No matter how heinous a crime, there is always a “justification” given by the perpetrator: “Voices told me to kill all those prostitutes”, “He was sleeping with my wife” and “I did it in the name of [insert deity here]” are all reasons too commonly read as newspaper headlines.
But, from time to time, a killer emerges from his/her blood soaked crime scene to proclaim reasons so utterly strange that it makes society take heed of their actions. Humanity has a certain level of blood lust that, when coupled with a love of the unexplained, makes the cases in this list as compelling as they are macabre.
10 Dennis Nilsen, Killing for the Company
Dennis Nilsen is one of Great Britain’s most prolific serial killers. He is also one of the most enigmatic. Between 1978 and 1983, Nilsen toon 15 different men out on nice dates in which he treated them kindly and then murdered them. He strangled or drowned his victims, usually after they had become intoxicated. He then tended to the bodies, bathing and then re-dressing them before placing them in macabre tableau in various parts in his living room. He treated the corpses like roommates, occasionally having sex with them also. This process earned him the title “The Kindly Killer”.
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Nilsen’s killings began at his first address at 195 Melrose Avenue, London. He killed a total of 12 men at this address before moving to 23 Cranley Gardens, also in London where he killed the remaining three. After drain clearing company Dyno Rod inspected a blockage and foul smells at Cranley Gardens, suspicious bones then lead to a police investigation. On discovering bags full of human entrails in one of Nilsen’s closets, police arrested the man.
Although rather cold and uncaring regarding his crimes, Nilsen did assist in every aspect of the police investigation. He helped locate the remains of his victims at both addresses as well as providing detailed descriptions of the murders and victims.
Nilsen has been compared to American Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in that his motive was simply loneliness. His tendency to leave body parts and even whole corpses in plain sight during the day and to interact with them is as pitiful as it is deplorable. Dennis Nilsen is one of only a handful of prisoners in Britain who are incarcerated with no hope of parole.
9 Robert Lyons, Avril Lavigne’s Biggest and Deadliest Fan
How far would you go to watch your favorite singer in concert? In 2011, 39 year-old Robert Lyons stabbed his mother (whom he lived with) to death when she refused to arrange for him to get Skybox tickets for an Avril Lavigne gig in his native Chicago. In the ultimate violent tantrum, Robert Lyons killed the 61-year-old woman by bludgeoning her with a champagne (in some reports a cognac) bottle and then stabbing her in the back nine times. The attack was said to be so violent that the knife’s blade broke off in the her back and he had to grab a second.
But his deadly petulance didn’t end there: bizarrely, Lyons threw Drano and various under-the-sink cleaning liquids on his mother’s corpse to “humiliate her”, left the condo to go shopping and was later arrested at a local Hooters restaurant. He has been convicted and sentenced to a 40 year prison sentence.
8 Brenda Ann Spencer, “She Didn’t Like Mondays”
“The silicon chip inside her head/Gets switched to overload”—I don’t like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats.
The popular song by Bob Geldof’s band spent a month at number 1 in the Britain’s Singles Chart. Unlike most popular chart hits, this one was based on a notorious killing spree perpetrated by 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer at a San Diego school. The troubled young girl lived opposite Cleveland Elementary School. On January 9th, 1979 she began taking pot shots from her house at some students waiting to enter the school.
The school’s principal Burton Wragg was killed trying to help some of the injured children and Custodian Mike Suchar was also shot and slain while trying to help Principal Wragg. As police began to arrive at the horrific scene, the young assassin began firing at them.
During the 7-hour-long barricade within her home, Spencer had a phone converstation with a journalist. She eventually turned herself over to the cops and was sentenced to life in prison. The next time she’ll be up for parole will be 2019.
Oh, and why did she do it? The only thing she said that even resembled a reason was communicated to the journalist she spoke to while engaged in a gun battle with the police: “I don’t like Mondays“.
7 Craig Walter, Unhappy Angler
Back in 2005, two friend from east London decided to go fishing on a canal bank near the Isle of Dogs, London. Craig Walter, 34, and Maurice Wilson, 48 had decided that only two things can make fishing more relaxing: a ton of cannabis and a ton of booze. The best friends smoked 15 joints and had drank heavily, with Walter having consumed the “lion’s share” of both.
Needless to say, both gents were a bit “merry” by now. Some people get giggly and see the world through a rather hazy but happy lens. Some get paranoid. In this case, we have one of each. Unluckily for Maurice Wilson, the knife-wielding Walter was the paranoid one. Wilson had spent most of his time espousing the wonders to be found in the world and enjoying life. This seemed to be having a rather negative effect on his fellow fisherman. Finally, after exclaiming “I love life!”, Wilson found himself on the receiving end of a brutal attack. He was stabbed a total of 17 times for admitting he liked existing.
6 Uroko Onoja, 1 Wife too Many
Successful businessman Onoja was getting it on with his latest, youngest wife when his other five, (Yep, FIVE) wives burst in and demanded he sate their urges also! Not the worst thing ever, right? Wrong: The libidinous ladies were holding knives and sticks and set upon the man and forced him to do the do with each of them concurrently! After a few rolls in the sack, it was the penultimate wife’s turn—but it didn’t work out. Onoja collapsed and died, presumably of cardiac arrest brought about by exhaustion and shock. Reports state he was raped to death.
