21 Female Serial Killer Stories I Don't Recommend You Read Late At Night

Warning: Graphic and disturbing content ahead including mentions of sexual assault, abuse, and murder.

1.Nannie Doss, aka "Giggling Granny" and the "Lonely Hearts Killer," who was responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen people between the 1920s and 1950s, including four husbands, two children, and other family members.

Nannie doss in court

According to the Muskogee Phoenix, "She confessed to only killing her four husbands. Exhumations revealed she killed at least 12 family members, which she blamed on [a] childhood head injury. Journalists called her 'Giggling Granny' because she laughed whenever she told how she killed her husbands."

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2.Miyuki Ishikawa, aka the "Demon Midwife", who was charged with murdering many infants (possibly even over 100) through purposeful neglect. Her crimes were committed with accomplices during the 1940s in post-World War II Japan.

Miyuki covering her face with her jacket as she leaves a court house

While the story is complicated — her crimes related to poverty struggles people in Japan faced after the war — according to All That's Interesting, "When she was finally apprehended, her death toll was so high that to this day, she remains the most prolific serial killer in Japanese history and one of the most prolific female serial killers in the world."

Kawade Shobo Shinsha

3.Aileen Wuornos, aka "The Damsel of Death," a serial killer who murdered and robbed six men (and possibly a seventh) while doing sex work in Florida from 1989–1990.

Mugshot of Aileen with shoulder length hair and dark eyes

According to CNN, Wuornos initially claimed she acted in self-defense. However, Sgt. Bob Kelley of the Volusia County Sheriff's Department — who investigated the case — later said, "After she was convicted of the first murder of Richard Mallory, she then pled guilty to the others, and after a certain point in time she started to recant and say she wasn't a victim. She simply robbed and killed those men to gain their personal property and to gain money." Wuronos was executed on Oct. 9, 2002.

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4.Belle Gunness, a Norwegian American serial killer active in Illinois and Indiana from 1884–1908, suspected of killing up to 15 men for insurance. Her children died in a house fire in 1908 and it's unclear if the body of a woman found with them was Belle.

Belle with her children siting for a portrait

According to All That's Interesting, "Gunness had a system. After murdering her two husbands, the Norwegian-American woman posted ads in the paper looking for men to invest in her farm. Fellow Norwegian Americans flocked to her property — hoping for a taste of home along with a solid business opportunity. She also posted ads in lovelorn columns to attract wealthy bachelors. To lure her last victim, Gunness wrote: 'My heart beats in wild rapture for you, My Andrew, I love you. Come prepared to stay forever.'"

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5.Sara María Aldrete, aka "La Madrina," a convicted serial killer who also ran a drug-smuggling and human sacrifice cult with a man named Adolfo Constanzo in Mexico during the '80s.

photo portrait of Sarah with shaggy hair, and a black turtle neck

According to the San Francisco Gate, "All their victims except Mark Kilroy [a college student] were from Mexico. They were slaughtered in what police said were satanic rituals involving candles, machetes, and chants."

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6.Amy Archer-Gilligan, a serial killer who also ran a nursing home, murdered at least five people by poisoning them in Windsor, Connecticut during the early 1900s.

old poison bottles lined up on a shelf

According to the New York Times, "In 1916, Mrs. Gilligan was arrested. State police, after an investigation, concluded that she had shortened the lives of up to two dozen or so men by poisoning them with arsenic. One of them was Michael W. Gilligan, her second husband. [...] The arrest of Mrs. Gilligan and her trial in 1917, after many bodies had been exhumed, rocked the state."

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7.Kristen Gilbert, a former nurse who worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northhampton, Massachusetts in the late '80s. She was convicted of four murders and two attempted murders of patients.

school photo of kristen smiling with short hair

Over time, her coworkers grew suspicious when they realized the deaths of her patients also coincided with a noticeable shortage of epinephrine. Rumors started to go around about her and Gilbert soon quit. After an investigation and trial, she was convicted of first-degree murder of three veterans, second-degree murder of a fourth, and attempted murder of two more.

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8.Stacey Castor, a convicted murderer from Weedsport, New York who killed her husband with antifreeze, attempted to kill her daughter with crushed pills mixed into a drink and was also suspected of killing her first husband in the 2000s.

Stacey in court

Castor's case became so widespread in the national news that there was even a special two-hour edition of ABC's 20/20 about it in 2009.

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9.Dorothea Puente, who ran a boarding house in Sacramento, California where she killed various elderly people and people with mental disabilities in the '80s. The total victim count reached nine confirmed murders and six unconfirmed.

Dorothea in court, in a prison jumpsuit

Puente was charged with a total of nine murders and convicted of three of those. She received two life sentences without the possibility of parole and died in prison at Chowchilla on March 27, 2011, from natural causes.

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10.Marybeth Tinning, whose nine children died suspiciously under her care in New York during the 1970s. It is believed she poisoned them over a span of several years. Before being caught, she managed to convince people her children had died of different things like acute meningitis, seizures, cardiac arrest, sudden infant death syndrome, acute pulmonary edema, and bronchial pneumonia.

Marybeth appearing in court in handcuffs

According to the Associated Press, "Under questioning by state police investigators in early 1986, she admitted to smothering the girl [her ninth child, Tami Lynne] as well as two of her sons. Prosecutors indicted her for the three deaths, with the lone conviction coming in the case of Tami Lynne’s killing."

