Back in 1834, Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie's New Orlean's mansion burst into flames. Neighbors watched in horror as LaLaurie desperately saved her jewels and furs, but not her slaves. Rumor has it the bystanders heard moans and cries from the attic, prompting them to burst into the house and find a torture chamber in the attic where LaLaurie's slaves were locked in various states of living decay. Stories vary and accounts are hazy, but some reported gouged eyes, corpses in heaps, mouths sewn shut and flayed skin; hundreds of slaves still alive in a festering state of starvation. Whatever the truth may be, LaLaurie was known to have once chased a young slave off a roof and attempted to bury the body. Later, after the fire, a mob of 4,000 looted and ransacked her house in a rage, prompting LaLaurie to flee to Paris where it's thought she lived out her life in ill-deserved peace.
Back in 1885, a murderer terrorized Austin, Texas. Attacking his victims in their beds before dragging the women outside to murder and mutilate them, the Servant Girl Annihilator is thought to have killed eight to 16 people using an axe. Six of the women had a "sharp object" inserted into their ears.
Never captured, England's most notorious killer was Jack the Ripper, a man or woman who murdered five prostitutes all within a mile of each other in London's East End during the fall of 1888. Hundreds of suspects have been named throughout history, none of which have ever been formally convicted. It is suggested that Jack the Ripper was a doctor as the mutilated bodies led officials to believe the killer had a knowledge of human anatomy.
In 1911, 15 women were brutally stabbed and murdered in Atlanta. As many of the young women were African American or of mixed race, the papers were slow to cover the slayings, and the Atlanta Ripper was never caught. Various stories emerged from the time about women who came into contact with the Atlanta Ripper, notably Emma Lou Sharpe, who, after going out to look for her missing mother, came upon the killer in the street. After exchanging a few words, he stabbed her in the back. She was able to run to safety, but her mother was later found dead.
From 1918 to 1919, the Axeman of New Orleans killed 12 people with an axe, murdering them in their beds while they slept. Someone claiming to be the serial killer sent the local newspapers a letter taunting police and warning readers that another attack would take place, but that the killer would avoid any house that played jazz. Apparently he was quite the music lover. Although no one was murdered that night, the Axeman continued his spree in the following months and finally ended his attacks in August, never to be caught.
During the 1930s, the Cleveland Torso Murderer decapitated andkilled 13 people. The crimes appeared to be committed by someone familiar with human anatomy. Torsos and other body parts turned up in different areas for months, with decapitation as the main cause of death for most of the victims.
The Moonlight Murders took place in 1946 in Texarkana, a small town between Texas and Arkansas where a serial killer targeted teenaged lovers and one older married couple. The small town went into a frenzied panic, employing the help of the Texas Rangers, but no one was ever convicted of the five murders and several assaults. Some witnesses claimed the Moonlight Killer wore a white mask or sack with eye holes.
Known for a string of murders in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s, the Zodiac Killer was never identified despite his taunting letters sent to local papers between 1968 and 1974. Murdering several teenaged lovers while they sat in or near their parked cars, the Zodiac Killer shot most of his victims to death, but is thought to have brutally stabbed two other victims, one who survived. The Zodiac Killer sent handwritten letters to local newspapers detailing the murders and his now iconic circle-with-a-cross-through-it symbol, along with a three-part cipher he claimed would identify him. Fascination with the case over the years has spurred books and movies on the Zodiac Killer, but this serial killer has yet to be identified.
In the late 1970s, the Babysitter killed at least four children over 13 months. All four bodies were found placed neatly in snow banks in plain sight of homes, police stations and highways. All four children were abducted and it is thought that they may have been kept captive for a period of days.
Between 1976 and 1986, the Original Night Stalker, or East Area Rapist, committed 12 murders, 45 rapes and more than 120 burglaries. The FBI has recently reinvigorated the case with a large reward and publicity campaign to find the Original Night Stalker. So far, they have not caught anyone, but the $50,000 reward should help.
In 1989, the Stoneman began to terrorize the homeless community in Calcutta, India. Crushing the skulls of at least 13 victims, the Stoneman was never caught and there have even been incidents in recent years that resemble the type of murders from the late '80s.
Outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, the remains of 11 women were found in various states of decomposition scattered in shallow graves over a 92-acre patch of land. The women identified were known drug users and prostitutes, prompting some to claim that a case this devastating has remained unsolved for so long because the law enforcement and public are less concerned with marginalized groups such as sex workers and drug users.
With a murder count of at least 10 and possibly up to 17, the Gilgo Beach Killer may have been on the loose for the last two decades. The victims' remains were found along Gilgo Beach. Call girls and prostitutes, the women have been found in burlap sacks and blankets scattered along the beach with strangulation as the main cause of death. With several dead end leads, the Gilgo Beach Killer has not been caught. Bodies have continued to be discovered as recently as 2013.