Thanks to Hollywood, when we think of serial killers, we normally picture a certain type: highly intelligent, manipulative, ferocious killers with little to no moral compass. Think Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz — even Hannibal Lecter. In other words, we tend to think of guys. Well, to be more specific, we tend to think of adult men. But what if those gruesome killers had started out when they were just kids? Who would be the world's youngest serial killers?
We've put together a list of the most gruesome serial murders committed by children. The eight kids in this slideshow are every bit as scary (and dangerous!) as the grown-up multiple murderers that we all know. But some of them are a little bit cuter — in a kind of creepy, sociopathic way.
Jon Venables And Robert Thompson, 10
Venables and Thompson became England’s youngest convicted murderers in 1993 when they were sentenced for the murder of 2-year-old James Bulger. The details of Bulger's death are pretty disgusting. The boys lured Bulger away from a Liverpool shopping center and took him to an area near some railroad tracks. There, they beat the toddler with bricks and an iron bar before stuffing batteries in his mouth and weighing him down across railroad tracks so that he couldn’t move out of the way of an oncoming train.
Despite the gruesome nature of their crimes, Venables and Thompson were released in 2001 when they turned 18. Both men were given new identities and lifelong protection from having those identities revealed.
Willie James Bosket, Jr., 15
Considered by many to be New York’s most dangerous inmate, Willie James Bosket had committed more than 2,000 crimes and his first murders by the time he was just 15 years old. Bosket's first murder conviction was for the shooting death of two men during separate robbery attempts in 1978. He was sentenced to only five years of prison time for the murders, the maximum allowed at the time for someone his age. The public outcry over his light punishment led New York to become the first state to change its juvenile sentencing laws to allow kids as young as 13 to be tried and sentenced as adults. They decided to call it the Willie Bosket Law.
Joshua Phillips, 14
Florida authorities searched for 8-year-old Maggie Clifton for more than a week before Missy Phillips noticed water strangely pooled at the foot of her teenage son's bed. Then, she noticed the smell. When Ms. Phillips pulled apart the base to check, she discovered Clifton's remains.
Her son, 14-year-old Joshua Phillips, was later convicted of bashing the little girl’s head in and stabbing her in the neck. At trial, Phillips said he accidentally hit Clifton in the head with a baseball, then stabbed her to stop her from screaming. The autopsy showed that Clifton was still alive when Phillips stuffed her into his mattress.
Amarjeet (Amardeep) Sada, 8
Amarjeet Sada might be India’s youngest serial killer. In 2007, 8-year-old Sada stunned news outlets worldwide when it was discovered that he'd murdered three children, including his sister. Sada reportedly told local investigators that he took each of the babies to a nearby field, hit them with a stone, and killed them. None of Sada’s victims had yet reached their first birthday.
Mary Flora Bell, 11
According to U.K. authorities, when 11-year-old Mary Flora Bell was apprehended, she said that she strangled her 4-year-old victim to death ”solely for the pleasure and excitement“ of killing. In 1968, Martin Brown was found strangled near an abandoned house. A few months later, 3-year-old Brian Howe suffered the same fate. Two girls were charged with their deaths, but eventually authorities settled on Mary Bell, who already had a history of attacking other children.
Bell was released from prison in 1980 under a new identity; she later won a court ruling to protect her anonymity and that of her daughter and grandchildren.
Jesse Pomeroy, 14
This young murderer's story is on the older side, but definitely creepy enough to be remembered. Any search of the most homicidal children in history will lead you to the story of Jesse Pomeroy. By the time he was 11 years old, Pomeroy had already begun sexually molesting and torturing other boys. Pomeroy, who grew up in South Boston, would trap and attack his victims, even using knives and pins to torture them.
When Pomeroy was 14, he murdered and mutilated a 10-year-old girl who’d wandered near his mother’s store. He then killed a 4-year-old boy with a slash to the throat so severe, the child was nearly decapitated.
Pomeroy penned an autobiography while he was in prison, including his side of the story about the crimes. His defense? "I didn't do it, but if I did I’m probably insane."
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Harvey Robinson, 17
Harvey Robinson is one of the youngest serial killers currently sitting on death row. Robinson raped and killed three adult women in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the early 1990s, when he was 17 years old. His fourth victim was raped and beaten but managed to escape before Robinson could finish the job. Robinson was 19 when he was caught by local police.
Edmund Kemper, 15
No list of serial murderers would be complete without a necrophile. Edmund Kemper, who grew up to be one of America’s most infamous serial killers, committed his first murders when he was just 15 years old. By August 1964, the California teenager was already showing all the classic traits of a sociopath — an exceptionally high IQ, an interest in torturing animals, and a deeply troubling relationship with his mother. When he was just 15 years old, Kemper shot and killed both his grandparents while staying on their ranch in North Fork, California. When authorities asked him about the killings, he said he "just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma."
Kemper went on to murder six young women in Santa Cruz, his mother, and one of her friends, dismembering and sexually molesting their bodies after they were dead.