How Famous Serial Killers Died

By Tiara

The more times someone commits murder, the higher their chance of being caught is. This is true even if you’re not considered famous, or even if your murders are less brutal than others that have made the news.

In fact, most murderers are never discovered because they die before anyone notices anything suspicious about them. When this happens, it can be difficult to determine whether they committed suicide, were killed by another person, or died from natural causes.

It also makes proving their criminal intent very challenging. Because of all these reasons, there are some killers who get away with repeated murder for years before being caught.

Here we will discuss how well-known serial killers died and what theories exist as to why they chose their death methods. We will talk about why some killers choose to take their own lives while other killers are found dead in unusual places.

These theories may help law enforcement figure out who else may have wanted to kill the murderer and gain additional clues for their investigation.

Ted Bundy

how famous serial killers died

Born in Ely, Nevada in 1947, Ted Bundy was an extremely intelligent child who grew up to become one of America’s most notorious serial killers. He lived with his family in Lakewood, Washington where he attended high school before moving to Utah for university.

After dropping out, he moved back home where he worked various part-time jobs including dishwasher and janitor at a local college. It was here that he would meet Linda Kesselring whom he later married.

Bundy began stalking and raping women while working as a truck driver and salesman. His targets were mostly young girls between the ages of 12 and 25 which he would invite into his car or hotel room under false pretenses.

He would then sexually assault them before killing them by slitting their throats. Many of these victims were left alive after being raped and strangled.

In total, he murdered 30 people and abducted at least 13 more. Most of these murders took place within just over two years during the early 1980s.

On January 24th 1978, 23 year old student Kimberly Allen died after meeting him in his vehicle outside of a restaurant she had visited with a friend. She was taken to hospital but declared dead upon her arrival.

A month later, on March 20th 1978, 18 year old Charlene Cook was killed in the same manner. Two days earlier, another woman had spotted him walking down the street with what appeared to be a plastic bag.

John Wayne Gacey

how famous serial killers died

In May of 1998, just one month after his 24th birthday, news broke that popular actor and filmmaker John Wayne Gacy died in his home. At first, police determined he passed away due to natural causes but an autopsy revealed something more sinister.

Gacy was found dead with no pulse or breathing. An ambulance was called and arrived within minutes to find nothing. They tried CPR and resuscitation efforts for several minutes before declaring him deceased.

Police then conducted another autopsy which confirmed their initial suspicion; Gacy had killed at least 33 men and buried them in his crawl space. He would later be identified as a murderer through dental records, clothing fibers, and other belongings.

He was survived by two children who were 6 years old when their father died. His wife was notified shortly after his death and she refused to believe it until seeing proof herself. She eventually left him and her sons and went into hiding.

Since his passing, many theories have emerged about what may have motivated him to kill. Some say he suffered from depression while others claim he was sexually abused as a child. It is thought that these experiences played a role in his murder spree.

Ted Kaczynski

In 1995, The Unabomber made his first public appearance at Harvard University as part of an alumni event. He spoke for two hours to over 1,000 people, answering questions and interacting with attendees.

He was introduced as Theodore Wallace Kappell, but he never used that name again. Most referred to him as “The Bomber” or simply “the bomber.”

After the speech, several audience members approached him asking about theories concerning who he may have been in contact with before dropping off messages around the country announcing the start of what would become known as The Life After Death Project.

This project involved sending newspapers and magazines to determine if anyone close to the sender had died recently. If they did, it was proof that the person the sender was trying to influence had also passed away.

It is important to note here that the media was one of the main targets of The Unabomber. He wanted to expose how the mainstream news sources were controlled by just a few powerful corporations and individuals.

He often quoted The Matrix when explaining this concept. By taking control of the information source, these power brokers are able to manipulate the masses and keep them passive and under their thumb.

That way, they can easily put out propaganda which people believe without question. This manipulation has gone on long enough that most people don’t know where truth ends and fiction begins anymore.

Gary Ridgway

how famous serial killers died

Most people know about Ted Bundy, but his killing spree was not his first nor was it his most deadly. Before he murdered fifteen women in Washington, Oregon, and California, he left town to live as the next famous murderer.

Gary Ridgway worked as a truck driver before he embarked on what would become one of the deadliest criminal careers in American history. He abducted at least twenty-one young girls and raped them repeatedly before murdering them by drowning or strangling.

He also dismembered many of his victims while they were still alive. Some say this is because he enjoyed watching their muscles tense up with fear as he choked them out.

