5 Real Murderers More Terrifying Than Any Horror Movie
There is no goofier Hollywood invention than the Flamboyant Killer. Whether you were raised on the Friday the 13th movies or Saw-type torture porn, they all have a slapstick quality that lets you know that in the real world, people like this just don't exist.
Real killers are, of course, much stranger.
Rodney Alcala -- The Game Show Contestant
Warning: This entry comes with a video clip that, in context, is the creepiest goddamned thing you've ever seen.
Rodney Alcala is a serial killer who is on death row in San Quentin for murdering five women in the 1970s, but who has subsequently admitted to 30 more murders. He is also under indictment in New York for even more murders, and is believed to be responsible for an astonishing 130 killings total across the U.S. And he looks like this:
But none of that is the reason he's on this list. No, Rodney Alcala will be forever remembered for one thing: In the middle of his murderous California rampage, Rodney Alcala was a contestant on The Dating Game. And he won.
For those of you too young to remember, The Dating Game was an ABC television game show hosted by paragon of 1970s cheese Jim Lange. The basic premise was that a "bachelorette" would ask three "bachelors" (hidden from her view) a series of ridiculous, double entendre laden questions and choose a winner based on who she believed had the bigger mustache. Our serial killer Rodney Alcala somehow found his way onto the show in 1978, even though at the time he was a convicted rapist and a registered sex offender, two things that are generally considered "turn-offs."
Jim Lange introduced Alcala as a photographer, which is eerily creepy in retrospect because Alcala baited many of his victims by pretending to be a professional photographer, and over a thousand explicit photographs of his known and suspected victims were recovered from his residence during the murder investigation.
Wearing a brown leisure suit and sporting a shirt collar with a three-foot wingspan, he took his place in his chair behind the microphone and proceeded to field sexed up questions from a high school drama teacher from Phoenix named Cheryl Bradshaw. Inexplicably, Cheryl decided the following responses made Alcala the most desirable candidate and chose him for a date (keep in mind the "him" in this sentence was a convicted rapist in the middle of a killing spree).
Cheryl: Bachelor #1 ... what is your best time?
Alcala: The best time is at night. Nighttime.
Cheryl: Why do you say that?
Alcala: Because that's the only time there is.
Cheryl: What's wrong with the morning? Afternoon?
Alcala: Well those are OK but nighttime's when it really gets good. (inaudible muttering)
Cheryl: I'm a drama teacher, and I'm going to audition each of you for my ... private class. Bachelor #1, you're a dirty old man. Take it!
Alcala: Uuuunnnhhhh Come on ... over here! Grrrrrrrr rrrraaaaarrrrrr.
Cheryl: I'm serving you for dinner. What are you called and what do you look like?
Alcala: I'm called the banana, and I look really good.
Cheryl: Could you be more descriptive?
Alcala: Peel me!
If you have five minutes, the video of this exchange is well worth all five of them.
So Cheryl was served up by dangerously lazy television producers on a date to tennis lessons and Magic Mountain with a serial murdering rapist. Luckily for her, after the show she apparently found Alcala too creepy and refused to go out with him.
Johann "Jack" Unterweger -- The Underwear-Strangling Wordsmith
Jack Unterweger was born in Austria in 1950 and spent his youth in and out of jail for petty crimes. It wasn't until 1974 that Jack finally discovered his true passion, which was strangling prostitutes to death with their own bras.
He was given a life sentence and imprisoned in Austria for what one would've assumed to be a lengthy stay, but while incarcerated he discovered a new talent that involved way less hooker death -- Jack Unterweger began writing, and turned out to be surprisingly good at it. His short stories, poems and plays got the attention of Austria's intellectual elite, and his autobiography Fegefeuer - eine Reise ins Zuchthaus (Purgatory -- A Trip to Prison) was actually made into a movie that was shown on Austrian national TV. Austrian intellectuals began a campaign to release Unterweger, believing that someone of his literary skill couldn't possibly be capable of murdering anyone and insisting he must be cured of whatever mental defect he might have once had.
