The Creepiest Things Serial Killers Ever Said

Serial killers tend to not really have much of a verbal filter. That's not really shocking given that they also kill people, which means manners aren't generally high on their lists of things they'd like to improve about themselves.

In fact, even when serial killers are facing the ultimate consequence of their horrible actions — their own executions — they tend to be more preoccupied with maintaining that serial killer image than making people think they have remorse — or an actual human soul or something. For a captured serial killer, fame and public attention sometimes takes the place of all the evil stuff they used to do, and you can't keep being a famous serial killer if you say boring things.

During the 20th century, 1,172 serial killers were apprehended in the United States. They probably all said a creepy thing or two, but alas, there isn't room to quote every one of them. Instead, this list includes the creepiest of the creepy, including quotes from a few serial killers that were active outside of the United States and before the 20th century, and quotes from history's most notorious serial killers. It's also worth noting that some of these quotes have taken on a mythology all their own, and sometimes it's hard to know for sure when they were said, and even if they were said. Serial killer stories can become sort of legendary, and that makes it hard to separate fiction from fact. We've done our best. Sleep well. 

Peter Kürten

Peter Kürten was a German serial killer who was active during the early 1900s. According to Murderpedia, he started killing as a child when he pushed a friend off of a raft and then drowned the boy's would-be rescuer. He was later cleared of both deaths because no one thought a 9-year-old could possibly be that evil.

As an adult, he murdered at least nine people, many of them children. The German press nicknamed him "The Vampire of Dusseldorf," based on police conjecture that he might be drinking the blood of his victims. It only took a jury 90 minutes to convict Kürten of his crimes, and he got nine death sentences for his trouble. Fortunately for Kürten (and his victims), most people can be killed only one time, but his method of execution was what prompted his infamously creepy quote.

"Tell me," he asked the prison psychologist just before his execution by guillotine. "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?" Evidently unphased by this super weird question, the psychiatrist told him there was a good chance his ears and brain would still work for a couple of seconds, and Kürten replied, "That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures." Maybe he was hoping if he said he wanted to be executed, they wouldn't do it? Either way, ew.

Jane Toppan

Jane Toppan liked to keep her hands clean when she killed. Her murder weapon of choice was morphine, and she exclusively murdered people who couldn't fight back. Not that that makes her any worse than any of the other world's serial killers, but there is a special place in hell for people who kill the helpless.

Toppan's first victims, in 1885, were patients she was caring for as a resident nurse at Cambridge Hospital. According to All That's Interesting, that's where she developed an affinity for giving people high doses of painkillers just to see what would happen. No one seemed to notice; in fact, at the end of her tenure she was congratulated for being an excellent nurse and sent off to work at Massachusetts General Hospital. She experimented on a few more patients at her new post before being ... fired. Never mind, though, because then went on to become a private nurse, so it's not like poisoning people damaged her career or anything. 

Subsequent murders included an entire family and her own foster sister before someone finally caught on to what she was doing. Her creepiest quote: "That is my ambition, to have killed more people — more helpless people — than any man or woman who has ever lived." (In case you're wondering, she didn't reach her goal. Though some people think she may have killed up to 70 people, Columbian serial killer Luis Garavito may have killed up to 300, most of them street kids).

H. H. Holmes

This dude was such a depraved killer that he built an entire hotel just so he could kill people in it. Eat your heart out Norman Bates.

H. H. Holmes built his terrifying hotel in the 1890s. According to Bizarrepedia, he had to keep swapping in new construction workers and firing the old ones so no one would catch on to the fact that he was actually building a murder dungeon. Only the third floor was meant to be an actual hotel; the second floor and the basement were a maze of secret rooms, chutes, and fake elevators complete with gas lines, blow torches, and various other torture devices. The place also included vats of quicklime, acid, and furnaces that could be used to dispose of the evidence. Holmes was kind of a unique sort of serial killer because he made a whole business out of killing people. It wasn't just the part where he had all his employees take out life insurance policies that listed him as the beneficiary (that's a pretty tired serial killer trope these days); he also broke down the bodies of his victims so he could sell their organs and bones.

