Tales of the most evil women in history still manage to shock everyone due to the ruthlessness of the crimes. Here are some thrilling stories of the world’s top ten women in history, who have committed evil – for money, power, pleasure, revenge or self-defense.
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
– William Congreve
Women have always been known to be gentle, compassionate and for being natural caregivers. They are stereotyped as doting daughters, sisters, mothers and lovers. Very rarely does one hear about a female serial killer. Women have proved themselves to be capable of absolutely anything. There are a few women who have besmirched the pages of history with numerous inhuman crimes, like cold-blooded murder and rape of innocent children, men and senior citizens.
The following list has women, whose murderous acts may not be very large in number, but the details of the monstrous crimes that they have committed are gory and blood curdling. These women have been called power-hungry, ruthless, dangerous, conniving, and murderous monsters, by everyone who has read or heard about them.
These vicious women have been the inspiration for books, movies, television series and documentaries, and even today, their evil deeds are used in various fictional plots. These femme fatales were unique in their methods of choosing and killing their victims. Let’s take a look at the top 10 blood thirsty women, who have terrorized the past with their horrendous acts.
Queen Mary I a.k.a. Bloody Mary
02/18/1516 – 11/17/1558
Country – England
Body Count – 300 (approx.)
Years of Terror – 1556 – 1558
Modus Operandi – Ordered Execution
Queen Mary I of England, also went by the cognomen Bloody Mary, due to the brutal slaughter of Protestants during her tenure. Around 275 people were executed, and around 800 fled the country, in the fear of losing their lives. These people did not return to England until after her death. The reason behind these savage killings was religion – she wanted to restore the Catholic faith in England. Queen Mary I was the only child of King Henry the VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, and was the first woman to claim the throne of England.
Elizabeth Báthory a.k.a. The Blood Countess The Bloody Lady of Čachtice
08/07/1560 – 08/21/1614
Country – Hungary
Body Count – Convicted: 80,Estimated: over 650
Years of Terror – 1590 and 1610
Modus Operandi – Tortured, Burned, and Frozen
Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, was born into a family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary. She was a beautiful woman, who wanted to remain so all her life. She was a strong believer of occult science, which made her believe that if she bathed in the blood of young women, she will remain young forever. She would torture and then subsequently murder her victims, drinking their blood and bathing in it. The actual date of her death is unknown as she was found dead in her tower on the 21st of August, 1614, with plates of untouched food, which was served to her through a slit in the door, due to her life imprisonment.
Madame Popova a.k.a. Murderer for Hire
N.A – 1909
Country – Russia
Body Count – 300+ men
Years of Terror – 1879 – 1909
Modus Operandi – Hired Assassin
Madame Popova was a lady who killed for money, and was the inspiration to the concept of the Husband Syndicate. In her eyes, she freed hundreds of women, who were stuck in loveless marriages, where they would have to bear with abusive husbands. She was caught in 1909, and was executed by a firing squad.
Ilse Koch a.k.a.The Witch of Buchenwald
09/22/1906 – 09/01/1967
Country – Germany
Body Count – N.A.
Years of Terror – 1941 – 1943
Modus Operandi – Sadistic Abuse of Prisoners
Isle Koch was a very strong Nazi supporter and was one of the first to be tried by the U.S. Military, for sadistic and cruel torture of prisoners in Buchenwald. She was posted in Buchenwald, with her husband, where she was in-charge of the inmates there. She was the wife of Karl Koch, who was in charge of a concentration and execution camp. She and her husband were accused for embezzlement, private enrichment and murder of prisoners. It was believed that she made lampshades out of the prisoners skins, but during the investigation it was revealed that the shades were made of goat skin. She was also given the monikers – The Beast of Buchenwald, Queen of Buchenwald, Red Witch of Buchenwald, and the Butcher Widow and The Concentration Camp Murderess.
Gertrude Baniszewski a.k.a. N.A.
09/19/1929 – 06/16/1990
Country – USA
Body Count – 1
Year of Terror – August 1965 – 10/26/1965
Modus Operandi – Teenage Torture
Gertrude began her torture on Sylvia Likens in August 1965, who was in her care as the latter’s parents were traveling regularly due to their profession. Sylvia was beaten with paddles, bathed with boiling hot water, starved, stubbed with cigarette buds, forced to insert a glass coke bottle into her vagina on two occasions, verbal abuse, forced to consume her own urine and feces, and shortly preceding her death, Gertrude tried to brand her stomach with “I am a prostitute, and proud of it”, using a sewing needle. Gertrude also encouraged her own children and their friends to torture and abuse Sylvia, and sometimes Jenny – Sylvia’s younger sister.
Belle Gunness a.k.a. Hell’s Belle
11/11/1859 – 04/28/1908
Country – USA
Body Count – 40 (approx.)
Years of Terror – 1887 – 1906
Modus Operandi – Meat Cleaver
Belle Gunnes, was the youngest of 8 children and was of Norwegian origin. She moved to America in 1881, four years after she was supposedly attacked at a dance while pregnant, causing a miscarriage. Her misdeeds started in 1887, post her marriage to Mads Sorenson, when their shop supposedly burned down. She collected the insurance on the shop and used the money to pay for a new house. This is just the tip of the iceberg, her actual spine-chilling story begins after her husband’s death.
