The Most Dangerous Active Serial Killers In 2024

So, here's some good news for anyone who suffers from regular nightmares that involve being stalked by a serial killer: They're on the decline. According to research done by Radford University's Mike Aamodt (via Discover), they are fewer serial killers on the prowl since the dawn of the new century. The 1980s were something of a high point for serial killers, with almost 770 — that we know of — operating across the U.S. during the decade. That dropped in the 1990s and again in the 2000s, and by 2016, there had been only about 100 that had cropped up in the prior decade.

There are a few theories that experts have put forward to explain just what's going on here, and they involve things like advances in investigative methods and forensic science, a higher chance of getting caught — and being linked definitively to more crimes — and stricter sentencing. There are also factors like cell phones and an increased connectivity between parents and children that make picking out victims a little more difficult these days. It's also possible that young kids and teens who have the potential to grow up to become serial killers are instead getting the help they need first, so that's all good news.

That's not to say there are no serial killers out there — there are. In addition to some that have managed to elude capture for a long time, there are a handful of new ones cropping up, too. Let's look at who's out there hunting in 2024.

I-70 killer

Between April 8 and May 7, 1992, six people were shot and killed along a stretch of I-70. The deaths occurred between Terre Haute, Indiana, and Wichita, Kansas, and Vox says there were striking similarities between the victims. Five were women (and police believe that the sixth was mistaken for a woman when the killer saw his long ponytail), all were brunettes, and all were employees at stores just off the highway.

They were also all killed with a .22 caliber bullet. There was no sexual assault and no major thefts, and witnesses were able to give police a basic description of a man seen entering the stores before the murders. He was described as white, with reddish or light brown hair, between 140 and 160 pounds, and around 5-foot-7.

The spring of 2022 marked the 30-year anniversary of the still-unsolved murders, and police wanted to make it clear that the case is still very much open. In late 2021, law enforcement released a new sketch of the killer. Based on those witness accounts and aged to depict what the killer would look like three decades on, there's still hope that someone will come forward with more information. They've also released what they believe might be the key to catching him: a description of the gun. Wichita police Detective Tim Relph says (via CBS KWCH12) it's "a historic remake of an old German Navy pistol. The barrel is long enough where the gun has a wooden forearm."

Eastbound Strangler

On November 20, 2006, two women who were out for a walk made a grisly discovery: The bodies of four women had been neatly discarded behind the Golden Key Motel in a suburb outside of Atlantic City. The women were fully clothed (except for their shoes and socks) and had been positioned, face-down, in a line behind the motel. Barbara Breidor, Molly Jean Dilts, Kim Raffo, and Tracy Ann Roberts had all been strangled, earning their unidentified killer the nickname of the Eastbound Strangler. Whatever happened had happened quickly. According to The Toronto Sun, Breidor had been missing for about a month before the bodies were discovered, while Raffo had been seen the day before she was found.

Law enforcement said that at the time, there was definitely no shortage of suspects. One by one, however, they were cleared of the murders until ultimately, there were no more. An appeal for information on the four murders was reissued in the last days of 2021, with Chief of County Investigations Bruce Shields saying, "Fifteen years later we have not made an arrest for these homicides, but we're always looking, we're always working and reexamining information about this case. We haven't stopped. We won't stop."

A $25,000 reward has been issued for information leading to the killer's arrest, which can be shared with any local law enforcement bodies.

West Mesa Murders

The Albuquerque Journal calls Central Avenue a "high-crime area," and adds that's where it all started way back in 2001. That's when women started going missing more often than usual, and that in itself is a horrible, depressing statement to have to make.

Almost a decade later, on February 2, 2009, a woman who was out for a walk came across a human bone, and it ended up being part of a crime scene on a scale that no one could have imagined. All the victims of the so-called "West Mesa Bone Collector" weren't identified for another 11 years. Ultimately, 11 women and one unborn child were found and identified. Their life stories were varied: While many had connections to the drug and sex trades, others did not. Syllannia Edwards was just 15 years old when she disappeared, and it was 22-year-old Michelle Valdez who was pregnant when she was killed and buried in the New Mexico desert. 

