Serial killer quotes. Easy enough to find, right? Yes, they are easy to find. In fact, there are multiple books and whole slices of the internet dedicated to the words of murderers.
But as you read about these monsters, it soon becomes clear that their most cited quotes are self-pitying and aimed at deflecting scrutiny of their actions, or conversely, boastful about the murders they committed. Often, such boasts were extremely graphic and served to mock their victims, many of whom were children.
Here are 20 serial killer quotes that reveal the depth of these murderers' horrifying nature.
1. The Zodiac Killer
“If the blue meanies are going to get me they’d better get off their asses and do something.”
This infamous killer operated in Northern California from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. At least four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29 were targeted, with five confirmed deaths. The Zodiac Killer claimed to have killed a total of 37 people. His first confirmed victim was an 18-year-old college student that was stabbed to death in Riverside, California. Soon after this murder, a local newspaper received a letter that provided details of the crime and claimed that it would not be his last victim. Soon other similar murders followed with phone calls from the killer to the police. His nickname originated from a series of taunting letters and phone calls sent to local Bay Area press in which he would meticulously explain the mystical and intellectual basis of his decision to kill. His letters demonstrated his interest in astrological symbolism and may have reflected the influence of occult religious thought.
2. Jeffrey Dahmer
“The killing was a means to an end. That was the least satisfactory part. I didn’t enjoy doing that. That’s why I tried to create living zombies with uric acid in the drill [to the head], but it never worked. No, the killing was not the objective. I just wanted to have the person under my complete control, not having to consider their wishes, being able to keep them there as long as I wanted.”
Jeffrey Dahmer—also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal—was an American serial killer and sex offender. He was convicted of the rape, murder, and dismemberment of 16 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. Dahmer began his fatal crime spree at the age of 18 in the summer of 1978, when he picked up a hitchhiker, Steven Mark Hicks, and lured him to his house on the pretext of drinking together. After several hours of drinking and listening to music, Dahmer struck Hick with a dumbbell. When Hicks fell unconscious, Dahmer strangled him to death, stripped Hicks' body of his clothes and proceeded to masturbate above the corpse. Convicted of 15 of the 16 murders he committed in Wisconsin and Hicks's murder in Ohio, Dahmer was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment. Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the preservation of body parts of his victims.
3. Peter Kürten
“Tell me—after my head is chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”
Peter Kürten was a German serial killer who committed a series of murders and sexual assaults throughout 1929 in the city of Düsseldorf. Kürten—also called the Vampire of Düsseldorf or the Düsseldorf Monster—was found guilty of nine counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder. On April 1931, Kürten was sentenced to death by beheading. He was responsible for the 1913 murders of two young girls, only nine and 17 years old. Kürten was belived to occasionally attempt to drink the blood from his victims wounds, the location of a majority of his murders, and the savagery he inflicted upon his victims' bodies.
4. Carl Panzram
“I am sorry for only two things. These two things are I am sorry that I have mistreated some few animals in my life-time and I am sorry that I am unable to murder the whole damed [sic] human race.”
An American serial killer, rapist, arsonist, robber, and burglar, Carl Panzram reportedly killed as many as 22 victims. An itinerant thief, Panzram targeted men and boys all across the United States. Panzram's killing spree began in 1920 when he lured sailors in New York away from bars and began to get them drunk. Then he raped, shot, and dumped their remains into the river; he claimed to have killed ten sailors in all. From there he began a killing spree which ran along the Northeastern coast and included Luanda, Angola. In 1928, Panzram was arrested for burglary and held in Washington, D.C. During his interrogation, Panzram voluntarily confessed to killing two boys. Before his hanging, Panzram proceeded to write an autobiography in which he detailed his supposed crimes, many of which are believed to have been fabricated.
5. John Wayne Gacy
“You know … clowns can get away with murder.”
Known as the Killer Clown, John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist. He sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men. Gacy's murders were committed within the metropolitan area of Chicago; all of his known murders were committed inside his Norwood Park ranch house. His victims were brought to his home either by force or deception. His victims were frequently murdered by asphyxiation or strangulation with a makeshift tourniquet, with the exception of his first victim who was stabbed to death. Gacy concealed the bodies of most of his victims in the crawl space of his home, only discarding bodies elsewhere when the space was filled. Gacy's side hustle as Pogo the Clown has led to the degree to which his crimes capture the American imagination.
