There have been horrific murderers throughout human history…many are easily recognized by their name or deed. The following lineup includes a few ‘not so famous’ human monsters:
Leonarda Cianciulli (November 14, 1893, Montella, Province of Avellino – October 15, 1970) was an Italian serial killer. Better known as the “Soap-Maker of Correggio”, she murdered three women in Correggio between 1939 and 1940, and turned their bodies into soap. Having been born the child of a rape, she led a sad childhood with a hateful mother. She attempted suicide twice. In 1914, she married a registry office clerk, Raffaele Pansardi, and moved to Lariano in Alta Irpinia. Their home was destroyed by an earthquake in 1930, and they moved once more, this time to Correggio, where Leonarda opened a small shop and became very popular as a nice, gentle woman, a doting mother and a nice neighbor. In 1939, Cianciulli heard that her eldest son, Giuseppe, was to join the Italian army in preparation for World War II. Giuseppe was her favorite child, and she was determined to protect him at all costs. She came to the conclusion that his safety required human sacrifices. She found her victims in three middle-aged women, all neighbors. After murdering her first victim with an axe she got rid of the body in this way (her own words):
“I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”
Cianciulli’s second victim was killed in exactly the same manner. Her final victim, opera singer Virginia Cacioppo was killed in the same way but with one twist:
“She ended up in the pot, like the other two…her flesh was fat and white, when it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap. I gave bars to neighbors and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better: that woman was really sweet.”
Cianciulli was caught due to an eyewitness and found guilty of murder. She was sentenced to thirty years in jail where she died of a brain hemorrhage. More information (including an image of the tools she used) can be found here.
Between 1988 and 1989, Tsutomu Miyazaki mutilated and killed four girls, aged between four and seven, and sexually molested their corpses. He drank the blood of one victim and ate a part of her hand. These crimes—which, prior to Miyazaki’s apprehension and trial were named “The Little Girl Murders”, and later known as the Tokyo/Saitama Serial Kidnapping Murders of Little Girls shocked Saitama Prefecture, which had few crimes against children.
During the day, Miyazaki was a mild-mannered employee. Outside of work, he randomly selected children to kill. He terrorized the families of his victims, sending them letters recalling in graphic detail what he had done to their children. To the family of victim Erika Nanba, Miyazaki sent a morbid postcard assembled using words cut out of magazines: “Erika. Cold. Cough. Throat. Rest. Death.”
He allowed the corpse of his first victim, Mari Konno, to decompose in the hills near his home, then chopped off the hands and feet, which he kept in his closet. They were recovered upon his arrest. He charred her remaining bones in his furnace, ground them into powder, and sent them to her family in a box, along with several of her teeth, photos of her clothes, and a postcard reading: “Mari. Cremated. Bones. Investigate. Prove.”
Police found that the families of the victims had something else in common: all were bothered by silent nuisance phone calls. If they did not pick up the phone, it would sometimes ring for 20 minutes.
On July 23, 1989, Miyazaki attempted to insert a zoom lens into the vagina of a grade school-aged girl in a park near her home and was attacked by the girl’s grandfather. After fleeing naked on foot, Miyazaki eventually returned to the park to retrieve his Toyota car, whereupon he was promptly arrested by police who had responded to a call by the grandfather. A search of Miyazaki’s two-room bungalow turned up a collection of 5,763 videotapes, some containing anime and slasher films (later used as reasoning for his crimes). Interspersed among them was video footage and pictures of his victims. He was also reported to be a fan of horror films and had an extensive collection, with the centerpieces being the first five Guinea Pig films; he reportedly used the fourth film in the series as a template for one of his killings. Miyazaki, who retained a perpetually calm and collected demeanor during his trial, appeared indifferent to his capture.
Kunio Hatoyama signed his death warrant and Miyazaki was hanged on June 17, 2008.
Joachim Kroll was a German serial killer and cannibal. He was known as the Ruhr Cannibal (Ruhrkannibale), and the Duisburg Man-Eater (Duisburger Menschenfresser). He was convicted of eight murders but confessed to a total of 13.
On July 3, 1976, Kroll was arrested for kidnapping and killing a four-year-old girl named Marion Ketter. As police went from home to home, a neighbor approached a policeman and told him that the waste-pipe in his apartment building had blocked up, and when he had asked his neighbor, Kroll, whether he knew what had been blocking the pipe, Kroll had simply replied; “Guts”. Upon this report, the police went up to Kroll’s apartment and found the body of the Ketter girl cut up: some parts were in the fridge, a hand was cooking in a pan of boiling water and the intestines were found stuck in the waste-pipe.