Although hundreds of people were interviewed and suspects were investigated, the ID of the West Mesa Bone Collector remains a mystery. The investigation is ongoing: According to the City of Albuquerque, there is a $100,000 reward being offered for information about the killer. Any tips should be directed to Investigator Ida Lopez, or given via Crime Stoppers.

The Long Island Serial Killer

It was late in 2010 that four bodies were recovered from a desolate stretch of beach on the coast of Long Island. It wasn't until the next spring that law enforcement recovered six more bodies and went public with a statement announcing that the murders were all the work of a single killer.

The so-called Long Island Serial Killer case remained a dead end, and according to Rolling Stone, some have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Suffolk County Police Department. Reports and rumors of corruption have come up amid the department's failure to bring the killer to justice, with some suggesting that it went unsolved because higher-ups in the police department didn't want the truth to come to light. (That's the basis of a Discovery+ series called "Unraveled: Long Island Serial Killer.")

In late 2021 — near the anniversary of the discovery of the remains of one of the victims, Shannan Gilbert — ABC and Eyewitness News sat down with Ray Tierney, the new district attorney for Suffolk County. He made it clear that he was not only keeping the case open but that he would be re-conducting interviews and reexamining evidence — including claims of corruption.

In July 2023, a man matching the profile put together more than a decade earlier was arrested and eventually charged in four of the murders. Rex Heuermann's DNA was also found on one of the bodies, along with incriminating internet search history related to the murders. He has pleaded not guilty. This remains a developing story.

The Chicago Strangler

Back in 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported that police were assigning a designated task force to investigate the theory that there was a serial killer stalking the city. For many, it was an investigation that was long overdue. It came more than a year after the news outlet had run another story, connecting the deaths of at least 75 women who had been killed — all via suffocation or strangulation — between 2001 and 2017. The Tribune's initial story ran in 2018, and even as law enforcement balked at the idea of a serial killer, four more women turned up dead in the same manner.

At the time, police were still refusing to say that there was a serial killer at work in Chicago ... but did ultimately admit that was a distinct possibility. While they claimed there was little concrete evidence to link the victims, the Tribune reported that others had seen a very clear link: Most of the victims were Black women.

Fast forward to late 2021, and that's when a three-part docuseries called "The Hunt for the Chicago Strangler" started streaming on Discovery+. At the time of the show's debut, Chicago police were still saying nothing to confirm or deny the existence of a serial killer, and at the same time, PBS says activists were demanding answers. Director Jennifer Anderson told them, "I think these women are not just a name on a spreadsheet or police file, they had real lives and we're missing something, because they are not here. They deserve justice..."


The three men killed in sub-districts of Bangladesh were identified as Sajal, Ripon, and Rakib Molla. Each one was — at least — shot in the head, and each was dumped with a note tied around his neck. The exact messages varied, but the gist was the same: They had been accused of rape, and they were killed for it.

Mahmud Hasan was one of the first on the scene when a body was discovered on January 26, 2019, and later said, "...strangest was the note that hung around his neck. It felt strange and scary to see this happen in my area ... but it also felt like justice." It was the note around Rakib Molla's neck that was signed, and it read: "I am Rakib who raped [victim's name]. This is the fate of the rapist. Rapists be aware ... Hercules." The Statesman called "Hercules" a "serial killer," while Al Jazeera called him a "vigilante." The difference? That's kind of difficult to define.

Law enforcement said that they were investigating, but at the time, they had no idea if it was one killer or a group of vigilantes acting under a single name. Families of the victims had another theory, stating that witnesses claimed they had been picked up by plain-clothes police almost immediately before turning up dead. Police had ruled out that theory and suggested someone was acting in response to an already-high number of rape cases that were only increasing.

Juarez, Mexico

The bottom line is that no one really knows who is killing the women of Juarez, Mexico. The Seattle Times reports that law enforcement has said there's a likelihood that there's a serial killer prowling the streets of this city just a stone's throw from El Paso, Texas, and they've also suggested the almost countless women who have died in recent years were targeted because of gang activity. What's the truth? Everyone would like to know.

