Five Terrifying Serial Killers in Recent History

The “Dnepropetrovsk maniacs,” viral human and kitten killers (arrested, 2009)

The media dubbed 19-year-olds Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuck the “Dnepropetrovsk maniacs” for their string of 21 murders in Ukraine, usually committed with a blunt object, as well as their history of animal mutilation. Victims of the killers were so brutally savaged that their faces were often unrecognizable. Some had their eyes gouged out while still alive. One was pregnant and… yeah.

Sayenko (left) and Suprunyuck

High school friends, the two teenagers began their violent careers trying to help a mutual friend overcome his phobia of blood by capturing stray dogs, tying them from trees and disemboweling them. This kind of behavior culminated in an instance where they filmed the brutal torture and murder of a small, white kitten. Among other things, the video showed the teenagers make a cross out of wooden boards, nail the kitten to it, place foam and glue in its mouth to muffle its screams and shoot at it with two pistols.

It was revealed during the maniacs’ trials that they had filmed several of their murders, one having leaked to the internet and apparently gone viral. Around four minutes long, the video shows the two young men murdering a 48-year-old man named Sergei Yatzenko. He’s bludgeoned in the face with a hammer repeatedly. His eyes are removed, and he’s stabbed in the abdomen… and then the brain, with a screwdriver.

After the murder, the two are shown discussing the murder calmly, and one expresses surprise about how the man was still breathing after the screwdriver was plunged into his exposed brain.

Edward Gein, Hannibal Lector ‘IRL’ (arrested, 1957)

Though not technically a serial killer—Edward Gein only confessed to and was convicted of killing just two women—his practice of decorating his house with body parts taken from dead people that he exhumed from graveyards and the “skin suits” police found in his home have made this man particularly notorious. So notorious that he’s had a lasting impact on popular culture—three films have been adapted to his story, and the characters Norman Bates (Psycho), Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs) are based on him.

Edward Gein was very strange. Shortly after abducting a woman from a hardware store in Plainfield, Wisconsin, he was suspected and quickly caught. Police found in his shed the woman’s decapitated body. It was upside down, hanging by ropes. Its organs were taken out.

Ed Gein circa 1957

When police went into his house, they found these things: nine human facial skins (which Gein had carefully peeled from cadavers and used as masks), four noses, human bones and fragments, bowls made from human skulls, ten female heads with the tops sawed off, human skin covering several chair seats, a woman’s head in a paper bag, another head in a burlap sack, nine vulvas in a shoe box, a human heart (in a pan, on his stove), skulls on his bedposts, organs in his refrigerator and a pair of lips on a drawstring for a windowshade.

Feel like that last one sort of ‘takes the cake.’ Gein later admitted that he had gotten the majority of these body parts from corpses he’d exhumed from a graveyard. He also reported that he wanted a sex change. In that regard, he wore tanned skins of women and began to create a “woman suit.”

Issei Sagawa, cannibal, murder, celebrity (arrested, 1981, released, 1986)

Though not technically a serial killer, Japanese microcelebrity and cannibal Issei Sagawa is of interest because of his life after his one and only murder and cannibalization of a Dutch woman named Renée Hartevelt. Vice Magazine interviewed him in 2009.

While attending school at the Sorbonne Academy in Paris in 1981, Sagawa invited Hartevelt over for dinner to talk literature. At his apartment he killed her by shooting her in the back of the head with a rifle. He fainted from the act. When he woke, he realized that he had already gone through with the killing, and had to move forward with his plan of eating her.

Just under five feet tall and self described as a “weak, ugly and small man,” Sagawa wanted to “absorb [Hartevelt’s] energy.” Over the next two days he ate various parts of her body. He described the taste of her flesh as similar to tuna—”soft” and “odorless.”

When Sagawa attempted to dump the body in a lake, he was spotted and soon caught by the French authorities. They held him without trial for two years. When he was given trial, the judge committed him to a mental institution, declaring him “obviously” insane.

While at the ward, Japanese author Inuhiko Yomota visited and interviewed him. The result was a well-publicized book that elevated Sagawa to the status of celebrity in Japan.

After the book was released, French authorities soon extradited Sagawa to Japan, where he was judged by psychologists to be sane but “evil.” They could not keep him, nor could they arrest him because of France’s inability to furnish a number of legal documents.

Sagawa currently lives as a minor Japanese celebrity. Living in Tokyo, he’s often invited as a guest speaker and commentator, he’s written restaurant reviews for the Japanese magazine Spa and spends his time as a freelance artist of nude paintings.

David Parker Ray, aka “The Toy Box Killer” (arrested, 1999)

A naked, screaming, bleeding woman with chains around her neck, wrists and ankles running through the streets of a town called Truth and Consequences, New Mexico was how serial killer David Parker Ray and his accomplice Cynthia Lee Hendy were eventually caught for the torture and murder of approximately 60 people.

David Parker Ray is of particular interest as a serial killer because of his arguably ‘evil’ treatment of his victims. Aside from using torture tools and devices such as leg spreader bars, surgical blades and saws and a 12-volt motorized ‘breast stretcher’ in a homemade torture chamber he referred to as his “toy box,” Ray would, upon capturing his victims, play for them an audio tape of himself detailing what he was going to do to them.

The tape was about twenty minutes, and described the victim’s future as a sex slave. The tape said that they would be forced to have sex with animals, to give Ray oral sex at his whim, and to endure rape and other specific acts of torture. It told the victims, presumably all female, that others had died before them during acts such as these.

Buy at

Scarier are some of the aspects of the actual “toy box.” Ray had a TV monitor in the corner of it and a video camera hooked up to the TV, pointed at a gynecology chair. Victims thus watched themselves mutilated.

Pinned to the walls of the trailer were drawings of his future torture plans, photographs of the torture he’d practiced on women and dolls in various bondage and torture positions. Ray had further written a number of texts regarding how to maintain a sex slave, including a list of sixteen brainwashing techniques.

Among his possessions, police found a copy of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I am the co-publisher of Thought Catalog. Follow me on Twitter. I also use a pen name called Holden Desalles.

Keep up with Brandon on Twitter

More From Thought Catalog