World's Worst Crimes: An A-Z of Evil Deeds

BOOK: World's Worst Crimes: An A-Z of Evil Deeds
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World’s Worst Crimes

Charlotte Greig

This edition published in 2012 by Arcturus Publishing Limited

26/27 Bickels Yard, 151–153 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3HA

Copyright © 2012 Arcturus Publishing Limited

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act 1956 (as amended). Any person or persons who do any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

Picture Credits

Images courtesy of Corbis, Empics and Topfoto. For more information contact [email protected].

ISBN: 978-1-84858-999-5




The Acid Bath Murders

All in the Family

Beer Baron of the Bronx

The Beltway Shootings

The Big Bankroll

The Birmingham Church Bombing

The Bitch of Buchenwald

The Black Widow Killings

The Blood of Innocents

Born Under a Bad Sign

The Boston Stranglings

The Jackal Strikes

A Case Without A Corpse

The Chicago Cult Killings

Code of Honour

The Colombian Connection

The Crack House Murders

The Crime of the Century

The Custom-Built Dungeon

Dark Dark Fantasies

The Death of JFK

Death or Glory

Dr Death’s Prescriptions

Doctor Double Cross

Double Homicide

The Düsseldorf Vampire

The East End Rackets

A Fatal Falling Out

The Finger of Suspicion

The Freedom Riders

The Godfather’s Life of Crime

Grave Crimes

The Great Train Robbery

A Hair Out of Place

The Hillside Stranglings

Hit and Run

The Hitch-Hiker Killings

House of Horrors

I Am Your Flesh

If the Glove Fits

The Irish Bushranger

Jack the Ripper

Just a Gigolo

The Killings of a Clown

A Killer Couple

Killing for Company

The Kiss of Death

Last Will and Testament

A Life of Crime

The Lord’s Misrule

The MacIvor Case

Mail Order Murder

Making Zombies

The Masochistic Multiple Murders

The Mummy in the Cupboard

Murder in Belle Haven

The Murder of the Heiress

Murder on the Moors

A Murdered Teenager

The Night Stalker

On the Run

The Online Murders

The On-The-Ball Billionaire

The Paranoid Messiah

The Patriots Day Massacre


The Race Case

The Rape Slayings

The Rippings in Rostov

The Rush Hour Massacre

The Rise of Scarface

The Scottish Cannibals

Sick with the Flu

Sins of the Father

The Skid Row Murders

Slaughter of the Innocents

The Son of Sam Killings

Straight A for Murder

A Taste for Flesh

This Charming Man

Trail of Destruction

The Unabomber

The Unlikely Couple

The Vatican Fraud

The Voodoo Killings

The Wilderness Killings

The Woman in a Box

The Yorkshire Ripper


The motives that drive people to commit the most ghastly and hideous crimes are many and varied, and so are the criminals. There is an undeniable and compelling interest in these crimes and the people who carry them out. We may not care to admit it, even to ourselves, but evil has its attractions – even if it is only to act as a warning to others.

Some people will kill for money, having no real sense of right or wrong to show them that a handful of cash is not worth a human life. John Haigh tried to claim bizarre motives for his murders in a bid to get a verdict of insanity, but he undoubtedly killed for cash benefit. Belle Gunnes likewise murdered for profit, working her way through an unknown number of husbands and lovers to gain their money.

Others kill out of pride or to show their fellow criminals that they are worthy of respect. Many a gang member has killed, sometimes more than once, simply so that he would fit in. The true gang bosses, of course, keep themselves carefully removed from any actual crimes. Al Capone was famously convicted of tax evasion after police failed to find any evidence to link him directly with the many crimes that his gang carried out on his orders. Dutch Schultz was similarly careful, but this did not save him from being murdered by his fellow gangsters when he got too arrogant.

A few crimes spring from simple amoral arrogance. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb killed because they were bored and wanted to see if they could outfox the police.

Sex has long been a prime motive in killing. Jealous rage or lust has been enough to turn some men into killers. More disturbing perverted urges have driven others. Peter Kürten roamed Germany in the 1930s killing for pleasure with ever-increasing ferocity. Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono found fame as the Hillside Stranglers in 1970s California as they raped and butchered a succession of women. Some find the most unlikely accomplices. Sex killer Paul Bernardo had the help of his attractive girlfriend Karla Homolka, even when her own sister became a victim.

Some get a taste for murder and kill for many reasons. Charles Ng and Leonard Lake killed men for money, women for sexual kicks and children if they got in the way. They did away with about 25 people in 14 months.

The most prolific serial killer of all was Dr Harold Shipman who snuffed out the lives of hundreds of his patients. Disturbingly, nobody really knows why.

Few of those who have perpetrated the most horrific crimes would fit the general image of evil come to life. Some are quiet, others gregarious. Some are charming, others rude. Only their heartless devotion to killing, mayhem and crime links them together.

Doubt hangs over the convictions of some. Albert DeSalvo was convicted of the Boston Strangler murders. Although he was undoubtedly a perverted sex offender, some think he was no killer, but had been framed by the real culprit. Doubt of another kind hovers over John Dillinger: many think that it was another gangster who died in a hail of police bullets in 1934 and that he got away.

No doubt hangs over the fact that there are evil men and women among us. Many make mistakes and are caught. Others are still active. They kill, rob and maim, but they are not caught. They are out there still.

The Acid Bath Murders

Arguably one of Britain’s worst serial killers, John George Haigh the ‘Acid Bath Murderer’ remains something of an enigma. Was he a calculating swindler who murdered for profit? Did he deliberately portray himself as a crazed lunatic who needed to drink human blood so that he could plead insanity? Or was he indeed a modern-day vampire?

John Haigh was born on 24 July 1909 in Stamford, Yorkshire, in the north of England. Soon after his birth, his parents, John Robert and Emily, moved to Outwood, near the larger town of Wakefield. They were both members of the Plymouth Brethren, an ultra-puritanical Christian sect, with a hellfire ideology based on sin and punishment.


The family seems to have been settled enough, but religion dominated Haigh’s childhood. His father often showed him a scar that he said was a punishment from God for committing a sin. The young Haigh at first lived in fear of receiving such a mark himself, but when he did sin and received no such mark, he began to develop the profound cynicism that would characterize his adult life.

On leaving school, Haigh worked briefly as a car mechanic. Although he loved cars, he had a lifelong aversion to dirt (later he would habitually wear gloves to avoid contamination). He soon left the job and worked briefly as a clerk before finding a career in which he was able to exploit an already well-developed ability to embellish the truth: he became an advertising copywriter. He did well at the job and bought himself a flash Alfa Romeo car. But before long he was sacked after some money went missing.

BOOK: World's Worst Crimes: An A-Z of Evil Deeds
7.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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