Depending on which definition you read, a serial killer is someone who commits at least two (some say three) murders, in separate incidents, with a cooling off period in between.
Some killers, of course, go way beyond that, evading capture long enough to amass quite staggering victim counts. This volume documents 100 such cases. Like;
Alexander Pichushkin: a Russian psychopath who set out to murder 64 victims (one for each square on the chessboard) and fell just three short.
Randy Kraft: the “Scorecard Killer” is believed to have killed 67 young men, subjecting them to horrific sexual torture.
Ahmad Suradji: an Indonesian “witchdoctor” who slaughtered at least 40 women in an effort to increase his magical powers.
Dr. Harold Shipman: the world’s most prolific serial killer, suspected of over 250 murders.
David Simelane: a horrific rape slayer who terrorized the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, brutally strangling as many as 45 women.
Coral Watts: a psychopath known as the Sunday Morning Slasher, suspected of over 80 murders in Texas and Michigan.
Irina Gaidamachuk: a unique female serial killer who bludgeoned 18 elderly victims to death to fund her boozing binges.
The Lainz Angels of Death: a quartet of medical monsters suspected of murdering over 300 elderly patients.
Zhang Yongming: a Chinese cannibal who kept a jarful of human eyeballs in his home.
Luis Garavito: horrific torture slayer of up to 400 boys aged 8 to 12.
Plus 90 more riveting cases... Click here to grab a copy
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Murder By Numbers
100. Anthony Sowell
Country: United States
Confirmed Victims: 11
Suspected Victims: 11+
Anthony Sowell was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 19, 1959. His father having departed the scene before his birth, he was raised by his mother, a strict disciplinarian who often meted out beatings with a length of electrical cord. Anthony however, seemed unaffected by his dysfunctional childhood. Neighbors remember him as a respectful, if introverted, boy.
At the end of 1977, Sowell dropped out of school to join the Marines. He’d spend eight years in the military, serving a spell in Japan and marrying a fellow soldier, Kim Yvette Lawson. The marriage eventually fell apart in 1985 due to Sowell’s drinking. That same year, he left the Corps and moved back to East Cleveland.
But the neighborhood he returned to was very different to the one he’d grown up in. Once it had been middle-class. Now, it was plagued by crack addicts, drug dealers, petty criminals, and prostitutes. And Sowell was soon contributing to the neighborhood’s sky-high crime rate, acquiring a string of arrests for disorderly conduct, DUI, public drunkenness, and possession of narcotics.
It was also during this time that the strangled bodies of young women began turning up in East Cleveland, three of them in the space of just under a year. Sowell was a suspect, but the police had no evidence to link him to the crimes.
They could, however, connect Sowell to the rape of a 21-year-old woman. Indicted on that charge, Sowell skipped out on bail and went on the run. He reappeared months later to commit a near identical crime, raping his victim orally, vaginally and anally. Having finished the assault, Sowell passed out, and the woman escaped. When she returned with the police, he was still asleep.
Sowell faced trial for both this rape and the one he had run out on, eventually entering a guilty plea and earning a 15-year sentence. Despite good behavior on the inside, he’d serve every year of that time.
Emerging from prison in June 2005, the 45-year-old Sowell appeared to be a changed man. He rented a room at 12205 Imperial Avenue, got a job as a rubber-molder at Custom Rubber Corp, and was apparently clean and sober. He also started helping the crack-addicted prostitutes of the area. At least four women would later testify that he had provided them with shelter and protection.
It was also around this time that Sowell began dating Lori Frazier, a self-confessed crack addict who was the niece of Cleveland mayor, Frank Jackson. Frazier moved into Sowell’s Imperial Avenue home and the two had a steady relationship from 2005 until 2007.
But then things started to go wrong in Sowell’s life. First he was fired from his job. Then Frazier ended their relationship, leaving him devastated. Not long after, women began to disappear from East Cleveland.