6. Edmund Kemper
“ … if I killed them, you know, they couldn’t reject me as a man.”
This American serial killer, who you may know recognize from Netflix's Mindhunter, murdered ten people. He regularly engaged in necrophilia and claimed to have consumed the flesh of at least one of his victims. Kemper had a disturbed childhood and moved from California to Montana with his abusive mother at a young age. He eventually returned to California to live with his grandparents, who would become his first victims. Kemper was only 15 when he killed his caretakers. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and sentenced to a psychiatric facility. After convincing doctors that he had been successfully rehabilitated, Kemper was released when he was 21. Soon after, he began to target young female hitchhikers. He was able to seem non-threatening to these victims and lured them into his vehicle. Instead of dropping them off at their desired location, Kemper would drive them out into the woods and murder them. He would then take the corpses back to his home to be decapitated, dismembered, and violated.
7. Herbert Mullin
“I saw the light over the confessional and the voice said: That’s the person to kill.”
The 1970s in California were seemingly a dangerous time, between infamous killers like the Zodiac and lesser-known, but equally (or more!) deadly killers, like Herbert Mullin. Mullin confessed to 13 killings. He claimed that voices told him that a deadly earthquake was coming, and only the sacrifice of life would save the state. Mullin believed that the Vietnam war had essentially been a form of human sacrifice that prevented horrific natural disasters, but as the war wound down, the earthquakes would begin again. He would commit his first murder in 1972 when he killed Whitey, a homeless man, with a baseball bat. Over the next four months, he would kill 12 more innocent people, including a group of four teenage boys.
8. David Berkowitz
“I live for the hunt—my life.”
Known as the Son of Sam, Berkowitz was the subject of the biggest police manhunt in the history of New York City. After beginning his killing spree, Berkowitz left letters that mocked the police and promised further crimes, which were publicized by the media. He was responsible for killing six young people and wounding seven others with a .44-caliber revolver. The killing spree terrorized many New Yorkers and achieved worldwide notoriety. In 1977, Berkowitz was taken into custody by New York City police homicide detectives, where he confessed that he was following orders from a demon, manifested in the form of a dog. However, it was determined that Berkowitz was mentally competent to stand trail. Berkowitz is currently serving six consecutive life sentences.
9. Ed Gein
“Not too long, I had other things to do.”
Gein said this after he was asked just how long he wore the skin masks he crated from his victims. The Wisconsin murderer, known as the Mad Butcher of Plainfield, killed two people and snatched numerous bodies from graves. While Gein is officially not a serial killer—a serial killer is a person who murders three or more people—his ghoulish behavior earns him a spot on this list. Gein confessed to killing two women—Mary Hogan, a tavern owner, and Bernice Worden, a Plainfield hardware store owner. When authorities searched Gein's home, they found horrifying, handmade trophies and keepsakes from the bones and skin of the bodies Gein exhumed. In 1968, Gein was found guilty, although legally insane, of the murder of Worden and was thus remanded to a psychiatric institution. By 1984, Gein had died, still ensconced in the Mendota Mental Health Institute, of cancer-induced liver and lung failure.
10. Jack the Ripper
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother pirce I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.
Only one of the best-known unidentified serial killer from London, Jack the Ripper's crimes still haunt readers centuries later His attacks typically involved female sex workers who lived and plied their trade in the slums of the East End of London. One of his distinctive factors was cutting the throats of his victims; he also removed the internal organs of at least three victims. The killer gained more widespread attention with the circulation of the "From Hell" letter which arrived at the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee with half a preserved human kidney from a victim, a portion of which you can read above.
11. Jane Toppan
"That is my ambition, to have killed more people—more helpless people—than any man or woman who has ever lived."
Jane Toppan—also known as "Jolly Jane"—was a nurse from Lowell, Massachusetts who wasn't trying to save lives. She secretly began to experiment with morphine and atropine on her patients before specifically poisoning people in her life. She admitted to killing at least 31 people but was not found guilty by reason of insanity. She spent the rest of her days in Taunton State Hospital.
12. H. H. Holmes
"I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing."
