The Most Successful One-Armed Serial Killer You Never Heard About: Peter Stumpp

And no, we didn’t make that up. The one-armed madman’s last name really was “Stumpp” although it was also commonly spelled Stube, Stubbe, or Stumpf based on its Germanic roots. Good ‘ol stumpy was a German farmer, popular for his alleged love of witchcraft, cannibalism, and, oh yeah, being a werewolf. In the late Middle Ages, being a werewolf was as serious a crime as you could commit.

During his trial–once again, for being a werewolf–he was tortured by stretching. Sometimes the rack is just the only way you can get to the truth. Shockingly, poor Petey confessed. He learned the dark arts from a young age, practicing black magic by the time he was twelve. He was able to transform himself into a werewolf with the help of a magical belt gifted to him by the Devil. The Church believed the story, but oddly enough they never managed to find that darn belt.

Stumpp also confessed to cannibalism. According to his true accounting of the horrific events that led to the accusations levied against him, he chowed down at least fourteen kids. He liked the taste of human veal so much that he ripped the fetuses out of two pregnant women he’d already eaten, and wolfed them down too. He described the meals as “dainty morsels,” describing his hunger for raw, hot meat. Among the fourteen kids was his son. Stumpp ate his brain.

He also had an alleged incestuous relationship with his own daughter, who, no surprise, was obviously sentenced to die with him. You have to scour the infection completely, after all.

If these crimes weren’t enough, he also had sex with a succubus. Another gift from the Devil.

The execution of these truly heinous individuals put any act of brutality committed in the Roman Colosseum to absolute shame. Stumpp’s daughter was flayed living, and then strangled to death.

Stumpp didn’t have it so good. The flesh was torn from his body by heated pincers. His limbs were smashed with the flat side of an axe so that he could never be raised from the dead (always a concern). He was then beheaded. His body was burned alongside his daughter’s on a pyre. Done is done, or it would have been, but there was a point to be made. As a deterrent, Peter’s severed head was shoved atop a pole.

For some reason this version of events is contested. Some people believe that the whole charade was a political ploy by the Church to prevent anyone else converting from catholicism (as Peter had likely done). How silly!

The Greatest Medieval Serial Killers: Gilles de Rais

There’s just something special about the Middle Ages. Everything was grittier, darker, and more fantastical than it is today (even if the media would have us think differently). Gilles de Rais was a knight, a lord, and a companion to the famous Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years’ War. Sounds like a chaste guy, right? Oh, but he also enjoyed murdering children. In fact he enjoyed it so very much that he perhaps disposed of hundreds. An interesting fellow, to be sure.

From at least 1432 until 1440, a string of murders took place. They stopped when Gilles was found guilty, condemned to death, and sent to the gallows.

Gilles may have known something of the ancient Roman festival called Saturnalia. It was during this week-long celebration that a common subject was chosen from among the masses to be feasted with food and drink, to be pampered and loved. At the end of the joyous occasion, the subject was butchered as a representation of gluttonous evil overcome by the forces of good.

This is precisely how Gilles de Rais killed his victims. He would provide his intended victim with wonderful new garments, then a feast complete with copious amounts of alcohol. It was only then that Rais brought the victim to a kill room and took care of his baser desires by pleasuring himself. He would sexually assault the victim before the murder was completed.

The victims were routinely tortured. They were sometimes decapitated or dismembered. Other times their throats were cut or their necks were broken. Those who bore witness to these terrible crimes against humanity testified that Rais took immense pleasure in the pain he inflicted upon the children, and he also enjoyed the sight of their internal organs after they were dead.

Rais was only discovered after he kidnapped a cleric. An investigation was put forth by the Bishop of Nantes, and it didn’t take very long before Rais was found out. He was charged with murder, sodomy, and heresy. The court planned to torture Rais into confessing his sins, but Rais ruined the fun by confessing all on his own.

Most of the victims’ bodies were burned, but a grave of at least 40 was found. The total number of murders is thought to be between 80 and 200, making him perhaps one of the greatest serial killers of all time. His body was, perhaps quite fittingly, burned after his execution.