In May 2007, a woman named Crystal Dozier went missing. Twelve months later, Tishana Culver, a 31-year-old beautician who lived a few blocks from Sowell, disappeared. Twenty-five-year-old Leshanda Long vanished in August 2008. In October of that year, Michelle Mason, a 45-year-old who lived nearby on East 121st Street, went missing. Her family put up flyers asking for information, but no one came forward, certainly not Anthony Sowell, who knew exactly where Michelle was.
Tonia Carmichael, 52, disappeared in the fall of 2008, her car later found abandoned near East 115th Street. April 2009 brought two disappearances. First, mother-of-three Nancy Cobbs, then Amelda Hunter, 47, a regular visitor to Sowell’s Imperial Avenue home. In June, Telacia Fortson, 31, and Janice Webb, 48, were gone. Kim Yvette Smith, a 44-year-old singer who had worked with Gerald Levert, vanished in September 2009. Like most of the other victims, she was a drug addict.
The police were baffled by this spate of disappearances, but it was not as though they were without clues. Sowell had in fact been brought to their attention on several occasions. In December 2008, a woman named Gladys Wade claimed that he’d raped her and tried to kill her. Sowell said that the sex had been consensual and that he’d only beaten Wade after she tried to rob him. The police declined to take the matter further.
In September 2009, Fawcett Bess, a local restaurant owner, saw Sowell standing naked in the bushes bordering his house, beating a woman who was also naked. Bess called 911 but the police didn’t arrive until hours later. When they did, they didn’t even bother questioning Sowell.
Later that month, on September 22, Sowell dragged a woman into his house and choked her with an extension cord, before raping her. The woman later persuaded him to let her go and went directly to the police. It took them 36 days to follow up on the complaint. During that time, a neighbor saw a naked woman jump from a second storey window at Sowell’s house.
On October 29, police officers eventually arrived at the Imperial Avenue house to question Sowell about the rape. Finding no one at home, they left, returning a few hours later. When knocking at the door again brought no response, they entered the residence.
The first thing that struck them was the stench. Almost immediately, they found its source, the decomposing corpses of two women lying on the floor in plain view. The officers immediately stepped away and called in a crime scene unit. Soon the Imperial Avenue residence was crawling with forensics officers.
The following day, while the police continued their search for Anthony Sowell, three more bodies were uncovered. By the time Sowell was taken into custody, the remains of ten women had been discovered in his house.
Anthony Sowell went on trial in June 2011 and was convicted on 82 charges including aggravated murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. Judge Dick Ambrose pronounced sentence of death on August 12.
Sowell currently resides on death row at Chillicothe Correctional Institution.
Confirmed Victims: 11
Suspected Victims: 11+
Clifford Robert Olson was born on New Year’s Day 1940, the eldest of Clifford and Leona Olson’s four children. He grew up in Vancouver and Richmond, and was an intelligent boy, although he failed to apply himself to his studies, eventually quitting school in the eighth grade and falling straight into a life of crime.
Sentenced to his first jail term in July 1957, Olson was in and out of prison over the next 24 years, on a catalog of offences ranging from forgery, through breaking and entering, to sexual assault. He escaped from prison on seven occasions.
After being released from yet another jail term in January 1980, Olson hooked up with divorcee Joan Hale, who he’d later marry. The union would produce a son, Stephen, in April 1981. By that time Olson was already engaged in a horrendous killing spree.
The first murder attributed to this callous killer occurred on November 19, 1980, when 12-year-old Christine Weller was abducted from her home in Richmond, British Columbia. Her body turned up over a month later, on Christmas Day. She’d suffered 10 deep stab wounds to her chest and abdomen, including wounds that had sliced through her heart and liver.
Less than four months later, on April 15, 1981, 13-year-old Colleen Daignault was snatched off a street in South Surrey. Olson drove her to a remote area where he beat her to death with a hammer. Less than a week later, he lured Daryn Johnsrude from a shopping mall in New Westminster and drove him to Deroche. The 16-year-old was sodomized and then bludgeoned repeatedly with a hammer.
