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10 Ruthless Partners in Crime (That Aren’t Bonnie and Clyde)

by Mikel Tadeje
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

If you’ve heard of Bonnie and Clyde, you know about the partnership that has become synonymous with crime. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow formed the most famous criminal duo in American history, and their names are still used as a shorthand for crime.

But what about all those other criminal partnerships? What about all the other folks who have committed crimes together? In this listicle, we’re going to talk about ten ruthless partnerships in crime that aren’t Bonnie and Clyde. We’ll tell you how they got started, what they did together, and why they were so effective at what they did.

Bonnie and Clyde may be iconic figures in American crime lore, but they weren’t the only criminal duo out there. We’ve got ten more ruthless partnerships in crime that you need to know about!

Related: 10 Serial Killers Caught Because Of The Smallest Errors

10 Gwendolyn Graham and Catherine May Wood

This Week in True Crime History: The Victims of Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood

The lethal lovers. This is the nickname given to a lesbian couple, Gwendolyn Graham and Catherine May Wood, who was convicted of killing five elderly women at a nursing home in Michigan in 1986. The two nurses had worked together at the nursing home for a long time before being arrested on suspicion of murder.

They initially selected their victims based on the word “murder,” hoping that their initials would spell out the word. However, they abandoned that plan. Unfortunately, they were also heavily invested in torturing their victims by choking as well as suffocating them.

During these crimes, Wood would be the lookout while Graham was the one who was actively doing the gruesome murders. Both Gwendolyn and Catherine did it out of the belief that they would be able to bind their relationship forever.

However, things turned out differently when the lovers broke up in 1987. After Wood confided to an ex-spouse, the police were notified, and an investigation began in 1988. Wood was actually convicted of two counts of murder, while Graham was sentenced to five counts. Quite an interesting case to start our list.[1]

9 Alton Coleman and Debra Brown

Crime Spree | FULL EPISODE | The FBI Files

Alton Coleman and Debra Brown were a duo of serial killers who were responsible for a total of eight murders, numerous robberies, three kidnappings, and seven cases of rape. But this crime spree was short-lived. For a three-month period in 1984, 28-year-old Coleman and his 21-year-old girlfriend Brown terrorized the Midwest. Eventually, they were caught and faced trial, where they were both sentenced to death. Coleman was executed in 2002. However, Brown’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1991 after controversial claims of her low IQ and the nature of their “master-slave relationship” spurred the decision.

Alton had already committed a lot of crimes before he met Debra Brown, but that’s not what makes this case so special. What makes it so special is that these two were crazy about each other—so much so that they started killing people together. There’s no doubt about it—Alton Coleman and Debra Brown made quite a pair.[2]

8 Jasmine Richardson and Jeremy Steinke

Jasmine Richardson & Jeremy Steinke : Natural Born Killers

It’s hard to believe that the story of Jasmine Richardson and Jeremy Steinke began with a punk-rock concert. The two began dating, much to the disappointment of Richardson’s parents. And for a good reason—they didn’t want their 12-year-old daughter dating a 23-year-old man! With that, they didn’t allow Jasmine Richardson to see Steinke and locked her inside her room.

However, the couple’s forced separation did not last long, resulting in the murder that happened on April 22, 2006. On that day, Richardson’s parents and her eight-year-old brother were murdered out of the couple’s anger because they forbade Richardson to see Steinke).

At that time, because Richardson was still a minor, she was only sentenced to 10 years, becoming Canada’s youngest multi-victim killer. She was released in 2016. However, Steinke was sentenced to three life sentences for the murders. Known as one of the most gruesome murders that ever happened in the area, this is the reason why these two are a part of this list.[3]

7 Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate

The Real ‘Natural Born Killer’ Charles Starkweather (Born To Kill) | Our Life

Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate were a couple in the 1950s who committed a series of murders that would go down in history as one of the most brutal acts ever committed by teenagers.