Then again, there are a number of counter-arguments and theories that claim Gilles de Rais was likely innocent of the crimes, and subject to a plot with ulterior motives.

Sharon Tate: A Light Extinguished

Sharon Tate has a legacy, but it isn’t one she was designed for when she first arrived in Hollywood. Her star was rising while her life was a wife and soon-to-be mother was in its nascent stages.

Then the flame went out – quicker than it ignited. And that has been her legacy for nearly the last 50 years.

Sharon Tate, married to iconic director Roman Polanski and more than eight months pregnant with the couple’s son, was brutally murdered by members of the Charlie Manson Family in August 1969, taking Tate’s star out of Hollywood just as it was shining at its most bright. She had earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in Valley of the Dolls in 1967, and she was the headline actress in 12+1, when she was killed – the movie showed in theaters posthumously.

Sadly, though, her Hollywood career in life was not long enough to overshadow her death, though she was on the way to possible greatness in the wake of her most recent performances. However, it took the cult fame and cruelty of the Mason Family to take over the legacy and list Tate as just another one of Manson’s victims – though certainly one of the more famous ones.

Tate began in Hollywood as an 18-year-old in 1961 in Barabbas with Anthony Quinn, after entering in a few beauty pageants and earning a cover photo in a swimsuit on the U.S. military magazine Stars & Stripes, which garnered her some celebrity status in Italy, where her military family was stationed.

Her performance in Barabbas got her name in Hollywood and she moved on from modeling and started focusing more on acting. At the time of her murder, she had ascended to receiving top actress billing in her latest films, including a 1967 Polanski project called The Fearless Vampire Killers, where she had met Polanski and ended up marrying in January 1968.

While Tate’s actual murderer is unknown (she was killed along with four others inside the home she shared with Polanski), Charles Manson served the rest of his life in prison for running the Manson Family and guiding it through its crime spree that included several murders. Since her death, Tate’s mother and sister advocated for changes to California’s sentencing and criminal laws which led to Manson’s’ lifetime imprisonment. For their work, Sharon Tate’s life has served as a symbol for victims’ rights, as many of the reforms in California were implemented in other states as well.

Sharon Tate will sadly be known as perhaps the sot famous of Charles Manson’s’ victims, instead of being remembered for her beauty and promising acting career. It is another one of those situations where usually the last thing you do or have done to you that impact the most people is what will be remembered. But at the end of the day, Tate’s family will make sure that her name lives on and has a more lasting impression than anything Manson ever did.

Crime Story: Andrew Cunanan

Crime Story: Andrew Cunanan

Andrew CunananAndrew Cunanan has become sort of an infamous legend as his story is being shared with the world in FX television’s series, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. In 1997, the infamous killer was the 449th member of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list. Andrew Cunanan was born of a Filipino American and Italian American parents. During his early childhood, Andrew was considered an intelligent and outgoing boy. As he aged, he began to develop a reputation as a pathological liar. He would tell tall tales about his family and personal life.

When Andrew was 19, his father left his family in an effort to escape embezzlement charges. It was then when he told his mother that he was gay. Andrew and his mother got into a verbal altercation, which later became physical when Andrew threw his mother against a wall, dislocating her shoulder.

The Murders

Andrew’s killing spree did not begin with rich white men, as it ended. His first victim was Jeffrey Trail on April 27, 1997. Trail and Cunanan got into an argument. This led to the belligerent bashing of Trail’s head and body with a claw hammer. He left Trail rolled up in a carpet in his friend David Madson’s apartment.

Cunanan’s second murder occurred about 60-miles north of his first crime scene in Rush City, Minnesota. Andrew murdered his former lover, David Madson, on May 3, 1997. He executed David with multiple gunshots to the back of the head.

It wasn’t long before Cunanan struck again. He drove straight to Chicago to visit Lee Miglin, a real estate tycoon. The very next day, Cunanan left Lee wrapped with duct tape around his head, hands, and feet. According to the reports, Andrew stabbed Lee over 20 times with a screwdriver and used a hacksaw to cut his throat. It was at this point the FBI added Cunanan to the Top Ten Most Wanted list.      

