Against the typical spirit of the season, I'd like to list some of the world's most notorious murderers. It's startling how easily you realize that your quiet neighbor could be harboring bodies in his or her basement.
1. Peter Kudzinowski worked as a miner and railroad worker before confessing to the murder of three children. He faced execution in New Jersey in 1929.
2. Pedro Alonso López reigned terror across South America in the 1970's. Despite being convicted of raping and killing 300 girls, he was considered rehabilitated and his current whereabouts are unknown.
3. Executed in 1989, Ted Bundy initially denied his guilt before confessing to over a hundred acts of murder. He also engaged in rape and necrophilia.
4. David Berkowitz is better known as the Son of Sam. Captured in 1977, he targeted couples in their cars and claimed that he was commanded to kill by a demon who possessed his neighbor's dog.
5. Jeffrey Dahmer engaged in some of the most terrifying torture ending in necrophilia and cannibalism. In 1994 he died in prison at the hands of another inmate. To my surprise, talented actor Jeremy Renner portrayed him in a movie.
6. Elizabeth Báthory was accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and young women. She spent four years imprisoned in a castle until her death in 1614.
7. Herman Webster Mudgett, America's first serial killer by the modern definition, is better known under the alias of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Nine of twenty-seven confessed murders are confirmed. On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged for his crimes.
8. John Wayne Gacy raped and murdered thirty-three teenage boys and young men. When not on his despicable spree, he dressed as Pogo the Clown for charity events.
9. Alfred J. Gaynor, besides killing four other women in the mid 1990's, confessed to leaving a toddler to die of dehydration next to the deceased mother after a drug fueled murder. His nephew, Paul Lashawn Fickling, originally faced conviction for the crime and speculation over guilt continues to this day.
10. Stacey Castor kept her killing in the family, poisoning two husbands. She gained the unsurprising nickname of "Black Widow" but also attempted to murder and frame her own daughter. Her successful methods used anti-freeze in imitation of murderer Lynn Turner. She started a sentence of 52 years to life starting in 2007.
11. Herbert Mullin believed his indiscriminate killings performed a blood sacrifice to save California from earthquake. His deeds against one girl were confused with those of Edmund Kemper, who stalked women in the early 1970's time frame they shared.
12. Albert Fish committed his heinous acts against children and bore such frightening nicknames as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, and The Boogeyman. An anonymous letter to a young victim's family in 1933, four years after the crime, led police to him.
13. Ed Gein didn't have a high body count but his deeds and the seeming connection to the relationship with his mother influenced Hollywood films like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Silence of the Lambs", and "Psycho". His quiet demeanor and neighborly ways still strike terror in my heart.
Contrary to my horrific list, I wish for peace upon you and yours. Happy New Year!