Featuring rapist mothers, murdering caregivers and a human pelt hanging in the kitchen.
When the fairer sex, the nurturing sex, commit acts of pure evil, it’s as if nature itself has been upended. We expect men to be violent and criminal. They’re the hunters. They act on impulse. But mommy holding a knife – that’s another proposition.
Take these eight. All of them modern. They’re nurses, mothers, wives on the one hand and serial killers and psychopaths on the other. What pushed them beyond the brink? We like to think it was society or their cruel upbringings. But maybe it’s simpler. Maybe evil is as evil does. And sometimes its face is female.
The Cocaine Godmother did it in style. She was a visionary drug lord of the Medellín Cartel in the 1970s and 80s, and she always had her hair done right and the finest furs draped around her five-foot frame. Born in Colombia, she moved to Queens, New York, with her second husband and quickly built a thriving drug business. She briefly returned to Colombia in 1975 after being indicted on drug charges, but a few years later she turned up in Miami and built an empire with her band of gunmen, the Pistoleros.
Blanco moved 300 kilos of cocaine worth $8 million a month. She ordered at least 200 murders during her Miami days, gunning down anyone who challenged the Madrina. In 1985 she was arrested and sent to prison but continued running her business through a penpal small-time dealer-turned-lover who bears a strong resemblance to Bernie Mac (see Cocaine Cowboys 2). Some flimsy evidence got her released in 2004 and deported back to Colombia. With a mile-long list of enemies, Blanco kept her life private, but only this September she was gunned down leaving a butcher shop in Colombia by motorcycle assassination, a murder method she’s credited with inventing.
An elderly woman running a boarding house for the unfortunate hardly fits the profile of a conniving murderer. And yet this small-time Sacramento socialite had her system down to a science. She trapped and killed at least 25 troubled or sick older men, forged their Social Security checks to buy clothes, makeup and even some plastic surgery. Neighbors wondered why her house smelled fouler than rotting citrus. What they didn’t know was that she had been convicted for drugging and stealing people from bars in her younger days, or that she ran a brothel in the late 1950s, and did jail time before settling in Sacramento. In 1988 the police arrived with shovels at her house. Sentenced to life without parole, in 1998 she became pen-pals with artist Shane Bugbee and recipes and art work she sent him eventually were published alongside interviews in a book.
Rosemary and Fred West set up an illicit love shack they called home at 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester, England. They lured children and young women to their “House Of Horrors,” tortured and raped them for days, then killed and dismembered their bodies before burying them beneath the house. They also massacred their own daughters, Heather and Charmaine. Both Rosemary and Fred came from abusive families that contributed to the depravity of their sexual tastes. Rosemary was a prostitute and a sadist, and although 10 girls were accounted for, it’s possibly that up to 20 lost children died at the couple’s hands.
How does the saying go? “A couple that rapes together burns in hell together”? They were arrested in 1994 for crimes they committed mainly between 1973 and 1979. Though Fred committed suicide while awaiting trial, Rosemary became the second woman in British history to serve a life sentence. But prison doesn’t sound so bad. She’s the champion of the Monopoly ring, gets free TV and enjoys daily shopping from catalogues.
Watch: Appropriate Adult
As prostitute serial killers go, no one receives more sympathy than Aileen Wuornos. Is it because the movies were so good? She survived a childhood of incest, pre-teen pregnancy and abandonment. At 15, she lived in the woods, started thieving and fighting and wound up in Florida, where she married a 69-year-old yacht club owner whom she beat with his own cane. Between 1989 and 1990 Wuornos killed seven men, acts for which she received six death sentences. And though she claimed self-defense until the very end – the men were allegedly trying to rape her – all the media scrutiny, overblown publicity and back and forth eventually overwhelmed her, and she gave up, ready to die. Awaiting her lethal injection, she promised to return with Jesus on the mother ship on Independence Day.
The “Angel Of Death” was a British pediatric nurse who used the hospital nursery as a den for her diabolical desires. She injected potassium chloride, lignocaine or insulin into child patients to induce cardiac arrest. Over a two month period in 1991 she attacked 13 children in her ward, from newborns to 11-year olds, killing four of them. Allegedly, she suffered from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, which caused her to hurt children in order to save them or be by their side as they die. As a girl, Allitt enjoyed dressing up as an injured person and later on she would injure herself, seeking constant attention from doctors and eventually taking up a job in the field. Allit was awarded 13 life sentences at Rampton Maximum Security Hospital, which houses the criminally insane. In prison, she took to stabbing herself with paper clips and pouring boiling water on her hands.
Katherine Mary Knight
This Australian learned to slice and dice by boning out carcasses at the Aberdeen abattoir for a living. She loved her job, and slept with her favorite razor sharp boning knives above her bed. Spurned by a husband, who left her for his mistress, Knight went psycho, assaulting women that rubbed her the wrong way, threatening children with knives. She even left her baby on the train tracks. She was in and out of psychiatric hospitals before eventually being released to her mother’s care, but always the jealous type, she continued beating her lovers. In 2000, Knight used her knife skills to expertly skin the last man in her life, John Price. After stabbing him 37 times, she removed all his skin in one piece except for two tiny bits that remained clinging to his flesh. This pelt she hung in the kitchen. She cooked up a soup using his head then served it to his kids for dinner. They found his buttocks, minus a few slices, tossed in the backyard. Knight became Australia’s first woman sentenced to life imprisonment.
Tracey Wigginton’s thirst for blood became insatiable. For some time she fed on pig and cow blood from the butcher and, romantically enough, drank from her lover Lisa Ptaschinski’s carefully slit wrists. So one evening, the soon-to-be infamous “Lesbian Vampire Killer,” her lover, along with two female friends, Kim Jervis and Tracey Waugh, embarked on a night cruise looking for a fresh meal. They lured drunken Edward Baldock, age 47, into their car as he left a bar on Oct. 20, 1989. They stopped at a nearby park along the Brisbane River, where Wigginton stabbed him so many times in the chest and back that his head almost fell off. Her friends watched Wigginton drink from the spurting fountain that was his body. Police found her cash card in his shoe the next day and Wigginton received life imprisonment. But she has since returned to a solid food diet and made bail!
Four failed marriages, two involving the same husband, left Gertrude Baniszewski with some kids and a bitter taste for abusing others. In 1965 an unsuspecting circus couple asked her to watch over their two teenage daughters, Sylvia Marie and polio-stricken Jenny Faye Likens, for $20 a week. Baniszewski beat the girls with a mallet for tiny indiscretions, but what makes her truly evil is that she coerced her own seven children and other neighborhood kids to beat, torture and sexually abuse her captives, particularly Sylvia, aka “Cookie.” One incident involved forcing Sylvia to rape herself with a Coke bottle. On Oct. 26, 1965, Indianapolis police were called to 3850 E. New York St. where Sylvia’s body lay on a mattress, starved, bruised, bleeding, burned and found “I Am A Prostitute” tattooed to her stomach. Baniszewski blamed a gang of boys, but the cops didn’t buy it. She spent 20 years of a life sentence in prison.
Watch: An American Crime
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