Kroll said that he often sliced portions of flesh from his victims to cook and eat them, claiming that he did this to save on his grocery bills. In custody, he believed that he was going to get a simple operation to cure him of his homicidal urges and would then be released from prison. Instead he was charged with eight murders and one attempted murder. In April 1982, after a 151-day trial, he was convicted on all counts and was given nine life sentences.
He died of a heart attack in 1991 in the prison of Rheinbach, near Bonn.
Dorothea Helen Puente (January 9, 1929 – March 27, 2011) ran a boarding house in Sacramento, California, and cashed the Social Security checks of her elderly and mentally disabled boarders. Those who complained were killed and buried in her yard.
The stench hovered over the Sacramento neighborhood like a putrid fog, sickly sweet and pungent. Everyone knew where it came from – the yard of the pale blue Victorian at 1426 F Street, where Dorothea Puente rented out rooms to elderly and infirm boarders.
During the summer it got so bad that some neighbors preferred to turn off their air conditioners and suffer the blazing Delta heat rather than have the fans suck the stench into their homes.
“The sewer’s backed up,” the 59-year-old boardinghouse mistress told people when they complained. Other times she blamed rats rotting under the floorboards or the fish emulsion she’d used to fertilize the garden.
She tried to blot out the fetor by dumping bags of lime and gallons of bleach into the yard and spraying her parlor with lemon-scented air freshener when guests dropped in. But no matter what she tried, the stench refused to fade; it clung to the boardinghouse like a curse.
When her boarders started disappearing, a concerned social worker tipped off police, who made a gruesome discovery: Seven bodies buried in the garden.
Not long afterward, Puente appeared in court, accused of murdering her tenants so she could steal their government benefit checks and buy herself luxuries ranging from fancy clothes to a face lift.
This is a story of keeping up appearances. Dorothea Puente tried hard to project a polished exterior with cosmetic surgery and tailored clothes. She also projected herself as a upstanding member of Sacramento society, a small-time socialite who gave to charity and rubbed elbows with second-tier politicians.
No one suspected that the sweet-faced, grandmotherly Puente was systematically drugging and killing her frail boarders and burying their remains in the yard she so lovingly tended. With her careful exterior, she got away with murder for years.
Javed Iqbal Mughal (1956?-2001) was a serial killer from Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. He claimed he killed 100 boys during an 18 month period. He had been arrested in June 1998 for sexually abusing 2 boys for money. He went off on bail, and began murdering boys shortly afterwards. Iqbal found boys on the street, charmed them into his confidence, and then drugged, raped, and strangled them. He then cut the body into pieces and put them in a vat filled with hydrochloric acid. Once all of the remains were liquified, he dumped them. He first used the sewer, until neighbors complained of an acrid stench. He then decided to use the Ravi River. The partially liquified remains of two boys, one of whom was named Ijaz, were the only ones found of Iqbal’s victims. He kept the rest in an acid drum outside his house. He also kept clothing and shoes as trophies of his crimes. When he got to his fiftieth victim, he started taking pictures of them.
No one had noticed the disappearance of the boys that Iqbal killed. Iqbal claimed that he could have killed 500 if he had wanted to. He reportedly said “I am Javed Iqbal, killer of 100 children … I hate this world, I am not ashamed of my action and I am ready to die. I have no regrets. I killed 100 children.”
From a letter written by Iqbal:
“I had sexually assaulted 100 children before killing them,” read the first placard. “All the details of the murders are contained in the diary and the 32-page notebook that have been placed in the room and had also been sent to the authorities. This is my confessional statement.”
Iqbal was sentenced to death by hanging, although the judge said he would have liked Iqbal to be strangled 100 times, cut into 100 pieces, and put him in acid. Before this sentence could be carried out, he was found strangled with his bed sheets in his prison cell on October 7, 2001. One of his accomplices, Sajid, was also strangled. Pakistani authorities say that the men committed suicide. Another accomplice had previously fallen to his death from a CIA window.
Huang Yong was accused of murdering between 17 and 25 teenage boys between September 2001 and 2003. He would meet them in video game parlors and internet caf’s and lure them to his home with promises of well paying jobs or school funding.
