In the grim tapestry of criminal history, a much smaller proportion of serial killers are female. However, those who do fall into this category have often perpetrated chilling and heinous crimes. The following is an account of five of the most prolific female serial killers, whose actions sent shockwaves through society and challenged stereotypes of female criminality.
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Aileen Wuornos (1956-2002)
Often referred to as the “Damsel of Death,” Wuornos was a prostitute who killed seven men in Florida, claiming they had either raped or attempted to rape her while she was servicing them. Convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders, Wuornos’ life and crimes received wide media attention, inspiring several films including the critically acclaimed Monster.
Belle Gunness (1859-1908)
Born in Norway and later emigrating to the United States, Gunness is believed to have killed both of her husbands, all of her children, and a series of suitors to collect life insurance, cash, and other assets. She lured men through personal ads promising companionship and prosperity at her farm. Her death toll remains uncertain but is estimated at a minimum of 14.
Amelia Dyer (1837-1896)
Operating in Victorian England, Dyer is one of history’s most notorious “baby farmers.” She adopted infants for money under the guise of providing them with a good life, only to murder them. With a criminal career spanning 20 years, Dyer was convicted of one murder but is believed to have killed up to 400 infants.
Juana Barraza (1957-Present)
Known as “La Mataviejitas” or “The Old Lady Killer,” Barraza targeted elderly women in Mexico City. A professional wrestler in her private life, she strangled at least 42 victims, though the number is suspected to be over 50. Barraza was arrested in 2006 and later sentenced to 759 years in prison.
Beverley Allitt (1968-Present)
Known as the “Angel of Death,” Allitt was a pediatric nurse who attacked 13 children over 59 days at a hospital in Grantham, England. Four children died and several others suffered serious harm. Allitt’s motives remain a mystery, though it is suggested that she has Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy.
Each of these women left a macabre legacy that underscores the existence of profound evil enacted by both genders. Their crimes, characterized by chillingly calm calculation and predatory behavior, underline the need for constant vigilance in all spheres of society to prevent such atrocities from happening again.