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  • After reading this it seems as if women serial killers are more likely to kill their family members, whereas men go outside the family to murder. Either way, an extremely dysfunctional childhood seems to be a common factor. Terrifying and sad at the same time.

    • Erica

      You are so right about that. People with caring and attentive parents rarely commit these types of crimes.

      When they do, it usually seems to be because of a mental illness.

    • Antarctica

      Re: “After reading this it seems as if women serial killers are more likely to kill their family members.”

      There is no such thing as “women serial killers,” any more than there is such a thing as “men serial killers.”

      “Women/woman” and “men/man” are NOUNS not ADJECTIVES.

      “Female serial killers” is what I think you meant to write.

      It’s a commonplace error, but bothers me every time.

      • kathy

        Wow. I’m an English teacher, writer, and I cringe when people make grammar errors, but … you’ve got to be kidding?! This is an article about evil serial-killing women, and you’re picking apart the GRAMMAR? SERIOUSLY? Good God.

        • DMK

          Lol, right?? I’m so glad someone said something.

      • Dani

        Quite sad that you should correct someone in a statement apolitical and without any controversy in his sayings.

      • Pepper

        I have been majoring in psychology and legal studies, and after doing research on serial killers, I found it interesting how women and men differ in there approaches to killing individuals. Women tend to attack those that love them the most, because they did not feel the love from their parents as children and grew up with in poverty and abuse. Men seem to drive off of a sexual drive, animal instinct, power, control.
        Kathy and Dani, I agree with you, we all have our pet peeves in life, but to seriously correct someone who is commenting on such a subject, really shows how judgmental you are, Antarctica, as a person. I do grammatical corrections myself, but would never think to do such a thing when short righting, or short terms are used. This is a control factor, in return can show a narcissistic personality disorder, because by you calling this person out they way you did, made everyone focus on you, instead of focusing on the real subject and conversation, you manipulated everyone into feeding into your own messed up judgmental God like issues , of low self esteem, control, self absorption, and righteousness. Which like I classic signs of Narcissism.

        • Butterscotch

          Oh SNAP! You just got BURNED! But I would definitely agree with Pepper.

      • BT

        Well, I hope you don’t kill anyone over it.

  • 5minutes

    Wow. You missed a lot…

    Blanche Taylor Moore – convicted of killing 2 (and attempting to kill 1 more) – 2 other "extremely likely" victims and dozens of "possible" and "rumored" victims.

    Delfina and María de Jesús González and Carmen and Maria Luisa- 2 Mexican sets of sisters from Guanajuato that ran the Rancho del Angel (aka "The Bordello From Hell"), where they killed at least 80 women, 11 men, and innumerable fetuses. They'd hire prostitutes and then kill them when they got too old. Their sentence for their lives of crime? 40 years. Their bordello inspired Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's "From Dusk Til Dawn" series.

    Vera Renczi – Romanian arsenic killer who took out 35 people (mostly husbands and lovers, but also one of her sons). She kept most of the bodies in her basement. Possibly the inspiration for "Arsenic and Old Lace".

    Lainz Angels of Death – 4 Austrian nurses (Maria Gruber, Irene Leidolf, Stephanija Meyer, and Waltraud Wagner) employed at Lainz General Hospital in Vienna. They confessed to killing 49 victims – and may have killed 200.

    Delphine LaLaurie – 87 victims (black slaves – men, women, and children) in the New Orleans area.

    Amy Archer-Gilligan – Connecticut Nursing Home owner who killed 48 of her patients.

    There's tons more.

    • Erica

      Vera, Delphine and Amy were a trip!!! Watching the show Deadly Women really does a good job of exposing us to these female killers.

      I don't think there was ever any proof about Delphine LaLaurie killing so many people. It seems as though the info on her has been turned into a legend used for entertainment and New Orleans tours. I believe it has been proven that she mistreat her slaves, but not in the ways the legend claims.

      Dr. Linda Hazzard is another fascinating one.

      Tracey Wigginton, Kate Bender, Teresa Knorr, Melinda Loveless, Jasmine Richardson, Erika Sifrit, Dorothea Puente, Getrude Baniszewski, Kathleen Folbigg, the Manson Women…

      I mean the list goes on and on and on!

      You can get the details about all of them here:

      I could talk about this stuff all day.