One of the very first murders happened in January 1958 in Nebraska. This was when 14-year-old Fugate arrived home only to learn her boyfriend, Charles Starkweather, had killed her mother, stepfather, and baby half-sister while dressing himself up as James Dean. Nineteen-year-old Starkweather and Fugate remained in the house for six more days, turning away all family and visitors. Eventually, the girl’s grandmother became suspicious and contacted the police.

With the police closing in, The two left—maybe not voluntarily on her part—and headed to a friend’s house miles away. That then began a long killing spree. When it ended after Starkweather was caught, another seven people were dead, including two teenagers and a husband and wife.

It was actually believed that Fugate was not an active participant in these crimes but rather a hostage of her boyfriend. However, some witnesses also claim to have seen her taking part in some of the killings, making her an accomplice.

The series of crimes they committed even inspired filmmakers to make their story into a movie, as well as inspiring Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska.” Talk about partners in crime, literally.[4]

6 Ray And Faye Copeland

Serial Killer Documentary: The Copelands (Oldest Serial Killer Couple)

In what has been described as one of the most depraved crimes in history, Ray And Faye Copeland were masterminds of a total of five murders. The duo is actually hailed as one of the oldest couples in history to ever be sentenced to the death penalty too!

The suspicion that these two were murderers began when somebody gave an anonymous tip to the Missouri police that there were human remains in the couple’s farmland. It seems that Ray had devised a scheme to recruit homeless men as “workers” on his farm. Instead, they were used as pawns in Ray’s plan to have them write bad checks to purchase cattle from local auctions. Then, before they could be questioned about the bad checks, the men would disappear—victims of Ray’s .22.

This led to the police investigating, learning they were guilty of such crimes. They eventually found human remains—but not on the Copeland farm. Instead, it was a neighboring farm where Ray had done some work. However, there was some disturbing evidence found inside the Copeland home. With that, both were actually sentenced to death but died because of natural causes.[5]

5 Monique Olivier and Michel Fourniret

Serial Killer Documentary: Michel Fourniret (The Ogre of the Ardennes)

Monique Olivier and Michel Fourniret were a duo of serial killers who were better known as the Virgin Hunters. If you are a serial killer aficionado, this duo might be familiar to you.

Fourniret had led quite a life before he met Monique Olivier. He married twice, having four children, but the marriages ended, both when Fourniret was jailed on separate occasions for sexual crimes against children. During his second stint in jail, he sought a pen pal. Enter nurse Monique Olivier. They began a relationship, and she was waiting for Fourniret when he was released early—for good behavior, no less—from prison in 1986. That was when the killing spree began.

The now-married couple were responsible for various crimes. This ranged from countless murders, harassment, and even abduction between 1987 and 2001. They specifically hunted for virgins, which Olivier confirmed were truly untouched before Fourniret raped and murdered them. Because of these crimes, they became the talk of the town and brought so much fear to the citizens.

However, they were eventually caught as their last would-be victim was able to escape. They were arrested in 2003 and finally convicted in 2008. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole.[6]

4 Alvin and Judith Neelley

How a child murderer went from death row to a parole hearing in Alabama

Alvin and Judith Neelley are responsible for the death of two people. The duo had a total of two murders under their belt before they were caught by the police. Alvin left his wife and three children to elope with the teenage Judith. Starting with a series of armed robberies in the South, they didn’t actually kill anyone until later. Judith became pregnant with twins at age 16, but that didn’t stop the couple. Caught er a failed robbery attempt, they both served time before reuniting upon their release in 1982.

