Serial killers have been a source of fear and morbid fascination for centuries. Documentaries, podcasts, and true crime books about serial killers are a guilty pleasure for many, delving into the evil deeds and twisted minds of the most most notorious serial killers of all time like the Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, and Charles Edmund Cullen.
While many were executed via the death penalty or died in prison, many serial killers are still at large. This list in particular organizes American serial killers by who killed the most people per state. Who is your state’s most prolific serial killer? Read on to find out!
What is a Serial Killer?
Serial killers are murderers who commit a series of murders, usually following a predictable pattern. Despite their prominence in the news and pop culture, serial killers are actually relatively rare, according to “Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators” from the Behavior Analysis Unit of the FBI. Serial murders only make up less than one percent of all murders committed per year, despite how it might look in Hollywood. Of movies and TV shows portraying serial killers, the FBI report says,
“Story lines are created to heighten the interest of audiences, rather than to accurately portray serial murder. By focusing on the atrocities inflicted on victims by “deranged” offenders, the public is captivated by the criminals and their crimes. This only lends more confusion to the true dynamics of serial murder.”
As opposed to mass murder, serial murders require time between each murder, what the FBI refers to as an “emotional cooling-off period”. For example, a school shooter would not be considered a serial killer, even if he killed more than two people. By federal law, the definition of serial killings is a “series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors,” according to the Sexual Predator Act of 1988.
Serial Killers in the United States
If you have ever wondered how many serial killers are active in the United States right now, the answer is far from comforting. The FBI estimates that there are between 25 to 50 serial killers operating at any given time. Yikes!
Not only does this infographic provide the serial killers by most murders per state, but it also tells you their method of killing, the outcome in court, as well as their execution method, if any.
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Who is the Worst Serial Killer in the United States?
The serial killer with the most confirmed victims in the United States is Gary Leon Ridgway a.k.a. the “Green River Killer”. He has been convicted of 49 murders to date making him the most prolific serial killer in the state of Washington as well as in the United States. In fact, his actual body count may be even higher as he has confessed to at least 71 total victims throughout the 80s and 90s. Fortunately, he is currently serving a lifetime sentence without the change for parole.
Despite the national fascination with serial killers, they’re actually pretty rare in real life. Of course, it’s always important to keep your home and family safe and secure by investing in security cameras and security systems. If you have any other questions or comments about serial killers, feel free to leave them below!