Top 10 Deadliest Female Killers

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Throughout history, some women have committed horrific crimes, ones that shock society to its very core. From the murders of their own innocent children, to chillingly cold-blooded serial crimes, these women have truly given in to the very worst aspects of themselves – and of human nature. Here is our list of top ten deadliest female murderers:

10. Diane Downs – Victims: 1

Elizabeth Diane Downs is led in handcuffs into the Lane County Courthouse in 1984 on the first day of her trial on accusations that she shot her three children, one fatally. - CLAUDIA HOWELL/THE OREGONIANE

Elizabeth Diane Downs is led in handcuffs into the Lane County Courthouse in 1984 on the first day of her trial on accusations that she shot her three children, one fatally. - CLAUDIA HOWELL/THE OREGONIAN

The subject of true crime author Anne Rule’s best selling book, Small Sacrifices, Diane Downs, chose a romantic relationship over her own children. When her lover, Lew, made it clear that a life with children was not in his master plan, she began to create a twisted scheme in which she would destroy her offspring, who had become only obstacles to her own happiness. Her plot to kill her children was a desperate, last-ditch attempt to hold on to a man who wanted out.

Her children from a prior marriage, Christie, Cheryl, and Danny, were the “small sacrifices” in this terrible crime. On a macabre night drive, she tried to end the lives of her own children. Stopping the car along a deserted stretch of road, she killed Cheryl, her second child, aged 7, in cold blood. Christie and Danny were also shot. Her oldest daughter, Christie, who was eight, survived the attack, and so did 3-year old Danny Downs. However, her little son was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot at near point-blank range.  Christie was also left with serious injuries, such as paralysis on one side of her body, and speech difficulties…but she was so very courageous.

In court, she found the words to explain to the judge and jury exactly what her mother had done. The bravery of this young girl, who wished to seek justice for her dead sister, was moving, and terribly sad. Anne Rule wrote about the pain and dignity of this little girl with great skill and compassion.

Diane Downs continues to proclaim her innocence. This former letter carrier for the State of Oregon now spends her days in prison – where she has been known to exchange lurid and sexually flirtatious letters with another tawdry inmate – serial rapist and killer Randy Woodfield – (the I-5 Killer).

9. Susan Smith – Victims: 2

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Susan Smith’s psyche was a witches’ brew of personality disorders, which culminated in the deaths of her two very young sons, Michael and Alex. Much like Diane Downs, this woman believed that ridding herself of her offspring would heal a relationship that had ended badly. However, her beliefs were rooted in delusion, because her lover, Tom, had made it clear that he was done with the relationship, once and for all.

This woman drove to the edge of a South Carolina lake, got out, and then put the car in drive. After releasing the brake, she stood silently and watched the vehicle, where her babies slept peacefully in the backseat, sink into the depths. Then, she phoned the police, in “hysterics”, blaming the crime on a “black man”.

Childhood sexual abuse and incest were perhaps the catalyst for Smith’s many narcissistic illusions and dreams. She claimed to have had a sexual relationship with her own stepfather, and her mother turned on her when she made her experiences with him public. Her mother’s inability to understand the abuse and the pain the situation caused her own daughter may well have been a source of rage for the young woman.

As she grew into adulthood, Susan Smith displayed a growing desire for sexual attention, as well as a need for ideal love and a grandiose, glamorous life. All these were classic signs of narcissistic personality disorder.

In time, the police put two and two together, separating the lies Susan Smith told from the cold, hard facts about the gruesome crime she committed with such icy ruthlessness. Eventually, she broke down under intense questioning from police and admitted to her acts, letting police know the exact location of the bodies. Inside the sunken vehicle, a “Dear John” letter from her ex-lover floated among the debris. Her poor children had died for nothing at all…

Sentenced to 30 years behind bars, Susan has continued her sexual indiscretions with two prison guards, one of whom gave her a sexually transmitted disease.