So, the motive? Simple jealousy. So what’s strange about that? It was the collective jealousy of a mob of wives. The latest report states that two of the wives had been arrested.
5 Walter Seifert, Hate Doctors, Kill Children.
—Taken from his Open Letter to Pharmaceutical Companies, Doctors and Medical Agencies written by the “Cologne School Massacre” perpetrator Walter Seifert.
These chilling words were written by a man who’d become unhinged by the various injustices he perceived to have been perpetrated against him by the medical community and, to a lesser extent, the government. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, he thought he’d been cheated out of his war pension due to doctors evaluating that the TB in his lungs was largely inactive, and his wife had died in childbirth. He wasn’t a fan of doctors, to say the least.
Why this would lead him to perpetrate a most evil school massacre is beyond any rational person’s comprehension. Seifert fashioned a lance from a broom handle and a triangular scraper and a flame thrower from an insecticide sprayer covered with netting and filled with motor oil and paint thinner. He killed 8 students aged between 8 and 12 and two teachers. The maniac later downed an insecticide and died before being brought to justice.
4 The Matrix Defence
The blaming of popular media for a myriad of society’s woes is nothing new. Whether rock music is turning our children into Satan worshipping, baby-eaters, (Especially songs like Mama’s got a Squeezebox by The Who!), or televised pro-wrestling is making people suplex their free will and younger sibling, people love finding some institutions to blame. In the years since The Matrix first hit our screens and blew our minds, a surprising number of cases have arisen whereby killers justify their crimes by claiming they are in the film… or rather, the premise of the film is reality… that is to say, this isn’t reality it’s… whatever.
In recent years, the so-called Matrix Defense has become surprisingly popular. Tonda Lynn Hamilton was found not guilty by reasons of insanity after she claimed that being “sucked into the matrix” caused her to shoot her landlady in the head. Vadim Misieges, Joshua Cooke and Lee Malvo have also had their crimes linked to the movie to various degrees.
Expect a wave of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues-inspired massacres to start soon after the movie is released, people!
3 Armin Meiwes, Mail Order Cannibal
An uncontrollable urge to butcher and consume human flesh is usually a sure sign that you’ve gone nuts. However, the polite and organized nature in which he carried out his “childhood fantasy” of killing and eating someone makes you think—is this a criminal or just a taboo breaker?
Meiwes posted on the website the Cannibal Cafe searching for a willing victim. He found one. After a few had responded but backed out, (probably due to realising Meiwes was serious), Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, an engineer from Berlin responded. The pair met up and, well, Bernd got eaten. But was this murder? After the initial trial, Meiwes was found guilty. Of manslaughter. However, a later re-trial confirmed he was indeed guilty of murder and he is serving a life term in prison.
This case blurs the lines of what is and is not murder, but we can all agree that what Meiwes did was immoral. Even Meiwes seems to agree—he has since appealed that people facing a similar predicament regarding cannibalistic fantasies should seek professional help before committing a crime. He is also a vegetarian now.
2 Jeffrey Hudson, Pride before a Fall
The story of the fabled “Lord Minimus”, an English dwarf, court jester and Slave is an amazing one. The man from Oakham, Rutland was born in 1689. Among the many incredible events in his life, (such being captured and enslaved for 25 years by Barbary Pirates and sharing his place in the royal palace with a Welsh giant named William Evans and a monkey named “Pug”), perhaps the most incredible tale is of his duel with brother of Queen Henrietta’s Master of Horses, William Crofts.
Although the 19-inch-tall Hudson must have been well accustomed to jokes at his expense (being the Queen’s personal dwarf who had been presented to her by emerging from a giant pie clad in miniature armor) one particular joke was too much. After being insulted by the brother of a semi-important courtier, they fought with pistols on horseback and Hudson shot his opponent in the head. The Queen’s retinue had relocated to France for safety from the War in England, and duelling was a strict no-no. The Queen banished him and, after a quarter of a century as a slave, he returned to England where he was eventually imprisoned for being a Catholic.
There is one serious mystery that remains—why hasn’t Terry Gilliam made a film about this?
1 Fergus Glen, Two Little Words
We should all mind our P’s and Q’s more often. Saying thanks to a bus driver as you arrive at your stop. Adding a “please” onto the end of the round of drinks you’re buying. Thanking a friendly loved one who’s just cooked you a delicious meal (No, seriously we should make damn sure we remember the last example_.
In 2003, Fergus Glen, 36 of Wainuiomata, New Zealand had just cooked his younger brother Craig some dinner. Craig, 33, happily consumed his last meal without as much as a “Ta, bro”. This enraged the obviously proud cook. Fergus hacked his brother to death with an axe, saying “He just annoyed me and I did it. I’m not proud, but I did it”
There had been a festering feud between the two that had been going on since they engaged in a fist fight some time before. But a lack of common courtesy is what drove Fergus to it. He is currently serving life in jail.