1936 — Albert Fish is executed for murder

One of the most prolific serial killers in American history, Albert Fish claimed to have killed as many as a hundred people, mostly children. He was also a rapist and a cannibal, which makes his claim to have ‘had a child in every state’ both more horrific and more ambiguous. It is still unclear how many crimes Fish actually committed, and how much was just boasting on his part – a mystery further clouded by his refusal to confess to some crimes he was suspected of.

At his trial, he plead not guilty by reason of insanity, a claim backed by expert witness Fredric Wertham (a noted child psychologist at that time). Although the jury agreed that he was insane, Fish was convicted of three homicides based on evidence, and confessed to two others. He was sentenced to death, and killed via electrocution in Sing Sing prison. His last words were reportedly, “I don’t even know why I’m here.”

Referenced in:
Fishtales — Macabre
Instruments of Hell — Exhumed
Needleshark — Unusual Suspects
The Gray Man (Albert Fish) — Church of Misery
Albert Was Worse Than Any Fish In The Sea — Macabre
Document.Gracebudd — The Number Twelve Looks Like You
Mr. Albert Fish (Was Children Your Favourite Dish?) — Macabre

1978 — Dennis Nilsen commits his first murder

Also known as ‘The Kindly Killer’ and ‘The Muswell Hill Murderer’, Dennis Nilsen was 33 years old when he made his first killing, that of Stephen Holmes. Holmes, like most of Nilsen’s victims, was a teenaged male. Nilsen strangled and drowned him, then indulged his necrophiliac tastes by masturbating twice over the body. Unlike his later victims (and while Nilsen was convicted of six murders, his own confession to police lists 15), Holmes was not dissected after his death.

Nilsen would finally be caught in 1983, and sentenced to life imprisonment. It is known that he killed at least 12 people (although he claimed more) and attempted at least seven more murders. At the time of this writing, he remains in HMP Full Sutton, a maximum security prison in Yorkshire.

Referenced in:
Killing for Company — Swans
You’re Dying To Be With Me — Macabre
Cranley Gardens (Dennis Nilsen) — Church of Misery

1976 – Joachim Kroll is arrested for murder

Joachim Kroll was a German serial killer who evaded capture for years by being very careful about where he killed, returning the same locations only after years had passed. With one exception, all of his victims were female, and most of them were children or teenagers. Kroll was a paedophile and a cannibal in addition to his killings – he was in the process of cooking his last victim when he was arrested.

Kroll confessed to 14 killings, but was convicted of only 8 (most likely due to lack of evidence). He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and died still behind bars in 1991. He was not missed.

Referenced in:
Evil Ole Soul — Macabre

1984 – James Huberty goes on a shooting spree

James Oliver Huberty was a survivalist living in San Ysidro, New Mexico. A man who never felt at home in America, and felt that it was in a state of moral decay, but shared that all-too-common delusion that murder is apparently not a moral failing.

On July 18, 1984, he strode into a McDonalds three blocks away from his residence, and opened fire. He wounded 19 people, and killed 21 more, before he was finally killed himself. The massacre lasted 77 minutes. In the aftermath, McDonalds demolished the restaurant, and donated the site to the city as a memorial to the victims.

Referenced in:

McMassacre — Macabre
McMurder — Ethnic Cleansing
James Oliver Huberty — LoNNNIe
Shotgun Boogie (James Oliver Huberty) — Church of Misery

1993 – Dr David Gerlertner is injured by the Unabomber’s mail bomb

Gerlertner was a professor of computer science at Yale University who made important contributions to his discipline in the seventies and eighties. He is credited (along with Nicholas Carriero) as the inventor of tuple spaces, a programming concept originally created in the Linda programming language, which inspired similar ideas in several other languages, including Java, Lisp, Python, Ruby and .NET.

In June of 1993, he was the first person to receive a letter bomb from the newly active Unabomber, who had last bombed someone six years earlier. Gerlertner was badly injured by the bomb’s detonation, and although he later recovered, his right hand and eye sustained permanent damage. Gerlertner returned to studying and teaching after his convalesence, and the Unabomber was eventually caught a little under three years later. A violent anti-technologist, he had deliberately targetted Gerlertner and others.

Referenced in:

Unabomber — Macabre

1990 – James Pough goes on a shooting spree

James Edward Pough was 42 years old on June 18, 1990, when he began his killing spree shortly after midnight. His first kills were a pimp and a prostitute. Following this, he shot and wounded two youths and robbed a convenience store. But this was merely the overture.

At approximately 10:45, he entered the office of General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida – the same office that had repossessed his Pontiac five months earlier. He opened fire, killing nine people and wounding four more over the next before turning his weapon on himself. His suicide effectively ended the rampage, leaving behind little explanation of Pough’s motives or intentions.

Referenced in:

What the Hell Did You Do? / James Pough — Macabre

1962 – Graham Young is arrested for murder

Graham Young was only 14 years old when he was arrested for murder – and the murder in question was that of his stepmother, Molly. He had also been trying to poison his father, sister and a friend of his from school.

Young was convicted on three counts of attempted murder (the murder of his stepmother could not be verified, as she had been cremated) and served nine years in a prison for the mentally unstable. After his release, he poisoned at least another seventy-two people, two of them fatally. He was once again arrested, and this time sentenced to life in prison. He eventually died in prison at the age of 42.

