24 Serial Killers Who Led Double Lives And Held "Normal" Jobs

Before reading, please be informed that the following depicts true accounts of people who committed severe crimes. Mentions of death, murder, SA, and suicide are included. Reader discretion is advised.

1.H. H. Holmes — pharmacist

portrait and profile photo of Holmes

Day jobs: Pharmacist and hotel owner.

Before becoming a pharmacist, Holmes was an insurance scammer, which he used as his primary source of income. He then moved to Illinois just before the famous 1893 Chicago World Fair to start his career as a pharmacist. It was also here where he built his "murder hotel," where he would lead victims to rooms with peepholes, gas lines, trap doors, soundproof padded walls, and passageways that led to dead ends. It's believed he killed up to 200 people.

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2.Richard Angelo — nurse

Richard Angelo

Day jobs: Nurse, volunteer firefighter, and Eagle Scout.

As reported by the New York Times during the time of his 1989 conviction, Angelo claimed he "had planned to inject the patients, then be first on the scene to revive them and be seen as a hero." It was only until a patient complained about Angelo using an unknown drug on him in which he was arrested. County officials near the Long Island hospital he worked at exhumed 33 bodies of patients who died suspiciously while Angelo worked there. Angelo was a nurse in the intensive care unit for only six months. He was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and given a sentence of 61 years to life.

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3.Jeffrey Dahmer — chocolate factory worker

mugshot of Dahmer

Day jobs: Chocolate factory worker, sub sandwich store employee, and former army combat medic.

Jeffrey Dahmer worked the night shift at Ambrosia Chocolate Co. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was here where he was arrested by the police for a sex crime charge, only to be let go with a five-year-probation sentence and a year in a work-release program in 1989. During the 10-month-period of his work-release program, he began his killing spree once again. He was actually fired in early 1991 for missing too many shifts, only to be caught and arrested for murder on July 22, 1991. Jeffrey Dahmer only served three years of his 15 consecutive life sentences before he was murdered in prison.

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4.Randy Steven Kraft — bartender

photo of Kraft sitting at a preliminary hearing

Day jobs: Bartender, forklift driver, and former military member.

Randy Steven Kraft often had two jobs at a time. He first entered the US Air Force on June 14, 1968, only to be given a general discharge 13 months later after he admitted to military officials that he was gay, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. He was a dispatcher at Aztec Aircraft Co., teacher's aide for the Long Beach Unified School District, and a computer freelance consultant for companies during the late '70s. His past work files showed he tested at an IQ level of 129. When has was later laid off and couldn't find work, he became a bartender at local bars. Kraft was convicted of killing 16 men and sentenced to death in 1989. It's speculated that he killed up to 67 men and boys from 1972 to 1983.

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5.Andrei Chikatilo — literature teacher

photo of Chikatilo sitting behind bars

Day jobs: Literature teacher, day laborer, and regional sports manager.

Throughout his 12-year killing spree, Chikatilo was married, raised a family, became a grandfather, and was employed in the Soviet Union as a Russian language teacher and office worker. He confessed to sexually assaulting, killing, and cannibalizing boys, girls, and young women. Chikatilo was convicted on 52 counts of murder in 1992.

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6.Bruce McArthur — mall Santa

Bruce McArthur

Day job: Mall Santa.

Bruce McArthur was employed through an event management company as a mall Santa in the greater Toronto area. He pled guilty to the murder of eight men in 2018, leading to conviction without a trial for 25 years without parole.


7.Thomas Neill Cream — physician

photo of Cream

Day jobs: Physician and surgeon

In 1872, Thomas Neill Cream left behind his wholesale lumber business to study medicine at McGill University in Montreal. He graduated with merits and honors, but coincidentally, the speech given by another speaker at his graduation was “The Evils of Malpractice in the Medical Profession.” Cream often killed his victims through botched abortions and by prescribing dangerous medicines; most of his victims were dead within a day. He went on to later brag about his killings and even gave his detective friend a tour of where the murders took place. He was arrested and charged for the murders of four women, attempted murder for another, and extortion of two London physicians. A jury met in 1892, and it took them less than 10 minutes to convict him; he was sentenced to the gallows.

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8.Dennis Nilsen — military member

Nilsen being escorted in a police van

Day job: Former member of the Royal British Army

Dennis Nilsen served in the Royal British Army as an army cook for 37 years after enlisting as a gunner with the 27th Regiment Royal Artillery as a teenager. He was caught after police found remains in the drains surrounding his apartment. When they confronted Nilsen, he admitted to his crimes immediately and led the police to the remains of several of his other victims. He was convicted of six murders between 1978 and 1983. Nilsen’s initial minimum sentence of 25 years was changed to a whole life tariff by the Home Secretary in 1994, so he could never be set free. He died in jail in 2018 at the age of 72.