The disappearance of three children from the same general area in such a short space of time caused alarm. Yet the police were unperturbed, insisting that the youngsters had run away from home.
They were still sticking to that line when Sandra Lynn Wolfsteiner, 16, went missing on May 19, 1981. Olson had picked Sandra up from a bus stop in Surrey and driven to a remote area near Chilliwack Lake. When Sandra’s body was eventually found, an autopsy revealed that she’d died from severe blunt force trauma, most likely caused by a hammer.
Ada Anita Court, 13, was reported missing on June 21, 1981, after she failed to return from a babysitting job. Olson had picked her up on North Road in Coquitlam. He had driven her to Weaver Lake and there, raped her, before bludgeoning her to death.
The next victim, Simon Patrick Partington, was Olson’s youngest, just nine years old when he was abducted from a Richmond street, driven to an isolated area and strangled. That was on July 2nd. Just one week later, Olson talked 14-year-old Judy Kozma into his car and took her to Weaver Lake, where he raped and then stabbed her to death.
By now the police’s “runaway” theory lay in tatters and with the media and concerned citizens demanding action, the RCMP drew up a list of potential suspects. One of the names on the list was Clifford Olson and he was placed under intermittent surveillance. Yet even now, with over 200 officers working the case, the police were unable to stop his murderous rampage.
Fifteen-year-old Raymond Lawrence King Jr. died on July 23, 1981, near Weaver Lake. Olson had picked him up at the bus depot in Westminster, luring him with the offer of construction work. Once in the car, Olson offered the youth a soft drink drugged with chloral hydrate. After Raymond passed out, he was sodomized and then thrown down an embankment and beaten to death with a rock.
On July 24, German student Sigrun Arnd was hitchhiking in Coquitlam when Olson stopped to offer her a ride. He drove her to his favorite killing ground in Richmond and bludgeoned her to death. Two days later, he raped and strangled 15-year-old Terry Lyn Carson near Chilliwack.
Finally, on July 30, 1981, Olson picked up 17-year-old Louise Chartrand as she walked to work in Maple Ridge, B.C. He drove her to Whistler where he raped her and beat her to death.
Olson was accelerating, killing his last three victims over the space of just a week. It is frightening to consider the additional damage he might have caused had he remained at large. Fortunately, the police decided to bring him in on July 31, arresting him as he picked up two female hitchhikers on Vancouver Island.
But even with their prime suspect in custody, the police had very little evidence to go on. Olson might well have walked had he not offered investigators a deal. He’d give up the location of the bodies, as well as a confession to each of the murders, in exchange for $100,000, to be paid to his wife.
Placed in an impossible position, Attorney General Allan Williams agreed to the deal. Olson’s response was to phone his wife Joan and tell her, “Honey, you're going to be rich.”
With the money held in trust, Olson directed a convoy of police vehicles, including dog teams and forensic specialists, to the forest-cloaked hills of British Columbia. Over the next few days he led them to one decomposed corpse after the other, describing with relish what he’d done to his victims. One child had had a six-inch spike nailed into his skull. In another instance, Olson had injected an air bubble into the victim’s vein, in order to induce an embolism.
Clifford Olson went on trial in January 1982. He entered guilty pleas to all counts and was sentenced to eleven concurrent life terms.
But the case was far from over. A furor soon followed the media revelations that Olson had been paid for his confession. In its wake Attorney General Williams was forced to resign, while legal action to force Joan Olson to return the $100,000 failed. Appeals to her conscience also fell on deaf years. She insisted that she was as much of a victim as any of the murdered children and was therefore entitled to the money.
Olson, meanwhile, refused to go quietly. He continued to correspond with the press and to phone radio talk shows. He sent letters to the parents of his victims boasting of what he’d done to their children. He also claimed more murders, anything between 30 and 134, depending on his mood.
Whether those claims are true or not we will never know. Clifford Olson died of cancer on October 2, 2011, at the age of 71.
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