Starting in the mid-1990s, hundreds of women began turning up dead. Many were dumped in the desert, many bore signs of trauma and abuse, and it didn't stop: In 2019, there were 1,006 victims added to a list — and those are just the ones law enforcement knows about. The crimes are falling under the umbrella of femicide: Whether the victims were targeted by a serial killer who preys on women or by an abusive partner, they were killed because they were women.

In 2020, the high-profile murder of an artist named Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre catapulted Juarez's problems back into headlines (via The Guardian). Scores of women took to the streets to protest and demand justice for Cabanillas and the hundreds of other women who have been murdered by killers who have never been identified, much less brought to justice.

Pedro Lopez

Every so often, there's a story that pops up that's so unbelievable, so terrible, that it's impossible to think that it's true. That's definitely the case with Pedro Lopez, but the story of the man that Rolling Stone says has been dubbed "The Monster of the Andes" is definitely true, because no one could make up something so unimaginable.

After being kicked out of his home as a child — he had assaulted his sister — Pedro Lopez grew up on the streets of Colombia. He traveled across South America, raping and killing as he drifted from one country to another. Nearly executed for his crimes in 1978, he was given a second chance by a missionary who put in a good word for him ... and unknowingly kept him alive to keep preying on more victims. It's unknown just how many people he killed, but the numbers are staggering. He confessed to killing as many as two or three people a week, and in 1980, his estimated death toll in Ecuador alone was around 110.

That's where he was arrested and given a 14-year jail sentence. After serving some time there — he had a shortened sentence for "good behavior" — he was sent back to Colombia. There, he was reportedly held in a psychiatric facility for a further four years, then in 1998, he was deemed sane, released on $50 bond, and promptly vanished. He hasn't been seen since and his victim count is unknown, but the Monster of the Andes could have killed more than 300 people

Little Rock's serial stabber

If there's anything more terrifying than a serial killer with a type, it's a serial killer who chooses victims randomly — and according to what Little Rock, Arkansas, Police Chief Keith Humphrey had to say in a statement issued on April 29, 2021, that's what the city was facing.

At the time of the statement, there had been four attacks, and three had been fatal. They had all taken place in the wee hours of the morning, and KATV Little Rock reported that the first victim, 64-year-old Larry McChristian, was killed in August of 2020. The second victim, 62-year-old Jeff Welch, was attacked and killed about a month later. The killer fell silent for a bit until stabbing a 43-year-old woman 15 times on April 11, 2021. She survived, but the following day, 40-year-old Marlon Franklin was attacked and killed.

Law enforcement issued an appeal for any witnesses or surveillance camera footage that might have caught the suspect or the attacks, and by the end of April, they posted the footage to their YouTube channel. The footage was dark, grainy, and gave away no identifying markers, and in spite of a $20,000 reward promised for anyone who could give information leading to the suspect's apprehension, he remained at large.

The Killing Fields, Texas

Heide Villareal Fye went missing in 1983, and her remains turned up a few months later in an area of Texas now ominously known as The Killing Fields. A little less than two years later, the remains of 16-year-old Laura Miller were found not far from where Fye had been left, and during that investigation, a third body was found. She was known as Jane Doe until she was finally identified in 2019: Her name was Audrey Lee Cook. A fourth body — discovered in 1991 and known as Janet Doe until she, too, was identified in 2019 — was Donna Gonsoulin Prudhomme. According to the FBI, there are no known connections between the victims, and no witnesses have come forward to shed light on what happened to the women in their last moments.

The Washington Post says that there've been plenty of suspects and even some false confessions, but the investigation had stalled completely between the discovery of the fourth victim and the discovery of their identities, while four families have spent years wanting to know what happened in those Texas fields.

With the identification of the final two victims, law enforcement has once again issued an appeal to the public, with Special Agent Richard Rennison saying: "Anything anyone in the public knows, no matter how small they think it is, we really want them to come forward, because it may be very significant to us."

