What is a serial killer you ask?

We talked about what the definition of a serial killer is in a previous post. Long story short, beyond the possible motivation a killer might have, a serial murderer can be defined as “a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone”.

The fascination around this type of murderers was exploited massively by Hollywood, crime writers, mass media etc. We also keep track of every serial killer caught even if this happens decades later.

One of such recent cases is The Golden State Killer, arrested in April. He was on the list of unidentified serial killers, when finally with unique and very diverse methods, investigators managed to identify him by DNA. You can read how they matched his DNA in this post: Golden State Killer – Updates on his arrest.

How many are still out there?

Truth is that it might be impossible to know how many slipped through investigation cracks. Back in the days, it wasn’t so easy to connect informations about similar murders, or maybe the wrong suspect was arrested, or maybe victims were never discovered. Could by countless or reasons for which a serial killer was never identified in a certain area.

However, there are many serial killers that were on the radar, but no one was ever arrested for those murders. Some might still be alive, like the Golden State Killer (arrested in April 2018) or BTK (arrested in 2005 for murders between 1974-1991), some might have been arrested for something else and were never connected to their crimes. Others might have passed away. And some might still be out there living their lives as if nothing ever happened. We can’t know for sure, so investigators keep those investigations open, even if time seems to have erased every chance of ever catching them.

List of unidentified serial killers in US

Bellow you can see a list of unidentified serial killers that committed crimes within U.S. and were never caught. Makes you wonder what happened to them and if answers will ever be found.