After taking care of Lee Miglin, Andrew began his descent to Miami. On his way, Andrew found his fourth victim, William Reese. Reese was Andrew’s most random murder. The likely reason for William’s death was that Andrew needed a car to complete his journey. Reese was shot to death and his red pickup truck was stolen.

Between his fourth and fifth murders, Andrew hid in plain sight along the coast of Miami Beach for nearly two months. He would even pawn stolen items under his real name, knowing the police would search the records of pawn shops. On July 15th, 1997 Cunanan committed his fifth and final murder, the wrongful death of legendary fashion designer, Gianni Versace.

Just a week later, Andrew Cunanan was found dead on the second floor of a Miami Beach houseboat. It appeared that Andrew had killed himself with the same gun he used for three of his murders. He did not leave a suicide note and was only found with a few personal items.

Charles Manson, Cult Leader

Many people might cite the 1960’s as a decade that prominently featured proponents of peace (and with it, protest of war), love, and vast experimentation with drug use and abuse. Some might also recollect the emergence of one of the United States’ most notorious criminals in history, Charles Manson.

Born in 1934 as Charles Milles Maddox, Manson was deeply influenced by the shifting culture of the 1960’s following several stints that landed him back and forth between prison sentences. Some may attribute this in part to his less-than-stable childhood, having been born by Kathleen Maddox (a prostitute who suffered from alcohol abuse) and William Manson. Following a failed marriage between the two, young Charles was sent to a boys’ school before attempting to return to his mother. Failing in this, Manson lived on the streets which would later turn into prison sentences for petty crimes – he would later end up being imprisoned for half of the first 32 years of his life.

Life outside of prison was not entirely stable for Manson, either. He would marry twice: the first time in 1955 to a hospital waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis, who would later give birth to a son before leaving Manson a year later, and the second time in 1959 to a prostitute named Leona Ray “Candy” Stevens, who also gave birth to a son before divorcing Manson in 1963. Probation reports would describe Manson as, “constantly striving for status and securing some kind of love,” as well as “marked degree of rejection, instability and psychic trauma.”

From 1958 to 1967, Manson served a 10-year sentence at McNeil Island prison, whereupon he began to gather followers later known as the Manson Family cult. Upon his release in 1967, the Family would eventually move to San Fernando Valley, where they would later become one of the most infamous cults in history. It was around this time that Manson began making claims that he was Jesus Christ and prophesying a race war, bringing more followers to his cause.

Despite the family that he had built around himself, Manson still showed signs of rejection from the outside world. The famous Tate-LaBianca murders, one statement says, was the end result of Manson targeting the world of show business through the acts committed at the house of Roman Polanski, where several of his followers murdered four victims, among them the famed actress and wife of Polanski, Sharon Tate as well as coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger. It was on the following night that Manson would personally escort members of his Family to the LaBianca residence where they carried out the murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Although Manson was said never to have directly taken part in the murders himself, he was eventually sentenced to death in 1971 (automatically commuted to life imprisonment). Cited among his motivations included his deep belief in Armageddon and his believed purpose of guiding the black community to rule the world. Manson’s followers also admitted they wanted to commit murders that would “shock the world.”

Manson would spend the rest of his life incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison in California from 1971 until shortly before his death in 2017, when he had been transferred to a hospital in Bakersfield. During that period, he had been denied parole a total of 12 times. Manson would eventually die on November 19th of natural causes at the age of 83; a coroner would later confirm that Manson had suffered primarily from acute cardiac arrest, although other listed causes of death included respiratory failure as well as Manson’s long-standing battle with colon cancer.

Take An Acid Bath: John George Haigh

He could be called a chemist, or at least a scientist.

He liked working with corpses. But he performed some very macabre experiments, that weren’t really experiments.

John George Haigh, unlike many scientists, was not working with chemicals in looking to benefit society with his work. He was just doing it for kicks, and it cost several people their lives, their fortunes … and their bodies.

Being called the “Acid Bath Murderer,” though, was a bit misleading – he only used the acid bath after the people were already dead.

