The Most Popular Serial Killer in America: Ranking the Chilling Figure Behind the Notorious Crimes

Choose the serial killer you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 14, 2024 08:31
Step right up and cast your vote in our spine-chilling ranking of "Who is the most popular serial killer in America?" Here at StrawPoll, we've delved into the darkest corners of true crime history to compile an infamous list of the most notorious, terrifying, and utterly fascinating serial killers that have haunted the American imagination. Unleash your inner detective and let your morbid curiosity run wild as you explore the twisted minds of these real-life villains. Whether you're a true crime aficionado, a horror fan or just intrigued by the macabre, your input is vital in determining who ultimately reigns supreme in the blood-curdling world of infamous serial killers. So, grab your magnifying glass and get ready to examine the evidence, as you cast your vote for the most popular serial killer in America or suggest a missing option to make our spine-tingling ranking even more spine-tingling. Don't be afraid, dive into the darkness and let the chilling investigation begin!

Who Is the Most Popular Serial Killer in America?

  1. 1
    Ted Bundy
    Unknown photographer · Public domain

    Ted Bundy

    Ted Bundy
    He confessed to killing 30 young women and girls in the 1970s, though the actual number is believed to be much higher. He is known for his charm and intelligence, which he used to lure his victims.
    Ted Bundy was an American serial killer who terrorized the country during the 1970s. He was known for his charm and good looks, which he used to gain the trust of his victims before committing heinous acts of violence. Bundy's crimes were characterized by abduction, rape, and murder of young women. His case captured national attention due to the scale and brutality of his crimes, as well as his ability to evade capture for an extended period of time.
    • Number of Victims: Confirmed 30+, suspected over 100
    • Method of Killing: Strangulation, bludgeoning, and blunt force trauma
    • Victim Profile: Young women, usually college students
    • Crime Spree Timeline: 1974-1978
    • Modus Operandi: Attraction and deception to gain trust before abducting victims, often impersonating authority figures
    Ted Bundy in other rankings
  2. 2
    Jeffrey Dahmer
    Revere Senior High School · Public domain

    Jeffrey Dahmer

    Jeffrey Dahmer
    He killed 17 young men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He was known for his cannibalism and necrophilia.
    Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster, was an American serial killer and sex offender. He primarily targeted young men and boys, whom he would lure to his apartment with the promise of money or alcohol before sexually assaulting, killing, and dismembering them. Dahmer operated between 1978 and 1991, during which he committed 17 known murders. His infamous crimes included acts of necrophilia, cannibalism, and preservation of body parts as trophies.
    • Nationality: American
    • Alias: Milwaukee Cannibal, Milwaukee Monster
    • Operating Period: 1978-1991
    • Number of Known Victims: 17
    • Preferred Targets: Young men and boys
    Jeffrey Dahmer in other rankings
  3. 3
    John Wayne Gacy
    Des Plaines Police Department · Public domain

    John Wayne Gacy

    John Wayne Gacy
    He killed at least 33 young men and boys in the 1970s. He was known as the "Killer Clown" because he often dressed up as a clown for charity events.
    John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer who was active between 1972 and 1978. He sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered at least 33 young boys and young men in Chicago, Illinois. Gacy was able to lure his victims to his home under the pretext of offering them employment or money. He would then capture and restrain them before subjecting them to prolonged periods of sexual abuse and eventually strangling them to death. Gacy's case gained significant media attention due to the high number of victims and the gruesome nature of his crimes. He was convicted in 1980 and sentenced to death. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994.
    • Conviction: 1980
    • Sentence: Death
    • Target Victims: Young boys and young men
    • Notoriety: High media attention
    • Active Years: 1972 - 1978
    John Wayne Gacy in other rankings
  4. 4
    Gary Ridgway
    King County Sheriff's Office. · Public domain

    Gary Ridgway

    Gary Ridgway (active)
    He confessed to killing 49 women in the 1980s and 1990s, but it is believed that he may have killed many more. He was known as the "Green River Killer" because many of his victims were found near the Green River in Washington state.
    Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, is one of the most intriguing and notorious serial killers in American history. Active during the 1980s and 1990s, Ridgway would later be convicted of murdering at least 49 women, primarily sex workers and vulnerable young girls in the Seattle area. He is known for his ability to blend into society, leading a seemingly normal life while carrying out his heinous crimes.
    • Number of Victims: Confirmed 49, potentially more
    • Active Period: 1982-1998
    • Targeted Victims: Primarily sex workers and young girls
    • Modus Operandi: Strangulation, often leaving victims in wooded areas or the Green River
    • Capture Date: November 30, 2001
    Gary Ridgway in other rankings
  5. 5
    Charles Manson
    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation · Public domain
    He was the leader of a cult that committed a series of murders in the late 1960s. Though he did not personally commit the murders, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
    Charles Manson in other rankings
  6. 6

