Bloody red handprints on a white background, while a woman hands a shown bloody holding a knife.

Murder She Wrote

By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor

Women are supposed to be motherly, delicate and kind. This is how women have been described throughout history. A woman could never take lives, be evil or become a sadist.

Because of these stereotypes, female serial killers are considered rare and never heard about on the news. Growing up we always heard the names Ted Bundy, OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper and more, but what about the women who committed the same gruesome acts?

What about the women who got away with killing multiple people because the court system couldn’t prosecute a woman? What about the first female to receive the death sentence?

Female serial killers are real and their stories are just as horrifying as the men we grew up afraid of.

Elizabeth Báthory

Countess Elizabeth Báthory at first glance would look like a regular renaissance woman. She was married to a nobleman, mothered seven children and was well off. Despite this, Countess Báthory has been linked to the deaths of more than 600 people.

Rumored at the time to be a real-life vampire, Countess Báthory would torture her female servants to death, enjoying seeing them in pain. She would torture the women by burning them with hot irons, beating them and starving them to death. Then, she would bathe or drink their blood to gain their youth.

A minister reported the crimes of Countess Báthory to Hungarian authorities. Afterward, the countess and her favorite servants–who were accomplices–were arrested. Three out of the four accomplices were sentenced to death and the last was given life in prison.

Countess Elizabeth Báthory was not given a trial but was held in solitary confinement till she died in 1614. Elizabeth Báthory now holds the Guinness World Record as the most prolific female murderer in the western world.

Mary Bell

Mary bell was only 10-years-old when she committed two murders. Mary was from New Castle, England and was raised in a broken home. Her mother spent most of her time working as a prostitute, while her father was a known alcoholic.

Because of this, Mary would be left unattended and alone at home for long periods of time. She was subject to physical and mental abuse when growing up. Mary reported later on that her mother tried to give her away and make her do sexual acts for money at only 4 years old.

As Mary grew up, she gained the reputation of being weird and distant. Days before she turned 11, she strangled Martin brown, a four-year-old from Scotswood, England to death. Martin’s death was pronounced an accident by the police officers who found the boy’s body. 

Mary afterward told her friend Norma about how she had killed Martin and then became accomplices. Mary wanted people to know she had killed Martin. She and Norma broke into their school, leaving notes admitting to the murder. She went as far as going to Martin’s family home and asking them to see his body in his coffin.

No one believed Mary, that was until she killed again. This time with the help of Norma. They killed three-year-old Brian Howe by strangling him and mutilating his body with scissors. They used the scissors to cut his thighs and genitals. Howe’s death sent the neighborhood into a frenzy now that two boys had been killed.

What gave the killer away was the “M ” carved into his chest, representing Mary’s name. Also, she was seen with Howe earlier the day he died. Mary was interrogated and gave herself away when she mentioned scissors being used to cut Howe’s body, information that was never released publicly.

Norma was acquitted as an unwilling accomplice and Mary was convicted of manslaughter, serving 12 years in prison.

To hear more about Mary Bell and how she became the killer she is known to be today, here is an in-depth conversation by Eleanor Neale.

Delphine LaLaurie

Delphine LaLaurie is known but not believed to have been real. The reason for this is because most people know her story from watching the third season of “American Horror Story.”

Her character is most definitely punished in the show, but during the season her character gets more chances of redemption and receives more kindness than anyone like her ever should.

Delphine LaLaurie lived in New Orleans, Louisiana during the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time she killed over 100 slaves in her home’s attic. 

Delphine LaLaurie and her family were socialites among New Orleans society and would host extravagant parties. At the parties, various witnesses caught Madame LaLaurie committing violent acts towards her slaves.

For example, at one party a woman saw LaLaurie whipping a young girl to the point where she fell out of a window while trying to escape, killing herself.

She was fined by the police for trying to bury the girl’s body in her yard and forced to sell nine of her slaves. However, LaLaurie sold the slaves to family or friends and bought them back soon after. Possibly to stop them from telling others about the terrifying murders she had committed.

More and more people became suspicious of Madame LaLaurie’s treatment of her slaves, but no one ever had proof. That was until the day a slave who worked in the kitchen set fire to the house, choosing death by fire rather than to die by LaLaurie’s torture.

A group of close neighbors came to help put the fire out, but when they got there, there were no slaves to be found in the house. When searching the house, they found the attic where they saw the most inhumane and revolting scene that they would have never expected.

There were reports of seven to a dozen slaves found. Some had been skinned, one woman was reported to have had her bones broken then repositioned, another had been gutted and wrapped with her own intestines and then a man was found with a hole in his head that held a spoon to stir his brain.

The saddest thing about this is that some of the slaves when found, were still alive. LaLaurie was educated enough to torture them and know how to keep them alive during the torture.

A mob ransacked the house after finding the slaves. They destroyed every item in the house and even the backyard where a large number of bodies buried, even those of children. During the mobbing, Madame LaLaurie escaped New Orleans and was rumored to have moved to Paris.

She never faced a judge or was punished for what she did.

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos is a confusing case. She for sure killed seven men, but some believe the killings were justified. This is due to Aileen’s case being the most recent in history involving a female serial killer and the world was able to televise it.

Aileen, like most serial killers, had a rough childhood. Her parents were separated and she and her brother were sent to live with her grandparents when she was four. 

As she grew up, she confessed to being molested multiple times. She got pregnant at 14 and was forced to give the baby up for adoption by her grandparents. Soon after she worked as a sex worker, meeting most of her clients along highways.

From 1989-1990 she admitted to killing seven men. They would pick her up and then she would shoot and then rob them, leaving their bodies. She later claimed that the first time she did this was out of self-defense, which is an important factor in Aileen’s case.

Many didn’t believe that when Aileen killed for the first time it was out of self-defense. This was due to her troubled background and occupation. Her story seemed easy to tell, she was a heartless prostitute killer.

However, this is wrong. What Aileen did wasn’t right and no one should be robbed then killed, but the story that was told about Aileen on TV is sexist.

I’m not defending Aileen, but she was called a monster for shooting multiple men when male serial killers have done way worse than her. Women on this list have done way worse than Aileen and aren’t even known about.

 Murder is Murder, but watching documentaries about Aileen Wuornos is confusing to me because many of the people interviewed, judged her for being a sex worker, a teen mother or didn’t believe that the first time she did kill a man, he tried to rape her.

I have no doubt the Aileen is guilty, but I feel as though this case brought out a lot of sexism and victim-blaming which makes this harder to wrap your head around. Nonetheless, Aileen was deemed as the first female serial killer and was sentenced to death by lethal injection in late 2002.

Most of the women on this list have never been heard of. Aileen is probably the most known which isn’t right. These women have committed horrific crimes and we go throughout life never knowing who they are.

Women are certainly not always delicate or sweet, they can be evil. History has proven to undermine these women and what they were capable of, allowing them to get away with what they have done.

Featured image by Timia Cobb.

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