Nonetheless, John George Haigh is considered one of the more creepy U.K. serial killers, not Texas for once. He was executed at the age of 40 after being found guilty of killing six people over five years, though he admitted to killing nine people while he was on Death Row. The other three deaths could not be officially attributed to him.

While the number of victims wasn’t staggering, what put Haigh at the height of infamy was what he did with the bodies. The story was revealed that Haigh believed that if a body was never found, he couldn’t be nailed for the murder, so he worked on a disappearing act.

After he either beat or shot his victims, he would grab the dead body, drink a cup of blood (he admitted), stuff the body inside a 45-gallon drum, and pour concentrated sulfuric acid into the drum until the body was submerged. The acid would eat away at the body, and the heat produced by the chemical reaction would even melt the bones. After a couple of days, Haigh would return and empty the drum of the resultant sludge.

Yep, cheery thought, right?

Why did he kill? The general claim was that there was a profit motive. After already serving time in prison for fraud, Haigh would forge documents that would give him power of attorney on behalf of his victims, allowing him to liquidate their assets. It was recorded that he made more than 12,000 British pounds with these sales, which was a lot of money in post-World War II Britain.

The very last victim exposed his “perfect crime,” as not all of the woman’s body had fully dissolved. A couple bone fragments were found, as well as dentures, lipstick and a handbag which were all traced to the most recent victim, a 69-year-old wealthy widow named Olive Durand-Deacon. As police followed up on a missing-person’s report filed by Durand-Deacon’s friend, police searched a property that Haigh was using, and evidence related to several of his other victims were discovered, along with Durand-Deacon’s remains.

The “perfect crime” was foiled, though Haigh certainly tried to get out of it. He first claimed that he was insane because of a tough childhood with an abusive father. But when that didn’t work, he tried the defense of not having a body meaning no conviction. Of course, that ultimately didn’t work either, and he was convicted of six murders and was executed by hanging.

Who Was Ahmad Suradji?

Although we’re often taught to believe that the U.S. is the best at everything, it might surprise you to know that other countries breed their fair share of bat-crap crazy serial killers with equally bizarre rituals. Ahmad Suradji grew up in Medan, the capital of Indonesia, and would eventually confess to the slaughter of 42 women over the span of about a decade. He wasn’t picky about age, and killed an eclectic bunch ranging from about 17 to 40. And you thought all the crazy serial killers lived in New York

He was also known for breeding cattle.

Suradji lived on a sugarcane plantation and buried the majority of his victims there, where they were eventually discovered just prior to his arrest on April 30, 1997. He was absolutely sure that the heads of his victims were pointing toward his home, because he thought it would give him a power-up.

It gets weirder. He had three wives–sisters–who sometimes assisted him. Like most hobbies, killing is apparently more fun when the activity can be shared with those you love the most.

We’ll skip how he was caught, and focus instead on why he committed so many murders in the first place. He had a dream. In it, he was told by the ghost of his dead father that in order to attain status as a mystic healer (and we’re guessing an immortal legacy), all he had to do was drink the saliva of a measly 70 women. Oh, but they couldn’t be alive at the time. It had to be dead girl saliva, or it didn’t count.

He got lazy. He decided that he didn’t want to wait for chance encounters with 70 dead women, and so opted for the more reasonable approach to making his long-term goals a reality: he would just kill them all himself. No big deal. Mystic healing powers are nothing when compared with a few months or years of work. Did the steps for fulfilling the prophecy have to be followed to the letter? Questions for later.

Because Suradji was considered a sorcerer by the locals, women were already fond of making frequent visits. How do you most easily make the jump from offering spiritual advice to premeditated murder? Well, you make sure the women who come to you know that they need to be buried up to the waist, or else the real magic just can’t work like it should. The women were buried, and instead of working magic Saradji worked his hands around their necks rather tightly without offering the promised spiritual advice, after which he took his wet reward from their still-warm bodies.

Someone eventually saw a corpse with its head sticking out of the dirt at the plantation, he was caught red-handed, and the rest as they say is history.