Born in 1974, the son of a pig farmer, Huang’s early life is sparsely documented. He spent one tour of duty in the military and then spent time as a migrant farm worker in Southern China. Huang built a torture device in his basement, called the ‘intelligent hobbyhorse’ which resembled a noodle making machine. It is said that his victims were suffocated while being bound to the machine. His modus operandi was to meet the youths in video halls or internet cafes, and tell them he was working on a new video game that he titled ‘God and the Intelligent Hobby Horse’. Other times he would offer to recommend them for well paying jobs in the area or pay them for school or sightseeing tours. He would drug them, suffocate them and then, posthumously rape them. He buried his victims in the grounds around his home. At the trial, Huang was quoted as saying, ‘Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an assassin, but never had the chance’.
Richard Trenton Chase (May 23, 1950 – December 26, 1980) was an American serial killer who killed six people in the span of a month in California. He earned the nickname The Vampire of Sacramento due to his drinking of his victims’ blood and his cannibalism. He did this as part of a delusion that he needed to prevent Nazis from turning his blood into powder via poison they had planted beneath his soap dish.
On December 29, 1977, Chase killed his first victim in a drive-by shooting, Ambrose Griffin, a 51-year-old engineer and father of two. Chase’s next victim was Teresa Wallin. Three months pregnant, Teresa was surprised at her home by Chase, who shot her three times, killing her. He then had sex with the corpse and mutilated it, bathing in the dead woman’s blood. On January 27, Chase committed his final murders. Entering the home of 38-year-old Evelyn Miroth, he encountered her neighbor, Don Meredith, who he shot with the same .22 handgun. Stealing Meredith’s wallet and car keys, he rampaged through the house, fatally shooting Evelyn Miroth, her 6-year-old son Jason, and Miroth’s 22-month-old nephew, David. As with Teresa Wallin, Chase engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism with Miroth’s corpse. Chase returned to his home, where he drank David’s blood and ate several of the infant’s internal organs before disposing of the body at a nearby church. A witness saw him leaving the scene where he left perfect fingerprints and shoe-prints – leading to his arrest.
On May 8 Chase was found guilty of six counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Waiting to die, Chase became a feared presence in prison; the other inmates (including several gang members), aware of the graphic and bizarre nature of his crimes, feared him, and according to prison officials, they often tried to convince Chase to commit suicide. On December 26, 1980, a guard doing cell checks found Chase lying awkwardly on his bed, not breathing. An autopsy determined that he committed suicide with an overdose of prison doctor-prescribed antidepressants that he had been saving up over the last few weeks.
Peter Kürten was known as The Vampire of Düsseldorfborn. He was born into extreme deprivation and poverty in Köln-Mullheim, a suburb of Cologne, Germany on 26 May 1883. The eldest of thirteen children, his father was an alcoholic with sadistic tendencies, who brutalized both wife and children, in the one room apartment that they all shared, for the duration of Kurten’s childhood.
This daily subjection to sexual violence must have had an immense influence on the boy who, aged 9, formed an unhealthy relationship with a dog-catcher living in the same building, who introduced him to the practize of bestiality, carried out initially on dogs.
Kurten claims to have drowned two school friends at the age of nine. Having pushed one overboard, the second dived in to his rescue. Kurten held both under water until they had suffocated. At the time the event was dismissed as a tragic childhood accident.
As Kurten matured sexually, his bestiality extended to sheep, goats and other farmyard animals, with the teenager discovering particular pleasure when the animal was stabbed during intercourse.
By 1899, at the age of sixteen, Kurten had progressed to petty crime, and ran away from home to escape the continuing violence. Shortly after his departure, his father was arrested for incestuous relations with Kurten’s 13-year old sister, and he was jailed for three years.
On 8 February 1929 he assaulted a woman and molested and murdered an eight-year-old girl. On 13 February he murdered a middle-aged mechanic, stabbing him 20 times. Kürten did not attack again until August, stabbing three people in separate attacks on the 21st; murdering two sisters, aged five and 14, on the 23rd; and stabbing another woman on the 24th. In September he committed a single rape and murder, brutally beating a servant girl with a hammer in woods that lay just outside of Düsseldorf. In October he attacked two women with a hammer. On 7 November he killed a five-year-old girl by strangling and stabbing her 36 times with scissors, and then sent a map to a local newspaper disclosing the location of her grave. The variety of victims and murder methods gave police the impression that more than one killer was at large: the public turned in over 900,000 different names to the police as potential suspects.
The November murder was Kürten’s last, although he engaged in a spate of non-fatal hammer attacks from February to March 1930. In May he accosted a young woman named Maria Budlick; he initially took her to his home, and then to the Grafenberger Woods, where he raped but did not kill her. Budlick led the police to Kürten’s home. He avoided the police, but confessed to his wife and told her to inform the police. On 24 May he was located and arrested.
