The less common type of serial killers
When the topic of serial killers comes up the first few to be mentioned are often Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and Harold Shipman, the latter of which became known as Dr. Death. All three of them have an aspect that makes them noteworthy. For instance, Jack the Ripper’s identity was never discovered and there are theories going around which speculate that The Ripper could even be female. Doctor Harold Shipman wasn’t caught until he killed at least 218 people, but the actual number is said to be closer to 250. Ted Bundy made headlines when he was convicted of kidnapping, but he managed to escape custody and continued killing after moving to a different state. When caught again, the trial took an odd turn when Bundy decided to represent himself in court. There are some notorious female serial killers throughout history as well, but besides being six times rarer than male serial killers, they somehow always remain in the shadow of one’s mind a bit more.
One of the earliest female serial killers that can be found in history is Elizabeth Báthory who lived from 1560 to 1614, and has since been deemed the most prolific female murderer by Guinness World Records. Nicknamed the Blood Countess, Báthory was a Hungarian countess whose family controlled Transylvania and her uncle was the king of Poland. She supposedly killed around 600 people between 1590 and 1610 in horrendous ways, and she was no stranger to torturing her victims who were generally only young girls and young women. She has been accused of having bathed in the blood of her victims in order to maintain her youth, which is where her nickname stems from. However, it has to be said that there is a possibility this story might not be completely true, or it might be false all together. Some Hungarian scholars have recently stated that there is a possibility that this cold-blooded serial killer may have become the victim of a smear-campaign. King Matthias II of Hungary owed a debt to Bathory’s husband, but he passed away in 1604, leaving Elizabeth with this debt that the king still had to pay. It is possible that the king and his court sought to discredit Báthory so that her lands could be seized and this debt could remain unpaid.
Another example of female serial killers concerns two Mexican sisters, Delfina and Maria de Jesus Gonzales who were active in the 1940’s and 1950’s together with their two other sisters that were involved to a lesser extent. They were known as Las Poquianchis and owned brothels where they put to work girls as young as twelve, as they were often easy to manipulate. These girls were often abducted or bought from a family in need of money. They were put to work in these brothels, but when they turned twenty-five or were deemed ‘ugly’ by the sisters they were sent away to be beaten and starved to death. The next step was for these girls to be buried alive or thrown off of a rooftop. At a later stage, the sisters started torturing the girls without reason, and the bruises and scars they inflicted made the girls ‘ugly’ which often ended in their death. When finally caught in 1964, police investigations turned up eighty dead women, eleven dead men and multiple fetuses, but it is estimated that the total deaths to their names is closer to 150.
Then there is Aileen Wuornos, who was executed by lethal injection in 2002 after having killed at least 7 men. In her case, it is most likely her experiences during childhood that drove her to becoming a serial killer. Her father committed suicide while serving a prison sentence for child molestation, and she and her older brother were abandoned by their mother and placed in the care of their grandparents in 1960, when Wuornos was four years old. Their grandmother was allegedly an alcoholic and their grandfather had violent tendencies. She birthed her first child at age fourteen and was kicked out of the house a year later. She remained at a home for unwed mothers until she dropped out of school and started wandering from place to place without a home or job. Throughout her life as a vagabond she was arrested repeatedly for charges ranging from check forgery and driving while under the influence, to armed robbery and assault. She was arrested a final time in 1991, after having killed seven of her clients while working as a prostitute. She would kill these men after being picked up by them along the highways of Florida. In court, she originally stated that she shot and killed these men out of self-defense, but she went on to admit at a later stage that she had killed them for profit instead.
For a very long time it was believed that women were incapable of being serial killers, but history has shown that that is simply not true. As criminologist Eric Hickey has said; “we’ve always had them, we just didn’t acknowledge them.” Unlike male serial killers, female serial killers often go about killing in more subtle ways, which is why the use of poison or a form of smothering is often more common. A good example of such a poisoner is Mary Ann Cotton who has been deemed Britain’s first serial killer. It is estimated that she killed up to twenty-one people which included eleven of her own children and 5 men she was married to by poisoning them with arsenic between 1856 and 1872. With the death of each of her children and husbands she received a payout on a life-insurance policy, which her husbands had either willingly purchased or were pressured into purchasing.
The three other serial killers described in this article were not as subtle in their ways of killing as Cotton was, but it has to be said that in the cases of the Blood Countess and Las Poquianchis, you cannot kill over 150 people without having a proper plan and strategy behind what you are doing. While Jack the Ripper may be the most famous British serial killer, he was not the first as Cotton was hanged for her crimes 15 years before the Ripper started killing. Cotton never gained that same notoriety for her actions, and that seems to be a common theme in history when it comes to female serial killers.
Lady Death 14/09/2022
I am to be feared,
But only in those last few seconds,
As you will not see me coming sooner,
As your fear becomes my enjoyment,
As your memories flash by,
And I feel truly alive.
I have so many faces,
But most you will never see,
There are sides to me,
Sides that are not to be understood,
Sides that I continue to explore,
With every body that I drop.
No matter what I chase,
Will end the same way,
Never to be seen again,
As I tear families apart,
And fill them with pain.
I can make your blood run cold,
And take your breath away,
I am that tingle down your spine,
That tells you that you’re not alone,
In that empty alley at the end of the night.
I am the last thing that you’ll see,
Before it all ends,
And the nothingness starts,
I am Death,
Lady Death is who I am.