The suspected serial killers of Indigenous Americans

Law enforcement agencies have a ton of resources at their disposal, including the Murder Accountability Project (MAP). Created by investigative journalist Thomas K. Hargrove, it's essentially a database that collects information from various law enforcement agencies and compiles it into a massive file on murders. According to VOA News, algorithms designed to find patterns in the data suggest there are multiple serial killers stalking the Indigenous women of the Americas.

Western University criminologist and MAP board of director member Michael Arntfield shared a pretty dire interpretation of the data he found recorded in the criminal database. He suggested patterns that lit up both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts along with a series of truck stops indicating that serial killers are hunting along the highways. Many of them are truck drivers, Arntfield says (via APTN): "The Highway Serial Killer Initiative has about 400 to 450 offender profiles of unidentified subjects on its database alone that are involved in the trucking industry for the entire Interstate system."

Unfortunately, complete data only exists for the U.S., and a picture of Canada's serial killer landscape remains incomplete. There is, however, some good news: With the discovery that serial killers often doubled as long-haul truckers, the industry created Truckers Against Trafficking training programs that teach drivers to recognize signs of human trafficking. The programs have saved hundreds of lives, but there's still a lot of work to do.

The Manchester Pusher...?

First, let's make it clear that the Greater Manchester Police say (via the Manchester Evening News) that there definitely is not a serial killer stalking the streets, ending lives by pushing people into the city's canals. Not everyone thinks they are right, though.

In 2015, Birmingham University's professor Craig Jackson started asking questions about the strangely high number of bodies fished out of Manchester's canals, and suggested someone was responsible for them. That escalated into a television documentary, and for many people who had lost loved ones, the idea that they may have actually been the victim of a serial killer — instead of dying by suicide, as most were officially ruled — was a terrifying prospect. What kind of numbers were they talking about? Between 2007 and 2015, 85 bodies were recovered from city waterways. The official line is that 44 of the 72 men were examined with "clear findings" as to the cause of death, and law enforcement also points out that no survivors of any attacks have come forward.

Still, in 2022, the case was still very much on the minds of residents — and the "Manchester Pusher" case was examined in a new documentary addressing both the claims of a serial killer, and the claims it's a myth (via Mancunian Matters).

The Jeff Davis 8

The murders started in May of 2005. That, reports The New York Times, is when the first body was discovered, and here's the thing: Oftentimes, the victims of serial killers are connected by similarities. They killer might target individuals of the same age or ethnicity, or maybe there are similarities in the method of killing. Strangely, it's the differences between the eight women that were killed in Louisiana's Jefferson Davis Parish that stand out. They range in age from 17 to 30, they vary in race, they were found in different circumstances, and they were killed in different ways.

There were similarities, too, Rolling Stone notes: All eight women were local to the area, they knew each other and had criminal records, and according to what private investigator Ethan Brown discovered, they were all involved in sex work and relaying information about the area's drug trade to law enforcement.

When local law enforcement kept coming up empty and bodies kept dropping, Brown went to investigate. He says that he got a taste of what was wrong when he showed up at the murder scene of local dealer David Deshotel only to find people coming, going, and helping themselves to some souvenirs along the way. Brown set up shop to investigate, and claimed he turned up not incompetence, but misconduct. When more bodies turned up during his investigation and he connected them with evidence given in the earlier murder cases, he claimed that something was, indeed, rotten in Louisiana. The cases remain unsolved.

The Rainbow Maniac

São Paulo, Brazil, hosts one of the largest gay pride events in the world — and it's phenomenal. In 2008, the city saw somewhere around 3.5 million people flooding the streets to celebrate, but just a few months after that vivid, colorful display of pride, the city was shocked by a series of murders targeting gay men.

According to The Guardian, there were 13 confirmed victims of the serial killer stalking São Paulo's streets, although there were several more victims that were possibly connected. Starting with the death of 32-year-old Jose Cicero Henrique, they were said to be casualties of the killer dubbed the Rainbow Maniac, with law enforcement saying that he saw himself as responsible for killing men he didn't believe deserved the continued gift of life.

