The news of the "Craigslist Killer," a 19-year-old woman in Pennsylvania who admitted to killing at least 22 men, has been plastered all over cable news and the tabloids. There's a certain fascination with female murderer suspects, as anyone who remembers the media circus surrounding Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony can attest, and that fascination multiplies as the number of alleged victims goes up.
With that in mind, we've put together a list of seven of the deadliest women from past and present to satisfy your curiosity (you sicko!) and prove that women are just as capable of depravity as men, even if it doesn't happen (or we don't find out about it) as often. Click through and don't blame us if you can't sleep soundly tonight.
The newly-infamous “Craigslist Killer” is a 19-year-old woman named Miranda Barbour. Barbour, along with her new husband, allegedly killed at least 22 men in Alaska, Texas, California, and North Carolina over the past six years. Barbour told interviewers “once I hit 22 [killings], I stopped counting.” Some media outlets report that Miranda Barbour’s murders have something to do with her involvement in a satanist cult, but this killer fancies herself more of a real-life Dexter Morgan. “I only kill bad people. If I were released, I would kill again,” she said. Shudder.
Image: WNEP Scranton
Probably the most famous female serial killer in recent memory, Aileen Wuornos was a prostitute with an extremely troubled past. Wuornos killed seven men who attempted to pick her up and pay her for sex. Wuornos claimed that each of the men had either raped or was trying to rape her, and that all of the homicides were committed in self-defense. A jury convicted Aileen Wuornos of murder for six of the killings, and she was executed in Florida in 2002.
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Henry VIII caused plenty of his own chaos in 16th century England, but his daughter Mary was no slouch. She took over the English throne in 1553 after having her own cousin, Lady Jane Grey, beheaded. Once she took power, she had close to 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake, which earned her the namesake of everyone’s favorite hangover cocktail, the Bloody Mary.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Belle Sorenson Gunness
Unlike other killers who have Satanism or a bad past to explain away their murders, Belle Sorenson Gunness killed because she liked the money, and because she enjoyed it. Gunness is rumored to have poisoned her two young daughters, killed her husband, and burned down the family home to collect on life insurance policies in the early 1900s. Gunness is widely considered to be the woman first given the moniker “black widow,” and her killing didn’t stop once her family was gone. Gunness would lure wealthy men back to her Chicago home, where they would mysteriously die in unfortunate accidents. Even Gunness’ own death is surrounded by mysterious circumstances. Her home was burned to the ground, and her remains found inside — except for her head. Many people in the area were convinced that the remains didn’t actually belong to Gunness. Investigators supposedly found over 40 bodies buried on her farm.
Priscilla Joyce Ford
A schizophrenic, Ford drunkenly plowed her old Lincoln Continental down a Reno, Nevada main street on Thanksgiving day in 1980, killing six people and injuring 23 others. She was sentenced to death by a jury, but died of lung cancer before the state of Nevada could execute her.
Barfield was the first woman to be executed after the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty in the U.S. In 1978, Barfield killed her boyfriend Stuart Taylor, by lacing his beer with arsenic. She also poisoned her mother and three other people, but was sentenced to death for Taylor’s murder. On death row, Velma Barfield found Jesus and was a devout Christian before being executed in 1984. Weirdly, Barfield reportedly asked for a can of Cheez Doodles and a can of Coke for her last meal.
In November 2013, the story of “tattoo-faced killer” Joanna Dennehy rocked the United Kingdom. Dennehy, a 31-year-old woman, was convicted of stabbing three men in the heart and dumping their bodies in a ditch. Dennehy also tried to kill two other men, and told authorities that she regretted the attempted murders, but not the actual killings. After her arrest, psychologists diagnosed Joanna Dennehy with anti-social personality disorder and found that she suffered from paraphelia sadomasochism, or deriving sexual pleasure from giving (and receiving) torture. Yikes.