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9.John Wayne Gacy — children's party clown

Gacy's mugshot

Day jobs: Children's party clown, shoe salesman, construction business founder, and KFC store manager.

After serving 18 months in prison for a sex crime of a minor, John Wayne Gacy left behind his past jobs of selling shoes and running a KFC and moved to Chicago, where he founded a construction business. He frequently dressed up for children's parties as "Pogo the Clown" and volunteered as the Democratic Precinct Captain in his area. Many reports of missing boys were made concerning Gacy as the suspect, but policed never took them seriously as they admired and respected him. It wasn't until much later in his killing spree that a class ring from a victim was found by police when they finally investigated his home. He was arrested in late 1978 and later was found guilty on 33 counts of murder, receiving a death sentence. Gacy was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.

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10.Linda Hazzard — medical practitioner

photo of Hazzard

Day job: Medical practitioner.

Even though she had very little training and no medical degree, Linda Hazzard was certified by Washington state as a "fasting specialist" and referred to as Dr. Linda Hazzard. She published a book titled Fasting for the Cure of Disease, where she stated her beliefs of food being the root of all diseases, especially eating too much of it. She only allowed her patients to consume small amounts of vegetable broth, if anything. In 1908, one patient died after fasting for over 50 days in Hazzard's care. Hazzard targeted wealthy patients, many of which signed over large portions of their estates to her before their eventual deaths.

In August 1911, Hazzard was arrested for first degree murder for starving Claire Williamson, one of her very wealthy patients, to death. She never took responsibility for starving any of her patients, but a jury found her guilty of manslaughter and sentenced her to two years of hard labor in a penitentiary. While her state medical license was revoked, the governor had pardoned her. In 1920, she built a sanitarium and called it the “school for health.” It's estimated that Hazzard starved over a dozen people to death.


11.Fred and Rose West — ice cream truck driver

photo of Fred West

Day job: Ice cream truck driver.

In the early 1960s, Fred West lived in Glasgow and drove a Mr. Whippy ice cream van for a living. In November 1965, West fatally hit a 4-year-old boy with his ice cream truck, which many believed was intentional. He was later chased out of Glasgow by an angry mob of parents who believed he intentionally hit the boy and used to ice cream truck to lure children. West moved to Bridgeton, where he carried out his killing spree with his wife Rose. They killed 12 people between 1967 and 1987, including his ex-wife and the child he had with her. Fred West was arrested in 1994 for murder along with Rose, but took his own life in jail a year later. Rose West was convicted in 1995 of 10 counts of murder and received a life sentence.

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12.Harold Shipman — general practitioner

mugshot of Shipman

Day job: General practitioner.

Harold Shipman graduated from Leeds University Medical School at age 23 and quickly became a general practitioner at a medical center in West Yorkshire. Despite being fired at many practices for forging prescriptions, Shipman was never removed from the General Medical Council and continued acquiring dangerous amounts of diamorphine. He'd administer a lethal dose of diamorphine and either watch his patients die right in front of him or send them home to perish. He always targeted the most vulnerable, as his oldest victim was 93 years old and the youngest was 41.

While there were many suspicions in the community, Shipman wasn't caught until he forged the will of one of his patients. In 2000, Shipman was given life in prison. In January 2004, he had taken his life in his jail cell. While police could only charge Shipman with 15 murders, it’s been estimated that his victim count is anywhere between 250 and 450.

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13.Robert Lee Yates — prison guard

Robert Lee Yates crying

Day jobs: Prison guard and former military member

In 1975, Robert Lee Yates worked as a guard at the Washington State Penitentiary, only to join the Army less than a year later. He served for 19 years as a helicopter pilot and received many honors and medals. He also joined the Washington National Guard. The connection between Yates and his murders were eventually caught when investigators noticed the murders resumed each time he was grounded from his service. In 2000, Robert Lee Yates pled guilty to 13 counts of murder and received 408 years in jail. It's believed that Yates killed more than 18 people, including suspicions about unsolved murders in Germany from around the time he served in the area.

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14.Ted Bundy — suicide hotline volunteer

photo of Bundy being carted off to jail

Day jobs: Suicide hotline volunteer, grocery store bagger and stocker, and busser

While pursuing a degree in psychology, Ted Bundy was employed at Seattle's crisis center, taking calls from people in emotional distress. It's believed that this is where Bundy studied how to persuade vulnerable people and learned manipulative reasoning. After an endless back-and-forth chase of being caught and released by the police, Bundy confessed to 30 murders and received three life sentences. He was executed by electric chair on January 24, 1989. It's estimated that he killed over 100 people between 1974-1978.

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15.Michael Swango — physician

Swango being lead out of court

Day jobs: Physician and former Marine

In 1976, Michael Swango received an honorable discharge from the Marines and started studying pre-med at Quincy College. Less than 10 years later, he graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and was accepted into Ohio State University Medical Center's neurosurgery program. He was caught tampering with an IV and wasn't allowed to complete his neurosurgery residency. He later went to prison for five years for attempting to poison colleagues from his next job as a paramedic and had his medical license suspended.

Once he was released, he entered a residency in internal medicine in South Dakota using forged documents. He even landed a spot at Health Science School for Medicine at Stony Brook University and traveled to a local medical center for training. When he was eventually fired from here, Swango moved to Zimbabwe to work at a small village hospital for three years. By the time he returned to the states in 2000, a case had been built around him of suspicions from a coworker, and he was charged with three counts of murder. Traces of epinephrine, which temporarily speeds up the heart to deadly rates, and succinylcholine, which can cause paralysis, was found in deceased patients' organs. Swango pled guilty and received three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. It's estimated he killed over 60 people, including patients from his time in Zimbabwe.

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16.Marcel Petiot — doctor

photo of Petiot in court

Day jobs: Doctor, French Army member, and mayor

After being discharged from the French army during World War I for abnormal behavior, Mercel Petiot enrolled in school and earned a medical degree in 1921. He was even elected mayor in 1926, but had his title suspended for a couple months in 1930 after being convicted of fraud. It was around this time when one of his patients mysteriously died, and then another patient, who accused him of the first victim's death, died as well.

He moved to Paris in 1933 to continue his crimes, as he lost his council seat when he was convicted of stealing electricity. In Paris, Petiot preyed on Jewish people fleeing from France during World War II, as he offered them help and promises of medicine, but he was really injecting them with poison. Once they died soon after his injections, he stole their money and valuables. After the liberation of France came in 1944, Petiot was arrested and charged with 27 murders. He was convicted of 26 murders, but he confessed to over 60 murders at trial and stated that the bodies found were Nazis who were killed by the French Resistance. Petiot was guillotined in 1946.

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17.Dorothea Puente — boarding house manager

Puente appearing in court

Day job: Boarding house manager for the elderly and people with disabilities

In 1981, Dorothea Puente became the manager of a boarding house for the vulnerable in Sacramento, California. She set up meetings for alcoholics, people with no homes, people with mental distresses, people with disabilities, and elderly people. She often let these people live in the house and set up their Social Security checks she would collect when they eventually died.

The people under Puente's care were often drugged to death and died of pain medication overdoses given by Puente. Due to her elderly and frail appearance, police did not take claims suspecting her serious. She fled to Los Angeles once bodies were found in her backyard, but was later sent back to Sacramento and charged with nine counts of murder. She was only convicted of three murders and was sentenced to life without parole, though she soon died in prison at the age of 82.

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18.Cary Stayner — motel handyman

photo of Stayner

Day job: Motel handyman

Cary Stayner was a motel handyman in California when several bodies were found nearby. Though he was quickly ruled out as a suspect by police when the victims were initially missing, Stayner admitted to the murders soon after the bodies' discovery. He claimed that he didn't know the victims, and they were "just in the wrong place at the wrong time." He was convicted of three counts of murder in 2002 and sentenced to death.

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19.Ed Gein — babysitter

photo of Gein leaving court

Day jobs: Babysitter and handyman

Ed Gein supported himself by working as a handyman and a trusted babysitter in Wisconsin during the late 1940s and 1950s. He entertained children with magic tricks, told them stories of cannibals, and even took them out for ice cream in the summer. While most believe that Gein was a serial killer, he was only convicted of two counts of murder, despite police finding numerous remains from nine bodies. He was sent to Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and then Mendota State Hospital, instead of prison. Gein died from cancer while in Mendota State Hospital at age 77 in 1984.

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20.David Berkowitz — USPS letter sorter

Berkowitz mugshot

Day jobs: USPS letter sorter and former military member

David Berkowitz joined the US Army at age 18 and served in South Korea as a skilled marksman. After his service, he returned back to his native New York and was employed by USPS as a letter sorter. It was two years after this where he started his killing spree in July 1976. It wasn't until nearly a year on the dot later he was caught after a witness of his last shooting noticed a car with a parking ticket that could've only belonged to Berkowitz.

