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From the Mouths of Murderers: Chilling Glimpses into the Minds of Our Worst Killers

We as a species have always had those who have paced and prowled about out on the periphery of society, targeting and picking people off just as a pack of wolves might do to a herd of deer. There just seems to be a group of individuals that want to go out and sow death, destruction, and disaster, stalking and preying upon us. We may never understand why they do such things or what brings them to such macabre ends, but often we can try to glean some understanding from the things they say. Here we can shine a light into the abyss of darkness that seems to devour some souls, and pierce some ray of light, however feeble it might be, into the yawning chasm of the potential evil of humankind. The fragments of understanding we find there may not always bring us to true enlightenment as to why we commit evil or why it dwells amongst us, but they certainly serve to steady us over that precipice of darkness, where we reach out into the void of pure human malignancy.

Killers have prowled our society since time unremembered, and some of the more breathtakingly gruesome of these emerged back in the 1920s and 30s. In the early 30s we have the American serial killer, rapist, arsonist, and burglar Carl Panzram, who from the early 1920s was hard at work on a brutal killing spree that would leave 21 dead by his own admission, often sailors that he would lure away from bars in New York City only to rape and shoot them dead. Panzram was particularly known for his penchant for sodomizing young boys, which he said he had done around 1,000 times. He had a rather simple philosophy when asked why he had done what he did, saying:

I believe the only way to reform people is to kill them.

He also demonstrated his cold, indifferent nature when he calmly described the killing of a young boy as if it were just a regular, everyday thing like doing the laundry, explaining:

I sat down to think things over a bit. While I was sitting there, a little kid about eleven or twelve years old came bumming around. He was looking for something. He found it too. I took him out to a gravel pit about one quarter miles away. I left him there, but first committed sodomy on him and then killed him. His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him, and he will never be any deader.

Carl Panzram

Between February and November of 1929, a bloodthirsty fiend by the name of Peter Kürten stalked the streets of Düsseldorf, Germany. The serial killer was eventually found guilty of 9 murders and 7 attempted murders, usually sexually assaulting his victims and including the killings of girls as young as 9 years old. Known popularly as the Vampire of Düsseldorf, Kürten got his sinister nickname both from the fact that he liked to drink the blood from his victims and from the sheer viciousness he showed towards ravaging their bodies. He was executed by guillotine in April of 1931, but rather than fear the cold embrace of death he seemed to have been more fascinated by it, rather grimly saying:

After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from my neck? That would be the best pleasure to end all pleasure.

When asked if he had any remorse for his reign of terror, he was equally cold and ruthless, saying:

I have no remorse. As to whether recollection of my deeds makes me feel ashamed, I will tell you. Thinking back to all the details is not at all unpleasant. I rather enjoy it.

In the same era we also have the case of the American serial killer Albert Fish, also known by various scary monikers such as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Moon Maniac, and The Boogey Man, which do a lot to illustrate just how truly evil he really was. Fish was a sexual deviant and degenerate psychopath who was responsible for raping, killing, and cannibalizing perhaps up to 100 children during his dark career, although the true number is not known. He would eventually be convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd and put to death by electric chair in 1936. Of his motivations on such utter depravity, Fish would say:

I always had the desire to inflict pain on others and to have others inflict pain on me. I always seemed to enjoy everything that hurt. The desire to inflict pain, that is all that is uppermost. I saw so many boys whipped, it took root in my head. I am not insane, I’m just queer.

In later years we have the killings and sexual assaults of five children aged 10 to 17 years old, between the years of 1963 and 1965 in the area of Manchester, England, which were also called the Moor Murders. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were arrested and found guilty of the heinous series of crimes, and Hindley in particular would go on to be perhaps fittingly branded by the media as “The Most Evil Woman in Britain.” Hindley would be sentenced to life in prison, and her accomplice Brady would be found to be criminally insane and institutionalized, although he repeatedly asked to be executed for his crimes. Some of their quote shed a bit of dim light onto their murky motives and bizarre relationship, such as Myra Hindley’s quotes when she described how she had been drawn into the whole gruesome mess, blaming Brady and saying:

I was under duress and abuse before the offenses, after and during them, and all the time I was with him (Brady). He used to threaten me and rape me and whip me and cane me. I would always be covered in bruises and bite marks. He threatened to kill my family. He dominated me completely.