Often considered the country's first modern serial killer, H. H. Holmes confessed to 27 murders, although only nine could be plausibly confirmed. H. H. Holmes abandoned his first wife and child in the Northeast to flee accusations of fraud, poisoning, and murder. He arrived in the outskirts of Chicago and quickly swindled his way up. Soon, he drew up blueprints for a three-story building that would include a drugstore, apartments, and retail space—but let's not forget the trap doors, airtight rooms, and basement to dispose of bodies. By 1892, the three-story building—or the Murder Castle—was complete and ready for Holmes to lure in transitional, young women who had arrived in Chicago in search of work. He spent the next four years conning, killing, and kidnapping, before being executed for the murder of his associate, Benjamin Pitezel.
13. Aileen Wuornos
"I want the world to know I killed these men, as cold as ice. I've hated humans for a long time. I killed them in cold blood, real nasty."
Perhaps the most notorious female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos shot and killed seven men in Florida. Wuornos, who was a sex worker, claims to have killed each of the seven after they attempted to rape her. On October 5, 2002, Wuornos was executed at Florida State Prison, becoming the tenth woman executed in the US. She had a tragic childhood filled with abandonment, sexual abuse, and emotional neglect. At least one of her victims was a convicted rapist, but it remains unclear the degree to which self-defense factored into Wuornos's crimes.
14. Richard Ramirez
"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."
Dubbed the "Night Stalker", Ramirez was responsible for a highly publicized home invasion spree that terrorized the residents of the greater Los Angeles area. He was a rapist, killer, and burglar who used guns, knives, and hammers to commit his crimes. Ramirez frequently targeted the homes of elderly women. An avowed Satanist, Ramirez never expressed any remorse for his crimes.
15. Albert Fish
"I like children, they are tasty."
A child rapist and cannibal, Albert Fish was a suspect in at least five murders during his lifetime. His most well-known crime is the murder of Grace Budd, a small girl from New York City whom he kidnapped, dismembered, and ate over the course of nine days. Fish was put on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Budd and was eventually convicted and executed by the electric chair. Psychiatrists who interviewed Fish revealed that he was a sadomasochist adamant who enjoyed inflicting pain on himself and his victims.
16. Mary Bell
"I like hurting little things that can't fight back."
Back in 1968, Mary Bell strangled to death two young boys in Scotswood. A few days before her 11th birthday, Mary Bell had strangled four-year-old Martin Brown in a derelict house; it is believed she committed this crime alone. A few months later, Mary Bell—with the help of a friend, Norma Joyce Bell—strangled three-year-old Brian Howe in the same Scotswood area. According to police reports, Mary Bell returned to Howe's body to mutilate it, including destroying his genitals and scratching her initials into his body. By December 1968, Mary Bell was convicted of the manslaughter of Martin Brown and Brian Howe and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
17. Joel Rifkin
"You think of people as things... As much as I say I wanted to stop, there probably would've been others."
From 1989 until 1993, Joel Rifkin—often referred to as Joel the Ripper—killed as many as 17 women in New York City and Long Island. Many of his victims were sex workers such as his first victim, Heidi Balch. After murdering Balch, Rifkin dismembered her body, removing her teeth and fingertips and putting her head in a paint can. He dropped the paint can in southern New Jersey and her legs farther north, while he dumped the remaining body parts in the East River. In 2011, Rifkin casually opened up about his crimes and compared quitting his murder addiction to quitting smoking. He is currently serving 203 years in prison, with his first possible parole dated for February 26, 2197.
18. Joe Metheny
"The words 'I'm sorry' will never come out, for they would be a lie."
Joe Metheny confessed to killing 10 women in the Baltimore area during the 1990s. Metheny—also referred to as "The Cannibal"—was indicted for the murders of Kimberly Spicer, Toni Lynn Ingrassia, and Catherine Magaziner. According to Metheny, after spending time with his victims, he felt himself compelled to strangle the women. He claimed that he then used his victims' bodies to create ground beef, which he then sold at barbecues. Metheny was sentenced to two life sentences for his murders and served nearly two decades before dying behind bars in 2017.
19. Lee Boyd Malvo
"I intended to kill them all."
Lee Boyd Malvo was one of two killers in the Beltway sniper attacks that took place over the course of three weeks in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Malvo was 17 when he and 42-year-old John Allen Muhammad killed 10 people. Malvo was given six life sentences while Muhammad, believed to be the plot's mastermind, was given the death penalty. When Malvo heard that all their victims had not died, he responded that he wished they had. Although most known for the shootings around D.C., Malvo and Muhammed actually began their rampage on the West Coast, where they killed one person in both Washington state and Arizona.
Feature photo: Wikimedia Commons