      • Abbie

        Hi Erica- I really love true crime and enjoy the Deadly Women show quite a bit. I get to hear about interesting cases plus it drives my husband and kids nuts, another plus. A couple really deserving folks have been missed…Waneta Hoyt (profiled on the show-she died of pancreatic cancer about 2 years into her sentence), Mary Beth Tinning, and Philly’s own Marie Noe all killed most of their children. (Mary Beth lost 1 to a prenatal brain infection, and 2 of Marie Noe’s kids lucked out and missed knowing her.) Marie Noe confessed in the late 90s and was allowed to live in her home in a low income area of Philly under house arrest for life so we could study what was going on with her and hopefully prevent it in others. Point of interest to the psych student- all were known to have lousy relationships with their own moms, Marie Noe also had an incredibly chaotic childhood, lots of abuse and to top it all off brain damage caused by (I think) scarlet fever at age 4. Family said she was never the same after that- just “blank” and very low functioning mentally. In pictures I’ve seen she looks like she’s got a flat affect. I’m betting on frontal lobe damage based on that and some real impulsive behavior. (What can I say- I’m a nurse. The harmless kind. Honest.)

  • Heather Matthews


    I knew I would hear something like that. I chose some stories America was familiar with, and some they weren't. With only ten options, it will be impossible to please everyone. Thanks for you comment.

    • Adis

      good job Heather!

    • Erica

      That's true Heather! You can't please everyone. You could only pick 10. 🙂 There are sooo many others that you had to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise, it would be a list of over 100!

      Great job, by the way!

      • Heather Matthews

        Thanks Erica 🙂

  • Barb

    Gotta say this is a great list, except for one line about Belle Gunness. I thought that “despite weighting 200 pounds” is a little insulting.
    Are you implying that women who are overweight are not attractive?
    I don’t mean to sound picky, but it’s sort of the wrong thing to say, that’s all.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Erica

      I guess she was saying that Belle was in no way a stone cold fox! 🙂 Regardless of her weight, her face wasn't much to look at.

      I think that is what Heather meant.

    • Hi

      That’s not what she was saying at all. Although, it is completely true. Overweight women are not attractive at all. That’s just a fact. Very, very, very few men have a weird fetish for it, but for the other 99% of men out their, heavy women are not attractive at all. In fact, it’s appalling. Well, obese women are, but more like… pickle shaped fat women are just plain unattractive.

  • Heather Matthews

    Hi Barb,

    I agree with you, my choice of words was unfortunate. Any offense it caused was not intentional. Of course a woman can be alluring at any weight. I've asked the toptenz master to revise the sentence.

    Thanks for reading my list, and I appreciate the heads-up.

    • Bill Vincent

      Good show, there. Indeed, in Gunness' time around the turn of the century, and until rather recently, sadly enough, being rail-thin was considered a sign that you were not withing the means to feed yourself properly. A "woman with curves" was considered much more attractive by the majority of society, as opposed to the modern 'Cosmo' anorexia queens, who would be viewed with some disdain by those same folks.

      I was born 100 years too late. 🙂

      • Heather Matthews

        I'm sure there are many women who are glad you were born in this era. Your highly evolved and very healthy attitude towards the female form is extremely appealing.

  • Shayla

    Whoa… There's a song by a band from Milwaukee called Red Knife Lottery. The song is called "Red Knives and Plastic Wives". I always thought it was fictional. Turns out it's not! I immediately thought of the song when I read entry #4. That's definitely who the song is about. Weird.

    • Heather Matthews

      I Googled the lyrics. I never knew that was out there. They told the whole story in that song.

      Thanks for reading my list.

  • Annemary

    Kingdom of Hungary (todayâ??s Slovakia)= what?? Hungary is still Hungary. ( i live here! 🙂 And Dracula is a Vlad Tepes-like character 🙂 ( I agree with the first commenter.. "Terrifying and sad at the same time." :S

  • Heather Matthews

    From what I've read, the monarchy ended in Hungary in 1921, so I was just referring to the previous system. Sorry if it was an awkward choice of words. Thanks for reading the list.

  • Armando XRZ.

    I saw today at Bio channel, one of a girl named Karla Faye Tucker , who brutally murdered a guy and a woman with a pickaxe in a burglar attempt and got help from his boyfriend.

    She was the first woman who got death row sentence in Texas since 1800 something and George W. Bush being the Texas Governor at that time did not give too much attention to the clemency plea.

    As Toptenz master said, extremely dysfunctional childhood seems to be a common factor, this girl started to roll her first marihuana joints at age 8, encouraged by her own mother and big sister.


    Nice top ten!


    • Heather Matthews

      Yes, frequently abuse or neglect in childhood is the catalyst for the development of various personality disorders, and it can be the trigger that creates a murderer later in life. The cycle of abuse gets passed down, and it is very sad.

