The motivations behind any type of criminal behavior are complex and multifaceted, and this is particularly true for serial killers. In this article we will read about 10 most deadly female serial killers of all time and what is the reason behind them.

Research has suggested that a variety of personal, social, and environmental factors may play a role in the development of serial killer behavior, including:

Childhood experiences: Many serial killers have reported experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse, or other types of trauma during their childhoods, which may contribute to their later criminal behavior.

Personality traits: Some research suggests that certain personality traits, such as psychopathy and narcissism, may be more common among serial killers.

Mental illness: Some serial killers may have underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or psychosis, which may contribute to their criminal behavior.

Environmental factors: A variety of social, economic, and cultural factors may contribute to the development of serial killer behavior, including poverty, social isolation, and a lack of access to mental health resources. It’s important to note that the majority of individuals who experience these types of risk factors do not go on to become serial killers, and that the vast majority of people who commit violent crimes are not serial killers. Serial killer behavior is rare and complex, and the motivations behind it are not fully understood.

Aileen Wuornos

10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time - Aileen Wuornos
10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time – Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos was a serial killer who murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. She claimed that all of the murders were committed in self-defense after the men had either raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. Wuornos was arrested in 1991 and was found guilty of six of the murders. She was sentenced to death and was executed by lethal injection in 2002. Wuornos’ case gained widespread media attention and was the subject of several books, films, and documentaries.

Jane Toppan

Jane Toppan
Most deadly female serial killers of all time – Jane Toppan

Jane Toppan, also known as Jolly Jane due to her cheerful demeanor, was a nurse who moved through families in the New England area and was responsible for the deaths of dozens of patients. She admitted to killing 31 people after her arrest in 1901, using a combination of medicine and chemicals, including lethal amounts of morphine and atropine, and even climbing into bed with them after administering the deadly dose. Toppan was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the Taunton Insane Hospital for life. It is believed that she may have killed up to 70 people over the course of her 20-year career.

Juana Barraza

10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time - Juana Barraza
10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time – Juana Barraza

Juana Barraza, also known as “The Old Lady Killer,” was a Mexican professional wrestler and serial killer who murdered between 42 and 48 elderly women between 1998 and 2006. She would knock on the doors of her victims, pretending to be a government worker and gaining their trust before attacking and strangling them with phone cables or other items of clothing, and stealing their possessions. Barraza was arrested in 2006 and found guilty of 16 counts of murder and aggravated burglary in 2008. She was sentenced to 759 years in prison, where she remains to this day. It is believed that Barraza’s motivation for killing stemmed from her hatred of her mother, who allowed men to rape her as a child.

Amelia Dyer

Amelia Dyer
Amelia Dyer

She was a nurse and midwife turned baby farmer and serial killer who operated in Britain during the mid-to-late 1800s. She engaged in baby farming, a lucrative trade in the Victorian era in which carers would adopt unwanted children for a fee and then mistreat or murder them. Dyer took in babies and starved them to death, pocketing the fees for her supposed care work. Later, she progressed to faster methods of killing to make more money. A local doctor became suspicious of the number of deaths under Dyer’s care and ordered an inquest, which led to the discovery of the remains of murdered infants in the Thames River that were traced back to Dyer. She was hanged for her crimes in 1896 and is suspected of killing over 400 infants, making her one of history’s most prolific serial killers.

Dorothea Puente

10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time - Dorothea Puente
10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time – Dorothea Puente

Dorothea Puente, also known as the “Death House Landlady,” operated a boarding house in Sacramento, California where she murdered elderly and mentally disabled boarders by administering sleeping pills and suffocating them. She would then cash in their Social Security checks and pocket the money. Puente’s killing spree began around 1982 after she began renting out her apartment. She was charged with a total of nine murders and was convicted of three, receiving two life sentences. She died in 2011 in a prison in Chowchilla at the age of 82. Police were alerted to the property after a local disabled man was reported missing, leading to the discovery of seven bodies on the property.

Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss
Nannie Doss

Nancy Hazle, also known as Nannie Doss, was a serial killer who killed 11 people over a 30-year period, including her partners and children. Doss used poison to dispatch her victims, beginning with her own children in 1920. Relatives of Doss continued to pass away under suspicious circumstances, until a local doctor ordered an autopsy on a recently deceased person and discovered traces of arsenic in their system. It was eventually revealed that Doss had killed four husbands, two children, two sisters, her mother, two grandchildren, and a mother-in-law. Doss was known as the “Giggling Granny,” the “Lonely Hearts Killer,” the “Black Widow,” and “Lady Blue Beard,” and was sentenced to life imprisonment after pleading guilty. She died in 1965.

Judias Buenoano (also known as Judy Buenoano)

10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time - Judias Buenoano (also known as Judy Buenoano)
10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time – Judias Buenoano (also known as Judy Buenoano)

Judy Buenoano, also known as the Black Widow, was a serial killer who murdered her husband, son, and boyfriend over the span of 12 years. In 1963, Buenoano married James Goodyear and slowly poisoned him with arsenic until he died in 1971, allowing Buenoano to collect a large insurance payout. The next year, she met Bobby Morris and took out life insurance policies on him before poisoning him as well, leading to his death in 1977. In 1980, Buenoano poisoned her son Michael and then capsized a boat while rowing with him, causing him to drown. Buenoano’s crimes were uncovered in 1984, and she was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair in 1998, making her the first woman to be executed in Florida in 150 years. She was also believed to have been involved in a 1974 murder in Alabama and an attempt to murder her fiancé John Gentry.

Gesche Gottfried

Gesche Gottfried
Gesche Gottfried

She was a German serial killer who used arsenic to poison and kill 15 people, likely between 1813 and 1827. She mixed the poison into her victims’ food while caring for them as a nurse, and her victims included her parents, two husbands, fiancé, and children. Gottfried was the last person publicly executed in the city of Bremen.

Kristen Gilbert

10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time - Kristen Gilbert
10 Most Deadly Female Serial Killers of All Time – Kristen Gilbert

Kristen Gilbert was a nurse who was convicted of four murders and two attempted murders of patients at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Massachusetts. She would inject patients with large doses of epinephrine, a heart stimulant that is untraceable, causing cardiac arrest. Gilbert would then respond to the coded emergency herself. She was found guilty in 1998 and is currently serving a life sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas.

Miyuki Ishikawa

Miyuki Ishikawa
Miyuki Ishikawa

She was a Japanese midwife who, with the help of accomplices, murdered infants in the 1940s. It is estimated that she killed between 85 and 169 people, with a general estimate of 103 victims. Ishikawa sought payment for the murders, claiming that her services were less expensive than raising an unwanted child. Many of her victims were deserted children. Ishikawa was sentenced to four years in prison.

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