Growing up, many children read fairy tales with princesses, princes, magic, dragons, fairies, unicorns, elves, and beanstalks. In those fairy tales the villain is always very obviously the villain. They usually take the form of an evil witch, a formidable dragon, a corrupt king, a fiendish giant, or a wicked stepmother. In the stories we read as a child, there is always a happy ending but, in real life, not everyone lives happily ever after. Unfortunately for us, the villains and the monsters are not so obvious. Most of the time, the most twisted and sadistic monsters look just like everybody else which makes them all the more terrifying.
There are many people who are fascinated with criminals because their brains work so much differently than the rest of us yet they look completely normal. If you passed them on the street, you would never know what they are capable of. Once you know what these monsters have done, you will look at them in a completely different way and you will wonder to yourself how can such an evil and monstrous person commit such heinous acts not only live with themselves but also have a smile on their face? It is a mystery and it's something that most people can't understand--which makes it both fascinating and terrifying. These are some of the most prolific criminals who ever lived looking like completely normal people. It's important to remember that the worst monsters rarely look like monsters at all so be safe out there.
15 Miyuki Ishikawa
There may not be as many female criminals as there are male criminals but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. Miyuki Ishikawa is one of the most prolific female criminals and it is estimated that she claimed the lives of around 169 victims though the actual count is unknown. Ishikawa was a Japanese midwife in the 1940s who worked at a maternity hospital that was full of infants with parents who could not afford to take care of them. The midwife decided to neglect the infants until they died then had false death certificates made to cover her tracks. She then had her husband ask the parents for large sums of money, telling them it was cheaper for the parents to pay him and his wife to "take care of" the baby instead of raising it themselves. When she was finally apprehended, she was only required to serve a 4-year prison sentence.
14 Andrew Cunanan
Andrew Cunanan is pictured in the photo above on the far left looking totally normal. Though he was remembered as a bright and friendly student, he was also known as a prolific liar and it was later determined that he suffered from a personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy. After dropping out of college, he went to gay bars to sell his body to older, wealthy men and also got involved with drug dealing and theft. In a three-month period, he took the lives of at least five people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace, before shooting himself. The story of his crimes are the subject of the second season of the FX series American Crime Story which will feature Édgar Ramírez as Gianni Versace, Penélope Cruz as Donatella Versace, and Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan.
13 Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were responsible for the Moors incident in England in the early 1960s. The paths of these two twisted human beings crossed and their partnership resulted in taking the lives of five small children. Brady was the mastermind behind the crime and Hindley helped him to carry out the gruesome crimes as an act of love for her monstrous boyfriend after he told her he wanted to "commit his perfect crime". The two were apprehended after Hindley's brother-in-law, David Smith, witnessed Brady harming a 17-year-old named Edward Evans with an axe. They were both found guilty and jailed for life. Though she claimed that she was innocent for many years, she finally admitted that she was responsible for the crimes in 1987. She died in prison in 2002. Brady died in May of 2017 at age 79.
12 H.H. Holmes
H. H. Holmes is known as America's first criminal and it is believed that he took the lives of more than 200 people. In the late 1880s, Holmes began construction on his "Murder Castle" which included secret passageways, trapdoors, gas chambers, and dungeons where he kept his victims. During the Chicago World's Fair, the city was overrun with people who had nowhere to stay. His Murder Castle was meant to look like a hotel and he would invite people to stay there before he attacked them. Since Chicago was so overrun with people from all over the world, no one even noticed they were missing. He was eventually arrested, not for his actual crimes, but for the theft of a horse. He was executed at age 34 and was survived by his three wives who he was married to at the same time, unbeknownst to them.
11 Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most infamous and gruesome criminals in American history and was responsible for harming 17 men and young boys. The photo above is from a video of Dahmer celebrating Thanksgiving with his family. This horrible human being actually sat down and had Thanksgiving dinner with his parents while he had skeletons hidden away in his home. In the conversation between him and his parents, Dahmer says that he should be eating at home more. So. Creepy. Dahmer was eventually caught and sentenced to life in prison for his crimes but he was beaten to death by one of his fellow inmates, Christopher Scarver, in 1994. Scarver was also in prison for similiar crimes but even he was disgusted with Dahmer’s crimes.
10 John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy was known as the Killer Clown because he would often dress up as Pogo the Clown for children's birthday parties because it allowed him to "regress into childhood". Before his crimes, it was clear that Gacy was a total creep since he had been arrested for assaulting a teenage boy and his wife left him after she found child footage hidden in their garage. Gacy committed crimes against 33 to 34 young men between the ages of 14 to 21. He was incarcerated on death row for 14 years and during those years, he painted clowns and some of his paintings were of himself as Pogo the Clown. The terrifying paintings have been displayed in art galleries for those with morbid curiosity. Some of them were sold for thousands of dollars. He was executed in 1994. Good riddance.
9 Edmund Kemper
Though Edmund Kemper was a deeply disturbed boy with a very high IQ, his intelligence didn't stop him from harming innocent people. He has said himself that the reason he was so disturbed was because of his mother who was so terrible that Kemper's father, a World War II veteran, said that living with the woman was worse than any of the horrors he experienced in the war. Before he even became an adult, he killed his grandparents but because he was underage and was deemed to be mentally disturbed was kept in a hospital until he turned 21. Kemper picked up female hitchhikers and brutally harmed six of them before moving on to his mother who, he claimed, was the root of his troubles. He also hurt his mother's friend in order to cover his tracks. However, he later called the police and turned himself in.