Their first victim was a 13-year-old girl who was tortured, raped, and eventually murdered in an Alabama hotel. After their first target, they then proceeded to commit more crimes, with a couple as their next victims. However, this wasn’t successful, as one of their victims survived and identified the two of them as suspects. Their crimes ended with Judith Neelley being sentenced to death—the youngest female to receive that punishment in American history at that time. However, her sentence was later commuted to life in prison, where she remains today. Alvin was sentenced to life in prison and died in prison in 2005.[7]

3 Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole

The Deadliest Duo in U.S. History – Ottis Toole & Henry Lee Lucas (Serial Killer Documentary)

Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole were two of the most notorious serial killers in history. Together, they claim to have committed hundreds of murders and other crimes, including rape and arson. If the authorities believed Lucas, that number would be as high as 600. Their relationship together was deeply rooted in the physical and sexual abuse that they experienced as kids. Because of such trauma, they found a like-minded individual in each other, thus beginning their criminal—and personal—partnership.

Both men were murderers long before they met, though. Lucas killed his mother in 1960, serving ten years for the crime. When he met Toole at a Florida soup kitchen after being released from a second prison stint in 1975, Toole was believed to have already killed four people. They soon partnered and spent the rest of the 1970s traveling, murdering, and raping their way through 26 states. However, their partnership hit a rocky patch when Luces became interested in Toole’s teenage niece Becky Powell.

Lucas abandoned Toole and ran away with “the only girl he ever loved.” Unfortunately, Becky’s life would soon end. She was 15 when she died—at the hands of Lucas, no less. Not long after, Lucas was arrested in Texas. Toole would later be arrested in 1984 for setting fire to a man… while he was still alive. Once in custody, the two men began confessing to dozens of murders.

With this series of crimes, they were both sentenced to death, but later, for varying reasons, these sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. However, both died of natural causes after serving less than twenty years—Toole in 1996 and Lucas in 2001.[8]

On a sad side note to Toole’s story: In 1983, Toole confessed to killing six-year-old Adam Walsh. John Walsh believes Toole was his son’s killer, and the police agreed. In 2008, they closed Adam’s case, listing Toole as the killer. In addition, Toole’s niece revealed that Toole confessed again on his deathbed that he had indeed killed Adam.

2 Michelle Michaud and James Daveggio

James Daveggio & Michelle Michaud : The Minivan Murder

Michelle Michaud and James Daveggio were a couple of serial killers that terrorized California in the late 1990s. Together, they sexually assaulted and killed a university student in California.

However, this was not the first time the duo had committed such crimes. They had been raping women for years. Daveggio and his girlfriend Michelle looked up to another pair of local serial killers, Gerald and Charlene Gallego. They wanted to make their own mark on the Sacramento area communities to honor their idols. With that in mind, they committed a string of rapes and incest crimes before ending with the torture and death of 21-year-old college student Vanessa Sampson.

Both Daveggio and Michaud were arrested for the torture and death and convicted. They were sentenced to death in 2002, a sentence upheld by the California Supreme Court.[9]

1 Rosemary and Fred West

Fred And Rose West: The Couple That Killed 12 Girls | World’s Most Evil Killers | Real Crime

Rosemary and Fred West were the masterminds of gruesome murders and crimes that happened across Britain for over a decade. Fred’s wife, Rosemary, actually killed her children from her previous marriage, making waves across the country and shocking the world.

Fred’s first marriage was to Catherine, who was pregnant with another man’s child at the time. After giving birth to a daughter in 1963, the couple also sired a daughter of their own, born in 1964. His wife left him in 1969, claiming abuse, and her family last had contact with her in 1971. Fred would later confess to her murder. In addition, he is believed to have murdered the children’s nanny in 1967.

Fred met Rose when she was 15, beginning an affair that would result in their marriage when Rose turned 18 in 1972. For the next twenty years, the deranged, sadistic couple would torture, rape, and murder an untold number of women. There were 12 known victims. Two were Fred’s first wife and nanny, and he was charged alone for these murders. The other ten murders led to charges against both Fred and Rose.

They preyed on young people as their victims—and when caught, Fred killed himself in 1995 before he went to trial while Rosemary is still serving her life sentence in prison.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen