Famous Psychopaths You Wouldn’t Want to Run Across

Famous psychopaths tend to be serial murderers. Read about 5 of the nastiest famous psychopathic killers and read their own bone chilling words.

No want wants to run across a psychopath whether they're a famous psychopath or not but, perhaps, the really famous psychopaths should be feared even more.

That's because when a psychopath is famous, it's typically for killing a large number of people. What's known about psychopaths is that they do not feel guilt or remorse about their actions (Can Psychopaths Love, Cry and Experience Joy?) and psychopaths can kill with the slightest (or no) provocation. In the words of Carl Panzram who confessed to 22 murders, "I'll kill the first man that bothers me."

Famous Psychopathic Killers

The following is a list of people presumed psychopathic due to their long-standing, extremely violent nature combined with their personalities. These famous psychopaths have had countless books written about them and even plays and songs written about them. For whatever reason, we fear, and yet insist on somewhat celebrating, the famous psychopath.

  1. John Wayne Gacy – This famous psychopath used to put on a clown suit and makeup to entertain at children's parties earning him the nickname of "Killer Clown." Gacy sexually assaulted and murdered 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Chicago Illinois. Gacy said this of his victims, "They were just a bunch of worthless little queers and punks."
  2. Joel Rifkin – Joel Rifkin was a famous psychopathic killer that was convicted of nine murders although likely committed 17. He would dismember the bodies for easy disposal. Rifkin had this to say about his situation, "I will in all probability be convicted, but I will not go away as a monster, but as a tragedy."
  3. Gary Ridgway – Even of the famous psychopaths, Gary Ridgway's tally of dead bodies is strikingly high as he plead guilty to 48 charges of murder although bragged that he actually killed 71. Ridgway was known as the Green River Killer and he has the distinction of the being most prolific American serial killer in history based on the number of people that have been confirmed as killed by Ridgway. When asked why, he said, "I don't believe in man, God nor Devil. I hate the whole damned human race, including myself... I preyed upon the weak, the harmless and the unsuspecting. This lesson I was taught by others: Might makes right."
  4. Richard Ramirez - Richard Ramirez was known as the "Night Stalker" by news media as his home invasion crime spree terrorized people in Los Angeles and then later in San Francisco from June 1984 until August 1985. He admitted to killing 20 people and said to the deputy sheriff after his capture, "I love to kill people. I love watching them die. I would shoot them in the head and they would wiggle and squirm all over the place, and then just stop. Or I would cut them with a knife and watch their faces turn real white. I love all that blood. I told one lady to give me all her money. She said no. So I cut her and pulled her eyes out."
  5. Albert DeSalvo – Dubbed the "Boston Strangler," this famous psychopath confessed to the murder of 13 women, however, was only imprisoned for additional rapes and robberies as there was no physical evidence tying him to the murders. Albert DeSalvo said this of the murders, "It wasn't as dark and scary as it sounds. I had a lot of fun... Killing somebody's a funny experience."

Worried you're with a psychopath or are a psychopath? Take the psychopath test.

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 17). Famous Psychopaths You Wouldn’t Want to Run Across, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: January 28, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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