8 Ted Bundy
As far as normal-looking monsters go, Ted Bundy immediately comes to mind. Bundy was responsible for the deaths of at least 36 young women and girls in the 1970s but it's possible that the number of victims is much higher. Due to his intelligence and charm, no one suspected that he was capable of committing such horrific acts and he often used his charm to lure his unsuspecting victims into his car. Even after he was incarcerated for his crimes, Bundy never expressed any remorse or guilt and he was described by his biographer, Ann Rule, as a "sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human's pain." An attorney on his defense team said that he, "was the very definition of heartless evil." He was executed in 1989.
7 Russell Williams
Russell Williams may not have committed as many harmful acts as the other criminals on this list but he is equally sadistic and twisted. Colonel David Russell Williams was a decorated Air Force pilot for years of exemplary service in the Canadian Forces. He was married to Mary Elizabeth Harriman for 19 years before he was arrested. Before the murders, he broke into homes in Tweed, Ontario, dressed in women's underwear that he found, and took photos of himself in them before sneaking out. 82 burglaries were documented and Williams stole around 1,400 pieces of clothing, mostly underwear. In 2009, he murdered two women after breaking into their respective homes. He was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment and his uniform and decorations were burned.
6 Rodney Alcala
Before there was The Bachelorette, there was The Dating Game, a game show in which three bachelors would attempt to win the affection of a bachelorette. Though he was a convicted for assaulting an 8-year-old girl, Rodney Alcala was one of the contestants in 1978. When Alcala appeared on the show, he was already in the midst of his crimes. It is unknown exactly how many women he murdered but the number is believed to be between 80 and 130. There were over 1,000 photos found in his possession, all of young boys and women who he tortured and, in many cases, murdered. When Alcala appeared on The Dating Game, he actually won but he was apparently so creepy that the bachelorette refused to go on a date with him. That turned out to be a good decision for her.
5 Richard Angelo
Richard Angelo became known as "The Angel of Death" after he was convicted of taking the lives of patients at the Good Samaritan Hospital where he worked as a nurse. When he was young, he was an Eagle Scout and then became a volunteer fireman in order to garner praise. Because of his Hero Syndrome, he craved praise from others so much that he did whatever he had to do to get it. In order to be seen as a hero at his work, he poisoned one of his patients, John Fisher, then attempted to save him. However, Fisher died before he could be saved. Despite his failed attempt to be a hero, he poisoned other patients and when they went into cardiac arrest, he would attempt to save them in front of his colleagues. While he was able to save some, the rest were not so lucky. However, Angelo did not appear to have any remorse for his actions. He was finally apprehended when he tried to poison a patient while the patient was still awake. He was sentenced to 61 years to life in prison.
4 Robert Yates
Robert Lee Yates, also known as the Spokane Serial Killer, took the lives of 16 people from 1975 to 1998 and he wasn't arrested until 2000. Though his first victims were men, in the 1990s, he would hire female night workers and then kill them after they did drugs with him and they serviced him. All of his victims were shot in the head with a Raven .25-caliber handgun before he dumped their bodies in rural locations. After one of his potential victims escaped, he was questioned by the police and was asked to give a DNA sample but he refused because he was "a family man." Though he was technically a family man with a wife and four daughters, he was a monster first. He was finally arrested 25 years after his first crime and he is currently on death row at the Washington State Penitentiary.
3 Dean Corll
Dean Corll was called The Candy Man because his family owned a candy company and he often gave candy to local children. He was also known as the Pied Piper. In the legend of the Pied Piper, a mysterious man used his magical instrument to lure children into the sea where they drowned. Corll abducted, tortured, and took the lives of at least 28 young men and boys in the early 1970s. His accomplices were two teenage boys, David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr. who he paid to help him bring young boys to his home and also help bury the bodies. However, one night, Henley brought his friends over to Corll's house where they drank until they passed out. When they awoke, Corll had tied up the teenagers and threatened to kill all of them. Henley convinced Corll that he would help him with the crimes so Corll untied him and then Henley shot Corll in the head. He called the police to admit his guilt and only then did the truth come out about the 28 murders.
2 Richard Ramirez
Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker, assaulted and took the lives of 14 women in the 1980s. He was called the Night Stalker because he was known to sneak into homes in the middle of the night and kill whoever he found inside. Ramirez was finally caught in 1985 after he noticed his face on the front page at a newspaper stand and he tried to carjack a woman but he was chased down by a crowd and held down and beaten by the group until the police came to pick him up. Ramirez was sentenced to death for his crimes and while he was on death row, he inexplicably received letters from female fans, one of which was Doreen Lioy (pictured above) who he married in 1996. From some bizarre reason, some women are attracted to men who have committed horrible crimes. They remained married until his death in 2013.
1 Fred and Rosemary West
Fred and Rosemary West may look like a normal 1970s couple but they were anything but. The two were responsible for the deaths of 10 young women. When this photo was taken, there was likely dismembered body parts hidden away in their cellar below or in the garden. After they were arrested, their home became known as the "House of Horrors." Though most of the crimes were carried out together, it is believed that Rosemary was responsible for the death of Fred's stepdaughter, Charmaine. Though their first murder happened in the 1960s, the two were not apprehended until 1994 and were given life sentences. Fred killed himself in prison in 1995 and Rosemary remains in prison to this day. Their "House of Horrors" was demolished in 1996.