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10 Gruesome Killers Taken Off The Streets In 2017

by Radu Alexander
fact checked by Jamie Frater

According to recent news stories, Tampa has a serial killer on its hands. This isn’t really surprising since, according to the FBI, there are between 25 and 50 active serial killers at any time in the United States.

Globally, there seems to be an almost never-ending stream of murderers. As soon as one is behind bars, another two take his place. Even so, it is encouraging to know that there are at least 10 fewer killers prowling the streets in 2017.

10 Takahiro Shiraishi
The Twitter Killer

Photo credit: The Independent

In October, Japanese police knocked on the door of 27-year-old Takahiro Shiraishi to inquire about the disappearance of a young woman. To their astonishment, Shiraishi told them that she was inside as he pointed at a cooler. They found her dismembered body and, after searching the apartment, also uncovered the mutilated remains of eight other people.

Shiraishi later confessed that he started killing as soon as he moved into his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, in late August. According to him, all his victims were suicidal and wanted to die.

He first contacted them on Twitter and then offered to kill them in his apartment.[1] He would give them alcohol or sleeping pills and then strangle them. Police found a bloody saw and tools used to dismember the victims, but it is unclear yet if they truly wanted to die.

Authorities started suspecting Shiraishi after seeing him on security camera footage walking with his last victim. The missing person’s brother reached out on Twitter and was contacted by a woman who claimed to have met Shiraishi and later offered to help police set up a sting. That’s how investigators found the apartment where they made the gruesome discovery.

9 Cosmo DiNardo And Sean Kratz
The Killer Cousins

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While investigating the disappearance of 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, Philadelphia police found his body in a deep hole on the 90-acre DiNardo farm in Bucks County. After closer examination, they found the remains of three other young men who went missing in July.

All four had been killed by 20-year-old Cosmo DiNardo. A pot dealer, DiNardo allegedly gunned down his victims after arguing over drug transactions. He subsequently burned the bodies inside a drum and dumped them in a common grave.

His cousin, Sean Kratz, was also arrested, although his role has not been determined yet. According to his lawyer, Kratz was an accomplice present for three of the killings, but he did not commit any murders.

Police suspicion fell on DiNardo after he tried to sell the car of one of his victims, Thomas Meo, soon after he went missing. Eventually, DiNardo confessed to all four murders in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table.[2]

8 Fredrick Scott
The Indian Creek Trail Killer

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For over a year, Kansas City has been terrorized by a killer who seemingly targeted people at random while they were out doing mundane things such as walking their dogs or hiking the city’s Indian Creek Trail. Although the murders shared striking similarities, police could not say for certain if they were all the work of a serial killer.

That might change by the end of the year, though. In September, 22-year-old Fredrick Scott was arrested for the murder of 57-year-old Steven Gibbons who was shot in the back this August while walking home from the grocery store. During the investigation, officers uncovered clues that pointed to Scott as the culprit responsible for the other five murders. So far, he has been charged in three of the killings and named a person of interest in the others.[3]

Police are still looking for possible motives, although Scott’s mother claimed that he suffers from schizophrenia. Local media reported that race could have played a factor in the murders as Scott is black, all his victims were white, and he has made threats to “kill all white people” in the past.

7 Elizabeth Wettlaufer
The Killer Nurse

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This summer, Canadian nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was finally put behind bars after a 10-year killing spree that led to the deaths of eight people in Southwestern Ontario. Since 2007, Wettlaufer worked at various nursing homes where she injected her patients with overdoses of insulin.

According to her confession, the nurse avoided the “angel of mercy” archetype which is prevalent among killers in the medical profession. Instead, she said she killed when she felt uncontrollable “surges,” often picking patients who were mean or difficult to look after.

Most surprising was the number of times that Wettlaufer tried to confess her crimes and was dismissed. A criminal attorney was made aware of the murders and advised Elizabeth to stay silent on the matter and seek professional help.

When she told her pastor, he prayed over her with his wife and warned her not to kill again or they would turn her over to the police. A former boyfriend dismissed Wettlaufer’s confession as one of her “episodes,” while her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor branded her as a pathological liar.

In September 2016, Wettlaufer checked herself into the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto where she again confessed her murderous deeds. This time, they took her seriously and called the police. Wettlaufer was charged soon after and finally sentenced in June 2017.[4]

6 Amy Brown
The Would-Be Killer

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In a strange turn of events, 24-year-old Washington resident Amy Caroline Brown probably never killed anyone, but that’s only because authorities thwarted her dream of becoming a serial killer.

Earlier this year, Brown met a man on Craigslist and went on a date with him, which ended in a Seattle hotel. When the two were alone in their room, Brown asked her companion if he was a serial killer. Predictably, the man answered no. However, she replied that she was a serial killer, pulled out a knife, and stabbed her date in the chest.

Fortunately, the man managed to escape, found help at a nearby drugstore, and survived his attack. Soon, police arrived on the scene and arrested Brown in the parking lot. Once in custody, she revealed to officers that her plan was to kill her date, rip his heart out, and eat it. Inside her pocket, investigators found a note (written beforehand) confirming her desires as well as her intentions to kill again.

At the moment, authorities believe that the Craigslist date was Brown’s first intended victim, but they will continue to look into her past. When asked to give a motive for her actions, the woman replied, “I’m a loon!”[5]

5 Khalil Wheeler-Weaver
The New Jersey Slayer

Photo credit: CBS News

Earlier this year, authorities ended the killing spree of 20-year-old security guard Khalil Wheeler-Weaver who currently stands charged with murdering three women late last year in Essex County, New Jersey.

