Killing is a messy business especially when you’re a serial murderer and the bodies are stacking up. There are two processes in serial killing—the front-end process which is the act of killing itself and the back-end process which is the hiding or destroying of evidence. It’s often in this final process that most serial killers are caught as disposing of a body isn’t the easiest of tasks.
These following serial killers all took matters even further and began to get very creative with their victims’ corpses. Whether it is feeding them to live animals or cashing in the cadavers for a tidy profit; here are the top 10 most gruesome ways notorious serial killers disposed of their victims.
10 Joe ‘The Alligator Man’ Ball
Fed Them To Alligators
Serial killer Joe Ball also became known as ‘The Alligator Man‘ after the remains of his victims were discovered at his tavern in Elmendorf, Texas. It is believed he killed as many as 20 women.
Following prohibition, Ball opened the tavern where he often hosted cockfights. Then Ball decided to attract some real attention—he caught some alligators from the nearby low-water areas and put them in a concrete pool. According to Elton Cude Jr., whose father helped investigate Ball, said, “Any wild animal, possum, cat, dog, or any other animal without an owner helped make the show a little better. Get drunk, throw an animal in and watch the alligators.”
It wasn’t long before women in the local area were reported missing including Ball’s barmaids, former girlfriends, and even his wife. In 1938, when deputies arrived to question Ball, he grabbed a handgun and shot himself dead. This was a man with a lot to hide.
Police officers checked the pool and noticed the alligators were surrounded by rotten meat. They also discovered an ax matted with blood and hair. They soon realized the fearsome Ball had killed and mutilated his victims—then threw them into the jaws of the beasts below.
9John ‘Acid Bath Murderer’ Haigh
Dissolved Them In Acid
British serial killer John George Haigh killed six victims between 1944 and 1949. He dissolved the bodies in sulphuric acid until they became liquid and poured the remains down the drain earning him the nickname ‘Acid Bath Murderer’. He even sinisterly admitted to drinking their blood.
Haigh has already spent four years behind bars for fraud after he set up a false lawyer’s office. Then following his release, he turned to a more sinister get-rich-quick scheme. Haigh first killed a young man and his parents; luring the victims to his basement in London like lambs to the slaughter then forged paperwork so he could financially benefit from their estate.
His next victims were a wealthy couple who he shot and killed then once again forged paperwork to take control of their estate. His final victim was an elderly lady who he killed and robbed of jewelry and other valuables, including her fur coat.
When Haigh was finally arrested, he stated, “I have destroyed (the victims) with acid. You can’t prove a murder without a body.” Haigh genuinely believed he could not be charged if a body was not present. He was sentenced to death and hanged at Wandsworth Prison in 1949.
8 Robert ‘The Pig Farmer’ Pickton
Sold Them As Meat
Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton was a pig farmer who would grind up his victims and sell the remains as mincemeat. Between 1983 and 2002, he murdered six victims in Vancouver by either injecting them with antifreeze or stabbing them to death.
In 1997, one woman escaped from the farm and managed to flee, naked and suffering from stab wounds. She ran to the police but they dismissed her claims believing she was an unreliable witness.
Pickton eventually confessed to an undercover officer who was posing as his cellmate. When asked about the best way to dispose of a body, Pickton said, “A rendering plant.” A rending plant converts animal tissue into more useful materials like lard. This was Pickton’s favorite twisted method and once he minced up the bodies—he sold the remains off as meat.
He also confessed, “I made my own grave by being sloppy. Doesn’t that just kick you in the ass now?” It is believed the real victim count could be 49 women as Pickton told the undercover officer he was aiming for the “big 5-0”. He was sentenced to life behind bars with no possibility of parole.
7 Zhang Yongming
Fed Them To His Dog
In 2012, Chinese serial killer Zhang Yongming who became known as the ‘Cannibal Monster of Yunnan’ was found guilty of killing 11 young men. He would either dismember, burn or bury the bodies. Some remains he also fed to his dog and other remains he sold at a local market in Kunming city which he led people to believe was ‘Ostrich Meat’.
Youngming had already been convicted of murder in 1979 but was released from prison in 1997. He became a suspect in the murders when many young boys started to go missing near his home and parents feared they had been sold into slave labor. One boy was grabbed around the neck by Yongming’s belt but he luckily managed to escape.
Police then discovered human remains inside his home including flesh hanging to dry and eyeballs in wine bottles. A statement released by the court said, “He used cruel means to kill the victims, and the circumstances and consequences were especially serious.” In 2013, he was escorted to an execution site and executed.
6 Luis ‘La Bestia’ Garavito
Buried Them In A Mass Grave
Between 1992 and 1999, Luis Garavito terrified the streets of Colombia as he traveled to as many as 54 towns in the country, in various disguises, where he lured young boys—aged between eight and sixteen-years-old—to their death. Garavito, also known as ‘La Bestia’ which translates to ‘The Beast’, would walk his young victims for miles so they became tired, then he would tie them up and torture them. He also mutilated their genitals.
