4 Creepy Serial Killers to Haunt Your Dreams
Content warning: The following stories are terrible. Do not read them if you are currently sane, or plan to become sane. Serial killer tales are awful, and if you read any further, you will be burdened with the truth about villains such as...
The Guy Who Died Killing His Last Victim
Bruce Lindahl’s career in crime should have ended early. In 1979, he raped a woman at gunpoint, she convinced him to let her go afterward, and she went to the police and identified him. Police interviewed the guy and decided not to charge him, perhaps influenced by how the incident had taken place at the home of a police officer. The following year, a different woman fled Lindahl’s home, naked, and this time, police did charge him. But the judge dismissed the case when the primary witness (the woman herself) disappeared.
Another police run-in qualified even more as catching him red-handed. Police pulled Lindahl over one night and spotted a woman in his car, unconscious with a giant head wound. He was taking her to the hospital, he claimed (he was driving in the opposite direction to where to hospital was). Medical examiners determined she’d been raped, and the officer would later conclude that Lindahl had likely been taking her somewhere to kill and bury her. But the woman herself remembered nothing between Lindahl giving her a drink at a party and her waking at the hospital, so authorities didn’t pursue the case.
Lindahl murdered four people, including two high school girls, and he may have murdered dozens more. Police ended up linking him to what victims they could thanks to photos they found in his home, after he died.
He died in 1981, killing 18-year-old Chuck Huber, whom he probably pursued as a means of reaching Huber’s girlfriend, given that the two were found dead in her apartment. Police discovered the two bodies, each having evidently been stabbed to death, and first assumed some unknown third party had killed them both. Knowing Lindahl was a murderer, you might instead guess that he’d attacked Huber, and Huber had half-successfully fought back and killed the guy before dying from his own wounds.
Investigators eventually determined something different. Lindahl stabbed Chuck to death and also, during the struggle, cut open his own femoral artery himself and bled out. Just like in Dexter, it takes a serial killer to kill a serial killer, and sometimes, both serial killers are the same guy.
Lenny and Chuck, Playing the Long Game
When police arrested Lenny Lake, he swallowed a cyanide pill rather than let them take him alive. This struck them as a bit of an overreaction, given that they’d arrested him on suspicion of shoplifting. Indeed, it indicated he had far more serious secrets — secrets that also explained why he and his partner had been stealing a vise from a San Francisco hardware store.
Much like Bruce Lindahl, Lenny Lake and Chuck Ng were in the rape and murder business. They didn’t satisfy themselves, however, with merely attacking one victim, killing or abandoning her and then moving on. The way they worked, they’d break into a home, and they’d kill any men they found. Men, and also children (they murdered at least two babies). The women, Lenny and Chuck abducted and took to their sex dungeon.
Thanks to BDSM, the term “sex dungeon” sounds quite attractive nowadays, but actual sex dungeons are horrible, as are actual sadism and actual bondage. Chuck and Lenny’s sex dungeon was a bunker in the desert, with one cell behind a hidden doorway furnished with a pad on the floor and a bucket as a toilet. The two video taped three of their torture victims. This proved to be strong evidence at Ng’s murder trial, as were the thousands of teeth and bone fragments found on the property, along with additional hundreds of burned bone fragments.
Ng was found guilty of 11 murders, which was less than half the number police suspected but enough to earn him a death sentence. He was convicted in 1999. California has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 2006, so he may never be executed, but even some strong opponents of the death penalty may be willing to make an exception in his case.
The Butcher of Kansas City
Up next, we have another sex dungeon for you, this one in a relatively densely populated bit of Kansas City. The dungeon master was Robert Berdella, a man whom neighbors would later describe as a nice guy and very normal. This, despite his store named Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar, which claimed to sell human skulls. They were just fake skulls, assumed neighbors. Later, they wouldn’t be so sure.
Bob tortured and murdered at least six men, mostly sex workers. His torture methods, as he documented in his personal journal, included:
- Needles in the testicles
- 8 kilovolt shocks
- Drano down the throat (to injure the larynx and keep him from screaming)
- Biting through the penis
- Eye-gouging, “to see what would happen”
- Terrible butt stuff
Victim number seven escaped. After several days of having his eyes swabbed with ammonia, Chris Bryson used matches Bob left behind to burn through his bonds. He jumped out the window of his second-story cell, and neighbors were shocked by the look of this injured man, naked except for a dog collar. Police came in and arrested Bob — for sodomy, which was illegal in 1988.
They also searched the house and found an envelope of teeth, a chainsaw covered in blood and pubic hairs, a few scattered vertebrae and (yep) a genuine human skull. Also, an additional skull that still had a face and hair on it. Also, also, 340 photos of his torture victims. They now had evidence of crimes more serious than sodomy, plus Bryson’s testimony, and Bob would go on to escape the death penalty only by pleading guilty in exchange for life in prison.
Within four years, he was complaining that hospital staff were deliberately withholding heart medication from him. By the end of 1992, a heart attack killed him.
Belle Gunness, Escaped Via Fire
Even before Belle Gunness officially became a serial killer, suspicious deaths surrounded her. Two children in her house died, which wasn’t especially unusual in the 1880s, but she had life insurance policies on both of them, which was rarer. She also had insurance policies on her home and a candy store, which each burned down. Her husband died on the one day during which two life insurance policies were in effect. Then she remarried, her step-daughter died, and her new husband died — from something cracking open his skull. A meat grinder fell on him, claimed Gunness. That was even more insurance money passed along to her.
Newly single, Gunness began placing personal ads in the newspaper, advertising herself as a potential wife. “WANTED,” read these ads. “A woman who owns a beautifully located and valuable farm in first-class condition, wants a good and reliable man as partner in the same. Some little cash is required for which will be furnished first-class security.” The request for cash may have raised a few eyebrows, but this woman owned her own farm so was clearly a catch.
Multiple men answered the ad and came to Gunness’ home in Indiana. She asked them to convert all their belongings to cash, and it appears several did just that. After a few brief letters home, none of these men were heard from again.
Gunness also had a farmhand named Ray Lamphere, who it seems fell for her but was of no interest to Gunness as he had not even “some little cash” to offer. On April 27, 1908, Gunness told her lawyer that this jealous Ray planned to kill her. The next morning, her house burned down. Investigators found the remains of her three children as well as the presumed corpse of Gunness herself, though this body lacked a head, for some reason. They also found a man’s severed hands and head buried in a shallow grave. They next dug deeper and unearthed the remains of 13 more victims.
They charged Lamphere with setting the fire, and a jury found him guilty. Before they could try him for much more than that, he died of pneumonia, and on his deathbed, he made some new claims. He had not set the fire, he said. Gunness had set it herself and had framed him. The sister of her latest victim had been poking around, Gunness figured her time was almost up, and so she’d turned to an old tool that had served her well in the past: arson. She’d murdered her children to make the fire convincing. As for the dead woman police found there, that was yet another person Gunness had murdered (this was why, measuring both women from the shoulders downward, the corpse appeared five inches shorter than Belle).
No one was able to verify Lamphere’s claims. But the best guess of what happened leaves us with a woman who killed 13 men and may have killed a bunch earlier and also may have faked her own death to go on to kill again. Either way, next time a spambot offers you some romantic companionship, know that an empty bank account is far from the worst possible thing that may happen to you.