Serial KillerYears activeConfirmed VictimsPossible VictimsStateDescription
Alphabet murders1971 - 197333NYAlso known as the "Double Initial Murders"; murders of three young girls in the Rochester, New York area during the early 1970s
Ann Arbor Hospital Murders19751010Poisonings of ten patients at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in 1975
Atlanta Ripper19111515–21GaMystery murderer(s) of fifteen Atlanta women in 1911
Axeman of New Orleans1918 - 191966–7LaResponsible for the deaths of 6–7 people in New Orleans and the surrounding areas from 1918–1919
Boston Strangler1962 - 19641313Ma1960s deaths of 13 women (five young, eight older), mostly with their own stockings as ligature. Albert DeSalvo confessed to the murders, but was never indicted; DNA evidence tested in 2013 suggested his guilt in one of the cases
Charlie Chop-off1972 - 197466NYMurders of five boys in Manhattan in 1972 and 1973. A mental patient confessed to one slashing death. Four stabbings also involving mutilation remain unsolved
Cincinnati Strangler1965 - 196677OHRaped and strangled seven mostly elderly women in Cincinnati, Ohio between 1965 and 1966
Cleveland Torso Murderer19341340+OHAlso known as the "Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run"; responsible for 12–13 murders in the Cleveland, Ohio area in the 1930s
Colonial Parkway Killer1986 - 198988VABelieved to have murdered at least eight people in Virginia between 1986 and 1989; left three couples dead and one couple missing and presumed dead
Connecticut River Valley Killer1978 - 198777+Ma, Ct, NYStabbed at least six women to death in New England in the 1980s, severely injured one
Daytona Beach killer2005 - 200745FLMurdered four, possibly five, women in Daytona Beach, Florida between 2005 and 2007
The Doodler1974 - 19751414CASketched then stabbed to death 14 gay men in San Francisco in the 1970s
Eastbound Strangler200644NJ, NYMurdered 4 women near Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2006.
Edgecombe County Serial Killer2000s910NCMurders of nine women and disappearance of another since 2005 around Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Antwan Pittman has been convicted in one case
Neal Falls?–2015?010+Killed up to 10 women before being killed in self defense.
February 9 Killer2006 - 200822UTSuspected serial killer who murdered 2 women on the same date, two years apart
Flat-Tire murders197555+Killed 5 women in 1975
Frankford Slasher1985 - 199089PA, NJAllegedly responsible for nine murders in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Leonard Christopher was convicted of one murder; another murder was committed in same style while he was incarcerated; believed to still be at large
Freeway Phantom1971 - 197267D.C.Raped and strangled six young women and girls in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s, dumping their bodies by freeways
Gypsy Hill killings197650CAKnown as the "San Mateo slasher"; five unsolved killings, of young women in San Mateo County, California during early 1976; in 2014, the FBI named Rodney Halbower as a person of interest in the Gypsy Hill killings; as of 2015, he has been charged with two of the murders based on DNA evidence
Honolulu Strangler1985 - 198650HARaped and strangled five young women in Hawaii in 1985 and 1986
I-45 Killer198004+TXStrangled four known victims during 1980 and sexually assaulted some. Three of the four women have never been identified.
I-70 Killer1992 - 1994?68+IN, MO, KS, TX (suspected)Killed and robbed six store clerks around the Midwestern United States
Jeff Davis 82005 - 200980LaThe bodies of eight women were found in swamps and canals surrounding Jennings, Louisiana. Originally thought to be a serial killer, but multiple suspects may be involved
Long Island serial killer1996–20101017NYSuspected of killing eight women, a man and a child since 1996 and dumping their bodies along remote beaches in Suffolk and Nassau County, New York. The killer has been referred to as the Gilgo Beach killer because of the location where the first bodies were found
The Man from the Train1900 – 1912040+USAProbably one Paul Mueller. Killed whole families in their sleep, from the east coast to the west and many places between, arriving and departing by train. Existence (and probable but not proven identity) discovered over 100 years after the murders, by analysis of contemporary records, showing a markedly common modus operandi for many previously unconnected crimes.
Maryvale serial shooter201670AZAttacked at night from a car using a handgun, killing seven people and injuring two between March and July 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona
New Bedford Highway Killer1988 - 1989911NYMurders of nine women and disappearance of two others between 1988 and 1989
Oakland County Child Killer1976 - 197744+MIAlso known as the "Babysitter"; responsible for the murders of four or more children in Oakland County, Michigan in 1976 and 1977
Ohio Prostitute Killer1981-2004710OHAn individual believed to have murdered prostitutes and exotic dancers. His first victim is suspected to be Marcia King, who was identified in 2018.
Phantom Killer194650TXBelieved to have committed the Texarkana Moonlight Murders in Texas between February 23 and May 4, 1946
Redhead murders1978 - 199288+Series of unsolved homicides believed to have been committed by an unidentified serial killer in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Pennsylvania
Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders1972 - 197377+CAA series of at least seven unsolved homicides involving female hitchhikers that took place in Sonoma County and Santa Rosa of the North Bay area of California in 1972 and 1973
Seminole Heights serial killer201740FLShot and killed four people, seemingly at random, in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, Florida. On November 28, 2017, police arrested Howell Emanuel Donaldson III in connection with the killings.
Servant Girl Annihilator1884–188588TXAlso known as the "Austin Axe Murderer"; responsible for at least seven murders in Austin, Texas between 1884 and 1885
Smiley face murder theory1990s - 2000s040+Theoretical serial killer(s) thought by some sources to have drowned college-aged young men across the northern part of the country since 1997; most experts suggest that the deaths were accidental
Texas Killing Fields1970s - 2000s130+TXSince the early 1970s roughly 30 bodies have been extracted from the fields, mainly consisting of young girls. May have been the work of multiple killers. Convicted murderer Edward Harold Bell, 72 years old in November 2011, claimed in a letter to police in 1998 to have murdered 11 girls in Galveston County. Kevin Edison Smith was sentenced to life imprisonment for one of the murders in 2012.
Tube Sock Killings198546WAUnsolved murders which occurred in the remote community of Mineral in Washington
West Mesa murders2003–20091111+NMRemains of 11 women, who disappeared between 2003 and 2005, found buried in desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2009 and attributed to a bone collector
Zodiac Killer1968 - 1974537CATargeted young couples. Remains unsolved but open in the California jurisdictions the 5 certain Zodiac murders occurred. Potentially 37 total victims claimed but unverified.