I recently published a post looking at the different characteristics of a killer, and what ‘criteria’ a person has to meet to fit into a certain category of murderer. I wanted to dig deeper into the different categories I covered, and where better to start than arguably the most well documented type of killer; the serial killer.
Due to extensive media coverage around certain homicide cases, there are a few figures which come to mind when discussing the most prolific serial killers. Dahmer, Ridgeway, Bundy, Wuornos; all of these names have been splashed across the internet numerous times because the acts they committed were particularly heinous. But if we’re judging serial killers on their victims, who is the most prolific?
Born in 1957 in Colombia, Luis Garavito was convicted of raping, torturing and killing 147 boys, although based on maps of burial sites he drew while in prison, his victim count could be nearer 300. Garavito’s victims were young, usually between 8 and 16, and incredibly poor. He would approach the boys in the street, gaining their trust with promises of money or gifts.
Enticing the boys away from the crowds, Garavito would take them for a walk to tire them out. Once the timing was right, he would rape them, cut their throats and dismember them. His victim’s bodies were also found to have experienced extensive torture before their deaths.
Although Garavito was found guilty on 138 counts of murder, which equates to around 1,852 years jail time, Colombian law states that the maximum sentence which can be imposed on a prisoner is 30 years. Because of his cooperation in the investigation, which included leading police to the bodies of some of his victims, this sentence was reduced to 22 years imprisonment.
Also born in Colombia, Pedro Alonzo (otherwise known as the ‘Monster of the Andes’) was suspected of anywhere from 120 to 300 murders. After he was released from prison on auto theft charges, he began murdering young women across Peru.
According to Alonzo himself, by 1978 his victim count was over 100. He also admitted to killing women in Ecuador, stating that they were “more gentle and trusting, more innocent”. The police started to believe his boasting when a flash flood uncovered a mass grave containing the bodies of many of his reported victims.
Alonzo was captured and sent to prison, but by 1994, Ecuador released him. He was quickly rearrested and charged by the Colombian authorities for a 20 year-old murder. Colombia found him insane, yet after just four years he was released on a $50 bail and absconded. As of 2002, Interpol released an advisory notice for the arrest of Pedro Alonzo.
Daniel Camargo Barbosa
Our third most prolific serial killer also operated in Ecuador and Colombia. Daniel Camargo Barbosa is noted to have raped and killed up to 150 girls, due to a fixation on women who were still virgins. He persuaded his girlfriend, Esperanza, to help him find victims, lure them into their apartment and drug them with sleeping pills.
Camargo raped his first five victims, but didn’t kill them for reasons unknown. The fifth victim reported both him and Esperanza to the police and they were arrested. Camargo served his full eight year sentence in prison.
Shortly after being released, Camargo kidnapped, raped and killed a nine year-old girl, going so far as to strangle and stab her to death, ensuring that his victim couldn’t report him this time. He admitted that he went on to kill at least 80 girls in this manner, however he was only tried on one count of murder, his first homicide victim.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but this was later reduced to 25 for good behaviour. Once out of prison for the second time, Camargo continued to rape, torture and kill young girls. He was arrested again on another murder charge, and this time the jury heard how he slashed, hacked and crushed his victims with a machete, leaving their bodies to rot.
He later stated that he chose virgins because “they cried” more, which gave him greater satisfaction.
According to records of serial killers ranked by number of victims, those are the top three active after 1900. This top list does not include war criminals such as Hitler or Stalin, because as my previous post stated, they wouldn’t fit into the category of a serial killer.
Does this list shock you? Were you expected to see more well-known names like Gacy and Manson? Let me know what you think!