During his trial, Holmes literally excused himself with a "devil made me do it" quote. "I was born with the devil in me," he said. "I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing." How ... poetic.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffry Dahmer was one of the 20th century's most infamous serial killers. Evidently, he didn't really even like killing all that much; he just did it to get people to hang out with him. Sort of.  According to Biography, Dahmer killed 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He usually drugged them, then strangled them, then cut them up into pieces for easy disposal. He often photographed his murders-in-progress and sometimes ate parts of his victims.

Dahmer is famous for telling a Dateline reporter (via Oxygen) that although he disliked killing people, turning them into zombies was totally cool. "The killing was a means to an end," he said. "That was the least satisfactory part. I didn't enjoy doing that. That's why I tried to create living zombies ... 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."

Incidentally, Dahmer was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1994 because of his habit of making severed-limb art out of prison food. You know, just to freak everybody out.

Carl Panzram

Carl Panzram killed at least 21 people, probably committed thousands of robberies, and was fond of burning down buildings. According to All That's Interesting, he was evidently also quite good at escaping from prison, or else prisons just had very sucky security in those days because he escaped from the Oregon State Penitentiary not once, but twice. After his second escape, he decided to spend his newfound freedom killing people on the yacht he owned for some weirdly inexplicable reason. After his yacht sank, he moved to Africa, killed some people there, then moved back to America where he killed more people. He was finally sent to prison in 1928, but not for murder ... for robbery. In prison, he killed someone else, and only then did it occur to anyone that he should maybe be tried for murder.

Even though he was clearly a depraved psychopath, Panzram evidently did not think he needed to be reformed. Other people, though, well, evidently everyone he killed had it coming, including the children. He apparently only killed them so they would become better citizens. "I believe the only way to reform people is to kill them," he said.

Panzram was executed by hanging in 1930. His last words were to the executioner: "Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"

Richard Ramirez

Nicknamed "The Night Stalker," Richard Ramirez killed at least 14 people between 1984 and 1985. While many serial killers leave weeks or months or even years between killings, Ramirez killed frequently — his most prolific spree was five attacks in 10 days, though one victim was lucky enough to survive.

According to CBS, Ramirez was an equal-opportunity killer. He attacked men, women, and kids and used knives and guns — whatever was handy. He didn't always kill everyone he attacked, either. When he was finally apprehended, it became clear that he wasn't just a psychopath, he was also kind of a well-spoken psychopath, though the well-spoken things he said were always super terrifying. Among them, the infamous killer had this to say: "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."

Also, just after his death sentence was handed down, he said, "Big deal. Death always comes with the territory. I'll see you in Disneyland." Jokes on him 'cause death row inmates don't usually get field trips to Disneyland. He did manage to avoid the executioner, though — Ramirez died from lymphoma in prison in 2013.

Albert Fish

Back in the old days, serial killers were extra super terrifying because forensic science stank, and it was impossibly easy for them to keep getting away with the horrible things they were doing. One great example of this is Albert Fish, who murdered 23 children between 1910 and 1930, some of whom he dismembered and ate. According to ThoughtCo., the "Werewolf of Wisteria" was eventually undone by a letter he wrote to the mother of one of his victims, describing the death of her 6-year-old daughter in gruesome detail. After he was apprehended, he claimed he'd been told to kill by the voice of God because, evidently, God thinks eating small children for breakfast is totally cool.

Serial killers do love to say weird things about their own upcoming deaths, and Albert Fish's most notorious quote was supposedly spoken as he was being strapped into the electric chair: "What a thrill that will be if I have to die in the electric chair. It will be the supreme thrill. The only one I haven't tried." Sadly, ThoughtCo. doesn't think he really said this, so we'll just have to pretend like he did.

Another quote attributed to Albert Fish: "I like children. They are tasty." Let's just leave that one there.

