While the tragic tales of Laci Peterson and JonBenet Ramsey have shaken the nation, there are countless other murder stories that haven’t hit the big headlines.
Here are some of the most disturbing and grim murder cases you might never have come across.
Editor’s Note: Be warned, these real-life accounts are graphically detailed and may upset some readers.
1.The Case of the Papin Sisters, Their Employers’ Killers.
Léa and Christine Papin, two French sisters, worked as housemaids for the Lancelin family in France in 1926. Despite their odd behaviour—speaking only to each other and showing scant interest in anything else—they were quick workers and lived with the family for almost seven years, as per Historic Mysteries.
But in February 1933, Mr. Lancelin returned home from a friend’s place to find his wife and grown-up daughter dead on the floor, their faces battered and eyes gouged out. The Papin sisters were locked in their room, and the police discovered them on their bed, with a bloody hammer nearby, as reported by The Vintage News.
The sisters confessed to the crimes right away. While in jail, Christine, distressed by her sister’s absence, eventually got to see Léa. Their closeness raised eyebrows, suggesting an intimate relationship, though doctors found no evidence of it.
A few months later, Christine had a mental breakdown and attempted to gouge out her eyes. After their trial, she got a life sentence for planning the murders, while Léa was released from jail in 1943, took up work at a French hotel under a new identity, and is thought to have died in 1982, though it remains unconfirmed.
2.John George Haigh, the Acid Bath Murderer.
In the late 1940s, British serial killer John George Haigh got rid of his victims’ bodies by dissolving them in sulphuric acid, according to Forensic magazine. Haigh thought he was literally getting away with murder because he mistakenly believed that no body means no crime. However, his confidence led to his downfall when he guided the police to his sixth and last victim, 69-year-old Olive Durand-Deacon.
Haigh pleaded insanity at his trial, claiming he drank his victims’ blood. In 1949, he was found guilty and hanged a few months later.
3.Robert Berdella, Kansas’s Butcher.
In the late ’80s, Robert Berdella tortured and killed six men, chopped their bodies into tiny pieces, and disposed of the remains in dog-food bags, as reported by The New York Daily News. He also kept meticulous notes on his victims, which later helped the investigators crack the cases. Berdella could have got away with it all if his seventh intended victim, 22-year-old Christopher Bryson, hadn’t escaped from the second floor of Berdella’s house.
Initially charged with sexual assault, Berdella was slapped with a life sentence after police found human remains and other victims’ wallets in his house. He died of a heart attack in jail in 1992.
4.Dennis Nilsen, the Man Who Slaughtered and Kept Young Men.
Dennis Nilsen spread fear across London in the late ’70s and early ’80s, claiming the lives of 15 men over five years. He’d find young men in bars and lure them back to his place. Once there, he’d either strangle or drown them. After their death, he’d clean and dress up the corpses, as reported by The International Business Times.
Nilsen confessed to the police that he held onto the bodies for a while before getting rid of them so he could sleep with them and chat with them. Presently, he’s serving a life term at the HMP Full Sutton prison in Yorkshire, England.
5.Herb Baumeister, the Serial Killer Who Buried Bodies in His Backyard.
In the late ’80s and ’90s, Herbert Baumeister would entice gay men to his pool house, strangle them, and then discard them in the woods behind his house, as per People magazine. Baumeister even decorated his pool area with mannequins, arranging them to look like they were having a pool party.
Erich, Baumeister’s young son, once came across the remains of a victim while playing in the backyard. When Baumeister found out the police were closing in on him, he fled to Ontario, Canada, and ended his life with a bullet to his head at Pinery Provincial Park. In his suicide note, he attributed his failing marriage and business as the reasons for his suicide, never admitting to any of the murders. The police believe he killed between 10 to 20 people.
6.Gertrude Baniszewski, the “Mom of Torment.”
In 1965, cops discovered the starving body of Sylvia Likens, a 16-year-old from Indianapolis. Covered in cigarette burns, she lay on a grimy mattress in the home of Gertrude Baniszewski, a 37-year-old woman, as mentioned in Indianapolis Monthly.