The campaign was a success, and Unterweger was freed after serving only 15 years for violent, brutal murder. Thanks to the attention paid to him by his new literary friends, he immediately found work hosting television shows and discussing prison rehabilitation with the media. He also took to dressing in a style described as "a cross between a cowhand and a Mississippi preacher," his new look as a dapper eccentric helping to disarm and charm those he came across and further convincing the people in his new social circle of his intelligence and artistic authenticity.
Oddly enough, Jack apparently still really liked killing hookers -- he strangled six in the first year after his release, again with their own bras. Before this unfortunate fact was realized, Jack took a trip to Los Angeles to write a story on prostitution for an Austrian magazine. He went on a freaking ride-along with the LAPD, and afterward strangled three local prostitutes, presumably for additional research.
Police began closing in on Unterweger while he was still in the United States, and he lead the authorities on a nationwide chase. While on the run, he placed calls to his friends back home in the media and the literary elite, imploring them to convince his pursuers of his innocence. Before his friends could indignantly start another campaign to protest his unfair persecution at the hands of the lowbrow American justice system, the Austrian police nailed him on the six murders he had committed since he had been released from prison.
Finally cornered in Miami, Florida, Unterweger was captured and extradited back to Austria, where he hanged himself in his jail cell with his trouser drawstring, presumably because he had writer's block.
Grady Franklin Stiles Jr. -- The Lobster Boy
What Grady Stiles, aka "The Lobster Boy," lacks in murderous volume, he makes up for in nightmarish creepiness.
Grady Stiles Jr., born on July 18, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had a congenital defect known as ectrodactyly (literally, "monstrous fingers"), which was common in his family.
This deformity didn't keep the afflicted members of the Stiles brood down, however, as they found their perfect niche in the "carnival freak" community. And Grady's freakishness was spectacular, as not only were his hands fused into claws, but also his legs and feet were stunted into flippers. His father was already an attraction at the traveling sideshows, so he quickly put Grady to work in the tents at age 7, billing him as the amazing Lobster Boy, a moniker he would retain for the remainder of his life.
Grady grew up, married another carnival performer named Mary Teresa Herzog and by all accounts was a mean, drunken, hateful bastard. He was constantly both mentally and physically abusive toward his wife and the four children he produced (two out of the four being lobsters). His handicap left him unable to walk, but because he constantly used his arms to move he developed massive upper body strength, allowing him to deliver vicious pinches, punches, headbutts and choke holds to any and all who displeased him.
Grady was so proud of his claws that he bragged "Everyone I have sex with wants to have sex with my claws!" which we want to point out suggests that not only did Grady have weird lobster sex, but that he had it with more than one person.
When one of Grady's non-lobster daughters got engaged, Grady became jealous and ended the marriage before it began by shotgunning her fiancee to death on the eve of their wedding in 1978 (how he managed to fire said shotgun is strangely absent from historical records). Even though Grady openly admitted to the act and showed no remorse whatsoever, he was set free after being sentenced to only 15 years probation, presumably because the prison system had no facilities to accommodate lobsters.
His wife Mary left him, got remarried and had another child, but for some reason grew weary of her new life and returned to Grady's open claws for a second marriage. Grady had not changed his ways, and in point of fact would frequently threaten to kill Mary and her family. It seemed only a matter of time before he made good, so Mary and her son Glenn paid another carnival worker $1,500 to shoot Grady four times in the head while he drank and watched television, which seems like something else they probably could've charged admission for.
Grady Stiles was so despised in his community that nobody could be found to step forward to serve as a pallbearer, and his simple gravestone was devoid of any epitaph. The only engravings, aside from his name, were two sets of clasped, praying hands.
Mary Mallon -- The Human Plague
Mary Mallon, aka "Typhoid Mary," has to hold the all-time record for most accidental killings, though there does come a point where the woman deserves a least a little bit of the blame.