Firing squads were a lot more common in Indonesia than in the U.S. at the time–another fascinating benefit of living abroad. Suradji was convicted of the murders and then killed by this means on July, 10, 2008 at the age of 59. We’re sure his wives, who all faced lesser charges and shorter sentences, will miss him always.

What Did Ted Bundy Like To Do In His Free Time, And Who Was His Daddy?

The man, the myth, the crazy guy with the unibrow you can’t look away from: Ted Bundy. Who was he, and why was he such a national sensation? You already know the answer, even if you don’t know the details. He was a serial killer operating in the U.S. with a penchant for kidnapping, rape and necrophilia–you know, the usual subject of American fascination. He liked them oh-so-young and eventually confessed to upwards of 30 murders while in police custody. But how did this tragic, and tragically enticing, story come to be?

His story is an interesting one. Because we live in a society that treats its bastards like unicorn turds, dear young Ted was raised by his grandparents instead of his not-quite-as-young-but-still-pretty-young mother, who subsequently posed as his sister. He eventually saw through the elaborate ruse (after being called a bastard), and seethed with rage toward his deceptive mommy. Although the real story isn’t clear from later interviews with Ted, it seems like his real father whom he never met and his actual grandparents were an abusive lot who liked the drink. By high school, Ted was stealing equipment to pursue his only normal hobby of skiing. Darker hobbies came a little later.

So he didn’t have the best childhood. Noted.

Ted had a fairly normal college experience before beginning to skip class. That’s how it happens, really: a young, upstanding citizen starts skipping class and before you know it young girls are starting to vanish from the face of the Pacific Northwest.

Or perhaps it began much earlier–a couple of homicide detectives strongly believe that Bundy began his serial killing stint in his teens. Either way, in 1974 women were popping out of existence on average of once a month. At first detectives didn’t know what to make of it, except that there was nothing obvious to connect the young women to one another, and an aggravating lack of evidence pointing to foul play. Eventually, remains were discovered near a site where Bundy often hiked and more at a state park. Things were starting to come together, but Bundy still wasn’t located.

Bundy moved to Salt Lake City to go back to college, and shockingly women began to disappear yet again. Ted was known to have brutally beaten, rape, sodomize, strangle, shampoo hair, and apply makeup with his victims. Sadly, that was also the typical order of operations during a ritual that was at that point routine for him.

This model citizen was caught by authorities in Utah in 1975 for the minute charges of aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. It wasn’t long before the local judicial system figured out that those charges were mere child’s play for Bundy, who was eventually connected to a series of murders spanning a number of states. Like most crazy people, he chose to represent himself during a preliminary hearing in Aspen. Since judges are stupid, Bundy was freed from his cuffs and allowed access to the courthouse library. You know those courthouses you walk past on busy city roads? This wasn’t one of those. He jumped from the second story window and poof! He was gone.

Because there was a much longer list of incompetent people involved, or maybe because Bundy is just that good, he was incarcerated again, escaped a second time, murdered three more people, and was then finally captured–for good–in Florida by 1978.

He was executed at the age of 42 on January 24, 1989, and gave most everyone in the country a reason to be thankful for capital punishment. His legacy of terror persists even today. Will we ever get over our possibly unhealthy obsession with serial killers, rapists, mass murders, explosions, and dystopian TV dramas? Probably not.

Luis Garavito: The Ghoul Of Columbia

There is really almost nothing to say about a man who is sentenced to eight centuries in jail for his crimes. And when a man is known for raping and killing young boys, well …

Silence is golden. But writing no more words would be bad for blogging, so we’ll force ourselves to tell his story because it is a man most in North America will not know about otherwise, yet is someone who puts Charles Manson and Jeffery Dahmer combined to shame.

Luis Garavito is considered one of the world’s worst serial killers (right up there with H.H Holmes in the U.S. and Jack the Ripper in Europe), yet because he was in Latin America, not many people know about him. His exploits were almost legendary in scale in that he confessed to sexually assaulting and killing almost 200 young boys between the ages of 6 and 16 over a seven-year period in the 1990s (about five every two months over that time), and it wasn’t until he was arrested for suspicion of sexually assaulting a boy that was not killed did the police find out about his killing spree.

