The most notorious serial killer from each state (2023)

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The most notorious serial killer from each state (1)

  • Each state has a connection to an infamous serial killer.
  • Some serial killers are known for killing children, like David Meirhofer in Montana.
  • Other killers are so famous they are known all over the country, like Ted Bundy, the BTK Killer, and John Wayne Gacy.
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When the Golden State Killer was caught in 2018 — more than three decades after his crimes — the country was stunned. But these horrific murders are not unfamiliar to Americans. In fact, the United States has had more serial killers than any other country.

As early as the 1800s, the United States has seen killers who murdered on a massive scale. Since then, the country has become captivated with true crime, particularly serial killers. Shows like Netflix's "Mindhunter" or books like "I'll be Gone in the Dark" try to get into the minds of these terrifying killers to learn about motives and tactics.

Here's a list of men, women, and, yes, even families who were serial killers in every state across the United States.

Editor's Note: A warning that these accounts can be upsetting to some and describe graphic details of real-life cases.

ALABAMA: Thomas Warren Whisenhant

The most notorious serial killer from each state (2)

Alabama Department of Corrections

In October 1976, Thomas Warren Whisenhant abducted Cheryl Lynn Payton from the convenience store where she worked. He drove her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her in the front seat of his pick-up truck. He then shot her point blank in the head and dragged her body into a wooded area. A few days later, Whisenhant returned to her body and mutilated it.

When he was caught, he told the police everything about Payton's murder and even confessed to other murders: the deaths of Venora Hyatt and Patricia Hitt. He was put to death in 2010.

ALASKA: Robert Hansen

The most notorious serial killer from each state (3)


Alaska has more serial killings per its population size than any other state, according to HuffPost. So although it's hard to choose just one killer that terrorized the state, Robert Hansen seems to leave a really bone-chilling scare.

Hansen appeared to be the model father, husband, and business owner — but he was harboring a terrible secret. He was hunting women like wild animals. In 1971, he started to abduct sex workers and strippers and bring them to his remote cabin in the woods where he would torture them. He'd let them loose in the woods of Anchorage and then he'd hunt them down for mere pleasure.

When finally caught, Hansen confessed to murdering 17 people but was only convicted for four. He died in prison in 2014 at 75.

ARIZONA: Mark Goudeau "The Baseline Killer"

The most notorious serial killer from each state (4)

Pat Shannahan/AP Images

Mark Goudeau became known as the "Baseline Killer" when he terrorized the Phoenix, Arizona, community in the summer of 2006. He would attack women during their daily lives. One woman he brutally raped and murdered when she was vacuuming her car. Another woman met a similar fate when she was just waiting at a bus stop. They were all found in pools of blood with their pants pulled halfway down.

In total, Goudeau was found guilty of killing nine people, most of them women. In 2016, his nine death sentences were upheld in Phoenix. He is still in prison.

ARKANSAS: The Phantom Killer

The most notorious serial killer from each state (5)

Ed Clark/ Getty

Although this killer was never identified and spanned two states, The Phantom Killer earns his spot on the list for the terror he caused in 1946. Every three weeks to the day this murderer would shoot a couple to death in their car. Eventually, movie theaters canceled shows, people stayed inside behind locked doors, and very few ventured outside. The town of Texarkana — which spanned Texas and Arkansas — lived in fear, as he apparently attacked eight people and killed five.

Just as fast as the killings started, they suddenly stopped. The Phantom Killer was never identified, but the terror he left in the small town was never lost, ultimately inspiring the classic horror film "The Town that Dreaded Sundown."


The most notorious serial killer from each state (6)

Bettmann/Getty Images

Ed Kemper is a particularly brutal serial killer who killed 10 young people, earning him the title "The Co-ed Killer." Before earning this moniker, he killed his grandparents at 15 and was in jail for two years.

In the early '70s, Kemper started to pick up young hitchhikers who were Fresno State students. Eventually, he escalated to killing them and cutting their heads off. On some occasions, he would have sex with the corpses.

Right before he was caught, he killed his mother by smashing her head with a hammer and decapitating her.

He was found guilty on eight counts of first-degree murder. He is currently serving his sentence in prison.

COLORADO: Scott Lee Scott

The most notorious serial killer from each state (7)

Colorado Department of Corrections

Scott Lee Kimball is an FBI informant turned serial killer. In 2002, he was in jail for fraud and convinced the FBI to let him out as an informant. During those years free from jail, he killed four people. Kimball killed his uncle, his cellmate's girlfriend, and a 19-year-old girl. Kimball was the last to see all of them alive.

After a brutal car chase, Kimball was arrested and plead guilty to four charges of second-degree murder. He is currently serving a 70-year sentence.

CONNECTICUT: William Devin Howell

The most notorious serial killer from each state (8)

Connecticut Department of Correction/ AP Images

William Devin Howell can best be described as a drifter. In 2003, he roamed the streets of Connecticut in his van that he dubbed his "murder mobile." The name makes sense because, at that time, Howell abducted, assaulted, and murdered seven people, according to Oxygen. He buried the bodies in his "garden" behind a strip mall as a memorial.

On trial, Howell said he could not explain his motive behind the killings, referencing a "monster" inside him. "I know everyone wants to know why I committed these crimes. I don't have an answer. I do not know myself," he said at the time.

In 2017, he was sentenced to 360 years in prison.

DELAWARE: Steven Brian Pennell

The most notorious serial killer from each state (9)

Public domain

The state of Delaware only has one documented serial killer: Steven Brian Pennell or more commonly known as the "Route 40 Killer." Between the years of 1987 and 1988, Pennell preyed on the sex workers who worked on Route 40. He'd pick them up in his electrician van.

As the bodies began to pile up, investigators struggled to find the culprit. All they had for clues were blue carpet fibers on the bodies, WHYY reports. Eventually, an undercover cop was picked up by Pennell and she noticed his van was covered in blue carpet. The investigators had their guy: a seemingly harmless man who was a father, a husband, and an electrician.

He was found guilty of murdering two of his victims. During his sentencing, Pennel bizarrely asked to be put to death; however, he never admitted to the crimes. He died of lethal injection in 1992.

FLORIDA: Christine Falling

The most notorious serial killer from each state (10)

Mark Foley/ AP

While Florida has seen the likes of Aileen Wuornos and Ted Bundy, one unknown serial killer makes this list for her brutality. Christine Falling became known as the "Babysitter from Hell" when she choked and killed five children in the early '80s, including an 8-month-old baby. She was just 19 years old when she murdered the children.

She pled guilty and said she killed the children she babysat for because she had to satisfy a sudden urge to choke them, according to The New York Times. She was sentenced to life in prison and is still there to this day.

GEORGIA: Atlanta Child Murderer

The most notorious serial killer from each state (11)

Bettmann / Getty

Between 1979 and 1981, Atlanta was in a state of panic. Black children in the neighborhood were being targeted and murdered one-by-one. It became known as the Atlanta Child Murders.

It is believed that Wayne Williams — a freelance photographer — may have been responsible for the murders. Wayne is in jail for two other murders and has never been tried for the Atlanta Child Murders, but there is evidence that points to him, including the fact that fibers from his home and dog were found on the victims.

Some believe Williams has nothing to do with these crimes and think that police pinned them on him because they wanted an answer. There are those who also believe the KKK were the real murderers of these children, but the FBI found no direct link between the group and these murders.

If true, Williams could be guilty of killing close to 30 people.

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