1. Katherine Knight (born: 1955)
Known as Australia’s Hannibal, Katherine Knight was first Australian woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Her first marriage was so violent that she even tried to strangle her husband, hard drinking David Kellett, on their wedding night. She explained it was because he fell asleep after only having intercourse three times. In her next relationship with David Saunders, Knight became so jealous that she cut the throat of his two-month-old dingo pup in front of him, in order to show him what would happen if he ever had an affair before. And although Knight’s next ‘lover’ John Charles Thomas Price was well aware of her violent reputation, he allowed her move into his house and became her next victim. The relationship ended with Knight stabbing Price to death with a butcher’s knife. Price’s autopsy revealed that he had been stabbed at least 37 times, in both the back and front of his body with many of the wounds extending into vital organs. But that’s not all. Few hours after Price had died, she skinned him and hung the skin from a meat hook on the architrave of a door to the lounge room. Then she cut off his head and put it in the soup pot, baked his buttocks, and prepared vegetables and gravy to accompany the ‘roast’. The meal and a vindictive note were set out for the children, but luckily discovered by police before they arrived home.
2. Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614)
Elizabeth Bathory, a countess from the renowned Báthory family of Hungarian nobility, is considered to be the most prolific female serial killer in history. She is remembered as the Blood Countess or Blood Queen. After her husband’s death, she and her collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and young women, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. But Elizabeth herself was neither tried nor convicted. It is known that Elizabeth used molten wax, branding irons and knives to shed their blood. During the winter, she would execute girls by having them strip, led out into the snow, and then would pour water over them until they were frozen. And during the summer she would kill victims by having them strip, covered with honey, and left to be bitten and stung to death by various insects. Some girls were cut with scissors, or pricked with pins, or even prodded with burning irons or sharp spikes in a cage hung from the ceiling to provide her with a “blood shower.” Four years before she died, she was imprisoned in the Csejte Castle, now in Slovakia, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms.
3. Mary Ann Cotton (1832-1873)
Mary Ann Cotton was an English serial killer believed to have murdered 21 people, mainly by arsenic poisoning. It was discovered that Mary Ann had murdered three of her husbands, a lover, a friend, her mother, and a dozen children, all of whom had died of stomach fevers. Her poisoned them all and her motive was either to gain insurance money or to pave way for a new marriage. 21 people close to her died and, believe it or not, up to 15 of them were members of her family. And all that happened within twenty years. At the end, Mary Ann Cotton was found guilty and hanged at Durham County Gaol.
4. Irma Grese (1923-1945)
Irma Ida Ilse Grese, an employee at the Nazi concentration camps of Ravensbrück, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, was convicted for crimes against humanity at the Belsen Trial and executed at 22 years of age. Although she was very young, Irma Greese, also known as the ‘Bitch of Belsen’ or ‘Beast of Auschwitz,’ was promoted to Senior Supervisor, which was the second highest ranking female in camp of Auschwitz. The accusations against Grese centred on her ill-treatment and murder of those imprisoned at the camps, including setting dogs on inmates, shootings and sadistic beatings with a whip. Witnesses testified that she used both physical and emotional methods to torture the camp’s inmates and enjoyed shooting prisoners in cold blood. They also testified to acts of sadism, beatings and arbitrary shootings of prisoners, savaging of prisoners by her trained and allegedly half-starved dogs, and to her selecting prisoners for the gas chambers. After a fifty-three day trial, she was sentenced to hang.
5. Queen Mary I (1516-1558)
Mary I, the only child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to survive childhood, was Queen regnant of England and Queen regnant of Ireland. She is remembered for restoring England to Roman Catholicism after succeeding her short-lived Protestant half brother, Edward VI. In that process, Mary had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian Persecutions. The medieval heresy laws were restored by Parliament, which meant that heretics could be killed and their property and holdings given over to the Crown. Her burning of Protestants had led people to call her ‘Bloody Mary.’ Her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her successor and half-sister, Elizabeth I.
6. Belle Gunness (1859-1908)
Belle Sorenson Gunness was a Norwegian-American serial killer. The physically very strong woman killed most of her suitors and boyfriends, and her two daughters. She may also have killed all of her children and both of her husbands, on different occasions. Her motive was collecting life insurance benefits… and also, the assets stolen or swindled from her suitors became her source of income. Some reports estimate that Gunness killed over 40 people over several decades and most of them were poisoned. Gunness was never caught for the murders and what happened to her was never known. On the record, her death is listed as April 1908, the last time she was seen alive.
7. Beverley Allitt (born: 1968)
Beverley Gail Allitt is a well-known serial killer who murdered four children and injured nine others that were in her care while working as a pediatric nurse. Her main method of murder was to inject the child with potassium chloride or insulin. Although convicted with death in nine cases, Allit attacked thirteen children over a sixty day period before being caught red-handed. She was sentenced to life imprisonment – to be served at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire. In 2005, the BBC made a dramatisation of the story, “Angel of Death”, in which Charlie Brooks played the role of Allitt.
8. Gertrude Baniszewski (1929-1990)
Gertrude Baniszewski was an Indiana divorcée who oversaw and facilitated the prolonged torture, mutilation, and eventual murder of Sylvia Likens, a 16-year-old girl she had taken into her home. Baniszewski was given $20.00 a week to watch the Likens children from their parents who were traveling with the Flordia circus. When the Likens girls parents were late with their first weeks payment for the babysitting, Baniszewski decided to give Sylvia and her sister Jenny a beating… and her brutality escalated over the next three months. She also recruited others to help her beat the children. But that wasn’t the worst. When Sylvia urinated on the mattress one night, the basement was made her prison. She was starved of any food and forced to eat and drink her own feces and urine. She died when she was knocked down onto the concrete floor when she was trying to get the attention of the neighbors. When police arrived, they found Sylvia lying on a mattress on a second-story bedroom. Her body was covered with scars, burns, and welts, and on her stomach was the words “i am a prostitute and proud of it” carved into her skin. When she was convicted of first-degree murder, the case was called “the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in Indiana’s history”.
9. Myra Hindley (1942-2002)
Myra Hindley, known as the ‘Moors Murderess,’ is responsible for murders occurring in the Manchester area of Britain in the mid 1960’s. She and Ian Brady are responsible for the kidnapping, torture, sexual abuse and murder of two teenagers and three children under the age of twelve. The murders are named ‘Moors murders’ because two of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor and third grave was discovered on the moor. Characterised as ‘the most evil woman in Britain,’ Hindley made several appeals against her life sentence, claiming she was a reformed woman and no longer a danger to society, but she was never released.
10. Marybeth Tinning (born: 1942)
Marybeth Tinning is an American serial killer currently serving a 20 years to life sentence after being convicted of the murder of one of her children. Her case is held to be one of the most extreme cases of Münchausen syndrome by proxy. Working as a nurse’s aide, she was notorious for having killed nine of her own children by strangulating them and taking them to the hospital almost dead. For a very long time, hospital authorities thought that these deaths were a genetic problem in the family. But when Marybeth brought her adopted son to the hospital in an unconscious state, and he was later declared to be dead, the doctors began to suspect foul play. It was that nine of her healthy children died suddenly and usually without any rational explanation. Later, she was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.