This is the second part of my notorious nickname’s post. Nicknames are usually cute endearments we give to our best pals or cherished loved ones. But sometimes, history attributes way creepier nicknames to loathsome figures from the past.
The BTK Killer
The BTK Killer, also known as Dennis Rader, was a notorious serial killer who terrorized Wichita, Kansas, and surrounding areas between the 1970s and 1990s. The moniker “BTK” stood for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” which was his modus operandi. Rader targeted ten victims and taunted law enforcement and the media with letters describing his crimes in graphic detail.
Despite a prolonged hiatus, he resurfaced in the mid-2000s, leading to his eventual capture in 2005 through DNA evidence and computer forensics. In 2005, Dennis Rader was convicted of ten counts of first-degree murder and is currently serving ten consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The BTK Killer’s case remains one of the most chilling and disturbing examples of serial murder in American history.
The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The identity of the killer remains unknown to this day. The Zodiac Killer is believed to have committed at least five confirmed murders, although he claimed to have killed 37 people. He taunted law enforcement and the public by sending encrypted letters to newspapers and authorities, containing cryptic messages and threats.
One of the most infamous aspects of the case was the Zodiac’s ability to elude capture, despite the extensive efforts by law enforcement to track him down. The case remains one of the most enduring and mysterious unsolved serial killer cases in American history.
“Doctor Death” refers to Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a neurosurgeon whose medical career was marred by a trail of disastrous surgeries that left patients seriously injured or dead. He gained infamy for his gross negligence and alleged malpractice, which led to multiple medical board investigations and legal actions against him.
Operating in the Dallas, Texas area during the early 2010s, Dr. Duntsch had a reputation for being overly confident and lacking the necessary skills to perform complex surgeries safely. His actions were exposed by investigative reporting and eventually led to his arrest and conviction. The case of Doctor Death served as a chilling reminder of the potential dangers of medical malpractice and the importance of proper oversight in the healthcare system.
The Boston Strangler
The Boston Strangler was a notorious serial killer who terrorized the Boston area in the early 1960s. Between 1962 and 1964, thirteen women were murdered in a series of brutal attacks, all of whom were strangled in their own homes. The killer’s modus operandi varied, and he targeted women of different ages and backgrounds. The case garnered widespread media attention and struck fear in the community.
Albert DeSalvo, a handyman with a history of sexual offenses, confessed to the killings, although his guilt remains a subject of debate among investigators and researchers. The true identity of the Boston Strangler remains a mystery, and the case remains one of America’s most infamous unsolved serial killer mysteries.
The Monster of the Andes
“The Monster of the Andes” refers to Pedro López, a notorious serial killer from Colombia. Active in the 1970s and early 1980s, López was responsible for the murders of an estimated 300 young girls across several South American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. He would lure his victims, often street children or vulnerable young girls, away from their families and then sexually assault and murder them.
López’s horrifying killing spree finally came to an end in 1980 when he was captured in Ecuador. He was convicted of a smaller number of murders in Ecuador and sentenced to prison, but due to a controversial legal ruling, he was released in 1994 and deported to Colombia. Since then, his whereabouts have been unknown, and he is considered one of the most prolific and elusive serial killers in history.
The Black Widow
“The Black Widow” is a nickname often used to describe female serial killers who have a history of marrying and killing multiple spouses for financial gain or other nefarious motives. These women use their charm and manipulation skills to form relationships with their victims before eventually killing them. Some of the most notorious female serial killers who have been dubbed “The Black Widow” include Belle Gunness, who operated in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
and Catherine Nevin, an Irish woman convicted of murdering her husband in 1996. These cases have captured public fascination due to the perceived betrayal of trust within marital relationships and the cold-heartedness of the killers.
The Yorkshire Ripper
The Yorkshire Ripper was a notorious serial killer who terrorized the north of England, primarily in Yorkshire, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His real name is Peter Sutcliffe, a former truck driver, who was convicted of murdering thirteen women and attempting to murder seven others. The killer’s modus operandi involved attacking women, mainly prostitutes, whom he would bludgeon and then mutilate with various sharp objects.
The police investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper case was one of the largest and most prolonged in British criminal history, lasting for several years before Sutcliffe was finally apprehended in 1981. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his heinous crimes. The Yorkshire Ripper case sparked widespread fear and led to significant changes in the handling of criminal investigations and public attitudes towards violence against women.
The Black Dahlia
The Black Dahlia refers to the infamous unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress, in Los Angeles in 1947. Her body was found brutally mutilated and severed in two pieces, earning her the nickname “Black Dahlia” from the media. The case gained significant media attention and became one of the most sensationalized murder mysteries in American history. Despite extensive investigations, the perpetrator was never definitively identified, and the case remains unsolved.
Over the years, numerous theories and suspects have been proposed, but none have been confirmed. The Black Dahlia case continues to captivate the public imagination and has inspired various books, movies, and documentaries.
- “The Zodiak Killer Official Website” https://zodiackiller.com/
- “Peacock’s Dr. Death Is Based on A Chilling True Crime Podcast About a Murderous Surgeon. Here’s What to Know” (JULY 16, 2021) https://time.com/6080714/dr-death-true-story/
- “Boston Strangler American serial killer” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Boston-Strangler
- “BTK serial killer’s daughter compares Gilgo Beach killer suspect to father: ‘Very similar'” (July 25, 2023) https://www.foxnews.com/media/btk-serial-killers-daughter-compares-gilgo-beach-killer-suspect-father-very-similar
- “Pedro Alonso López, the ‘monster of the Andes’ who murdered more than 300 girls and disappeared 23 years ago without a trace” https://www.infobae.com/en/2022/04/09/pedro-alonso-lopez-the-monster-of-the-andes-who-murdered-more-than-300-girls-and-disappeared-23-years-ago-without-a-trace/
- “Killer Wives: 8 Most Infamous Black Widow Murderers” https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-lists/killer-wives-8-most-infamous-black-widow-murderers-249561/amy-archer-gilligan-249631/
- “Peter Sutcliffe, UK killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper, dies with coronavirus” (November 13, 2020) https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/13/uk/peter-sutcliffe-yorkshire-ripper-dead-gbr-intl/index.html
- “Black Dahlia – The 1947 murder of a 22-year-old Hollywood hopeful in Los Angeles has never been solved” https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/black-dahlia