Police first managed to link Wheeler-Weaver to the murder of college student Sarah Butler. The two were last seen together on November 22, 2016, and her body was found over a week later at the Eagle Rock Reservation. Cell phone data not only tied Wheeler-Weaver to Butler, but also placed him at the scene of the forest reserve where her body was found.[6]

Phone records also linked him to the death of 33-year-old Joanne Browne. They showed that Browne received a call from his number before she disappeared and that he went to the vacant house where Browne’s body was discovered.

Going back into his past, investigators charged Wheeler-Weaver with the murder of 19-year-old Robin West from September 2016. Like Joanne Browne, West’s body was dumped in an empty house which the killer set on fire to destroy evidence. But identification could still be made using dental records.

Subsequently, another woman came forward this spring, claiming that Wheeler-Weaver tried to kill her in Elizabeth, New Jersey. But the potential victim escaped.

4 Ryan Sharpe
The East Feliciana Shooter

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The string of shootings that plagued East Baton Rouge Parish since July ended with a high-speed chase and the arrest of a 36-year-old plumber from Clinton, Louisiana, named Ryan Sharpe. Eventually, he confessed to gunning down four people—killing three and injuring one.

Sharpe targeted middle-aged white men who were shot in broad daylight in front of their homes. So far, police have given no indication about a possible motive. When asked if he would call Sharpe a serial killer, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said no but that they were “open-minded” to all possibilities.

As the trial approaches, investigators are staying tight-lipped about the evidence against Sharpe. However, according to the warrant for his arrest, the plumber confessed to the murders, describing them in great detail with information only the killer would know.[7]

Furthermore, police found a rifle at Sharpe’s home which matched the bullets recovered from two of the shootings. They also discovered one shotgun which is the likely weapon used in the other two killings. Moreover, there is testimony from a witness who saw Sharpe’s car driving away from one of the crime scenes.

3 Nathaniel Petgrave
The Fort Lauderdale Killer

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Investigators in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, came upon a grisly scene when they discovered the body of 46-year-old Derick Westley Tucker who had been killed on October 27 with a machete and a hacksaw. Beside the mutilated remains was a message written in the victim’s blood that said “4 Stop Wait Time.”

Strangely enough, police knew exactly who to target—a 22-year-old security guard named Nathaniel Petgrave. He had already been charged with other murders committed in the week prior but had to be temporarily released while waiting for ballistic results.

Petgrave’s killing spree started on October 20 when he walked up to two homeless men sleeping outside a gas station and shot them both at close range. A day later, he approached another man outside a convenience store, talked with him a minute, and then shot him in the head.

Petgrave casually jogged away, unaware that the murder had been caught on security camera. Armed with blurry footage, mostly showing the suspect’s back, police visited homeless shelters to see if anyone recognized him. One person suggested that it could be Nathaniel Petgrave.

Police found the Jamaica native in a stolen truck. They also found bullet casings with his belongings that were identical to those left at the crime scenes and paperwork showing that Petgrave owned a Ruger handgun like the murder weapon.

However, without the gun itself, results were inconclusive. The killer might have gotten away with it if he hadn’t murdered Tucker soon after his release. After his second arrest, Petgrave confessed to the killings. He also left the bloody message to indicate that Tucker was his fourth victim, unaware that one of the vagrants had, in fact, survived.[8]

2 Aaron Saucedo
The Maryvale Shooter

Photo credit: NBC News

Another serial shooter case might close by the end of the year with the trial of 23-year-old Aaron Saucedo of Phoenix, Arizona. Presently, Saucedo stands accused of killing nine people and injuring three more in 12 shootings which occurred in 2015 and 2016.

The shooter mainly committed his crimes in the Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix. Almost all his victims were either black women or young Hispanic men, although investigators have made no mention of any racial components to the murders. Former FBI profiler Brad Garrett described the shooter as a “thrill killer” who is looking for “intimacy” and gets up-close to his victims to interact with them before gunning them down.

The first shooting occurred in August 2015, but it wasn’t until a year later that police realized they had a serial killer in Phoenix. When Saucedo was arrested in April 2017, he was initially only looked at for the murder of Raul Romero, the shooter’s first victim, due to a personal connection.[9]

Romero used to date Saucedo’s mother, and investigators thought it was an unrelated crime with personal motivations. However, Saucedo soon became suspected as the serial shooter after police connected his handguns to some of the other crime scenes.

Police haven’t made the evidence against Saucedo public yet, although court documents suggest that the case hinges heavily on ballistics. Witnesses also saw a black BMW sedan like the one owned by Saucedo driving away from multiple crime scenes. But they also reported a white Lincoln or Cadillac. This raised some concerns that Saucedo might have not been acting alone, especially since one witness claimed to see a person in the back of the car.

1 The Moscow Cleaners

Photo credit: The Independent

A group of five Russian youths received various jail sentences for a killing spree which left 14 homeless people dead in an effort to “clean up” the streets of Moscow.

Led by 22-year-old Pavel Voitov, the killers met on an “ultra-radical” forum and bonded over their admiration for infamous Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin. They started their murder spree in July 2014, targeting vagrants they found around railways, metro stations, and parks. They used hammers and knives, inflicting dozens of wounds upon their victims. During their most vicious attack, the gang stabbed one person 171 times.

The most infamous member of the group is Elena Lobacheva who dubbed herself the “Bride of Chucky” due to her obsession with the eponymous horror movie. As the only woman of the group, she received a lot of media attention which she increased by describing the “sexual pleasure” she experienced from stabbing her victims. Police also found graphic photographs and descriptions of the murders on her computer in folders titled “Tenderness” and “Need this.”[10]

The gang was caught after one of their intended targets, Prokhor Gorshkov, managed to escape. Subsequently, he was able to give a description of his attackers to police.

fact checked by Jamie Frater