In 2014, Samuel Little, a 74-year-old man, was insistent that he was innocent after being convicted for the murder of three women. Currently serving a life sentence, he has also started talking to law enforcement officials.
He has told the FBI and the Texas Rangers that he has confessed to 90 killings between 1970 and 2005, with 34 killings confirmed. The killings happened all the way across the country because Little never stayed anywhere for long. This could explain why authorities have had difficulty in tying the incidents together. Another factor which helped him was the fact that he targeted vulnerable victims – prostitutes or drug addicts – people who often aren’t reported missing for several weeks.
But Mr. Little isn’t the most prolific serial killer ever (although he’s up there). In South America, Luis Garavito confessed to killing 140 young boys between the age of 8 and 16 years old over a small seven-year period. He is also suspected of killing over 300 people – mostly street kids. In the United States, Gary Ridgway has fewer murders than Mr. Little – although with 49 proven victims, still an impressive body count. Mr. Ridgway was a truck painter who has confessed to killing 71 women. He was known as the Green River Killer and targeted mostly sex workers from Seattle. He is suspected of actually killing at least 90 women.
More well known in the U.S. is probably Ted Bundy – the most charismatic serial killer of all time? He’s officially admitted guilt to 30 murders but has also confessed to killing at least 35 women before. Some think that he has at least 100 victims. He’s known not only for his murderous traits, but also escaping from prison twice and murdering multiple people in a day (what aplomb!). His death sentence was carried out via the electric chair in 1989.
The most prolific killers appear to originate from South America, trailing Mr. Garavito. Pedro Lopez, the Monster of the Andes, is proven to have killed 110 victims, but likely killed far more than that. He targeted girls between the ages of 8 and 12, raping and murdering them. He was released from prison in 1998, and frighteningly, his current whereabouts are unknown. Next is another friendly child murdered, Daniel Barbosa, also of South America. He confessed to killing 72 victims (primarily by strangulation). He also escaped prison and was then incarcerated in Ecuador with Mr. Lopez. Mr. Barbosa met his fate in jail when the nephew of one of his victims exacted their revenge against him.
After South America, the country which housed the most prolific killers was the Soviet Union and Russia (used, rather incorrectly, interchangeably here). The Butcher of Rostov, Andrei Chikatilo, was convicted of murdering 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. He was ultimately executed in 1994. At around the same time, Anatoly Onoprienko was inflicting his own reign of terror in Russia, known as The Beast of Ukraine (or, The Terminator) and killed 43 people in one year. He was sentenced to death, but it was later commuted to life.