85% of all serial killers are men, meaning that we seldom hear about female serial killers in the media. But within that remaining 15% of killers, there are some truly horrifying women. We’ve curated a list of 10 of the most terrifying female serial killers in true crime history—which come from different time periods, countries and socioeconomic backgrounds. Take a look at these terrifying killers in the gallery below, then let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section on social media.
Aileen Wuornos is perhaps the most well known female serial killer of all time. From 1989 to 1990, Wuornos was working as a sex worker in Florida and murdered seven different men. Wuornos, who shot her victims at point-blank range, claimed that all of these men had assaulted her and she’d committed her homicides in self-defense. She was sentenced to death for six of her murders and was executed by lethal injection in 2002. Her story was portrayed on the big screen in 2003’s “Monster,” which earned Charlize Theron an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Myra Hindley committed the Moors murders alongside her partner Ian Brady between 1963 and 1965. They committed their crimes in Manchester, England and their victims were five children between the ages of 10 and 17. The pair was charged with three of the five murders and were given life sentences, with Hindley dying in 2002 at the age of 60 after serving 36 years in prison.
Nannie Doss was born in Alabama in 1905 and killed 11 people from 1920 to 1954. She was nicknamed the Giggling Granny and the Lonely Hearts Killer by the press, as most of her victims were her family members. In 1954, Doss confessed to killing four of her husbands, her mother, her sister, her grandson and her mother-in-law. She was sentenced to life in prison, however, was not given the death penalty because she was a woman. She died from leukemia in 1965 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at the age of 59.
Marie LaLaurie was born in 1787 and was a known part of New Orleans’ high society. There were many accounts of LaLaurie torturing and murdering her slaves from 1831 and 1834, with funeral registrars documenting the death of 12 slaves at the Royal Street Mansion. However, LaLaurie’s victims were never brought to justice and LaLaurie evaded her crimes, passing away in Paris at the age of 62 in 1849. LaLaurie was portrayed by Kathy Bates in “American Horror Story: Coven.”
Born in 1836, Amelia Dyer is one of the most frightening serial killers you’ll find on this list. Dyer allegedly murder between 200-400 infants over a 30 year period, however, only 6 of the murders were officially confirmed. She claimed this many victims by baby farming, a practice where she adopted unwanted infants in exchange for money. Her crimes ultimately caught up to her when a deceased infant was found in a bag in the Thames with evidence connected to Dyer. She was hanged at the Newgate Prison in London in 1896 at the age of 60.
Born in 1971, Claudette Kibble rose to infamy after she was arrested for murdering three of her five children. The murders occurred between 1986 and 1990, with each of the victims being less than 1.5 years in age. Kibble, who was only 14-years-old at the time of her first killing, enacted the murders through drowning and suffocation. In 1997, at the age of 23, Kibble pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence in prison and is currently serving time in Texas.
Born in 1943, Judy Buenoano was found guilty of murdering her son, her first husband, a boyfriend and the attempted murder of another boyfriend. After exhumation, all three of her victims were discovered to have been poisoned by arsenic and Buenoano received substantial life insurance money after each of their deaths. She was convicted of her crimes between 1984 and 1985, earning a 12-year sentence for her attempted murder, life in prison for the murder of her son and execution for the murder of her husband. In 1998, she was executed via the electric chair at the Florida State Prison.
Born in 1560 to a noble family in Hungary, Báthory earned the title of the most prolific female murderer by the Guinness World Records. Báthory and her collaborators were accused of torturing and murdering hundreds of young girls between 1590 and 1610—with the highest number of victims being cited at 650. There were 300 witnesses and survivors who testified against Báthory, with many alleging that Báthory had vampiric tendencies and bathed in the blood of her virgin victims. She was imprisoned in 1610, dying in 1614 at the age of 54.
Born in 1929 in Redlands, California, Dorothea Puente became an active serial killer during the 1980s, claiming nine known victims. Puente ran a boarding house, murdering at least nine elderly and mentally disabled borders before being arrested in 1988. After her murders, Puente cashed her victims’ social security checks and was sentenced to life without parole in 1993, dying at the age of 82 in 2011 while behind bars. Her former house was featured in the 2020 Quibi series “Murder House Flip.”
Born in 1953, Rosemary West and her husband Fred West carried out the torture and murder of nine young women between 1971 and 1987. Most of these murders were acted out in the couple’s home in Glouchester and the pair killed two of their own daughters—Charmaine and Heather. Although West originally pleaded not guilty to the murders, she was eventually found guilty and is currently serving a life sentence at HM Prison New Hall.