According to the New York Times, Berkowitz told police, "Well, you've got me," when he was finally arrested. Upon his arrest, he told police that his neighbor's dog, Sam, was possessed by a demon and told him to commit the murders. While no one believed it at the time, he wrote in a letter to a psychiatrist after his conviction that it was a ploy and “it was all a hoax, a silly hoax." In 1978, Berkowitz pled guilty to six murders and setting 1,500 fires around New York City. He received a 25-year sentence for each count of murder and is currently still serving his sentence.

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21.Robert Pickton — pig farmer

photo of Pickton from a TV interview

Day job: Pig farmer

Robert Pickton was a pig farmer on a remote farm he owned and operated in Vancouver, British Columbia. Pickton and his brother started a nonprofit in 1996 called the Piggy Palace Good Times Society with the goal to “organize, coordinate, manage, and operate special events, functions, dances, shows, and exhibitions on behalf of service organizations, sports organizations, and other worthy groups.” These events they organized were raves set in the slaughterhouse and brought in crowds of up to 2,000 people. While Pickton was suspected of being the cause for many missing women in the area and even briefly went to prison for attempted murder, it wasn't until 2002 when police searched his farm.

Investigators found DNA and remains matching 26 missing women on the property, as he would often take their bodies to a nearby meat rendering plant or feed them to the pigs. While he was charged with 26 murders, he was only convicted of six counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years, which is the maximum sentence for a second-degree murder charge in Canada. Pickton admitted to 49 murders, but no other charges were added, as he was already receiving the maximum.

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22.Dean Corll — candy factory owner

Day job: Candy factory ownerDean Corll was known to pass out candies to local children from the candy factory his family owned. But between 1970 and 1973, he would torture and kill boys and young men inside his various rental houses and apartments in Houston. Corll recruited the help of Elmer Wayne Henley Jr. and David Owen Brooks to lure these victims into their van with the promises of rides and parties. Their killing spree ended in 1973 only because Henley shot Corll during the attempted sexual assault of a victim. When police arrived to the scene, the 17-year-old Henley confessed to the 28 murders, six of which he committed, and led them to the remains. Henley was convicted of six counts of murder and his role in the killings. He received six consecutive 99-year sentences.

Day job: Candy factory owner

Dean Corll was known to pass out candies to local children from the candy factory his family owned. But between 1970 and 1973, he would torture and kill boys and young men inside his various rental houses and apartments in Houston. Corll recruited the help of Elmer Wayne Henley Jr. and David Owen Brooks to lure these victims into their van with the promises of rides and parties. Their killing spree ended in 1973 only because Henley shot Corll during the attempted sexual assault of a victim. When police arrived to the scene, the 17-year-old Henley confessed to the 28 murders, six of which he committed, and led them to the remains. Henley was convicted of six counts of murder and his role in the killings. He received six consecutive 99-year sentences.

Houston Chronicle / AP

23.Philip Markoff — medical student

photo of Markoff sitting in court

Day job: Second-year medical student

Philip Markoff was a medical student at The State University of New York at Albany pursuing a career toward becoming a doctor. On April 13, 2009, Markoff responded to a Craigslist ad from Julissa Brisman, a masseuse and aspiring model. The scene where Brisman was found after meeting with Markoff seemed to be a robbery gone wrong where she was left severely injured and died a week later in the hospital where he studied at.

He planned and carried out two other violent attacks through Craigslist, until his digital footprint caught up to him. Police were able to track him through messages from email providers and IP addresses. When policed searched his apartment, they found bullets, cash, plastic ties, women’s underwear, and a hard drive containing the messages from Craigslist. Markoff pleaded guilty to Brisman's murder within 48 hours of being taken to jail and was put on suicide watch. But in August 2010, he committed suicide in jail.

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24.And Dennis Rader — ADT Security Services alarm installer

photo of Rader's mugshot

Day job: ADT alarm installer

Dennis Rader was employed as an ADT security alarm installer from 1974 to 1988 in the Wichita area. His community viewed him as a leader through his local church and Cub Scouts program. He even had children and raised a family during this time, which was also the period in which he started his killing spree. From 1974 to 1991, he killed at least 10 people who he usually targeted from visiting their homes while installing alarms.

When he paused his killing spree, police still had no leads so they wanted to bait the murderer. Their efforts worked, and it angered Rader that someone else could possibly receive the credit for his killings, so he sent in a floppy disc proving they've been misled. Police quickly connected the disc to his church and found it came from someone named Dennis. In 2005, Rader was arrested and later found guilty on 10 counts of murder. He received 10 consecutive life sentences, and currently, his earliest release date is set to be in 2180.

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