Sylvia and her sister Jenny lived with Baniszewski while their parents, carnival workers, were often on the move. Their father gave Baniszewski $20 each week to care for his girls. Whenever the money was late, Baniszewski would take out her frustration on the sisters, eventually focusing her wrath solely on Sylvia. But it wasn’t just Baniszewski; her seven kids, all living under the same roof, took part in Sylvia’s torture. Local kids, some as young as 10, were even invited to watch or join in. No one blew the whistle.
By October 1965, Sylvia had been battered to death. Baniszewski apparently coerced a neighbor into calling the cops, claiming Sylvia had run away. When the police showed up, Sylvia’s younger sister Jenny supposedly whispered to an officer, “Get me out of here, and I’ll spill the beans.”
After serving 20 years in prison, Baniszewski was set free, moved to Iowa, assumed a new identity, and succumbed to lung cancer in 1990. Most of the others involved, primarily children, got off with light sentences, if any.
7.Katherine Knight, the Woman Who Planned to Serve Her Husband to His Kids.
In 2000, Australian woman Katherine Knight stabbed her partner, John Price, 37 times. She then flayed him, decapitated him, and cooked parts of his body. She laid out dinner for two, serving the cooked meat with baked potatoes and veggies. She left handwritten notes beside each place setting, each bearing the name of one of Price’s children — she intended to serve them their father’s cooked body for dinner.
When the police finally reached the house, they found Knight comatose, surrounded by pills. They also found Price’s head simmering in a pot of soup on the stove. Knight became the first woman to receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Australia. She’s currently incarcerated in Silverwater Correctional Complex in New South Wales, Australia.
8.Jerry Brudos, the Slayer with a Shoe Fetish.
In January 1968, Jerry Brudos had the women of Portland living in fear. Allegedly having a foot fetish, he made four women disappear, according to The New York Daily News.
About a year later, a fisherman stumbled upon the remains of Linda Salee, a 22-year-old woman who’d gone missing the previous year. Police later found four more bodies, all traceable back to Brudos. He confessed the horrific details of his crimes to the police.
After keeping his first victim’s body for several months to dress it up, he eventually dumped it in the river. But not before severing a foot to use for trying on high heels and snapping photos. Detectives found even more horrifying souvenirs from his crimes, including shoes, bras, girdles, and a paperweight made out of human breasts.
9.Dennis Rader, the “BTK” Slayer.
Nicknamed the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader had a terrifying ritual. He’d break into folks’ houses around Sedgwick County, Kansas, track them, and then strike when they least expected it. He’d “bind, torture, and kill” his victims, which is how he got his grim nickname, as reported by The Wichita Eagle.
Between 1974 and 1991, Rader claimed 10 lives, but it wasn’t until 2005 that the law finally caught up with him. After his arrest, police scoured Rader’s home and found chilling photos of him posing with his victims. Rader was slapped with 10 counts of first-degree murder and is now behind bars, serving 10 consecutive life sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas.
10.Issei Sagawa, the Japanese Cannibal Who’s Still Out and About.
The notorious Japanese cannibal, Issei Sagawa, is a household name in his homeland. Born into riches, he always harbored a perverse craving for human flesh. At 23, Sagawa was nabbed for an attempted assault, as told by Culture Crossfire. He barged into the apartment of a tall German woman living in Tokyo and pounced on her. The cops didn’t piece together that he was actually trying to devour her, even though he bit off a chunk of her skin. Sagawa, standing a mere 5-feet-tall, confessed to Vice later that he had a fixation for taller “Western” women.
At 32, Sagawa moved to France to study literature and even bagged a Ph.D. That’s where he befriended a fellow student, Renee Hartevelt, a 25-year-old woman from the Netherlands.
In a twisted turn of events, their friendship turned fatal for Hartevelt. One night in 1981, Sagawa asked her over, pretending to need help with a poetry task. Instead, he shot her in the neck and spent the next two days feasting on different parts of her body.
When he tried to get rid of what was left of her body in a nearby lake, he was caught red-handed. After two years in police custody, he was declared legally insane and sent packing to Japan. Back home, psychologists deemed him sane, and he checked himself out of the mental hospital where he was staying. Today, he roams free in Japan.