      Thanks for reading the list!

  • Mac

    Griselda Blanco should definitely be on that list. She was responsible for a lot of the drug-related violence in Miami during the famous drug wars of the 1980's. There's MULTIPLE murders. The gangs didn't want her around anymore because she brought too much 'unwanted' attention to the cocaine trade in Florida.

    • Heather Matthews

      Hi Mac,

      Thanks for the information, I'll have to read up on Griselda – she certainly sounds like a prime candidate for this list.

  • patrik

    Aren't ALL killers deadly? Redundancy in the title , don't you think?

    • Heather Matthews

      Yes, I suppose so…sorry that's all you took from the list.

    • Yes, all killers are deadly, but these were the deadliest. I agree with Heather, sorry that is all you got from this list.

  • eyre-head

    what about bonnie parker? she was part of the bonnie and clyde gang she's the most awsome gang member ever

    • Heather Matthews

      Thanks Eyre-head, that's a great idea! Happy holidays!

  • tom

    Myra Hindley and Ian Brady…?

    • Heather Matthews

      very good suggestions, thanks.

  • aurel

    wasn't the stuff about bathory bathing in blood a rumor? .-.

    • Heather Matthews

      It's pretty hard to confirm at this point, isn't it? However, serial killers tend to escalate…perversions and depravities intensify over time. For example, Ted Bundy eventually delved into cannibalism (towards the end of his sprees). I personally don't find it a stretch at all that the Blood Countess would bathe in the blood of her victims.

      Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed the list…

      • aurel

        ahh, sorry, forgot to check if you replied. and i see what you mean. :3

        also, you forgot nannie doss :0

        "Nannie Doss (November 4, 1905[1] – June 2, 1965[2]) was a serial killer responsible for the deaths of eleven people between the 1920s and 1954.

        She finally confessed to the murders in October 1954, when her fifth husband had died in a small hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In all, it was revealed that she had killed four husbands, two children, her two sisters, her mother, a grandson and a nephew. She has been given the monikers "The Giggling Nanny", "The Giggling Granny" and "The Jolly Black Widow"."

        • Heather Matthews

          Thanks Aurel,

          The Giggling Granny sounds truly horrible, sorry I missed her….

  • Mike

    As facist as it may sound, it maybe time to start licensing people to have children ?

  • The Blackbird

    I met someone like The Countess on e-Harmony.

    • Heather Matthews

      lol. I'm sorry 🙂

      • The Blackbird

        I'm kidding. Just couldn't resist the cheap laughs. 😉

        • Heather Matthews

          I suspected as much, and was simply grateful for the joke 🙂 thanks.

  • Skye

    There is no substantial evidence that Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of her victims. It is more likely than not a rumor seeing as it only arose much later after her death. This rumor also streams from those pertaining to Vlad The Impaler who was 'suffering' from sanquinolency and carried it out in quite a gruesome way.

    Where she lived is still apart of Hungary and the ruins of her grand castle are debilitated, but still standing.

    Numbers as high as 650 have been tacked onto her name.

    She didn't just go for the prettiest girls. She went for whomever she could.

    Sorry if it sounds a bit know-it-all but I've researched Elizabeth Bathory for quite a while now. This was a great read, thanks for posting it!

    Also, Mary Anne Cotton was a terrific black widow.

    • Heather Matthews

      Thanks for the information about Bathory. I think I read that she chose the prettiest victims she could find, then "downgraded" when she ran out…a very sick and twisted human being…you don't sound like a know-it-all – at all. I always enjoy finding out new things from the comments posted here.

      I will find out more about Mary Anne Cotton, thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for reading my list. 🙂

      • samanthawaid

        I read somewhere that Elizabeth Bathory was a distant relative of Vlad Dracula…interesting…

  • Kylie

    Ummm… you are aware that Elizabeth Bathory killed a LOT more than 42 girls, right? Why isn’t she at the top of the list (some estimate that she may have killed about 200). The reason that she moved on to killing girls from more elite families was that she actually RAN OUT of peasant virgins in the area where she lived.

    • Heather Matthews

      estimations aren’t proof, they are a guess. these women are all profoundly disturbed/evil, I don’t think the order matters much at all.

  • john

    After reading abour the Wournos ‘lady’, it brought to mind all the hitch-hiking I used to doin my earlier years, when ‘it was safer’. Although not so much in Florida where she was so active, one of my best rides was in Florida from a lady in a Cadillac convertible. At a gas station she was trying to fuel her new car, and could not figure out where the fuel cap was. It took me a bit, but I found it…then she offered the ride covering half the long state. While it seemed unusual for a lady to give a ride to a hitch-hiker anyway, now I realize it goes both ways on who might actually be in danger. But it was a nice RED Cadillac……and in the end, we both helped one another. Your list is certainly an introduction to many female killers, as many posters have mentioned several others. Thanks for the good read and well written paragraphs of information. I do not hitch-hike anymore….I was so much younger then.