Being widowed at a young age, she wedded another man called Peter Gunness, and shortly after their marriage, he too came to a sad demise. She was suspected for murdering him as her daughter Jennie Olsen was overheard by her school teacher telling another student: “My mama killed my papa. She hit him with a meat cleaver and he died. Don’t tell a soul”. Later on, Belle went on a murdering spree, and killed many suitors, who came to visit her. She would poison their coffee or chloroform her victims in their sleep, and when they were in their stupor, she would split their head with a meat chopper. She would then carry the corpse to her basement and dissect the body. Her disposal methods were crude and varied. She not only killed men, but also was responsible for the murders of women and children, and her main motive was monetary gains. A true psychopathic killer, who was never caught or prosecuted.
Leonarda Cianciulli a.k.a. Soap-Maker of Correggio
11/14/1893 – 10/15/1970
Country – Italy
Body Count – 3
Years of Terror – 1939 – 1940
Modus Operandi – Drugged, Axed
Leonarda Cianciulli was a superstitious woman, and came to the conclusion that human sacrifices were needed to ensure the safety of her eldest son Giuseppe, who was supposed to join the Italian army. Her three unfortunate victims were Faustina Setti, Francesca Soavi and Virginia Cacioppo. She knew these three women as they were her neighbors and friends. She planned each of the murders and conducted the execution in the same way. Her first step was to convince each of the women to travel away from Correggio, for reasons like finding a suitable mate in Pola (Faustina Setti), job at a school for girls in Piacenza (Francesca Soavi) and secretarial work in Florence (Virginia Cacioppo). When each of these women came to visit Leonarda before their departure, she served them drugged wine and then killed them with an ax. She gave an official statement regarding her murders –
“I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”
The above statement was in relation to the murders of Faustina Setti and Francesca Soavi. The statement she made about the murder of Virginia Cacioppo is as follows –
“She ended up in the pot, like the other two…her flesh was fat and white, when it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap. I gave bars to neighbors and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better: that woman was really sweet.”
Amelia Dyer a.k.a. Reading Baby Farmer
1837 – 06/10/1896
Country – England
Body Count – 200 – 400 (approx.)
Years of Terror – 1880 – 1896
Modus Operandi – Strangulation
Amelia Elizabeth Dyer née Hobley, was England’s most prolific baby farm murderer. She would take in illegitimate infants for a sum of money, and then kill them, by strangulating them with a white tape. She would dispose off the bodies in rivers. She had suicidal tendencies and was in and out of mental asylums. She also had a history for consumption of narcotics. Her case was one of the few that became famous back in the day. She was the inspiration of a popular ballad –
The old baby farmer, the wretched Miss Dyer
At the Old Bailey her wages is paid.
In times long ago, we’d ‘a’ made a big fy-er
And roasted so nicely that wicked old jade.
Mary Ann Cotton a.k.a. UK’s First Serial Killer
10/01/1832 – 03/24/1873
Country – England
Body Count – 21
Years of Terror – N.A.
Modus Operandi – Arsenic Poisoning
Mary Ann Cotton was Britain’s first serial killer and her method for most of her murders were through arsenic poisoning. She poisoned her mother, sister, husbands, lovers, and children. The motive behind killing them was money from insurance. She killed them by poisoning them in a way that they died of gastric illness. She was hung to death in Durham Gaol. After her hanging, a nursery rhyme was made –
Mary Ann Cotton
She’s dead and she’s rotten
She lies in her bed
With eyes wide open.
Sing, sing, oh, what can I sing,
Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string.
Where, where? Up in the air
Sellin’ black puddens a penny a pair.
Mary Ann Cotton
Gone but not forgotten,
In her grave shes rotten;
Sing, sing, oh, what can we sing,
Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string.
Katherine Mary Knight a.k.a. Kathy The Cannibal
Country – Australia
Body Count – 1
Date of murder – February 29, 2000
Modus Operandi – Stabbing
Katherine Mary Knight was the first woman in the history of Australia to be handed down the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Her childhood was not very pleasant as she was sexually abused till the age of 11. Her abusive childhood may have been a reason as to why she had a violent temper. When she was 16 she got a job at a local slaughterhouse, where due to her good work she was given her own set of butcher knives, which she hung over her bed. Her first marriage to David Kellett did not last long as on their wedding night she tried to strangle him, the reason being he had intercourse with her only three times. Their marriage was a violent one, because she would beat him up, once even burnt his clothes and shoes and also struck him on his head with a frying pan. Kellett left her and settled with another woman as he was tired of her violence and possessive nature.
A few years later, Katherine tied the knot with David Saunders, but even their marriage did not last very long. She slit the throat of Saunders’ two month old dingo puppy right in front of him as an example of what will happen to him if he had an affair. She also hit him on his head with a frying pan. John Chillingworth was her third husband, but she left him 3 years after they got married, for John Price.
Katherine and John Price had an affair for sometime, and even after knowing about her violent and possessive nature, he asked her to move in with him. Price refused to marry Katherine, and as a retaliation to that, she got him fired from his job. Katherine killed Price in a very gruesome way. She killed him by stabbing him 37 times in the front and back side of his body. He died due to blood loss, and several hours after he died, she skinned him and hung his skin by the door using meat hooks. She decapitated him, cut him into pieces and cooked parts of his body serving it with vegetables like baked potato, pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash and also gravy. She had planned to serve Price’s body parts to his children. Price’s head was found in the cooking pot with vegetables.
The police found her body in a state of deep slumber at Price’s house from taking a large doze of pills. She was arrested and imprisoned, and right now is at the Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre. Due to the nature of the way she ruthlessly murdered her partner John Price, she has been called Kathy The Cannibal, Australia’s Hanna Lecter and The Speckled Hen.
This concludes the list of the top 10 evil women in history. Apart from the names mentioned above, there are a few more women who were ruthless and their actions in no way can be condoned. Irma Grese, Aileen Wuornos, Tracey Wigginton, and Nannie Doss are some of the women who were equally evil.