Garavito confessed to every murder, and in fact drew detailed maps to show authorities where all the bodies were located. It is believed that Garavito may have killed as many as 300 by the time all is said and done, considering the number of unreported crimes and unfound missing children around that time.

As Garavito confessed to murders in Colombia (they were scattered about 11 of the country’s 32 districts) and Ecuador, he has had prison sentences piled on each other in that he is serving what amounts to more than 830 years in prison.

How did he do so much killing without being caught sooner? Authorities said he often would drift around the country, preying on homeless or unattended boys while dressed as a priest or monk, inducing the boys with money or drink. Many of the boys would not be reported missing because there was a lack of adult supervision or guardianship over many of these children, which made it easier for Garavito to steal away his victims, sexually assault them, mutilate their bodies, kill them and bury them with no one being the wiser.

It may not be surprising to learn that Garavito grew up in a rough childhood, colored with abuse from his father and others. He had just five years of formal schooling and left home at 16, gathering odd jobs before eventually drifting around the country. His killing spree began sometime in 1992 when he was about 35 years old, and encompassed nearly 60 towns and cities around Colombia and Ecuador by the time he was finally jailed in April 1999.

Colombia does not have the death penalty, but as the country has not had a serial killer of such magnitude before, and considering the victims and the general outrage of Garavito’s story, according to a website, there has been a push to change the law to allow for an execution in these rare instances.

Why Is Amelia Dyer One Of The Most Notorious Serial Killers In History?

Out of all the serial killers whose murderous adventures interest society the most, none transcend the notable women who make the list. Especially those whose murders took place over a century ago. One of the most infamous serial killers of all time, Amelia Dyer, etched her name into history books forever as a result of killing babies. That’s right. Babies. It doesn’t get any worse (unless you keep reading).

Born in Britain, Dyer was a nurse living in poverty after her husband died, and she desperately needed a way to support herself. Perhaps it was not long until she had an epiphany that would change her life (and the lives of many soon-to-be-murdered infants) forever. She would turn to baby farming. If you’re confused, don’t worry. You’re in good company. When people needed a little extra cash, they would turn to parents who could not or would not care for their own kids. In other words, baby farming was a genuine kids-for-cash get-rich-quick scheme. For Dyer, it didn’t work out so well.

The whole business of baby farming may have started out innocently enough, but time and circumstance would pave the way for tragedy. We don’t know if she murdered the first batch, but a few did not survive Dyer’s care all the same. In addition to the ones she had adopted, she was already caring for her own two. When her baby farm started to lose members, she was tried and convicted of negligence. For her alleged crime, she was forced to do six months of hard labor.

After that, it’s a lot more clear that she was murdering kids on purpose. Because she strangled them and dumped their bodies, it became a lot easier to decipher her intent. Eventually, one of the murdered kids was found in a bag floating down the Thames River. Whatever evidence was found with the body, it implicated her in the murder.

This time she wouldn’t get off the hook so easy. Or at all, really. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang, a punishment that was carried out on June 10, 1896. The date capped a life of pain and trauma that included the deaths of two younger sisters and the care of a deteriorating and raving mother dying of typhus, in addition to the cruelty and mental instability that had frequently landed her in the care of asylums that obviously did little to help work out her problems. Experts believe she tried to commit suicide at least once.

It is not known exactly how many children’s lives she was responsible for ending, but the number is thought to be more than four hundred. Only twelve were ever definitively confirmed.

Someone even proposed the theory that Dyer was responsible for the Jack the Ripper killings. Although it was probably a theory deemed unlikely, it could be somewhat plausible. Dyer probably had the expertise to perform abortions (although Jack the Ripper was responsible for killing prostitutes as the result of improperly performed abortions). Could the two serial killers in fact be one? We’ll probably never know if there was a real connection.

Like all terrible acts of cruelty, the case did lead to some positive change. Afterward, Britain made adoption a more strenuous affair in order to make “baby farming” more difficult for those seeking financial gain in exchange for kids who obviously did not stand to benefit from the arrangements of their elders.