He discovered a fascination for brutal sexual acts whilst in solitary confinement, which enhanced his fantasies: so much so that he began to break prison rules to ensure the maximum time in solitary confinement.
Kürten confessed to 79 offenses, and was charged with nine murders and seven attempted murders. He went on trial in April 1931. He initially pleaded not guilty, but after some weeks changed his plea. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.
As Kürten was awaiting execution, he was interviewed by Dr. Karl Berg, whose interviews and accompanying analysis of Kürten formed the basis of his book, Der Sadist. Kürten stated to Berg that his primary motive was one of sexual pleasure. The number of stab wounds varied because it sometimes took longer to achieve orgasm; the sight of blood was integral to his sexual stimulation.
Kürten was executed on 2 July 1931 by guillotine in Cologne.
Pedro Alonzo Lopez, called “the Monster of the Andes,” was born to a 13 year old prostitute mother, in 1948. Lopez was picked up by a pedophile while still young, and was repeatedly raped before he was taken away by an American family and enrolled in a school for orphans. After being sodomized by a teacher, he ran away and found himself in prison at 18. There, Lopez was gang-raped and allegedly killed three of the rapists while still incarcerated.
After his jail sentence was complete, his killing spree began. He claimed that by 1978 he had killed more than 100 young girls, and later he confessed to more than 300 murders. He eventually wound up in a psychiatric wing of a Bogota hospital in 1994, and since his release in 1998 has not been seen or heard from. It is not known if he is alive or dead. Many suspect and hope that one of the many bounties offered for his death eventually paid off and that he is dead. If Lopez has escaped his enemies and is still alive there is little doubt that he has returned to his old ways.
The Bloody Benders was the nick name given to the Benders family from Labette County in Kansas, USA. The Benders owned and operated a small general store with inn for travellers striding off the beaten path. The patrons were mostly rich men, 11 of whom were brutally murdered by the family while staying in Wayside Inn.
Within the inn, the Benders had a large room divided in the middle by the curtain. When a rich man paid them a visit, they offered him a seat of honor which had him turn his back to the curtain. Realizing that a lone male traveller would not resist the charm of a young woman pretending to be all into him, Kate Bender, the daughter of inn’s owner John Bender was set to keep the guest distracted by seducing him while John Bender, or his son John Jr. would come from behind the curtain and smash the man’s head with a hammer (Kate must have loved the feel of fresh brain running down her face).
Bloody Benders would then take the body down to the cellar where they would slit its throat to ensure it somehow doesn’t come back to life (did anyone else think of Johnny from The Shining reading this?) and strip it of all his clothes and belongings. The corpse was then buried in the backyard. Despite serial killings, Bloody Benders were never captured to pay for their crimes.
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream was born in Scotland in May of 1850, Cream was the oldest of eight brothers and sisters. The family moved to Canada four years later. On November 12, 1872, Cream registered at McGill College in Montreal as a medical student. He would graduate with honors on March 31, 1876.
Soon after, he was to meet a Flora Elizabeth Brooks, whose father own a prosperous hotel in Waterloo. She soon became the victim of an unwanted pregnancy, and Cream took it upon himself to perform his own abortion, nearly killing Brooks. Her father was understandably enraged, and insisted they marry, which Cream did on September 11, 1876. The next day he left for England, where he registered as a graduate student at St. Thomas’s Hostpital in London. He also obtained a qualification from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons at Edinburgh.
Cream returned to Canada a few years later, and, undaunted by his previous mishap, began a career as an abortionist. His reputation was quite promising until the body of a young chambermaid named Kate Gardener was discovered at Cream’s office, a bottle of chloroform lying beside her. Luckily for Cream, he was not charged with murder, despite the harrowing evidence against him.
Perhaps finally rustled by his near-escape, he took his business into Chicago, but his murderous tendancies again began to show. In August of 1880, Julia Faulkner died under mysterious circumstances, and Cream was arrested on charges of murder — he escaped conviction again.
When Cream wasn’t murdering women and aborting babies, he took it upon himself to market his own person elixir to combat epilepsy, and soon acquired quite a following by a number of patients who swore by the treatment. One of them, a railway agent named Daniel Stott, made the mistake of sending his wife to Cream’s office for regular doses of the drug. Julia Stott received much more from the good Doctor than just medicine on each of her visits, and when her husband finally became suspicious of the affair, Cream decided to add a bit of strychnine to the medicine. Mr. Stott died on June 14, 1881, and had it not been for a move of grand stupidity by his killer, Cream would have gotten away “Stott” free.
