Despite what TV tells us, serial killers are a rarity among us. Female serial killers more so. We describe four of the most notorious who have disappeared from public consciousness.
The Bloody Countess – Erzebet Bathory
Born in 1560, Erzebet was mentored by her childhood nurse in witchcraft. At the age of 15 she was married to Count Nasady in Hungary who taught her how to beat her servants to the edge of their lives. By the time her husband had died, she had developed a lust for cruelty that could not be satisfied. She might stick pins into sensitive body parts, cut off someone’s fingers, slit her skin with knives, or break her face. In the winter, women were dragged outside, doused with water, and left to freeze to death.
The Countess went through two trials, in which a register was discovered in her home that included in her own handwriting the names of over 650 victims. Erzebet was imprisoned for life in her home.
The Nurse of Nightmares – Genene Ann Jones
In 1982, Dr. Kathleen Holland hired a licensed vocational nurse named Genene Ann Jones, who had recently resigned from the Bexar County Medical Center Hospital. Then over the next two months, seven children had seizures. However, a bottle of succinylcholine, a powerful muscle relaxant, had turned up missing, and then suddenly Genene Jones located it. Holland was later to learn that the bottle had been filled with saline. In February 1983, a grand jury was convened to look into 47 suspicious deaths of children at Bexar County Medical Center Hospital that had occurred over a period of four years—the time when Jones had been a nurse there. The body of Chelsea McClellan was exhumed and her tissues tested; her death appeared to have been caused by an injection of the muscle relaxant.
The Thrill Seeker – Karla Fay Tucker
In 1983, Karla Fay Tucker’s latest boyfriend, Daniel Garrett, was teaching her combat maneuvers when she got high on speed and urged him to go with her for a ride. There was this guy, she said, that she disliked. His name was Jerry Lynn Dean, and she wanted to break into his house and take something, like his Harley motorcycle or maybe some parts.
When they entered in the dark, Karla jumped Dean. He started to struggle as she straddled him, so she grabbed a pickax to hold him down, and the more he struggled, the more she was determined to keep him down. She used the axe to put eleven deep stab wounds into his throat and chest.
Later she bragged about this violence to her sister, who was so disgusted she turned Karla and Daniel in to the police. Amid nationwide appeals for clemency on her behalf, she was executed in 1998—the first woman to be killed by the state of Texas since 1863.
The Ignorant Serial Killer – Mary Mallon
A less calculating killer, but nevertheless just as deadly.
Mary Mallon was a cook for wealthy families in the early 20th century in New York City and Long Island. A family she had worked for had fallen ill to typhoid and though Mary seemed healthy, George Soper, a sanitary engineer was suspicious. When researching her employment history he found that seven of her eight previous families had experienced outbreaks of typhoid. The Health Inspector sent her to live isolated on North Brother Island. She was released three years later on the proviso that she would refrain from working from food. She continued to maintain that she was healthy and that she was being unfairly persecuted. She changed her name and continued to work as a cook. By the time she was caught again, she had killed three people – without lifting a finger.
Your turn: Which infamous female serial killers have we forgot? Know any good books on the topic? Let us know in the comments below!