Given the success of Netflix’s Making a Murderer, we continue our macabre obsession with true crime stories. As we are reminded of the “ unsolved” murder of Teresa Halbach, we can’t help but think of those unfortunates who are also without justice. We’ve compiled a list of the most notorious serial killers who have never been caught. From the sunny California shores, to the bustling alleyways of Victorian London, these unidentified perpetrators are known by name only. The faces? We can only guess. Check out these evil characters—and feel free to add your own in the comments below.
The Zodiac Killer
Perhaps the most infamous (and infamously elusive) killer of the twentieth century, a shadowy figure known only as Zodiac terrorized northern California in the late 1960s, attacking young lovers in their cars at remote make-out spots in various cities just outside of San Francisco. Like Jack the Ripper, he would brag about his crimes in taunting letters to officials, even going so far as to mask his true identity behind a challenging cipher. One of the chief suspects in the case, Arthur Leigh Allen, died around the time that the anonymous killer’s correspondence to the San Francisco Chronicle editor ceased. Watch David Fincher’s Zodiac, or read Robert Graysmith’s Zodiac: The Full Story of the Infamous Unsolved Zodiac Murders, for more on this expansive case.
DEATH COUNT: 5 (confirmed); 37 (claimed)
Image via: Wikipedia
So named because of the proximity of his victims to the long stretch of interstate highway, this unidentified murderer was active in the mid-west United States in 1992, picking off his victims—6 in total—within a matter of 30 days. These seemingly random attacks were perpetrated against women with similar features and body types (there was one male victim—who often wore his long hair in a ponytail), all working alone in specialty shops near the roadway throughout Indiana, Kansas and Missouri. Upon entering the often empty stores, the killer would shoot his victims in the back of the head, and take a small amount of cash from the register, though investigators believe that thrill killing—not robbery—was the motive in each case. Described as a white man, probably a truck driver in his mid to late twenties, if still alive, this individual would likely be in his early fifties.
DEATH COUNT: 6 (confirmed); 8 (speculated)
Long Island Serial Killer
Image via: Flickr
In 2010, Shannan Gilbert, an escort from New Jersey, experienced a terrifying episode while visiting a john in Long Island, NY. Hysterical, Gilbert ran from the client’s house, in pitch darkness, into the brambly overgrowth near Gilgo Beach. After numerous attempts were made to locate the 24-year-old in the densely wooded area, investigators and police dogs came back empty-handed. However, they did discover ten sets of human remains, nearly all women, wrapped in burlap. Through cold case files, detectives were able to link all of the bodies to missing sex trade workers, some dating back to 1996. Forensic evidence confirms that the crimes were perpetrated by one individual, almost certainly a resident of Long Island, familiar with the South Shore. The body of Shannan Gilbert was eventually found in the area, her cause of death: accidental drowning. Without her “help”, this dumping ground may well have gone undiscovered.
DEATH COUNT: 10 (confirmed); 18 (unconfirmed)
The East Area Rapist / The Original Night Stalker
Image via: Wikipedia
The Original Night Stalker (not to be confused with Richard Ramirez) was an unidentified male who murdered at least ten people in Contra Costa County, California between the late 1970s and early 1980s. He attacked unsuspecting couples in their homes, breaking in through easily accessible entrances and shooting the occupants within. Around the time the Stalker murders abruptly ended, nearby San Francisco was plagued by a sexual predator police had dubbed the East Area Rapist. This attacker broke into homes and raped as many as 50 women over the next seven years. It wasn’t until 2001 that DNA linked the crimes of the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker to the same person. To this day, nobody has been charged with any of the crimes.
DEATH COUNT: 10-13 (confirmed); non-fatal sexual attacks (50+)
Highway of Tears Killer(s)
Image via: Wikipedia
In southern British Columbia, there is a stretch of highway between the towns of Prince George and Prince Rupert that lays claim to an eerie distinction. Since 1969, at least 40 women have disappeared from this area, never to be seen again. Coincidentally, numerous First Nations communities abut this road, communities that lack many basic services like public transportation. As a result, hitchhiking has been a last resort for many nearby residents and wayward travellers, much to the delight of a killer or killers who count on the transient nature or low-income / high-risk background of their prey. There hasn’t been a documented Highway of Tears crime since 2011, and given the span of forty years between the first and the last, it is unlikely—though not impossible—the workings of one singular individual. Very few people have even been questioned as suspects, though a truck driver or mountain man is the most plausible culprit(s).
DEATH COUNT: 40+ (confirmed); 500+ (unconfirmed estimate)
Jack the Ripper
The granddaddy of them all. The case of Jack the Ripper is easily the most well known, and most speculated, in modern history. The victims: five women, all working as prostitutes in London’s unsavoury Whitechapel district, ripped from stem to sternum (save for one, a rush job) by a madman with medical knowledge and expert nocturnal vision. Theories have abounded for over a century; possible suspects have included: a member of Britain’s royal family, a renowned impressionist painter, a Polish butcher, even a woman. Whoever it was, they took one of history’s greatest secrets to the grave.
DEATH COUNT: 5 (confirmed)