John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy is unique amongst serial killers because he was a murderer and also a clown with the delightful stage name "Pogo." He probably didn't murder anyone while actually wearing the clown costume, but you never know. It's not like he left any witnesses.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Gacy tortured and killed 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978 and buried many of them in his own crawl space, you know, so as not to make it obvious. Police suspected Gacy for a while before they finally got enough evidence to arrest him. Evidently, he was kind of a conspicuous suspect because he was known for having parties and inviting a lot of teenage boys to his house, and mostly not killing them. Mostly.

Like many serial killers, Gacy didn't think he was going to get caught and was brazen enough that he even invited the two cops who were tailing him out to breakfast one morning. He told them about his exploits as a single guy and his job as a clown at children's parties and then leaned in and said, "You know, clowns can get away with murder." So that's creepy, but Gacy was so very, very brazen that he's also quoted as saying, "All the police are going to get me for is running a funeral parlor without a license." Which, unfortunately for Gacy, did not turn out to be true. He was executed for his crimes on May 10, 1994.

Peter Sutcliffe

Peter Sutcliffe was that rare British serial killer, the kind of guy who could kill someone in the morning and pop over for tea in the afternoon. Because that's what British people do, even the serial killers. Actually, there is an argument to be made that England invented serial killing (they had Jack the Ripper, after all), but compared to the United States' literal thousand-plus serial killers, 34 really isn't that many.

Nicknamed the "Yorkshire Ripper," Peter Sutcliffe murdered 13 women between 1975 and 1980. According to CNN, he was convicted in 1981 after he told a courtroom that he only went on his five-year killing spree because God told him to. At least it was a theme he stuck to. During his confession, he tried to justify his actions to the police. "The women I killed were filth," he said. "Bastard prostitutes who were littering the streets. I was just cleaning the place up a bit."

People don't get executed in the United Kingdom, but Sutcliffe got a life sentence. He died in 2020 at the age of 74. Cause of death: most likely COVID-19.

Charles Manson

If you want to argue about semantics, Charles Manson wasn't a serial killer. He didn't actively participate in most of the Manson Family murders — unless you count the murder of "Shorty" Shea or that time he cut someone's face open with a samurai sword — in fact, he wasn't even present for most of the killings attributed to his "family." According to the Washington Post, though, he was still convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder, on account of the fact that he was the guy who actually ordered the crimes.

The FBI has a formal definition for serial murder: "The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events." So if "killing" means by your own hand, then Manson was not a serial killer, because he was probably only partly responsible for two deaths ("Shorty" Shea and Gary Hinman). On the other hand, when you're convicted of multiple counts of murder and several of them happened on separate occasions, you're kind of a serial killer, whether you have bloody hands or not. So Manson gets to be on this list.

Anyway, whatever category you put him into, Charles Manson is a terrifying sociopath who likes to say terrifying things, because, like most jailed killers, that's really all he's got left. One of his most famous creepy quotes happened during an interview with MSNBC. "Believe me," he told the camera, "if I started murdering people, there'd be none of you left."

Ed Kemper

Ed Kemper was also known as "The Co-Ed Killer," because his M.O. was abducting college-aged women and then doing to them what serial killers tend to do to the people they abduct.

If you grew up in the 1970s, your parents probably told you not to hitchhike, and Ed Kemper is the reason why. His victims were mostly hitchhikers, though he did also kill his grandparents at age 15 and his mother and her friend at the very end of his killing spree in 1973. Over the years, loads of people have interviewed him — in fact, as of 2021, the dude is still alive and well at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California (via Biography), and he's evidently quite fond of giving interviews. Journalists love to talk to him because he's a smart guy with a supposedly genius IQ and seems to have a lot of insight into his own messed-up psyche.

Kemper has said a lot of strange things over the years, but one of the creepiest was during a 1974 interview with a magazine called Front Page Detective. "One side of me says, 'Wow, what an attractive chick. I'd like to talk to her, date her,'" he told journalist Marj Von Beroldingen. "The other side of me says, 'I wonder how her head would look on a stick.'" Eek.

Samuel Little

Some serial killers just kill whoever, so certain of their invincibility they think they'll never get caught. Others don't seem to really care if they get caught. Still others are smarter about choosing their victims. Samuel Little killed people for an astonishing 40 years, mostly without attracting any attention from law enforcement. At all.