Ridgway’s final murder took place in January 2000 when he drove into an Idaho police officer car after being pulled over for driving without headlights. The officer shot him twice, saving the lives of himself and other officers who arrived on the scene soon afterward.

Theories abound as to why Ridgway killed so many innocent individuals, but his desire to be recognized as a powerful killer seems to play a major part. Many believe that his need to feel important made him take more violent actions towards others.

Charles Manson

how famous serial killers died

On November 9, 2018, it was reported that 66-year-old musician and cult leader Charles Lee Bailey died in prison of natural causes. He is most well known for leading the mass murder he perpetrated at his home outside of Los Angeles back in late 1970’s called The Tate–LaBianca murders.

During this five day period, eight people were murdered either by him or members of his criminal gang. These include three actors (who were involved in popular TV shows) and four women who lived across town from the killers.

He has since been convicted of nine counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death twice. His final sentence will take place next year when he turns 70 years old.

Given his longevity as a murderer and media presence after his arrest, there have been many theories about how he could be killed while in custody. It is important to note that no one can truly confirm whether these deaths are related to his past crimes or not.

However, several cases do match up with previous reports of suspicious deaths while incarcerated, making them worth mentioning here.

Fritz Haarmann

how famous serial killers died

In October 1920, police in Germany discovered the body of a 22-year-old man in an abandoned quarry. They identified him as Edgar Sonnenberg, a factory worker who lived with his parents and two younger siblings in nearby Barmen.

Sonnenberg had been shot twice in the head, and there was no apparent reason for the killing. However, several witnesses claimed they overheard conversations between Sonnenberg and another man where Sonnenberg said he wanted to die and would do anything to achieve that goal.

These statements made authorities suspect that Sonnenberg planned to meet someone at the quarry and then commit suicide. As such, investigators began looking into whether the other man was also planning to kill himself by going to the same place later in the day.

They never found out what happened to this second person, but after analyzing physical evidence from the crime scene, detectives concluded their theory about Sonnenberg’s murderer was correct.

On December 6th, just over one month after his murder, Ernst Gennser went to the quarry alone. He died in exactly the way that his friend had described – murdered by a gunshot wound to the neck.

After arresting Haarmann, investigators searched his home and office and recovered letters written to Gennser describing how he intended to hurt others like he had hurt Sonnenberg.

Haarmann eventually confessed to murdering eight people, including both men.

Jack the Pirate

how famous serial killers died

In 2006, 33-year-old Daniel Lee Hill walked into the offices of an Austin computer company with a gun and demanded money. He took two thousand dollars before fleeing in his car. Police later found him dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Hill worked for Dell as a network technician at the time of the robbery but was let go days earlier after testing positive for marijuana use. According to police, he had planned the crime for several weeks.

Investigators discovered disturbing messages on his cell phone that hinted at more sinister motives. One read “I’m going to do something very bad,” while another stated “You will never see me or my family again!”

While some people might interpret these statements as threats, others may link them to his past crimes. Since his teens, when he would regularly threaten violence towards himself and others, many have speculated that he suffered mental health issues that led to this deadly act.

His parents reported him missing almost three months prior to his death, though they were informed of his intention to hurt himself. They said they didn’t know about the robberies until afterward.

Sadly, stories like Daniel Hill’s are all too common. Many times, individuals who suffer from serious psychological disorders fail to get adequate treatment due to lack of resources or fear of being harmed by themselves or others.

Fortunately, there is hope.

Andrei Chikatilo

how famous serial killers died

One of the most well-known serial killers in history is also one of the strangest. In fact, he does not even fit the typical profile for a murderer. He did not appear to be particularly intelligent or socially adept.

He was never considered dangerous before his arrest in 1985. At that time, however, he had already murdered at least 52 people. Many more were suspected.

When investigators raided his apartment, they found over 70 bodies. Some of them appeared to have been dead for months or years. Most of the victims were children under the age of 13.

Investigators believe that he killed many of these kids while working as a school bus driver. Because he worked during the day, he could take his own sweet time getting back home after leaving each child alone in the classroom.

This gave him enough time to carry out his next step – murdering the child. This process seems to have gone on for so long because he would save the slain body for later disposal.

Most of these murders took place within a five mile radius of the town where he lived. This area has since become known as the “Chikatilo Death Zone” due to its high concentration of murder sites.

In total, police determined that he consumed approximately 60–100 drinks per killing session. They also discovered that he ate several pounds of human flesh after the killings.