Originally, Stott’s death was attributed to epilepsy, but for some reason Cream wrote to the coronor stating that the pharmacist was responsible for his death, and requested an exhumation. The coronor dismissed the letter, but the D.A. went on a limb and ordered the body to be exhumed — strychnine was found in his stomach and Dr. Cream’s luck finally ran out. He was imprisoned in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet.
Although it was a life sentence, Cream was released on good behavior on July 31, 1891. He took a quick trip to Canada to collect an inheritance of $16,000 and left for England, eventually to end up in the South London slums.
Only two days after his arrival, he met a prositute named Matilda Clover, who was later to die from nux vomica poisoning. The same fate befell an Ellen Donworth. But as in his first two murders, Cream was uncharged.
After a short break from his murders (and an even shorter attempt at love with a woman named Laura Sabbatini), Cream was to poison two women: Alice Marsh and Emma Shrivell. He would again have escaped detection, had it not been for another unexplicable action: he took it upon himself to accuse his neighbor of the two murders, even going so far as to try his hand at extortion. He said that he had incriminating evidence again a Joseph Harper, and that for no less than 1,500 pounds he would not share his knowledge with the police. Harper refused, and Cream soon lost interest in the attempt.
Yet he refused to forget about the murders — he soon bragged to others about his vast knowledge on the two murders, even going so far as to take a John Haynes on a tour of the murder scenes! He then did the same to a Mr. McIntyre, who turned out to be a police sergeant, and began surveilance on the doctor. Furthermore, a P.C. Cumley (who had seen Cream with the two girls on the night of their deaths) happened to come upon this “tall gentleman with cross-eyes and bushy whiskers” and also began to watch him. His attempts to blackmail Harper were soon revealed to police, and Cream was finally arrested.
He was charged and found guilty of the death of Matilda Clover, and was sentenced to hang on November 15, 1892. It was there that he would perform his last (and perhaps most inexplicable) action — he is said to have uttered “I am Jack…” as the noose fell taut and squeezed the life out of his body. As the Ripper murder scare was still in full force, the immediate assumption was that Cream had confessed to being Jack the Ripper.
According to Donald Rumbelow, in The Complete Jack the Ripperthe fact that Cream uttered these words (an event which was sworn to by the hangman) should be suspicious, since the new Commissioner of the City of London Police, Sir Henry Smith, had attended the hanging. He was later to have boasted that he knew more than anyone else about the Ripper case in his autobiography, and yet no mention is made of this occurrence.
Even more damning is the fact, often quoted, that Cream was serving a prison sentence from 1881 to 1891 in Joliet, Illinois. Most claim, therefore, that he could not possibly have been the murderer, as all murders were committed in 1888.
Yet a good Ripper theory dies hard, and new theorists proposed that Cream actually had a double. The two would help each other by the one being in prison while the other was free committing crimes, using his double’s prison sentence as an alibi. Those who support this theory believe this is evident early on in Cream’s criminal career, when brought into court on charges of bigamy. He was advised to plead guilty, but refused to do so, claiming he was serving a prison sentence in Sydney at the time. Sure enough, the prison was asked if someone fitting his description was indeed there and they replied in the affirmative. In his biography, Marshall Hall (who defended Cream) is said to have believed that Neill Cream had a double in the underworld and they went by the same name and used each other’s terms of imprisonment as alibis for each other.
Therefore, while Cream was in Joilet prison, his double would have been able to commit the Whitechapel crimes — on the day of his execution, Cream knew he had no chance for survival and decided to free his double by confessing to his crimes.
It is also theorized that the corruption which ran rampant in the prisons of Chicago resulted in Cream’s being released as a result of a bribe, allowing himself to commit the murders in Whitechapel while the crooked officials swore he was still in prison. Proponents also claim his handwriting matches the handwriting of two of the Ripper letters.
Also neither of these theories can be truly disproved, most refute the theory on grounds that Cream, like Chapman, was a poisoner, not a mutilator. It would make little sense for him to poison his victims before 1888, suddenly go on a murderous and vicious mutilating spree in that year, and then revert back to poisoning his women. His prison sentence adds only more fire to the arguments of the skeptics.
John Edward Robinson was born on December 27, 1943 in Cicero, Illinois, a town famous for its connection to Al Capone. As a Boy Scout he performed before Queen Elizabeth II at a concert in London and became an Eagle Scout. As a freshman at Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, he was a poor student and a discipline problem. He did not return to Quigley for his sophomore year; it is believed that he was denied admission as a sophomore due to either his academic or discipline shortcomings.