Ian Brady, for his part, would make all sorts of creepy statements throughout his institutionalization until his death at Ashworth Hospital in 2017, at the age of 79, including such creepy gems as:

“Unfortunately, many people sleepwalk through life without conscious awareness of their own system, if they have one at all, and are therefore susceptible to external notions of right and wrong imposed by others, particularly members of the often eminently unqualified upper class and their support system, mass media.”

“I reached the stage where, whatever came to mind, get out and do it. I led the life that other people could only think about.”

“Personality disorder is not even recognised in Scotland. They have different laws. In my view more sensible views than in England.”

“They are inventing – daily – disorders for normal behaviour. People are getting sick of everything being classed as a disorder nowadays.”

“I am as pragmatic as soldiers or a politician. You don’t see any regret from Tony Blair. In fact he is minting a future from his war crimes.

“Why are they still talking about Jack the Ripper, after a century? Because of the dramatic background, the fog, cobbled streets…Mine’s the same. Wuthering Heights, Hound Of The Baskervilles…”

“We do whatever we enjoy doing. Whether it happens to be judged good or evil is a matter for others to decide.”

While some of these serial killers may be relatively unknown, in the 1970s we come to some of the most notorious human predators of all time. In the early 1970s, American serial killer Edmund Kemper got his start in killing when he murdered his own grandparents when he was just 15 years old. Upon his release from an institute for the insane at the age of 21, he would then graduate in his later years into the big time, abducting and ruthlessly murdering several young women, who he would pick up hitchhiking and then bring to a secluded area to kill, decapitate, dismember, and finally sexually violate when all of this dirty work was done, usually keeping the heads as trophies. On some occasions he reportedly ate the flesh of his victims as well. Kemper is known to have carried out at least 10 killings from 1964 to 1973, and is notable for his intimidating, hulking presence, standing 6ft 9in tall, his sheer brute strength, and his amazing intellect, with an apparent IQ of 145. There are many quotes by Kemper that give a chilling, haunting portrait of an obviously fractured mind, including:

“Even when she was dead, she was still bitching at me. I couldn’t get her to shut up!”

“I certainly wanted for my mother a nice, quiet easy death like everyone else wants.”

“I just wanted to see how it felt to shoot Grandma.”

“I remember there was actually a sexual thrill . . . you hear that little pop and pull their heads of and hold their heads up by the hair. Whipping their heads off, their body sitting there. That’d get me off.”

“If I killed them, you know, they couldn’t reject me as a man. It was more or less making a doll out of a human being . . . and carrying out my fantasies with a doll, a living human doll.”

“One side of me says, I’d like to talk to her, date her. The other side of me says, I wonder what her head would look like on a stick?”

“The first good-looking girl I see tonight is going to die.”

“I remember it was very exciting … there was actually a sexual thrill … It was kind of an exalted triumphant type thing, like taking the head of a deer or an elk or something would be to a hunter. I was the hunter and they were the victims.”

Edmund Kemper

One of the all time worst serial killers in history, who had his murderous spree during the 1970s, was the madman Ted Bundy, who kidnapped, raped, and killed at least 30 young women by his own count between the years of 1974 and 1978, and probably many more. Bundy was known for being good-looking and charismatic, as well as an incredibly convincing liar and impersonator, at times taking on the roles of authority figures or disabled people to win trust or sympathy. He would then lead his victims to remote areas where he would brutally kill them and have his way with their corpses, often over the course of weeks and many trips back as they rotted away. On other occasions he would straight break into homes and simply beat victims to death in their sleep. For some of the victims he would decapitate their heads and store them as macabre keepsakes in his apartment.

Bundy would be convicted of some of these murders and sentenced to die by electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989. He would later be described as “the very definition of heartless evil” by his own attorney, Polly Nelson, and he has gone on to become one of the most notorious and recognized serial killers of all time. As is fitting for such an icon of pure evil, some of his quotes reflect a good amount of dark energy and unsettling messages, which he would rattle off with disturbing, unflinchingly calm nonchalance, including:

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow”

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God!”

“Murder is not about lust and it’s not about violence. It’s about possession.”

“I’m the most cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch you’ll ever meet.”

“I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, without question, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography.”

“I didn’t know what made people want to be friends. I didn’t know what made people attractive to one another. I didn’t know what underlay social interactions. “

“What’s one less person on the face of the earth, anyway?”

“I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.”

“… I deserve, certainly, the most extreme punishment society has and society deserves to be protected from me and from others like me, that’s for sure.”

“Well-meaning, decent people will condemn the behaviour of a Ted Bundy, while they’re walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down the road to be Ted Bundys.”

