Serial killers such as the Green River Killer, the BTK Killer and the Golden State Killer are remembered for their heinous acts. What makes their stories even more terrifying is that they, and many other serial killers, are still alive today.
Serial killings are a relatively rare event. According to the FBI, only 1 percent of murders that occur in the U.S. in a year are committed by serial killers. John Douglas, a former chief of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit and author of Mind Hunter, believes that a “conservative” estimate of how many active serial killers are in the United States at any given time is between 25 and 50. In 2019, the CDC reported that there were 19,141 homicides in the United States, meaning that out of these victims, 191 people could have been murdered by a serial killer.
However, people remain horrified and fascinated by serial killers. There are countless books, movies and television programs, both fiction and non-fiction, dedicated to certain cases. It may be because people see serial killers from a safe distance: there are few active serial killers and the most notorious are likely long dead.
The Radford University/FGCU Serial Killer Database, a collection of serial killer data assembled by forensic psychology professor Dr. Mike Aamodt, shows that the number of serial killers peaked in the 1980s — decades ago.
While this all seems comforting the reality is there are still serial killers alive and well today. Even some of the most well-known murderers who have been caught, such as Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a.k.a. the “Golden State Killer,” is still alive. He was active during the 1970s and ’80s but was arrested in 2018 at the age of 74. Theoretically, the quiet grandparent next door could have a terrifying past.
“The majority of serial killers are not reclusive, social misfits who live alone. They are not monsters and may not appear strange,” the FBI’s report, Serial Murder Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators, reads. “Many serial killers hide in plain sight within their communities. Serial murderers often have families and homes, are gainfully employed, and appear to be normal members of the community.”
“We’re all vulnerable. It doesn’t matter how much you know, how experienced you are, how many suspect interrogations you’ve handled successfully,” Douglas wrote in Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. “It doesn’t matter if you understand the technique. Each of us can be gotten to.”
Keep scrolling to see the most terrifying murderers who are alive today.
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