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10 Awful Serial Killer Teams

by Theresa Cornelius
fact checked by Alex Hanton

A serial killer is defined as a person who kills three or more people. In the history of humanity, there have been hundreds of different serial killers. More rare (thankfully) is a team of two of more serial killers who work actively together, some times too well. Here is a look at 10 awful serial killer teams.


Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
Canada; 3+ murders


Paul and Karla met in 1987, and married in 1991. Six months before their wedding, Karla decided to present her sister’s virginity to Paul as a “present.” She knew Paul was upset she hadn’t been a virgin when they met, so on Christmas Eve, 1990, she used a combination of alcohol and halothane to render her 15 year-old sister, Tammy, unconscious. Paul and Karla then proceeded to videotape themselves raping the young girl. Because of the combination of drugs used on her, sometime during the night, Tammy choked to death on her own vomit. Her death was not ruled a homicide, leaving Karla and Paul open to videotaping themselves raping and killing two more young girls, 14 year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15 year-old Kristen French. Authorities became interested in Paul when several rapes that occurred in 1990 were linked to him through DNA. After being beaten by Paul, Karla was interviewed in 1993. In May of that year, she secured a plea bargain for a 12 year sentence, and in 1995, she began giving police detailed accounts of the murder. After Karla testified against Paul, he was convicted of 1st degree murder, aggravated sexual assault, and many other offensives. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Karla was released from prison July 4, 2005.


Ian Brady and Myra Hindley
England; 5+ murders

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Also known as “The Moors Murderers,” Ian and Myra were active from 1963 – 1965. The first known victim was 16 year-old Pauline Reade. Myra talked her in to getting into her van, under the guise of helping her find a missing glove she lost on Saddleworth Moor. Upon arrival at the moor, Ian attacked and raped her, while Myra stood by and watched. When he was finished, he smashed her in the head with a shovel, and slit her throat. She was then buried on the moor. This was the pattern followed by Ian and Myra during the murders of at least five children, ages 10 – 17. They would entice them into Myra’s van, drive to a secluded location (usually the moor, or once to their own home) where the children were sexually abused, raped, and murdered. Myra even recorded the murder of 10 year-old Lesley Ann Downey on audio tape. Ian had also taken at least nine different photos of the young girl bound, gagged and naked. The last victim was 17 year-old Edward Evans. He was lured away from a train station to Ian and Myra’s home. Ian smashed his head with an axe in front of Myra’s 18 year-old brother-in-law, David Smith. David helped Ian hide the body, then went home to his wife, Myra’s sister, to whom he related the events. He then contacted the police and told them what he had seen. During the trial in 1965, Ian admitted to five murders, but said Myra had, “only done what she had been told.” On May 6, 1966 Ian was found guilty of three murders, and Myra was found guilty of two. They received a life sentence for each murder they were convicted of. In 2002, Myra died in prison, after several appeals against her life sentence. Brady, however, made it clear he never wanted to be released. He has asked repeatedly to be allowed to die. He was declared mentally insane, and moved to Ashworth Mental Hospital, where he remains.


Gerald and Charlene Gallego
United Staes; 10+ murders

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Gerald and Charlene were a husband and wife serial killer team who were active from 1978 until 1980 in the western United States. Gerald dominated Charlene, told her what to wear, how to act, and forced her to turn over any money she made. She still found him exciting, even mores when he talked about his fantasy to have what he called “young, disposable sex slaves.” The fantasy became a nightmare for 17 year-old Rhonda Scheffler and 16 year-old Kippi Vaught in 1978. Using their Doge van, Gerald and Charlene drove to a shopping center where Charlene was charged with finding their “slaves.” She lured the girls into the van with promises of smoking pot. When they got there, all the teenagers found was Gerald and his pistol. After forcing the girls into the van, they drove to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where Gerald raped the girls. They were killed at a different location later that day. This scenario played out again and again over the next few years. Charlene eventually began to involve herself with the rape of the different girls that were abducted. In all, they killed at least 9 women, some as young as 13, with one being pregnant, and they killed one man, a boyfriend of a young girl they abducted. Craig Miller and Mary Elizabeth Sowers were their last victims. Craig was gunned down on the side of the road in 1980, and his girlfriend was abducted. This time, however, friends of the couple gave the license plate number of the vehicle to the police, which led to Gerald and Charlene’s arrest. In 1984, Charlene testified against Gerald in exchange for not being tried in California. She pled guilty to murder, and received a sentence of just over 16 years. Gerald was tried and convicted of murder in both California and Nevada. He was sentenced to death, but it was overturned in 1999. Charlene was released in 1997, and Gerald died in prison of rectal cancer in 2002.


Wolfgang Abel and Marco Furlan
Italy; 10 murders


Wolfgang and Marco were serial killers active in Italy from 1977 – 1984. Every crime-scene they left in their wake had a note written in Italian, with the name “Ludwig.” This was written over a Nazi eagle and a swastika. This was always followed with a reason for the murder. They claimed their victims were sub-human and needed to be eliminated. Their victims included homosexuals, prostitutes, and drug addicts – anyone they believed “betrayed their true God.” They did many horrible things, changing the way they killed frequently. They burned a Gypsy drug-addict alive, stabbed a homosexual waiter 34 times, set fire to a sleeping hitch-hiker, axed a 51 year-old prostitute, and hammered nails into the forehead of a homosexual priest, among other horrible crimes. In 1997, they were found guilty of 10 out of 27 counts of murder. After many appeals and Marco fleeing the country, they were finally sentenced to 27 years in prison. Marco was released from prison in 2009, and Wolfgang will be released next year.