8. Karla Homolka – Victims: 3

Canadian sex killer Karla Homolka (right) and her lawyer Sylvie Bordelais during a television interview with Radio-Canada in Montreal, following her release from prison.

Canadian sex killer Karla Homolka (right) and her lawyer Sylvie Bordelais during a television interview with Radio-Canada in Montreal, following her release from prison.

This blonde Canadian woman will always be known as a traitor to her own gender. Her desire to please her partner, notorious “Scarborough Rapist” and serial killer Paul Bernardo, led her to assist him in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of three young women, one of whom was her own sister (who died accidentally after being drugged by Karla). She showed no mercy for the young girls who endured imprisonment in her own home – even as they begged for her help. To one, she gave a teddy bear – scant comfort indeed.

After her arrest, Karla cut a sweet deal with the authorities in order to get a lighter sentence. She gave them information about Paul’s crimes that assisted the prosecution in convicting him. Her husband claimed she committed all the murders herself.

While in custody, she was permitted to attend University, where she earned a degree. Such educational opportunities were denied forever to her lovely, bright young victims, whose futures were destroyed so cruelly. Many people were disgusted and outraged that a woman who had participated in such heinous crimes should be able to walk free after a comparatively short sentence. Karla claimed that she was terrorized by her own husband, and had no choice but to play along…or die. But videotapes unearthed later seemed to paint a much different picture.

Today, Karla still plays the victim, putting the responsibility for her terrible crimes upon her husband. However, psychologists argue about her real motivations. Some feel she was traumatized by the events of her ill-starred marriage; others are certain there was (and is) darkness and psychopathy under the façade. One interesting fact is that Karla, after the death of her own sister, complained in a letter to a friend that her wedding to Paul might need to be postponed because of the tragedy.

7. Beverly Allitt – Victims: 4

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Dubbed the “Angel of Death”, this serial killer is of English birth. Beverly Allitt was a registered nurse who abused her position in order to feed her dark desires. Innocent children were the targets of Allitt’s heinous acts, which included injecting potassium chloride or insulin into their small bodies, in order to cause cardiac arrest.

Like many serial killers, this woman’s need to murder escalated rapidly. In short order, she attacked 13 children in her ward, killing four of them. These attacks all occurred over a period of two weeks. The children she preyed on ranged in age from only seven weeks old to five years in age.

Psychiatrists who examined Allitt after her arrest concluded that she suffered from a strange mental health disorder known as Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, which caused her to hurt and kill children in order to get attention from others. As a girl, Allitt had derived much pleasure from dressing up as an injured person, which would include fake “casts” etc. Later, she would injure herself and seek out constant attention from medical professionals.

Today, Allit serves out 13 life sentences at Rampton Maximum Security Hospital, where the criminally insane are housed. The families of the children who were entrusted to her care have threatened her with death, should she ever walk free again.

6. Andrea Yates – Victims: 5

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Sometimes, severe mental illness can play a role in crimes. Personality disorders such as narcissism are often present, but, there can be much more serious illnesses, such as schizophrenia, that cause the sufferer to hear voices and follow the instructions they give. In the case of Andrea Yates, who killed her five children by drowning them in a bathtub, there were many red flags of serious mental illness. Of all the women on the list, she seems the most likely to be clinically insane.

Andrea Yates was not diagnosed as schizophrenic, but she had serious mental health illnesses including psychotic breaks, suicide attempts, and severe postpartum depressions. Having so many children in quick succession was enough to plunge this fragile woman into the abyss. Her husband, Rusty, a minister, wanted many children with his wife. He would later blame Andrea’s psychiatrists for the tragedy, saying they did not make him aware of the gravity of her condition.

However, Rusty did know that Andrea was not well. Usually, he would make sure someone was with Andrea to help her cope with the demands of her children. Tragically, on the day she decided to end her children’s lives, she was briefly alone. Rusty wanted to give her some independent time with the kids, so she would not become too accustomed to having help all of the time. In the space of this short hour, Andrea methodically drowned her five children, one after the other. After her crime, she called 911 to report her act to the authorities.