He had dreams of becoming very important. He was named “Man Of The Year” once at a Kansas City charity (an award he rigged in his own favor), and was described by acquaintances as very personable and easy to like.
Beneath his outward charm, however, he was a con artist and thief who served time in jail in 1987 on charges of felony theft. He was supposed to serve five years, but he was released after only four years for good behavior. He was then handed to Missouri authorities, who arrested him because his conviction in Kansas violated one of the conditions imposed when Robinson was released on probation from a Missouri jail after being convicted of forging signatures on some documents. But he started complaining of chest pains and was released with a doctor’s recommendation letter.
In 1995, Robinson bought a computer and started looking for females to unleash his sexual fantasies on. He would lure them by calling himself the “Slave Master”, and telling them what they wanted to hear.
According to the police, he would later meet some of those women in person and have sex with them. Then, the women he met disappeared. In the summer of 2000, some of their bodies appeared at Robinson’s farm near La Cygne, Kansas and in a rented storage space in Raymore, Missouri.
In 1984, 18-year-old Paula Godfrey left home to take up a job with one of Robinson’s many non-existent companies. After being told she was being sent away to take a few seminar classes to get her trained, her parents contacted the police and filed a missing person’s report. A few days after questioning Robinson on Godfrey’s whereabouts they received a type-written letter from Godfrey. The letter assured them that everything was fine, and that she simply did not want to contact her family. Her signature was at the bottom of the letter The case was dropped as Godfrey was an adult and had the right to disappear.
In 1985, Lisa Stasi, a 19-year-old single mother, met a man calling himself “John Osborne” at a shelter. The man promised her an apartment, job training, a monthly stipend, and even daycare for her 4-month-old daughter, Tiffany. Eager to become independent Stasi agreed, signing a few blank sheets of paper. She was never heard from again. A few days after meeting Stasi, Robinson contacted his brother and informed him he had a baby he could adopt. The baby’s mother had committed suicide in a hotel room, and his connections with local charity would allow him to get the child for him if he paid the legal fees. The baby was Tiffany Stasi, and the papers Robinson brought were all forgeries. The money went straight into Robinson’s account.
In 1993, Robinson was released from a stint in jail for violating his parole by running an underground prostitution ring specializing in domination and submission. He had met 49-year-old Beverly Bonner in prison. A librarian, she had been charmed by the eloquent man, and upon his release divorced her husband to follow Robinson. Shortly after having all of her alimony checks forwarded to a PO box, Bonner was killed and her body was placed inside of a barrel that was later put into a storage unit in Raymore, Missouri. Robinson continued to collect her alimony checks and cash them in his account for years.
Robinson was arrested and accused of murdering three women. He was convicted at the Johnson County Court House in Olathe, Kansas in 2002 and sentenced to death. He then pleaded guilty in Harrisonville, Missouri and did not receive a second death sentence from a Missouri court. Robinson could be the first person executed by lethal injection in the state of Kansas. However, in 2005 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the current capital punishment laws in Kansas unconstitutional. It could be years before new capital punishment laws are written by the legislator and approved by the courts, if they are written at all.
Genene Anne Jones (born July 13, 1950) was a paediatric nurse who worked in several medical clinics around San Antonio, Texas, and is thought to have killed somewhere between 11 and 46 infants and children who were in her care (around 1980-1982). She used injections of heparin and later of succinylcholine to kill the babies. Novel succinylcholine detection methods were used to prove her guilt.
While working at the Bexar County Hospital (now The University Hospital of San Antonio) in the Pediatric Intensive care unit, it was determined that a statistically inordinate number of children Jones worked with were dying. Rather than pursue further investigation the hospital simply asked Jones to resign, which she did.
She then took a position at a pediatric physician’s clinic in Kerrville, Texas, near San Antonio. It was here that she was charged with poisoning six children. The doctor in the office discovered puncture marks in a bottle of succinylcholine in the drug storage, where only she and Jones had access. Contents of the apparently full bottle were later found to be diluted. Jones claimed to have been acting in the best interests of her patients, as she was trying to justify the need for a pediatric intensive-care unit in Kerrville. This act was not a successful means of achieving her goal.
An accurate number may never be known, in part because after her conviction on one count of murder and one count of attempted murder, hospital officials throughout Texas shredded records of her employment and activities, preventing further trials and embarrassment.
In 1985 Jones was charged with two crimes and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Jones will serve only one-third of her sentence because of a law in place at the time to deal with prison overcrowding. Jones will receive automatic parole in 2017, much to the protest of the family of Chelsea McClellan, the child Jones was convicted of murdering.