Fred and Rosemary West
England; 11 murders

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While most of the murders occurred between 1973 and 1979, the earliest one was actually committed in 1971. Charmaine, Fred’s daughter from a previous marriage, was murdered by Rosemary while Fred was in prison for theft. In August of the same year, after Fred had been released from jail, Rena West showed up to collected her daughter, and she soon disappeared too. It is widely believed Fred killed her. Rosemary and Fred had a weird marriage, with Rosemary often sleeping with her own father, but with Fred’s approval. Rosemary began prostitution in 1972, and shortly afterward, Fred raped his eight year-old daughter for the first time. She became pregnant in 1979, had an abortion, and left home. The Wests began abusing their other daughters while often filming it. From 1973 to 1979, they killed nine other women, including lodgers, a hitch-hiker, neighborhood children, and their own daughter. Heather West became the center of Fred’s “affections” after her older sister left home. When questioned later, Fred said he hadn’t meant to kill her, but only wanted to “take that look off her face” which was in regard to her sneering at him during a fight. In 1994, while investigating Heather’s disappearance, the police got a search warrant after hearing “Heather was buried under the patio.” Human remains were soon found. Fred eventually confessed to 10 murders, but was charged with 11 after more remains were found. Rosemary was charged with 10. Fred hanged himself in 1995 while in prison awaiting trial. Rosemary never confessed, but was convicted of 10 murders and sentenced to life in prison.


Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate
United States; 11 murders

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Charles, 19 and Caril Ann, 14 went on a two month road trip/ killing spree in 1958. On January 21, Charles visited the home of Caril Ann. She wasn’t home, and Charles argued with her mother and stepfather, Velda and Marion Bartlett. Charles shot and killed them both after they told him to stay away from Caril Ann. When she got home, she helped Charles hide the bodies. Six days later, Caril Ann’s grandmother called the cops after becoming suspicious. Charles and Caril Ann fled, beginning their two month killing spree. As they ran from the police, they robbed, killed and occasionally raped seven people. The police finally caught up with them after they had a fight with a passing motorist who had stopped to help them. When the Deputy Sheriff approached the scene, Caril Ann ran to him screaming, “It’s Starkweather! He’s going to kill me!” Charles tired to outrun the police, but gave up. He was executed June 25, 1959. Caril Ann was sentenced to life in prison, but was paroled in 1976 for being a “model prisoner.” She only served 17 years.


Corll, Henley, and Brooks
United States; 28+ murders

Corll And Henley

Active from 1970 to 1973 in Texas, Dean Corll killed a minimum of 23 boys aged 13 – 20. He abducted and raped them with the help of teenagers Elmer Henley and David Brooks. Both David and Elmer were given $200 for any boy they could lure to Dean’s house. Once inside the house, they were given drugs and alcohol until the passed out, tricked into handcuffs, or just grabbed by force. They were then tied to a bed, where they were raped, beaten, tortured and (sometimes after being kept alive for days) killed by strangulation or gun-shot. On August 8, 1973 Elmer shot Dean to death during a drug-fueled fight. Elmer was only 17 at the time. Elmer Henley is currently serving six life sentences. David Brooks was convicted of one murder, and sentenced to life in prison.


Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole
United States; 5 – 600+ murders


It is unclear when Henry and Ottis’ murder spree began, but it ended in 1983. The pair met in a soup kitchen in 1973, and became lovers shortly afterward. Ottis was arrested for arson in 1983, and soon afterward Henry was arrested on a weapons charge. Henry bragged about different murders while in prison. Ottis denied them at first, but soon joined Henry and began confessing to different murders. In all, they confessed to hundreds of murders. They knew only details the killer would know, but many of the confessions have been recanted, with some people saying the police used coercive interrogation tactics. They did help to recover the bodies of 246 missing people. The also confessed to or implicated themselves in 430 murders. They seemed to target victims of all races, ages, and genders. They also had no preferred method of murder. The killed by shooting, stabbing, strangling, and bludgeoning. In all, Ottis was convicted of 5 murders, and was accused of being the murderer of 6 year-old Adam Walsh. Although it cannot be proven, Ottis gave a detailed account of this murder that matched the evidence. Henry Lucas was convicted of 11 murders. They were originally given death penalties, but it was commuted to life in prison. Ottis died of liver failure in 1996, and Henry died in 2001 of heart failure.


Chang-shin Liao and Chang-shan Husi
China; 79 murders


1945, at the end of WWII, two innkeepers in Changshow, China were arrested for murder. Police had revived anonymous letters from locals and family members who had missing loved ones. It all led directly back to the inn ran by Chang-shin and Chang-shan. After police began investigating, the story came out. Liao and Husi robbed and killed 79 people, with most of them being guests at the inn. They both confessed, with Liao telling the police that he killed around a victim a day with Chang Shan Hsui. They were both convicted of murder, and executed in 1945.


Delfina and Maria Gonzales
Mexico; 91+ murders


These sisters were active during the ’50s and ’60s in Guanajuato, Mexico. In the mid-’60s, police picked up a young woman on the suspicion of kidnapping. During questioning, she fingered Delfina and Maria, telling the police what they thought were just tall-tales. When the police searched the sisters’ property, they found 11 men, 80 women, and several fetuses. After questioning the sisters and their staff, they found out a horrible tale. Maria and Delfina would recruit prostitutes, through the guise of being maids. Most were force-fed cocaine and heroin. When they became sick, damaged in any way, lost their looks, or no longer pleased customers, they were killed and buried on the property. They also killed men who carried large sums of money. They were tried in 1964, and sentenced to 40 years each. Delfina died in a prison accident, while Maria finished her sentence and was released.

fact checked by Alex Hanton