“You learn what you need to kill and take care of the details. It’s like changing a tire. The first time you’re careful. By the thirtieth time, you can’t remember where you left the lug wrench.”

Ted Bundy

Operating at around the same time and just as notorious is the infamous and horrifying American serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who adds layers to the unsettling surreal terror of it all in that he led a double life as a clown called “Pogo,” working parties, fundraisers, and other events in full clown regalia, earning him the rather sinister nickname of “The Killer Clown.” Between 1972 and 1978, Gacy sexually assaulted, tortured, and killed no fewer than 33 young men and boys in Cook County, Illinois, with his modus operandi being to strangle them with a makeshift tourniquet, although he was not above simply stabbing them to death on occasion. He would often stash the bodies away in a crawlspace of his home, where they would fester and rot away in hidden dark solitude. He would be convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to death by lethal injection in May of 1994. The list of bizarre quotes by Gacy in his final days is long, and most intriguing is that it often seems that he really truly believed that he was innocent and did not do anything wrong. Some of his more famous quotes are:

“I should never have been convicted of anything more serious than running a cemetery without a license.”

“The dead won’t bother you, it’s the living you have to worry about. “

“A clown can get away with murder.”

“I don’t remember killing anyone, I could have done it without knowing it. I am not sure if I did it.”

“No I don’t think that’s possible. I think it…after 14 years under truth serum had I committed the crime I would have known it. There’s got to be something that would… would click in my mind. I’ve had photo’s of 21 of the victims and I’ve looked at them all over the years here and I’ve never recognized anyone of them.”

“The idea that I’m a homosexual thrill killer, that I stroll down the streets and stalk young boys and slaughter them… Hell, if you could see my schedule, my work schedule, you knew damn well that I was never out there.”

“Keep in mind the public has been brainwashed, and nearly 80% of what is known about me is fantasy and self serving theories of the state. But overall, I am an embarrassment of the justice system because if I am right then they are wrong and the killers are still out there. For political reasons it would be better that I drop dead, then they could all say what a great job they’ve done, and nobody else would be pushing for the truth to come out.”

John Wayne Gacy

During the summer of 1976 up to 1977 we also have the infamous serial killer David Richard Berkowitz, who held New York City in the grip of terror at the time and killed 6 people and injured 7 others in a terrifying series of deadly, random shootings, launching one of the biggest manhunts of the city’s history, all while leaving letters behind that berated and mocked investigators. The media would call him “The Son of Sam,” and he would be found to believe that he was a part of a Satanic cult and that he was receiving orders to kill through his dog, who he thought to be a shapeshifting demon. Berkowitz would be convicted of murder and imprisoned for 6 consecutive life sentences for his crimes, all while a media frenzy exploded around the whole case, making it one of the most well-known of all time. Some of the killer’s more ominous quotes are:

“I was literally singing to myself on my way home, after the killing. The tension, the desire to kill a woman had built up in such explosive proportions that when I finally pulled the trigger, all the pressures, all the tensions, all the hatred, had just vanished, dissipated, but only for a short time.”

“I always had a fetish for murder and death.”

“I wasn’t going to rob her, or touch her, or rape her. I was just going to kill her.”

“I didn’t want to hurt them, I only wanted to kill them.”

“I am deeply hurt by your calling me a women hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the ‘Son of Sam.’ I am a little brat.”

“Sudden death and bloodshed appealed to me.”

“I never heard anyone scream like that. I just kept stabbing and nothing would happen. I just ran off.”

“It just happens to be satisfying to get the source of the blood.”

David Richard Berkowitz

Getting to the late 1970s we have the Scottish serial killer Dennis Andrew Nilsen, also known as the Muswell Hill Murderer and the Kindly Killer, as well as “The British Jeffery Dahmer,” who ruthlessly slaughtered at least 12 young men between the years of 1978 and 1983 in North London, England. Hilsen typically lured unsuspecting victims to various locations, where he would strangle or drown them to death and then rather oddly bathe and dress their corpses, after which he would hold onto them and dissect them at his leisure before ultimately getting rid of the steadily purifying masses of flesh. He would eventually be convicted and sentenced to life in prison, where he languishes to this day. Some peeks into his shattered mind are dark quotes such as:

“I did it all for me. Purely selfish. I worshipped the art and the act of death, over and over. It’s as simple as that. Afterwards it was all sexual confusion, symbolism, honouring the “fallen.” I was honouring myself. I hated the decay and the dissection. There was no sadistic pleasure in the killing. I killed them as I would like to be killed myself, enjoying the extremity of the death act itself. If I did it to myself I could only experience it once. If I did it to others, I could experience the death act over and over again.”