Jones is eligible for parole every two to three years, having been denied six times so far.
Mary Ann Robson was born in the small English village of Low Moorsley in what is now Sunderland in October 1832. Her childhood was an unhappy one. Her parents were both younger than 20 when they married. Her father Michael, a miner, barely managed to keep his family fed; he was ardently religious, a fierce disciplinarian with Mary Ann and her younger brother Robert, and active in the Methodist church’s choir.
When Mary Ann was eight, her parents moved the family to the town of Murton, where she went to a new school and found it difficult to make friends. Soon after the move her father fell 150ft to his death down a mine shaft at Murton Colliery.
When Mary was 14, her mother remarried. Mary did not like her new stepfather, Robert Stott, but she liked the things his better wages could buy. At the age of 16 she could stand the discipline of her stepfather no more, so she moved out to become a nurse at Edward Potter’s home in the nearby village of South Hetton. She served there for three years and then returned to her mother’s home and trained as a dressmaker. About this time she met a colliery labourer called William Mowbray.
Mary Ann, aged 20, married William Mowbray in Newcastle upon Tyne, and soon they moved to Plymouth, Devon. The couple had five children, four of whom died from gastric fever or stomach pains. William and Mary moved back to the North East and she had another three children, all of whom died. William became a foreman at South Hetton Colliery and then a fireman aboard a steam vessel. He died of an intestinal disorder in January 1865. William’s life was insured by the British and Prudential Insurance office and Mary Ann collected a payout of £35 on his death. It was to become a familiar theme.
Soon after Mowbray’s death, Mary Ann moved to Seaham Harbour, County Durham, where she struck up a relationship with a Joseph Nattrass. He, however, was engaged to another woman and she left Seaham after Nattrass’s wedding. During this time, one of her two surviving children, a girl of 3½, died. That left her with one child out of the nine she had borne. Nattrass would reappear in Mary Ann’s life later.
Mary Ann returned to Sunderland and and took up employment at the Sunderland Infirmary, House of Recovery for the Cure of Contagious Fever, Dispensary and Humane Society. Her remaining child, Isabella, was sent to live with Mary Ann’s mother.
At the infirmary, one of her patients was an engineer, George Ward. After an affair, they married in Monkwearmouth in August, 1865. However, George continued to suffer ill health, and died in October 1866, after a long illness characterised by paralysis and intestinal problems. The attending doctor later gave evidence that Ward was an ailing man but was surprised he had died so suddenly. Once again Mary Ann collected insurance money from the death of her husband.
James Robinson was a shipwright at Pallion, Sunderland, whose wife, Hannah, had recently died. James hired Mary Ann as a housekeeper in November 1866. One month later, when James’s baby died of gastric fever, he turned to his housekeeper for comfort and she became pregnant. Then Mary Ann’s mother, living in Seaham Harbour, County Durham, became ill so she immediately went to her. Her mother started getting better but began complaining of stomach pains soon after her daughter arrived. She died, aged 54, on 9 June, nine days after Mary Ann’s appearance.
Mary Ann’s daughter Isabella — from the marriage to William Mowbray — was brought back to the Robson household and soon developed bad stomach pains and died; so did another two of James’s children. All three children were buried within two weeks of each other at the end of April 1867.
Four months later, the grieving father and widower married Mary Ann. Their baby — a daughter called Mary Isabella — was born in November. But she became ill with familiar symptoms and died in March 1868.
James, meanhile, had became suspicious of his wife’s insistence that he insure his life and discovered that she had run up debts of £60 behind his back and had stolen more than £50 that she was supposed to have banked. The last straw was when he found she had been forcing his children to pawn household valuables for her. He threw her out.
Mary Ann was desperate and living on the streets. Then her friend Margaret Cotton introduced her to her brother Frederick, a pitman and recent widower living in Walbottle, Northumberland, who had lost two of his four children. Margaret had acted as substitute mother for the children, Frederick Jr and Charles, although in late March 1870 she died from an undetermined stomach ailment — leaving Mary Ann to console the grieving Frederick Sr. Soon she was pregnant again with her eleventh child.
Frederick and Mary Ann were bigamously married in September 1870 and their son Robert was born early in 1871. Soon after, Mary Ann learnt that her former lover, Joseph Nattrass, was no longer married and was living in the nearby village of West Auckland. She rekindled the romance and persuaded her new family to move near him. Frederick followed his predecessors to the grave in December of that year, from “gastric fever”. Insurance had been taken out on his and his son’s lives.
