On June 28, 1993, State troopers spotted a pickup truck on Southern State Parkway with no licence plates. The driver refused to pull over and a short high-speed chase ensued. The truck crashed and the driver, identified as Joel Rifkin, was placed in handcuffs. As the trooper inspected the truck, he detected a foul odour coming from the back. Further inspection revealed the decomposing body of Rifkin’s latest victim.
In 1994, Rifkin was sentenced to 203 years in prison for 9 counts of second-degree murder. Joel Rifkin is also a strong suspect for some of the bodies attributed to the Long Island Serial Killer, who remains at large.
One of the most notorious serial killers of all time, Ted Bundy’s name and crimes are infamous. Not only was he a vicious serial killer, but a necrophile as well. He admitted to visiting his victim’s gravesites numerous times and having intercourse with the corpse. He’d continue to do so until decomposition made it impossible to continue. Bundy was another serial killer who ended up on law enforcement’s radar due to traffic violations. Pulled over for speeding, the officer noticed a ‘rape kit’ in Bundy’s car. This information in the report would become vital in identifying Bundy as a murder suspect later.
Dennis Nilsen has been dubbed the British Jeffrey Dahmer given that their crimes and motives are so similar.
On February 8th, 1983, various complaints were received regarding blocked drains by the tenants of 23 Cranley Gardens. A Dyno-Rod employee opened the drain and noticed it was blocked with a flesh-like substance and small bones. He called his supervisor, who then contacted police. Forensic tests showed the flesh was human. More remains were found in another pipe that came from the top flat. When police entered to question the tenant, Dennis Nilsen, the smell of decomposition was overwhelming. Nilsen feigned shock initially, but when the detective bluntly asked where the rest of the body was, Nilsen pointed to a wardrobe which held two severed torsos. Dennis Nilsen is currently serving a life order.
On May 14th, 1983, California highway patrol noticed a car driving erratically. They made a traffic stop and ordered the driver, Randy Kraft, to perform a sobriety test, which he failed. After placing Kraft in cuffs and securing him in the back of the police car, the officers attempted to rouse the sleeping passenger, who was slumped in the front passenger seat. He couldn’t be roused, because he was dead. Ligature marks on his neck indicated strangulation. Evidence found in the car, both physical and forensic evidence, pointed to Kraft’s career as a vicious and cruel serial killer. Before killing his victims, Kraft subjected them to horrific torture including castration, having their limbs, genitals and chest burnt with a car lighter, and having their eyelids sliced off to ‘prevent them from closing their eyes’.
Randy Kraft was found guilty on 16 counts of murder, though he’s suspected of around 65-67. Kraft is known as the ‘Freeway Killer’ and ‘The Scoreboard Killer’.
A series of four murder rapes in the mid-eighties had the police combing their files, looking for other cases they may be able to link to the investigation. One stood out. A young woman was attacked and thrown to the ground, presumably so she could be sexually assaulted. When a group of pedestrians appeared, the attacker fled.
He wasn’t hard to find given that he’d dropped his wallet containing all his IDs at the scene.
He was 23-year-old Peter Goebbels. Further investigation proved Goebbels was the killer and he confessed.
Adam Leroy Lane
In July 2007, a 15-year-old girl awoke in the middle of the night to find a man in her bedroom, holding a knife to her throat. Though he told her to remain quiet, she couldn’t help whimpering in terror. Her parents heard her and decided to check on her. They came upon a hulking man of 245 pounds that was Adam Leroy Lane, standing over their daughter with a knife in his hand. The 160-pound father and 135-pound mother worked together and subdued their daughter’s would-be killer. Lane would become known as the ‘Highway Killer’, given that his murders took place just off highways due to his job as a truck driver. Lane’s unusual capture exonerated the husband of one of Lane’s earlier victims when her DNA was found on his knife.
Dennis Radar, the BTK killer
The BTK murders were so brutal and terrifying that the whole city was held hostage in fear. He contacted police and media, describing the murders and signing off as BTK, which stands for Bind Torture Kill.
Thirty years later, the BTK killer still hadn’t been caught. Given the killer’s ego, police believed they could manipulate him into contacting them again by featuring his crimes on popular crime shows and written articles in the papers. It worked. The BTK contacted police and media via letters in 2004. Given the BTK’s brutality and ability to avoid capture for three decades, he proved very gullible in the end. Police trapped him by assuring him that floppy disks aren’t traceable. The killer then sent a floppy disk to police and they traced it back to a church and a man named Dennis Rader. Rader was very shocked that police had lied to him regarding the disk, as he apparently believed they’d built a friendship based on respect. He pled guilty and is serving 10 consecutive life sentences.
David Berkowitz, The Son of Sam
David Berkowitz shot 13 people in the summer of 1976, killing six of them. He’d later claim he was following the orders of a demon that resided in the body of his neighbour Sam’s dog, Harvey.
At the scene of the last shooting, a woman walking her dog observed a police officer placing a ticket on a car. Moments after he left she heard gunshots and a man rushed past her with what she believed was a gun in his hand. He disappeared shortly after and the witness was positive he was the owner of the car with the ticket. She informed police, who searched through their files. They ended up on the doorstep of a man named David Berkowitz. Despite his wacky claims about demons in dogs, Berkowitz was found competed to stand trial. With all the evidence the police had gathered, coupled with Berkowitz’s confession, Berkowitz was found guilty and sentenced to 6 life sentences.
Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper
On January 2nd, 1981, police pulled over a car with false number plates. The driver, Peter Sutcliffe, claimed no wrong doing, not even regarding his companion, a well-known prostitute. He politely asked the officer if he could pee in the bushes, which the officer allowed, before being escorted to the police station. Given that Sutcliffe resembled a composite of the Yorkshire Ripper, and that he’d been caught with a prostitute in his car, police began to question him about the murders. Having found nothing incriminating in the car, the arresting officer went back to the scene where he found a hammer, a knife and some rope that Sutcliffe had discarded when he’d slipped from the officer’s view. When confronted with the findings, Sutcliffe confessed to being the Yorkshire Ripper. He’s currently serving a life order.