What’s a serial killer to do after going through all of the trouble of murdering a dozen or so people only to be named The Lipstick Strangler?
When reporting on a crime, it's no surprise that a catchy, shocking headline is key to luring readers in and pumping up sales.
And when it comes the serial killers that often commit those crimes — especially ones that are still out there — a melodious nickname that provides the media with a hook they can throw out to reel people in is clutch. After all, who's really going to ignore a headline like "Too hot? The Spicy Habanero Roasts Three People Alive"?
Not us, that's for damn sure. We're picking up that story and we're picking it up hard. That's why the media (almost never law enforcement) tends to devise outrageous, contentious nicknames for serial killers, most of which combine the morbid with the absurd to create truly memorable terms of endearment for our nation's most terrible people.
Here are some of the more, well, unfortunate examples of those.
1. The Big-Eared Midget
Cayetano Santos Godino, who served two months in jail for chronic masturbation at age 10, earned his serial-killer moniker with his dashing Dumbo ears and stature. Godino lit buildings and little girls on fire, choked children and hammered a nail into an infant boy’s head before his arrest. Once again imprisoned, his mysterious death followed his killing other inmates’ cats and getting the shit kicked out of him for it.
2. The Gay Slayer
Colin Ireland, though allegedly heterosexual himself, lured gay men seeking to be bottoms or subs in sadomasochistic sex from the local gay bar back to their homes, typically strangling them and staying the night to clean up and/or stage a victim with his also-murdered cat’s mouth around his penis. Jesus … even Cosmo wouldn't recommend that move.
3. Son of Sam
Dean Berkowitz, aka “Son of Sam,” stands unique in serial killer history in that he named himself. He’s imprisoned for shooting to death at least six people under the direction of his neighbor Sam’s dog. As it turns out, Sam’s actual sons were both dead, and “dog made me do it” won’t stand up in court as the perfect combination of the dog ate my homework and god made me do it.
4. The Candy Man
Dean Corll’s nickname promises fodder for an amazing horror movie, but he was just a lame guy who couldn’t make adult friends. He encouraged boys to hang out around back of his family’s candy factory and often gave away candy, earning him his nickname and his accomplices. He worked with two young men to abduct, torture, sexually assult and murder at least 28 boys, typically teens. Then one of his comrades murdered him.
5. The Kindly Killer
Dennis Nilsen murdered at least a dozen men and boys in what he believed to be the most humane way possible, known to sane people as the inhumane acts of strangulation and/or drowning. He then shaved, made-up and semi-clothed his victims, often keeping them around for conversation, cuddling, masturbation and intercrural (between the thighs) sex. We’re pretty sure English prison sex is neither cuddly, kindly nor intercrural for this fellow.
6. The Florida Sex Beast
Gerard John Schaefer was a Florida cop who used his badge to help him abduct girls to torture, rape and murder. A failed abduction, combined with souvenirs such as jewelry and teeth found in his home, linked him to 10 total disappearances, though he’s suspected of as many as 30 murders and was stabbed to death in prison before being convicted of more. He was definitely a beast, but was “Dick-Headed Florida Cop Who Abuses His Power to Destroy Girls” too long or something?
7. The Pious Poisoner
Helene Jegado is believed to have poisoned to death at least 36 people from 1833 to 1851, including a priest, an infant and her sister, using arsenic. She ran out the statute of limitations on most of the murders by taking a 10-year hiatus, so she only saw only three actual murder convictions. She was guillotined before her cancer could poison her body slowly, which just seems so unfair.
8. The Giggling Granny
Nannie Doss was also called the “Jolly Black Widow” and “Arsenic Annie.” She poisoned to death only family: four husbands, two children, her mother, her sister (or sisters), a grandson (or grandchildren) and a mother-in-law, though she possibly hatpinned one grandchild in the head. Notoriously giggling about some of these murders whilst confessing, she expressed remorse only that she never found true love like in her romance novels. Granny died of leukemia in prison. Who’s giggling now, bitch?
9. Metal Fang
Nikolai Dzhumagaliev earned the name Metal Fang for his white, metal teeth. The Russian cannibal murdered roughly seven to 100 women as well as a few men. Here’s the super-fun part: The man who journaled about butchering, eating and storing female body parts, and fucking women in their stab wounds can’t be located. Ruled insane and locked up, he’s escaped and been released; whereabouts unknown. Fuck.
10. The Hippopotamus
Sergei Ryakhovsky was exactly the large, pale, wide-necked fatty you’d expect of a hippo, except he didn’t tusk unwitting boaters to death. Nope, he preferred strangulation over the occasional stabbing and maiming. A necrophiliac believed to have tortured and killed at least 19 people, he was sentenced to death by a firing squad in 1995 but died of tuberculosis in 2005, though we think it was the shame of having the shittiest nickname in serial killer history that got him.