Someone was arrested in connection with the murders, and at a glance, it seemed like there was a pretty good case against them. According to the Associated Press (via NBC), witnesses had come forward to claim they had seen a retired police officer named Jairo Francisco Franco shoot and kill one of the men found dead in São Paulo's Paturis Park. Franco went to trial for the murders, but the Agora São Paulo reported that he had been found not guilty by the jury and was immediately released. The killer has never been satisfactorily identified, and meanwhile, the Igarape Institute says that violence against Brazil's LGBTQ+ community continues to rise.

The Danilovsky Maniac

Piecing together what's going on deep in Russian territory is always a bit of a challenge, and that's the case with the serial killer dubbed the Danilovsky Maniac. According to Pravda, the killer claimed the lives of a series of victims between 2004 and 2007 and was given his nickname after the remains of one woman were discovered on Cherepovets' Danilov Street.

Victims were described as having been killed in horrible ways: One woman was stabbed multiple times, while another had her liver removed. While investigating one death, NewsRU reported that another victim was found, stuffed in a water-filled sewer.

And here's the shocking thing: Law enforcement knows quite a lot about the Danilovsky Maniac. In addition to having a fairly good description of him — heavyset, dark blond, with patchy hair, gray eyes, and somewhere between 35 and 40 years old — there were also multiple witnesses who saw someone tagging walls with the X-rated graffiti that showed up around each killing. Perhaps even more shocking is that material recovered from beneath the fingernails of the victims has allowed for the reconstruction of the killer's DNA. With nothing to match it against, that killer has gone unidentified.

Antonio Angles

The most famous victims connected to suspected serial killer Antonio Angles died in 1992: That, reported La Vanguardia, is when Antonia Gomez, Miriam Garcia, and Desiree Hernandez were attacked, raped, and killed while on their way to a high school party in the Alcasser region of Spain. There were two suspects in the case, but only Miguel Ricart Tarrega was arrested and sentenced to 170 years in prison. (However, in 2013, The Telegraph reported that he had been released after only 16 years, because of some legal difficulties with the European Court of Human Rights.)

Ricart's alleged partner disappeared. In 2021, Las Provincias reported that Spanish courts had ordered the re-opening of the case into Antonio Angles Martins, who has been at the center of a series of allegations that include the possibility that he fled to Brazil, or that he underwent extensive plastic surgery and is now unrecognizable.

However, in 1993, a ship called the City of Plymouth reported finding a stowaway on board. The captain had identified the man as Angles, and according to The Irish Examiner, the stowaway fled into Dublin. Was it really Angles? It's not certain, but what is certain is that his reported arrival in Dublin coincides with the disappearance of a 27-year-old woman named Annie McCarrick. Irish law enforcement says that it's possible he was linked to several other disappearances in the years following his reported escape to Irish shores, and the widespread reopening of the case leads to the hope justice might be served.

Highway of Tears

Yellowhead Highway 16 is the only major link between the two isolated, rural communities of Prince George and Prince Rupert in central British Columbia. The 450-mile route runs through mostly forested areas with limited cellular service, making it a place where a serial killer — or perhaps multiple murderers — has operated without detection since 1969. That's when Gloria Levine Moody, a 26-year-old woman, disappeared on Highway 16, believed to be the first victim of an unidentified "Highway of Tears" killer. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police created the E-Pana task force in 2005, which officially recognizes 18 victims, but Indigenous communities in B.C. say that the number of dead native women and girls could run as high as 80.

Over the course of more than 50 years, authorities haven't been able to arrest or stop the person or people killing First Nation women in British Columbia, many of whom were hitchhikers. The most recent death associated with the Highway of Tears: Chelsey Quaw, who lived near Prince George. Her remains were found near Highway 16 in November 2023.

For a more detailed account of the killings that plague Highway 16, read The Tragic Truth About the Highway of Tears