Mallon was born on September 23, 1869 in Ireland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 15 to eke out a living as a domestic servant, because that's the American dream. She found she had a talent for cooking, presumably because there is literally nothing else to do in Ireland, which allowed her to make a decent living among the upper class of the New York area.
In 1900 she found herself in the employ of a household in Mamaroneck, but after only two weeks all of the residents had developed a serious illness. Mary moved to Manhattan and took a job with another wealthy family, again as the cook. Soon after securing her position, several family members started to develop fevers and diarrhea, and one of her fellow workers died. Mary took yet another cooking job at the home of a rich lawyer, and not much time had passed before seven of the eight members of the family were stricken with disease.
We're sure at this point you're sensing a pattern, and evidently so did the New York Board of Health. Dr. Sara Josephine Baker responded to investigate, but Mary refused to hear any talk of her possible link to the sickness and death that seemed to follow her around. A disease researcher, George Soper, approached Mary and asked her to provide urine and fecal samples, but he too was rebuffed, as are most strange men who ask women for souvenirs of their bodily functions.
As it turns out, Mary was crawling with Salmonella typhi bacilli, or typhoid fever, acting as a carrier without showing any symptoms herself. She refused to believe she was the root of all the illness around her, and would even assist in caring for the bedridden accidental typhoid victims, which of course just added to the problem.
Mary was forcibly placed into quarantine at an island clinic, languishing away until 1910, when the new New York State Commissioner of Health decided that keeping disease carriers in forced isolation was cruel, whereupon Mary was given a choice. The authorities told Mary that she was free to leave on one condition -- that she would no longer work in the culinary field. Mary agreed and rejoined society, a phrase which here means "she took a job as a cook, in a fucking hospital."
When 25 people came down with typhoid fever after they'd come to the hospital for treatment of other ailments, Typhoid Mary was again taken into custody and sent back to her island quarantine, where she spent the remainder of her life. Reporters and researchers would occasionally drop by the island to interview her, but nobody challenged her with the most important question: Since Salmonella typhi is found in human urine and feces, what the hell was going on in Mary Mallon's kitchen, and why was her cooking so popular among the New York elite?
Souflikar -- The "Hands-On" Executioner
How does a single man manage to kill 5,000 people without the aid of any weapons of mass destruction? Ask Souflikar.
Souflikar was the personal executioner for Mahomet IV, plying his trade during the time of the Ottoman Empire. This driven professional killed an average of three people a day over five years, until he wound up with 5,000 bodies to his name. A number that is about to become way, way more horrifying once you hear how he did it.
Souflikar didn't mess around with nooses or axes or any of that bullshit. He strangled his victims to death with his bare goddamned hands. Not necessarily an unfair man, Souflikar offered his prey a sporting chance. The condemned were challenged to a race through the royal gardens to the place of execution. If they won, they were offered the reprieve of banishment. But if Souflikar won, he choked their immortal souls right out of their bodies.
You would think this process would do nothing more than create a race of super-fast murderers via natural selection, but apparently Souflikar just didn't lose. Unless Mahomet IV made having heel spurs or morbid obesity a capital offense, Souflikar's athletic prowess must have been incredible. His murder-aculous talent is even more amazing when you consider that he didn't even hold the title of royal executioner. No, his official title was "royal gardener."
For more modern psycho killers, check out 5 Horrific Serial Killers (Who Are Free Right Now) and The 5 Creepiest Serial Killers (Who Were Animals).
And be sure to check out Cracked's Page of Horror for hilariously horrifying articles like The 30 Most Unsettling German Halloween Costumes and 8 Psychologically Traumatizing Kids Halloween Costumes.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to meet your serial killer soulmate.
And be sure to check out Cracked's Page of Horror for hilariously horrifying articles like 6 Signs You're About to be Attacked by Zombies and Dealing With The Guy Who's Clearly Hiding a Zombie Bite.
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