For some time, Andrea had pondered the act she was about to commit. According to interviews with her, after the crime, she wanted to kill her children because they were not “righteous”. She felt her own sins were stopping her children from developing into good Christians. In her mind, ending their lives so cruelly seemed to be the best decision.

5. Aileen Wuornos – Victims: 8

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A dreadful childhood marked by abandonment and incest warped the young soul of Aileen Wuornos, who stored up more rage against society, and men, with every passing year. Early sexual experiences marked the girl, who became pregnant at the age of 13 (the child was given up for adoption). Wuornos’ teen years remained turbulent and hardscrabble, and, by age 15, she was thrown out of her grandfather’s home.

Displaying all the signs of antisocial personality disorder, Aileen broke the law, robbed stores with weapons, and even married a 70 year-old man, whom she physically abused. Arrests and drunken conduct marred and then ended her unlikely relationship, as her elderly husband brought in the law to keep her away. In time, she found a lesbian lover named Tyria, and she worked as a prostitute to earn a living for both of them.

Working the highways, selling her body, was a dangerous career choice. To her dying day, Aileen swore that she was brutally raped by her first victim. She claimed that killing him was an act of self-defense. However, her other victims were different. She killed eight men altogether, seven of them in the state of Florida. The got so much more than they bargained for (or deserved) when they slowed down and pulled over to pick up Wuornos for sex.

Wuornos was the subject of the 2003 film, Monster, in which classic Hollywood beauty Charlize Theron underwent a startling physical transformation in order to mimic her character’s weathered, tough image.

Wuornos never lost the rage that fueled her terrible crimes. Before her execution, she lashed out one last time, blaming the media, her lawyers, and society for her fate.

4. Rosemary West – Victims: 10 (possibly more)

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The notorious counterpart of Fred West, Rosemary (also known as Rose) was incredibly dangerous, and the very epitome of soulless evil.  Fred and Rosemary took advantage of young people who were naïve and trusting – by picking them up off the street and bringing them into their home, promising food, lodging and compassion. The fate that awaited these unlucky girls and young women was truly the stuff of nightmares.

Rosemary, a mother of eight children, was a prostitute and a depraved sexual sadist who thrived on inflicting pain. Along with her equally twisted husband, she committed ten murders, including the killing of their own child, a daughter named Heather. Rosemary was also convicted in the murder of her stepdaughter (common-law) Charmaine.

Both Rose and Fred were the products of abuse and violent, dysfunctional childhoods – neither had consciences. Days of torture and rape led to murders – all conducted in the “house of horrors” at 25 Cromwell Street.

Many other victims may also have suffered and been killed to feed the insatiable appetites of this couple, since Fred West intimated that as many as 20 more missing girls might have been killed at their hands. Many unsolved murders and cold cases in this area of Britain (Gloucester) may have been the work of Rosemary West and/or her partner in crime.

3. Countess Elizabeth Bathory – Multiple Victims

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Known as The Blood Countess, this vain, capricious woman enjoyed bathing in the blood of her young female victims. She thought the application of blood would keep her youthful and improve her complexion.

Abusing her power and position was something the Countess truly enjoyed. There was marked sadism in her killings, and an undeniable sexual element in her crimes. The Countess sometimes forced young women to lick the blood of other victims off of her nude body.

Her love of blood has made her notorious as a sort of “real life” vampire. It was rumored that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was based in part on the life of this predator, whose reign of terror occured in the Kingdom of Hungary (today’s Slovakia).

Bathory lured the prettiest girls of her village to her dungeons, promising them work in her castle. After depleting the village of young women, she moved on to those of higher birth. Her husband, Ferenc Nádasdy, was said to be complicit in her many crimes. He gave her the Castle she used to bleed and torture her victims as a wedding gift.