The boys were mostly ‘street kids’ who were separated from their families so many of the murders went undetected. Then in 1997, a mass gravesite in a ravine in Pereira, initially thought to be the work of a satanic cult, was uncovered containing the remains of 25 children. This is where Garavito dumped the bodies and he almost got away with the murders until investigators discovered his spectacles at the gravesite which had a rare prescription.
Following his arrest, photos of the victims and journals including a ‘tally chart’ of his victims were found at his apartment. Garavito eventually confessed to more than 300 murders and 138 were confirmed. He was sentenced to life in prison.
5 John Christie
Stuffed Them Into The Walls Of His Kitchen
British serial killer John Christie murdered six women, including his wife, in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1938, he moved into 10 Rillington Place in West London with his wife, Ethel. Then a decade later, his marital home became a house of horrors as he hid the bodies of his victims within the walls and grounds of the property.
His first two victims, 21-year-old Ruth Fuerst and 32-year-old Muriel Eady were buried in the garden. Next was his neighbor, 20-year-old Beryl Evans, who he disposed of in a sewer drain and her husband was wrongfully accused and executed for the murder.
Christie was running out of room in the garden, so he began stuffing the bodies within the walls of his kitchen. 25-year-old Rita Nelson, 26-year-old Kathleen Maloney, and 26-year-old Hectorina McLennan were later discovered there. The stench of the rotting bodies hidden within the walls eventually became overpowering and he moved from the house. When the new residents renovated the kitchen, they discovered the source of the gruesome smell and also recovered the body of Ethel Christie from under the floorboards in the parlor.
Christie was hanged for his crimes in 1953.
Fed Them To His Other Victims
Gary Heidnik is one of the most grotesque serial killers of all time. In 1986 and 1987, he kidnapped and tortured six women; trapping them in his basement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. What happened in that basement is so terrifying it reads like a horror movie.
Former FBI Profiler and ‘Mindhunter’ author John Douglas revealed that Heidnik still haunts him today. Douglas said, “(Heidnik) was even worse than the guy Buffalo Bill in the movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’”. (He) would fill the pit up with water and not drown (his victims) but have them stand in water up to their necks and then get electric wire and torture them while they were in the water.”
Adding, “What made it even worse was after he killed them he then would put the victims in a meat grinder and fed (them to the other) victims.”
Luckily one victim managed to convince the depraved killer to let her go temporarily so she could visit her family; she managed to make her way to a phone booth and call 911. Heidnik was executed via lethal injection in 1999.
3Albert ‘The Gray Man’ Fish
Cooked And Ate Them
Albert Fish was a child serial killer and cannibal who took the lives of 8-year-old Francis McDonnell, 8-year-old Billy Gaffney, and 10-year-old Grace Budd. Fish later boasted that during his reign of terror, he had children in every State” and that the real victim count was around the 100 mark.
After the murders, he continued to terrorize the parents of his victims. Fish penned a sinister letter to the mother of Grace Budd, explaining in haunting detail how he dismembered and cooked the remains of the young girl. Fish wrote, “(I) cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms—cook and eat it. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body.”
However, the letter was the downfall of Fish as he used an envelope that was emblazoned with the address of his rooming house in New York City. Fish made no attempt to deny any of the murders and he was executed by electrocution at Sing Sing Prison in New York in 1936. Pictured is an X-Ray of Fish’s pelvis showing needles he inserted for pleasure.
2 Dr. H. H. Holmes
Sold The Parts For Science
Born Herman Mudgett, later changing his name to Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, this notorious monster is widely known as America’s first serial killer. In 1893, he built a hotel in Chicago which was nothing less than a giant, elaborate torture chamber in which rooms contained unusual and cruel ways to die. He eventually confessed to 27 murders although the real victim count was most likely around the 200 count.
At his ‘Murder Castle’, he would lure victims with the offer of work at his pharmacy, then insist they take out a life insurance policy of which he was the sole beneficiary. Once they disappeared into the hotel, never to be seen again, he would collect the money. Holmes became an expert in disposing of the dead. Also, his medical connections through the pharmacy enabled him to sell on organs and skeletons to medical schools in Chicago who were always demanding more cadavers for their students.
Holmes later stated, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. He was hanged for his crimes at Moyamensing Prison in 1896.
1 Ed Gein
Turned Them Into Household Goods
Imagine becoming such a gruesome serial killer that your very crimes inspired the likes of Buffalo Bill in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, Leatherface in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’. Well, Ed Gein is the inspiration behind all three as he planned to create a makeshift and very gross replica of his late mother, Augusta Gein.
Following her death in 1945, Ed claimed he had lost the only woman he ever loved. At their home located on a remote farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin, he boarded up all the rooms once used by his mother and resided alone in the small kitchen. Ed then murdered two women and dug up the graves of many other females.
When detectives arrived at his home, as he was the last person to have seen one of the victims alive, they found a scene that nobody could have prepared for. They found a decapitated corpse, organs in jars, skulls used as bedposts, a belt made of human nipples, nine vulvas in a shoebox and masks made of human skin.
Ed spent the rest of his days inside a mental health institute and died at the age 77-years-old. A number of the items Gein made are featured in our video above.