    • Heather Matthews

      I used to hitchhike as well. I lived about half an hour’s drive from town as an teenager…it was often the only way to get to parties, etc. It was definitely one of the stupidest things I ever did. I was maybe sixteen, and I did get picked up by some strange people. At some point, common sense kicked in and I stopped. It never felt safe. As soon I as stuck out my thumb, someone would pull over…what a stupid thing for a young girl to do!

      Thanks for the comment. You’re right about danger lurking anywhere…it doesn’t have to be a man who’s dangerous.

  • douCheY McDouChiNgtoN

    You are right Heather Matthews, “estimations aren’t proof” as you put it, and there are many doubts not only in regards to Elizabeth Bathory having bathed in human blood, but also doubts as to her having been guilty of any of these murders at all.

    There is much logical & credible evidence that she was a victim of a conspiracy at the time, as she & her family were involved in religious power struggles, & were standing in the way of the house of Habsburg, also she was owed a large amount of money by the king of Hungary at the time which he was unable to repay to her.

    Many ‘confessions’ against her were obtained under duress of torture, while others came through heresay & rumour, & as was previously mentioned the legends of her bathing in blood were created long after events transpired & were not confirmed by actual historical documents unearthed years later.

    It would have been a better idea to include in your list, people & historical figures who can be proven to have committed the crimes of which they were accused, & she could not really be considered one of them. Even a cursory glance at a basic site such as Wikipedia could provide doubts of her guilt & if you insisted on including her, you should have also included the doubts about her.

    I would recommend anyone interested in her, (including the people commenting here who have supposedly spent years researching her) to read the book ‘Dracula was a woman’ by Raymond T. McNally for example, which raises some of the many doubts about her guilt.

    Here is a quote from her Wiki page –

    László Nagy has argued that Elizabeth Báthory was a victim of a conspiracy, a view opposed by others. Nagy argued that the proceedings were largely politically motivated. The conspiracy theory is consistent with Hungarian history at that time. There was great conflict between religions, including Protestant ones, and this was related to the extension of Habsburg power over Hungary. As a Transylvanian Protestant aristocrat, Elizabeth belonged to a group generally opposed to the Habsburgs.

  • Heather Matthews

    Dear Douchey,
    Thanks for your lengthy comment. You can always write a top ten list of your own, if mine is not to your liking.
    Thanks, Heather

  • Shiela

    Good article but what about mary cotton or marie noe who killed her children and blamed sids. I also like deadly women and scorned. I feel women are more emotional involved in murder than not. The ladies of the manson family would be a good honorable mention.

  • Louise

    I know that this one is not about female killers, but I found a story that has stuck with me forever it feels like now. It is about the Boston Boy Fiend. MMMM. I don’t know how to explain. It is about a child at first and some crimes he does. he ends up only killing two, but there are so many factors into what he did, what the law req , as well as at the time relig. asspects of it. I truly believe that is a story to read up on. Sorry had to share.

    On a diffrent note Heather you did an awsome job. Thank you for your time and effort.

    Thank you

  • Chris

    I am doing a research paper on Women who Kill and am having a hard time keeping my paper limited to less than 10 women. There are so many to choose from! I had heard of only 5 of the 10 on your list and all the negative comments about why you didn’t list so and so were unnecessary. This is YOUR list, they can submit their own.

    Female killers are so much more common now than they used to be and there’s no way to pinpoint the baddest of the baddest and please everyone. They are all horrible in their own different ways. I enjoyed your list as well as recommendations from some of the other comments.

    Good job Heather!

    • Heather

      thank very much for writing such a positive note. I really appreciate it, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed the list!

  • samanthawaid

    Great list!!! 🙂

    • Heather

      thanks 🙂

  • astrid

    Fascinating list! It’s like watching a movie or reading a crime novel – but all based on true stories. scary!

    • Heather Matthews

      Thanks, Astrid – I’m glad that you enjoyed reading the list!


      Heather Matthews

  • Ed Baker

    Man, do I need a new dating service. They tried to set me up with half these women.


    Why would you pick women who killed in the single digits instead of those that killed in the

  • Brunix

    Elizabeth Bathory killed presumably 600 plus people!
    Compared to this ones .. They are nothing!