“The victim is a dirty platter after the feast and the washing up is a clinically ordinary task.”

“I am damned and damned and damned. How in heaven’s name could I have done any of it?”

“I have started down the avenue of death and depression…a new kind of flat-mate.”

“I saw him…at peace in my armchair. I remember wishing he could stay in peace like that forever. I had a feeling of easing his burden with my strength.”

In the late 70s and throughout the 80s and even the 90s there was also the rather notorious Dennis Lynn Rader, also more widely known as the BTK Killer, with “BTK” standing for “Bind, Torture, Kill.” That moniker pretty much says it all as to his methods, and he was also well known for taunting police with letters describing his kills in excruciating detail. Between the years of 1974 an 1991 he murdered 10 people in the state of Kansas, and he was finally arrested in 2005, after which he was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences. He would say of his actions and bizarre train of thought:

“When this monster entered my brain, I will never know, but it is here to stay. How does one cure himself? I can’t stop it, the monster goes on, and hurts me as well as society. Maybe you can stop him. I can’t.”

“I actually think I may be possessed with demons, I was dropped on my head as a kid.”

“I brought the community, victims and families dishonour. It’s all self-centred. … I would call myself a sexual predator. Today is the day of judgement for me.”

“A dark side is there, but now I think light is beginning to shine. Hopefully someday God will accept me.”

Dennis Rader

From the late 70s to the early 90s we also have one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, none other than the blood crazed Jeffrey Dahmer, who between 1978 and 1991 raped, killed, and dismembered at least 17 young men and boys. The extremely sadistic Dahmer was known for his necrophilia and cannibalism, as well as for keeping corpses or at least parts of them for trophies. He would be convicted of 15 of the murders that he had carried out and sentenced to a whopping 15 consecutive life sentences, ultimately being beaten to death by another inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution in 1994. Dahmer had all kinds of bloodcurdling quotes that served to maintain his reputation as an evil madman, and which offer fleeting glimpses into the insanity of what drove him to such atrocities, saying things such as:

“I think in some way I wanted it to end, even if it meant my own destruction.”

“It’s just a nightmare, let’s put it that way. It’s been a nightmare for a long time, even before I was caught … for years now, obviously my mind has been filled with gruesome, horrible thoughts and ideas … a nightmare.”

“When I was a little kid I was just like anybody else.”

“After the fear and terror of what I’d done had left, which took about a month or two, I started it all over again. From then on it was a craving, a hunger, I don’t know how to describe it, a compulsion, and I just kept doing it, doing it and doing it, whenever the opportunity presented itself.”

“I knew my grandma would be waking up and I still wanted him to stay with me so I strangled him… I brought him up to the bedroom and pretended he was still alive.”

“Yes, I do have remorse, but I’m not even sure myself whether it is as profound as it should be. I’ve always wondered myself why I don’t feel more remorse.”

“I should have gone to college and gone into real estate and got myself an aquarium, that’s what I should have done.”

“This is the grand finale of a life poorly spent and the end result is just overwhelmingly depressing….. a sick pathetic, miserable life story, that’s all it is”

“I separated the joints, the arm joints, the leg joints, and had to do two boilings. I think I used four boxes of Soilex for each one, put in the upper portion of the body and boiled that for about two hours and then the lower portion for another two hours. The Soilex removes all the flesh, turns it into a jelly like-like substance and it just rinses off. Then I laid the clean bones in a light bleach solution, left them there for a day and spread them out on either newspaper or cloth and let them dry for about a week in the bedroom.”

“I was completely swept along with my own compulsion. I don’t know how else to put it. It didn’t satisfy me completely, so maybe I was thinking, ‘Maybe another one will. Maybe this one will.’ And the numbers started growing and growing and just got out of control, as you can see.”

Jeffrey Dahmer

Between 1988 and 1989 there was also the absolute monster known as Arthur Shawcross, also known as the “Genesee River Killer.” While active in Rochester, New York, in total he would eventually kill at least 11 people, mostly prostitutes, and was sentenced to prison at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York up until his death of cardiac arrest on November 10, 2008. He is famous for having been released on parole in 1987 from a 25 year prison sentence for two earlier killings after only 12 years, despite dire warnings that Shawcross was a “schizoid psychopath,” after which he would continue murdering again, sparking Michael H. Stone, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, to say it was “one of the most egregious examples of the unwarranted release of a prisoner.” Looking at some of his dark, grotesque musings, in retrospect releasing him early was most certainly a bad idea, with him saying such gruesome and sickening things as:

“I took the right leg of that woman’s body, from the knee to the hip took the fat off and ate it while he stared at the other girl. When I bit into it she just urinated right there.”