Referenced in:

Poison — Macabre
Taste the Pain (Graham Young) — Church Of Misery

2001 – Armin Meiwes kills and eats Bernd Brandes

Rather disturbingly, the man now known as Der Metzgermeister (The Master Butcher) is not a simple murderer. Armin Meiwes – now serving a life sentence for killing and devouring Bernd Brandes – did not begin eating his victim without that victim’s consent.

Meiwes and Brandes met through a website called The Cannibal Cafe. Although the website was only intended as an outlet for fantasies, both men wanted to take it further. On March 9, 2001, they did so. With Brandes’ apparent consent, Meiwes amputated his penis, and both men ate portions of it (the remainder Meiwes fed to his dog). While Brandes continued to bleed freely from his wound, he was stabbed several times by Meiwes, and after his death, Meiwes ate approximately 20kg of Brandes’ body over the next few months, before his arrest in December of 2002.

Referenced in:
Mein Teil — Rammstein
The Wüstenfeld Man Eater — Macabre

1979 – Kenneth Bianchi is arrested for murder

Along with his cousin Angelo Buono, Kenneth Bianchi was one of two men dubbed ‘the Hillside Strangler’ (since until they were apprehended, it was believed that their killings were the work of one man acting alone). Between October 1977 and February 1978 the two abducted, tortured, molested and murdered 10 women. Buono then fled, dying later that year. On January 11, 1979, Bianchi attempted to abduct two women, whom he killed in his standard fashion.

However, perhaps because of Buono’s absence, he left many clues and police apprehended him the following day without difficulty. Bianchi attempted to plead insanity but failed, and was convicted of the twelve murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and remains in Washington State penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Referenced in:
The Hillside Stranglers — Macabre

2001 — Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, is arrested

Gary Ridgway is one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. He was convicted of 48 separate counts of murder – but he has confessed to a total of 71, and some authorities believe that he may have murdered more than 90 people, almost all of them women. Favouring strangulation as his method of murder, Ridgway dumped the bodies in forested areas of King County, Washington state or in the Green River – it was the latter which led to him being dubbed the Green River Killer.

The murders took place over a span of about twenty years, beginning in 1982. Although no murders have been confirmed later than 1998, it is believed that Ridgway may have committed more murders between 19998 and his arrest in 2001. Ridgway’s arrest was as a result of DNA evidence gathered in 1987 – he had been a suspect for some of his killings since at least 1983.

Referenced in:
Deep Red Bells — Neko Case
Green River — Church of Misery
Skeletons in the River — Divine Pustulence
The Green River Murderer (He’s Still Out There) — Macabre

1986 – Gary Heidnik begins his kidnappings

A former US Army media and diagnosed schizoid, Gary Heidnik was 43 years old when he committed the first of a series of six kidnappings in Philadelphia, all of which featured assault and rape, two of which ended in murder. The victim, Josefina Rivera, was forced into helping Heidnik with his subsequent crimes – but also later managed to escape and bring the police down on her captor.

The cops found three other women chained in Heidnik’s basement, as well as the remains of the two he had killed. Heidnik was arrested, and although tried and convicted in 1988, he was not executed for his crimes until 1999.

Referenced in:

Morbid Minister — Macabre

1957 – Police first find evidence of Ed Gein’s killings

Ed Gein only ever confessed to two murders, although the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that there were more.

It all fell apart for him on November 16, 1957 when the disappearance of Bernice Worden from Plainfield, Wisconsin (their mutual hometown) was reported to the police. They then investigated Gein’s house – he being the last person to see her – and found Worden’s body there.

They also found body parts of at least ten other women, possibly more. Gein was eventually convicted of Worden’s murder only – it being judged prohibitively expensive to investigate all of them – and Gein claimed to have exhumed them, not murdered them. Gein was convicted of two murders – the ones he confessed to, and later died in prison.

Referenced in:

Nipple Belt — Tad
Ed Gein — Macabre
Ed Gein — Killdozer
Young God — Swans
Skinned — Blind Melon
Dead Skin Mask — Slayer
Plainfield — Church of Misery
Nothing to Gein — Mudvayne
Edward Gein — The Fibonaccis
The Geins — Macabre Minstrels
Old Mean Ed Gein — The Fibonaccis
Ballad of Ed Gein — Swamp Zombies
Sex Is Bad Eddie — The Tenth Stage

1988 – Dorothea Puente is arrested for murder

Over the course of seven years, from 1982 to 1988, Dorothea Puente killed 9 people. All of them were residents of her boarding house, which catered to the aged and the mentally retarded. Dorothea would cash her tenants’ social service checks, and keep the money from them. The nine she killed (although she was only convicted of three of the killings) were those who objected to this practice – Puente continued to collect and cash their checks long after their deaths.

A career criminal, this was hardly the first time that Puente had pulled off this scam, although it was the first time that it involved murder. She had also been convicted of owning and running a brothel in 1960, and was well-known to law enforcement in her area. Her increasing carelessness in concealing her crimes led to her arrest, and she remains in prison as of this writing.

Referenced in:

Dorothea’s Dead Folks Home — Macabre