2. Jane Toppan – Victims: 31

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Another nurse who preyed on the ill and infirm, this heavyset, disturbed woman was the product of a troubled childhood. The daughter of an insane father, Jane was raised in rough and tumble Boston orphanages after he gave up on caring for her. Poverty and a series of foster parents did not soothe the roiling tensions building in this young woman. As she grew to adulthood, she studied nursing, and her professors noted her unhealthy fascination with autopsy photographs. Nonetheless, she graduated and began to care for patients, who found her pleasant and nicknamed her “Jolly Jane”.

This nurse found intense sexual pleasure could be derived from drugging patients and bringing them to the brink of death. She would attempt to bring them close to death, revive them, and then poison them anew. Often, she got into their hospital beds with them, most likely to molest them sexually as they clung to life, barely conscious.

Classified as a lust killer, Toppan began her reign of cruel experiments and killings in 1885, and they went on until she was eventually apprehended and convicted of 11 killings. While in custody, she revealed that she had caused the deaths of 31 people. Toppan gloried in her crimes, wanting to go down in history as the person who “killed more people — helpless people — than any other man or woman who ever lived.”

“Jolly Jane” was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and lived out her post-conviction life in Taunton Insane Asylum.

1. Belle Sorenson Gunness – Victims: Est. 42

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This prolific serial murderer killed for pleasure and for greed. Her desire for worldly goods led her to kill an estimated 42 victims. Born in Norway, she moved to the USA, where she married a businessman in Chicago.

Some historians believe Belle killed her two daughters by poisoning them to collect insurance money. Belle may also have burned down the family business to collect money from her insurance company. Her children’s deaths were listed as being caused by bouts of colitis, but the symptoms of this disorder are very similar to those caused by poisoning.

Later, her husband also died under strange circumstances, and once again Belle was there to collect money from his death, which may have been caused by the “medicines” Belle administered to treat his illness.

Known as “The Black Widow”, Gunness went on to buy a farm with the proceeds of his death, and his family blamed her for his early demise.

Belle soon formed a modus operandi that netted big dollars. She would lure middle- aged men to her with personal ads and love letters, and then they too would die in a series of “accidents”.  She was able to attract new suitors with amazing success. She married over and over again, taking advantage of lonely men who had no idea what lurked beneath the surface charm of this cold-blooded killer.

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In the end, it was rumored that 42 bodies lay buried on her property, and she had amassed more than a quarter of a million dollars in blood money. In an ironic twist of fate, someone exacted revenge on this cruel woman, whose body was found beheaded and burned. This is still controversy regarding her charred bodily remains: some argue that the body is not really Belle Sorenson Gunness.


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68 Comments

  1. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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 said..is classic signs of Narcissism.

  2. 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.

    • 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadly_Women

      I could talk about this stuff all day.

      • 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.)

  3. Heather Matthews on

    Hi,

    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.

  4. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  5. Heather Matthews on

    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.

    • 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 on

        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.

  6. 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 on

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

      Thanks for reading my list.

  7. Heather Matthews on

    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.

  8. 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.

    Sad.

    Nice top ten!

    A.

    • Heather Matthews on

      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!

  9. 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 on

      Hi Mac,

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

    • Heather Matthews on

      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…

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

        also, you forgot nannie doss :0

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nannie_Doss

        "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 on

          Thanks Aurel,

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

  10. 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 on

      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. 🙂

  11. 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 on

      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.

  12. 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 on

      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.

  13. douCheY McDouChiNgtoN on

    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.

  14. Heather Matthews on

    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

  15. 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.

  16. 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
    Louise

  17. 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!
    Chris

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

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

  19. donald pharisee on

    I know there are people that are jealous,very Ruled,and trying to be Insane,but Killing your whole intired Family to collect the insurance money.then that is NOT love in the Heart for family,that,s love in the heart for MONEY.you see money does NOT bring death back to Life,only GOD can , that’s why we must haved God in heart Always,and NOT MAN

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