“She was giving me oral sex, and she got carried away . . . So I choked her.”

“I bit into the flesh itself and just stared into her eyes. She urinated and defecated on herself and told me everything I wanted to know.”

“When I picked these women up, I thought I had Aids, because one of the women who stopped in the car told me of of the women I took home is HIV positive. I didn’t know which one of them were, so I went back and picked up all the ones I dated and I started killing them. While I was doing that, I took the vagina of three and ate it. Why I did that I don’t know, probably to speed up the idea of the Aids disease.”

“I don’t have any remorse for some reason…..Something inside of me is weird.”

“There’s always a bad man in me, you never can get rid of it. He’s behind a door somewhere. I’m trying to keep him there. I don’t want to hurt no body else.”

The 1980s produced another one of the most widely known serial killers to have ever walked the planet in the form of Richard Ramirez, also known as “The Night Stalker.” From June 1984 until August 1985, Ramirez indulged in a creepy spree of murders that involved him breaking into people’s homes in the dead of night and killing his sleeping victims with a vast arsenal of weapons as varied as guns, hammers, knives, machetes, and even a tire iron. An unrepentant Satanist, Ramirez never showed even the slightest iota of remorse for his bloody crimes, even when faced with his ultimate sentence of 13 death sentences. Deemed to exhibit “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding” by his sentencing judge, some of the quotes from Ramirez do little to dispel the gravity of this conclusion, with him saying things such as:

“Even psychopaths have emotions; then again, maybe not.”

“We’ve all got the power in our hands to kill, but most people are afraid to use it. The ones who aren’t afraid, control life itself.”

“Satanists need to have more faith than Christians, because Christ was seen and felt. Lucifer has never felt the need to be seen, but in everyone’s soul he can be felt.”

“I want the electric chair. They should have shot me on the street. I did it, you know. You guys got me, the Stalker. Hey, I want a gun to play Russian Roulette. I’d rather die than spend the rest of my life in prison. Can you imagine the people caught me, not the police.”

“Tell Satan you love him.”

“I’m one angry motherfucker. I just hope all those who are deserving will get what’s coming to them. I’ll just leave it at that.”

“The sex drive is the most important and powerful behaviour in mankind.”

“What Satan means to me-Satan is a stabilizing force in my life. It gives me a reason to be; it gives me-an excuse to rationalize. There is a part of me that believes he really does exist. I have my doubts, but we all do, about many things.”

Richard Ramirez

Last we come to the only female serial killer on this list, the depraved American murderer Aileen Wuornos, who between 1989 and 1990 shot to death 7 men in the state of Florida in cold blood. After her arrest, she tried to play it all off as a case of self defense, and that she had killed these men after they had tried to rape her during her time as a prostitute, but the jury would see things differently, and she was sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. This was obviously an individual with a chip on her shoulder against humanity, and especially men in particular, and she spouted off lines such as:

“I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again.”

“They say it’s the number of people I killed, I say it’s the principle.”

“They’re daring me to kill again.”

“To me, this world is nothing but evil, and my own evil just happened to come out cause of the circumstances of what I was doing.”

“I am a serial killer. I would kill again.”

“I need to die for the killing of those people.”

“I really got tired of it all. I was angry about the johns.”

“May your wife and children get raped, right in the ass.” (To the jurors who convicted her)

“I robbed them, and I killed them as cold as ice, and I would do it again, and I know I would kill another person because I’ve hated humans for a long time.”

These cases and the words they have spawned may not completely drag into the light the motives or the reasoning behind these horrific crimes. They may not bring totally into focus what would drive a person to engage in such deviant behavior and we may never fully understand the demons churning within such monsters. They do, however, offer us a fleeting glimpse into the murky world of the thought processes behind some of the most renowned serial killers in history and an undeniably intriguing glimpse into what makes them tick. These are stolen peeks into the minds of psychopaths and sociopaths that offer up just as much food for speculation as they do fuel for nightmares, and although we may never truly comprehend the forces that drive them, we can at least gain some semblance of the dark purpose or force that drives them, whether most of us can ever fully understand that or not.