Little's victims, by his own count, numbered 93. According to the Washington Post, he managed to remain anonymous because he preyed only on those he was sure no one would miss: runaways, drug addicts, and sex workers. No one put his victims' photos on the front page, expressed outrage at the shoddy police work, or appeared on the news to tearfully beg for the return of their loved one. These were people who could vanish and no one would really notice. Little was such a successful serial killer that he eventually got old enough to retire from serial killing. His last victim died in 2005; he was only apprehended because someone opened up a couple of cold case files. During one of Little's many arrests on other charges, he'd given a DNA sample, and police were able to match him to genetic material that had been collected from those old crime scenes.

Little clearly viewed his victims as inhuman, as evidenced by something he said during a police interview: "I'd go back to the same city sometimes and pluck me another grape. How many grapes do you all got on the vine here?"

Albert DeSalvo

You might not have heard the name "Albert DeSalvo" but you've almost certainly heard of the Boston Strangler. Same guy. Maybe.

Murderpedia remembers the Boston Strangler as America's first modern serial killer, on account of the fact that he was active in the 1960s, right around the time that the "media circus" was becoming a thing. The Strangler is said to have killed 13 women between 1962 and 1964. Despite the fact that all his victims were, well, strangled, there were actually enough differences between each killing that, at the time, the police didn't even think they'd all been committed by the same person.

The Boston Strangler's victims were mostly middle aged and elderly women, and he killed them in their own homes, which probably caused a lot of insomnia in Boston. DeSalvo was ultimately pegged as the Strangler because he'd been implicated in a series of sexual assaults, and he later confessed to all of the Boston Strangler's murders, too. Funnily enough, he was never actually convicted of any of the murders, and to this day there are still people who think maybe he wasn't the infamous serial killer. Still, he gets to be on this list because of the very, very creepy thing he supposedly said about the murders. "It wasn't as dark and scary as it sounds," he said. "I had a lot of fun ... killing somebody's a funny experience." Oh, right. That doesn't sound dark and scary at all.

Joe Metheny

Joe Metheny wasn't a really prolific killer, which is why you've probably never heard of him. He did have a pretty unique M.O., though, and an even more unique way of disposing of his victims.

Metheny's wife left him in 1994 and took their son with her — maybe, who knows, because he was a psychopath? Anyway, according to All That's Interesting, Metheny was determined to find them and went on his killing spree solely with that as his motive. When two homeless guys who knew his wife said they didn't know where she was, he killed them. Then he killed a fisherman who might have witnessed his crime. He was later arrested but acquitted of the murders, and he was set free to kill even more people.

Metheny evidently did not ever get over being jilted by his wife, and his other seven victims — mostly sex workers and homeless people — were just killed out of rage and spite. Here's where it gets really awful, though. At some point, Metheny hit on an ingenious way of hiding the bodies of his victims. He opened a roadside barbecue stand, ground his victims up into hamburger meat, mixed them with pork, put them in burgers, and sold them to passers by. His creepiest quote? "The human body tastes very similar to pork. If you mix it together no one can tell the difference."

Ted Bundy

No list of serial killer-anything would be complete without a mention of America's serial killer darling: handsome psychopath Ted Bundy. Well, handsome according to the Ted Bundy groupies who showed up at his trial with their hair done just like the women that Bundy was into. You know, the dead ones. Bundy tried to convince his jury that he hadn't murdered at least 30 women, and he hung onto the illusion for a long time, until it finally became obvious that he wasn't going to get a last minute exoneration. According to Oxygen, his confession came just a few days before his execution, and he only did it because he thought handing over information about his crimes would buy him a couple of extra years.

Bundy's last interview was the night before his execution. In the end, it didn't help him. Also, true crime author Erin Banks says he never actually said his most famous quote: "We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow." That would have been awesomely creepy, but the quote is made up. What he did say: "We are your sons and we are your husbands and ... we grew up in regular families, and pornography can reach in and snatch a kid out of any house today." Yeah, he was blaming pornography.

His only really creepy quote: "What's one less person on the face of the Earth, anyways?"