speculation that H.H. Holmes, the Chicago serial killer who murdered at least 27 people in his Murder Castle in the late 1800s could actually be Jack the Ripper.