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The 5 Worst Serial Killers Ever Caught

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K S Lane is a student of science and is passionate about the psychology of criminals.

The general population of the world has always had a fascination with serial killers. Why do they commit such horrific crimes? What drives them? How do they so often manage to pose as decent members of society? I can’t answer any of these questions for you, but I can give you a list of some of the most bone-chilling, prolific serial killers to date. Note that these killers only have the most confirmed kills; others have claimed to have had a higher victim count, and there are certainly more still roaming around uncaught who have made a similar impact. If that thought isn’t enough to make you want to stay shut inside your own house for the rest of your life, then I don’t know what is.

Pedro 'Matador' Fihlo

Confirmed kills: 71, though the number could be higher.

Fihlo was born in Brazil in 1954 with a fractured skull, as result of a beating that his father had given his mother while he’d still been in the womb. This injury foreshadowed the rest of his childhood, during which he was severely mistreated, and he eventually killed his father and ate a piece of his heart (seriously?!), after having already left a trail of 10 bodies in his wake. After this his killing career really took off, and after being caught and imprisoned in 1973 he claimed a total of 100 victims, though many of these couldn’t be proved. He’s also renowned for having killed a fellow serial murderer, Fransisco Pereira.

Pedro looks almost surprised to find himself in prison, even after committing 71 murders.

Pedro looks almost surprised to find himself in prison, even after committing 71 murders.

Daniel 'the Mangrove Monster' Camargo

Confirmed kills: Unknown, but believed to be in the range of 72-150.

Active in Colombia and Ecuador in the 1970s and 1980s, Daniel Camargo Barbosa is believed to have murdered up to 150 young girls during his killing career. He was aided by his romantic partner, the mysterious Esperenza, who agreed to help him seek out young, virgin girls. Camargo was arrested several times on more minor charges like petty theft, and was also charged with the murder of a single nine year old girl in 1974, before he was finally convicted of 72 murders in Ecuador, 1986, after being discovered with the bloody clothes and severed bodily parts of his latest victim. Gross. I’m not sure how he earned the nickname 'The Mangrove Monster;' perhaps he just liked hanging out in mangroves?

Daniel Camargo giving his best smoulder.

Daniel Camargo giving his best smoulder.

Pedro 'the Monster of the Andes' López

Confirmed kills: 110, though he claims to have killed towards of 300.

Pedro López, born in 1948 in Colombia, raped and murdered upwards of 100 young girls from Peru, Colombia and Ecuador until he was caught and convicted in 1980. He was captured by the Ayachucos community when he attempted to kidnap a nine-year-old. Te group planned to bury him alive, as according to their traditional laws, but a Western missionary convinced tribe members to turn Lopez over to the Peruvian police. The poor guy has probably regretted that decision for the rest of his life, because though Lopez was incarcerated he was released after 14 years due to his 'good behaviour' (serial killers are good at playing nice when it suits them, I guess). He was briefly put into a psychiatric facility after this, but was released on bail in 1998. He hasn’t been seen since. Maybe he’s still in Colombia. Maybe he’s in your neighbourhood. Maybe he's standing right behind you. Who knows?

Pedro López showing off his crazy eyes

Pedro López showing off his crazy eyes

Luis 'the Beast' Garavito

Confirmed kills: 147, though the number could exceed 300.

Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos, nicknamed 'The Beast’ because of the gruesome nature of his crimes, was convicted of the rape, torture and murder of 147 boys in 1999. The true number of his victims, however, could be as high as 300. Over a brutal five year killing spree Garavito lured his victims in with offers of food or cash and then brutally assaulted and murdered them. The reasons behind his actions are thought to lie with problems in his childhood. Born in 1957 in Colombia, he was the eldest of seven brothers and was the favourite target of his abusive, alcoholic father. By all accounts he had a pretty awful life leading up to his murder spree, though that certainly doesn’t absolve him of his crimes.

Luis 'the beast' Garavito sporting a stylish moustache

Luis 'the beast' Garavito sporting a stylish moustache

Harold 'Dr Death' Shipman

Confirmed kills: 215. He is suspected in a further 45.

Harold Lee Shipman was born in England in 1946. The son of woking class parents, Shipman was the second of four children (there’s a middle-child joke somewhere in here, but I’m not going to make it) and expressed interest in a career in medicine after his mother died of lung cancer in 1963. Sounds like an inspiring story, right? Wrong. Shipman’s colleagues became concerned about the alarming rate at which his patients were dying, and after one of his victim’s daughters expressed her owns suspicions to the police Shipman was tried and convicted of 15 counts of murder in early 2000. After he was imprisoned further investigation was conducted and the true extent of his crimes was brought to light. Over 200 innocent people had visited the seemingly friendly and professional doctor and then been murderer. Chilling, isn’t it?

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The garden of tranquility in London is a memorial to the patients that suffered at the hands of 'Dr. Death.'

The garden of tranquility in London is a memorial to the patients that suffered at the hands of 'Dr. Death.'

NameCountry of OriginConfirmed kills

Harold Shipman

Great Britain


Luis Garavito



Pedro López



Daniel Camargo



Pedro Fihlo



Honourable Mentions:

  • Ted Bundy: One of the most well-known serial killers, Bundy murdered upwards of 30 people in the United States during the 1970s.

  • The Zodiac Killer: The killer, who wracked up 5 confirmed victims in the 1960s and 70s , still remains a mystery. He also wins the award for the coolest serial killer name.

  • Jack the Ripper: Believed to have been active in Whitechapel in the 1880s, the name 'Jack the Ripper' is best attributed to an unidentified English serial killer who, according the legend, murdered female prostitutes. His number of victims, if he ever even existed, remains unknown.

  • Tsutomu Miyazaki: Dubbed 'The Human Dracula,' Miyazaki was a Japanese serial killer who enjoyed sucking the blood of his victims after their death. It sounds to me like he enjoyed Twilight a little too much...

Were you paying attention? Take a quiz to find out!

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Where was Harold Shipman born?
    • France
    • Great Britain
    • Australia
  2. What was Luis Garavito's nickname?
    • the mangrove monster
    • the slayer
    • the beast
  3. How many confirmed kills does Pedro Lopez have?
    • 110
    • 100
    • 98
  4. Daniel Carmargo was active in which countries?
    • Colombia and Brazil
    • Colombia and Ecuador
    • Mexico and Guatemala
  5. Pedro Filho was given his final conviction in what year?
    • 1966
    • 1976
    • 1973

Answer Key

  1. Great Britain
  2. the beast
  3. 110
  4. Colombia and Ecuador
  5. 1973

Want to learn more?

Want to learn about more successful criminals? Check out my article The Five Most Successful Thieves of All Time

© 2017 K S Lane


Jedi on November 17, 2018:

Francisco de Assis Pereira is not dead. Pedro Fihlo has promosed to kill him but has yet to do so.

Fihlo also only killed his father after his father mudered his mother.

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