    David Berkowitz

    David Berkowitz
    He killed six people and wounded seven others in a shooting spree in New York City in 1976 and 1977. He was known as the "Son of Sam" because he claimed that his neighbor's dog told him to kill.
    David Berkowitz, also known as the 'Son of Sam,' was an infamous American serial killer who terrorized New York City in the 1970s. He confessed to murdering six people and wounding several others between 1976 and 1977.
    • Birth Name: Richard David Falco
    • Alias: Son of Sam
    • Date of Birth: June 1, 1953
    • Number of Confirmed Victims: 6
    • Crime Period: July 29, 1976 - July 31, 1977
    David Berkowitz in other rankings
  7. 7

    Richard Ramirez

    Richard Ramirez
    He killed 13 people in California in the mid-1980s. He was known as the "Night Stalker" because he often entered homes through unlocked windows at night.
    Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker, was an American serial killer and rapist who terrorized the residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco from 1984 to 1985. He was a highly disturbing and brutal criminal who gained worldwide notoriety for his heinous acts.
    • Nickname: Night Stalker
    • Years Active: 1984-1985
    • Location: Los Angeles and San Francisco
    • Crimes: Murder, rape, burglary, and assault
    • Victims: 13 known murders, several rape cases, and numerous other crimes
    Richard Ramirez in other rankings
  8. 8

    Ed Gein

    Edward Theodore Gein
    He killed two women in Wisconsin in the 1950s and was also known for his grave-robbing and necrophilia. He inspired the character of Norman Bates in the novel and movie "Psycho."
    Ed Gein was an infamous American serial killer who gained notoriety for his gruesome crimes and twisted behavior. He was born on August 27, 1906, in Plainfield, Wisconsin, and became one of America's most disturbing murderers. Gein's crimes inspired numerous books, movies, and characters in pop culture, making him a macabre legend in the true crime genre.
    • Birthdate: August 27, 1906
    • Birthplace: Plainfield, Wisconsin, United States
    • Occupation: Handyman, farmer
    • Murder Count: 2 confirmed, suspected in more cases
    • Modus Operandi: Grave robbing, murder, and mutilation
    Ed Gein in other rankings
  9. 9

    Aileen Wuornos

    Aileen Wuornos
    She killed seven men in Florida in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She was a prostitute who claimed that she killed in self-defense.
    Aileen Wuornos was an American serial killer who was active from 1989 to 1990. She targeted and murdered seven men, most of whom she claimed had either raped or attempted to rape her. Wuornos became one of the most infamous female serial killers in history.
    • Birth Date: February 29, 1956
    • Death Date: October 9, 2002
    • Number of Victims: 7
    • Method of Killing: Firearms
    • Motivation: Claims of self-defense against rape or attempted rape
    Aileen Wuornos in other rankings
  10. 10

    Dennis Rader

    Dennis Rader
    He killed 10 people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991. He was known as the "BTK Killer" because he sent letters to the media and police that signed off as "Bind, Torture, Kill."
    Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK Killer (Bind, Torture, Kill), was a notorious American serial killer who terrorized the Wichita, Kansas area from 1974 to 1991. He gained notoriety for his calculated and brutal killings, as well as his taunting letters sent to the media and authorities.
    • Number of Victims: 10
    • Killings Period: 1974-1991
    • Modus Operandi: He would bind, torture, and kill his victims, often strangling them.
    • Taunting Letters: Rader sent multiple letters to the media and police, detailing his crimes and mocking their efforts to catch him.
    • Nickname: BTK Killer (Bind, Torture, Kill)
    Dennis Rader in other rankings

Missing your favorite serial killer?


Ranking factors for popular serial killer

  1. Number of Victims
    The number of victims and the duration over which the killings occurred can attract attention and media coverage, making a serial killer more widely known.
  2. Media Coverage
    The extent and intensity of media coverage can contribute to a serial killer's popularity. High-profile cases that receive extensive coverage tend to capture more public interest.
  3. Methodology
    The distinct or unusual methods used by a serial killer can draw attention and intrigue from the public and media.
  4. Infamy
    The overall notoriety or fame of the serial killer, including any high-profile trials, public fascination or obsession with their crimes, or a cult following can contribute to popularity rankings.
  5. Historical Significance
    The impact a serial killer had on shaping public perception, law enforcement practices, or the criminal justice system can also influence their popularity ranking.
  6. Cultural and Social Impact
    Serial killers who have had a significant impact on popular culture, inspiring movies, books, or documentaries, may gain extra recognition.
  7. Longevity
    The length of time a serial killer remains active or evades capture can contribute to their popularity, as ongoing investigations or mysteries capture public attention.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular serial killer in America. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or serial killer is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 173 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each serial killer once every 24 hours. The rank of each serial killer is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular serial killer in america

Serial killers have long captivated the public's imagination, and their stories have been the subject of countless books, movies, and TV shows. While their actions are undeniably horrific, the fascination with their motives and methods persists. In America, there have been many notorious serial killers over the years, each with their own unique story and modus operandi. From Ted Bundy to Jeffrey Dahmer, these individuals have left an indelible mark on the nation's psyche. In this article, we'll explore who is considered the most popular serial killer in America based on public opinion and the results of StrawPoll's user-generated polls.

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