After Frederick’s death, Nattrass soon became Mary Ann’s lodger. She gained employment as nurse to an excise officer recovering from smallpox, John Quick-Manning. Soon she became pregnant by him with her twelfth child.
This time, the traditional speedy marriage could not follow: what about the Cotton children and Nattrass? Frederick Jr died in March of 1872 and the infant Robert soon after. Then Nattrass became ill with gastric fever, and died — just after revising his will in Mary Ann’s favour.
The insurance policy Mary Ann had taken out on Charles’s life still awaited collection. And so it would have been, but for a careless conversation.
Mary Ann’s downfall came when she was asked by a parish official, Thomas Riley, to help nurse a woman who was ill with smallpox. She complained that the last surviving Cotton boy, Charles Edward, was in the way and asked Riley if he could be committed to the workhouse.
Riley, who also served as West Auckland’s assistant coroner, said she would have to accompany him. She told Riley that the boy was sickly and added: “I won’t be troubled long. He’ll go like all the rest of the Cottons.”
Riley replied: “No, nothing of the kind — he is a fine, healthy boy”, and so he was shocked five days later when Mary Ann told him that the lad had died. Riley went to the village police and convinced the doctor to delay writing a death certificate until the circumstances could be investigated.
Mary Ann’s first port of call after Charles’s death was not the doctor’s but the insurance office. There, she learnt that no money would be paid out until a death certificate was issued. An inquest was held and the jury returned a verdict of natural causes. Mary Ann claimed to have used arrowroot to relieve his illness and said Riley had made the accusations because she had rejected his advances.
Then the local newspapers latched on to the story and discovered Mary Ann had moved around northern England and lost three husbands, a lover, a friend, her mother and a dozen children, all of whom had died of stomach fevers.
Rumour turned to suspicion and forensic inquiry. The doctor who tended to Charles had kept samples and they tested positive for arsenic. He went to the police who arrested Mary Ann and ordered the exhumation of Charles’s body. She was charged with his murder — although the trial was delayed until after the delivery of the child by Quick-Manning.
The defence at Mary Ann’s trial claimed that Charles died from inhaling arsenic used as a dye in the green wallpaper of the Cotton home. The jury retired for 90 minutes before finding Mary Ann guilty.
The Times correspondent reported on 20 May: “After conviction the wretched woman exhibited strong emotion but this gave place in a few hours to her habitual cold, reserved demeanour and while she harbours a strong conviction that the royal clemency will be extended towards her, she staunchly asserts her innocence of the crime that she has been convicted of.”
Several petitions were presented to the home secretary, but to no avail. She was hanged at Durham County Jail on 24 March, 1873. She died slowly, the hangman having misjudged the drop required for a “clean” execution.
Juan Vallejo Corona was born in Mexico in 1934, and moved to Yuba City, California in the 1950s, to work on a farm. He soon became married and raised four daughters. Corona had reportedly suffered from schizophrenic episodes, but he was otherwise regarded as a hard worker. Corona eventually became a labor contractor in Yuba City,and he was in charge of hiring migrant workers to staff local farms. Most of the workers hired by Corona were from Mexico.
On May 19, 1971, the corpse of an adult male was found in a shallow grave on a Yuba City farm. This prompted the property owner to call the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department. Homicide detectives ordered the area surrounding the grave be excavated, which unearthed a total of 24 additional male corpses, all of whom had been farm laborers. The coroner established that each of the victims had been hacked to death with a machete-like weapon.
Corona came under suspicion for the murders because he was supplying workers to the farm where the victims were found. Several bodies had documents on them showing that Corona’s firm had retained their services, providing a concrete link between Corona and the victims. Corona was arrested by authorities and indicted for the murders. The victims had all been killed in a period of six weeks, Corona had been killing an average of one victim every 40 hours.
Corona denied culpability for the crimes, but was found guilty and sentenced to 25 life sentences. Corona eventually won a retrial following his exhaustive appeal processes. In his second trial, the defense posited that Corona’s brother, who was deceased by then, was the real killer. Corona was convicted again and returned to prison after the strategy failed to persuade the court that he was innocent. Juan Corona is currently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison.
It is theorized that Corona’s murders were sexually motivated. Corona was known to have a very effeminate affect, and was believed to be a closet homosexual. Homosexuality was a major taboo in the Mexican-American community at the time of the murders, and many people believe that he had committed the murders to prevent his victims from revealing alleged homosexual trysts with Corona.