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11.Elizabeth Báthory, a Hungarian countess who is believed to have tortured and killed hundreds of young women in the 16th and 17th centuries. The lore is that the countess thought bathing in her victims' virginal blood would give her eternal youth.

oil painting of bathory in an ornate gown, holding a handkerchief

According to National Geographic, "Some witnesses estimated her body count at more than 600. Yet the countess was never convicted, and her husband could not be prosecuted from his grave. Instead, four of Báthory’s servants were convicted of violence against young women in her castles. The countess, meanwhile, remained locked in her spacious jail until she died in 1614, at the age of 54."

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12.Myra Hindley who was called "the most evil woman in Britain" in the press for her involvement in killing five children with her partner Ian Brady in the 1960s.

mugshot of Myra with very short blonde hair

According to BBC News, "Ian Brady and Myra Hindley tortured, sexually assaulted, and murdered five youngsters in 1963–65, burying four of them on Saddleworth Moor (an area in North West England)."

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13.Karla Homolka, a serial killer who acted as an accomplice with her husband Paul Bernardo (also a serial killer) in the rapes and murders of at least three teenagers, including her own sister from 1990–1992.

Karla in a car on the way to a trial with long blonde hair

According to CBC News, "Bernardo was convicted in 1995 of the kidnapping, raping, and murdering of southern Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Homolka portrayed herself as the innocent victim of a murderous monster. She struck a deal with prosecutors (later dubbed the "deal with the devil") and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths in exchange for a 12-year prison sentence. But videotapes of the crimes, found after the plea bargain, showed her to be a more active participant. Public outrage about Homolka's sentence had barely cooled by the time of her extremely high-profile release from prison in 2005."

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14.Tillie Klimek, who claimed to have "precognitive dreams" predicting her victims' deaths. She is believed to have poisoned and killed three husbands as well as neighborhood children in Chicago during the 1920s along with an accomplice.

Tillie wearing a large hat and a fur trimmed coat

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a March 6, 1923 story read, "Tillie Klimek and Nellie Stormer Koulik, the so-called ‘arsenic widows’ of the Polish quarter, were placed on trial today for the murder of one of the numerous husbands they are alleged to have poisoned. Apparently, the women killed Klimek's second husband for insurance money and later married and poisoned other husbands."

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15.Frances Knorr, aka the "Baby Farming Murderess," an English woman who moved to Australia, became a baby farmer, and is believed to have killed, by strangulation, multiple children in the late 1800s.

Sydney in the 1800s with horse and buggies roaming the dirt roads

According to the Australian Dictionary, Knorr was tried and found guilty and ultimately hanged on Jan. 15, 1894, for her crimes.

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16.Linda Hazzard, aka "The Starvation Doctor," who was responsible for at least 15 deaths in the state of Washington in the early 1900s.

closeup of linda

Hazzard had no medical degree, but due to a loophole for practicing alternative medicine, was actually licensed to practice medicine in Washington state. Hazzard created a sanitarium called Wilderness Heights in Olalla, Washington, where she "treated" patients via fasting, giving them only small amounts of juices. Although some patients actually survived her care, she was convicted of manslaughter in 1912 and was sentenced to 2 to 20 years in prison. She was released on parole in December 1915 after serving two years and even received a full pardon the following year. She died in 1938 from starvation while attempting a fasting cure.

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17.Rosemary West, a serial killer in England who murdered, sexually assaulted, and tortured at least nine women (possibly more) along with her husband, Fred, from 1973–1987.

Rosemary mug shot with short brown hair and glasses

According to Sky News, "Many of the Wests' victims, who were all young women, were found buried in the cellar or garden of their house." Fred died by suicide in prison in 1995, while Rosemary remains in a prison in Yorkshire serving a life sentence.

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18.Beverley Allitt aka "The Angel of Death," who was convicted of killing four children, attempting to murder three more, and causing grievous bodily harm to six others at a hospital in Lincolnshire, England between February and April of 1991.

Allitt with short blonde hair, looking out a window as she's driven away

According to the Radio Times, "Allitt is currently serving three life sentences in Nottinghamshire-based psychiatric ward Rampton Secure Hospital."

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19.Amelia Dyer, a baby farmer turned serial killer in England who adopted and then murdered many children over a 30-year period in the late 1800s.

Old drawing of a baby farm

According to BBC News, "Recently widowed and with a daughter to support, she learned of the practice [of baby farming] from a colleague. In 1869 she began advertising in local papers — 'Married couple with no family would adopt healthy child, nice country home. Terms - £10.' But instead of providing a safe and loving home, she would instead take the child for a fee and murder them — either by starving them, drugging them with an opiate-laced cordial known as Mother's Friend, or by strangulation."

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20.Blanche Taylor Moore, a suspected serial killer who was convicted of poisoning her boyfriend and was also believed to be responsible for the death of her first husband, father, and mother-in-law.

Blanche in court with short, wavy hair

According to CBS 17, as of February 2023, "Neither her bout with cancer nor the death penalty have claimed her life, making her the oldest woman in the United States on death row."

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21.Finally, Joanne Dennehy who committed a series of murders in Cambridgeshire, England in March 2013. All three of her victims were male and she had killed them by stabbing.

Joanne sitting on an armchair holding an ornate knife

According to the Independent, "After killing her third victim, she phoned a friend to sing the Britney Spears song 'Oops… I Did It Again' and danced a jig of delight when she saw a television news report about the killings, which took place over two weeks."

This Morning / Via youtube.com