Serial killers sometimes use aliases to keep from being easily identified. Most of the time, their fake names will complicate investigations and throw the police off their tracks. Other times, it provides them with an easy getaway whenever they are arrested for other crimes.
If having a serial killer around is scary, having them operate under an alias would definitely be scarier. And as we are about to find out, it’s not that uncommon.
10 Dr. Marcel Petiot
During World War II, Dr. Eugene started the business of smuggling people from occupied France to South America. In truth, however, he never smuggled anyone to South America. Rather, he smuggled them to their graves by injecting them with cyanide under the guise of vaccinating them in preparation for their trip. Thereafter, he stole their possessions and destroyed their corpses. The doctor’s real name wasn’t Dr. Eugene but Dr. Marcel Andre Henri Felix Petiot.
The Gestapo soon got wind of Petiot’s smuggling services and, thinking that he really helped people to escape France, organized a sting operation. At the forefront was Yvan Dreyfus, an unfortunate prisoner they made to order Petiot’s services. Dreyfus vanished without a trace, and the Gestapo, thinking he had been smuggled out of France, infiltrated Petiot’s group and arrested some of his associates. Petiot escaped and fled to live with some friends, claiming that the Gestapo wanted him for killing some Germans. As time went on, he grew a beard and took up several aliases, including Henri Valeri.
The French police heard of Petiot’s serial-killing activities after the liberation of France and immediately launched a manhunt for him. One of the people involved in the manhunt was Henri Valeri, who, as we already know, was Petiot himself. So, Petiot was basically looking for himself. He was ultimately charged with killing 26 of the 27 corpses found in his home. He claimed the bodies were part of the 63 German soldiers he and his resistance network had killed. The French government did not buy his story and had him beheaded on May 25, 1946.
9 Charles Ray Hatcher
Charles Ray Hatcher was a robber, forger, and serial killer convicted of killing 11-year-old Michelle Steele and 15 other children between 1969 and 1982. Hatcher had an early start in crime and had started breaking into houses since he was 12. He fled home at 14 and went in and out of prison for most of his life. During one of his prison stints, he was suspected to have raped and murdered a fellow inmate. However, he was not charged for the crime since there wasn’t enough evidence.
On August 27, 1969, Hatcher kidnapped and murdered 12-year-old William Freeman, and two days later, he tried to kill six-year-old Gilbert Martinez. A man saw him during the act and called the police. When officers arrived, Hatcher claimed he was Albert Ralph Price, even though his ID bore Hobert Prater. He was not charged for the crimes, as he was found unfit to stand trial. Rather, he was sent to an hospital from which he escaped on June 2, 1971. A week later, he was arrested for car theft. This time, Hatcher claimed he was Richard Lee Grady.
Hatcher spent most of his sentence shuffling between a prison and a hospital until he was paroled in May 1977 for “good behavior.” He quickly returned to crime and was arrested again in September 1978 for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy. This time, he used the alias Richard Clark. He was released and arrested again, and it went on and on until he was finally tried on December 3, 1984. Hatcher demanded to be executed for his crimes, but the jury declined and proposed that he should be sentenced to life imprisonment. Four days later, he hanged himself.
8 John Schmidt
John Schmidt arrived in the United States in 1883, and what followed was a serial-killing spree that lasted for over 20 years. His targeted wealthy women, who he married, swindled, and murdered. Schmidt used several aliases during his murder spree. Around 1898, he called himself Martin Dotz and later Jacob Huff. It was with this name that he married Caroline Hoch, who he poisoned before selling her house, receiving her life insurance, and pretending to commit suicide by drowning in the Ohio river.
Schmidt actually fled on a boat he had earlier anchored on the river. Thereafter, he took the name Johann Otto Hoch, which remains the most famous of all his aliases. On December 10, 1904, he married Maria Walter-Hoch and poisoned her a month later. Then, he proposed to Maria’s sister, Amelia, immediately after Maria’s death and married her five days later. Three days after that, he swindled Amelia of $750 and fled to New York.
Amelia reported Schmidt to the police, who, suspecting that something was amiss, exhumed Maria’s body. An autopsy revealed that she died of arsenic poisoning. The police declared Schmidt wanted and had his photographs printed in the newspapers. Schmidt, who was now going by the name John Hock, was arrested after his landlady suspected that he was the wanted Johann Otto Hoch after he proposed to her within one day of meeting her. Schmidt was executed on February 23, 1906.
7 Carl Panzram
Carl Panzram was a serial killer, vandal, robber, arsonist, rapist, and burglar. Born in 1891, he stole a gun from neighbor’s home when he was just 12, committed his first arson around the same age, and fled home at 14. Panzram spent a good part of his life going in and out of prison, where he fought with guards and escaped twice. He used an alias during each of his arrests and even once shaved his mustache so he would be unrecognizable.
In August 1920, he raided the home of William Howard Taft, a former president of the United States, where he stole some expensive jewelries, war bonds, and a pistol. With the money he made from his loot, he bought a yacht, which he lured sailors onto before raping and shooting them with Taft’s gun. Panzram later traveled to Luanda, Angola, where he raped and killed a small boy. He also killed six rowers and fed their bodies to crocodiles. In 1922, he returned to the United States to continue his murder spree.
In 1928, he was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for killing two young boys. Later on, he was sentenced to death for killing the prison laundry supervisor. While awaiting his death, Panzram wrote his autobiography, in which he confessed to killing 21 people. He also confessed to raping over 1,000 men and committing thousands of robberies and arson. He was executed on September 5, 1930. During his execution, he spat on his executioner’s face. When asked whether he had any last words, he said, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”
6 Henri Desire Landru
Between 1914 and 1918, Henri Desire Landru advertised in the love section of French newspapers, where he requested to date widows who had lost their husbands in the ongoing World War I. Several women responded to his requests, and he swindled and killed ten of them as well as the son of one. Landru used several aliases while dealing with the women. The aliases were so numerous that he maintained a book in which he listed the names of each woman and the alias he used for her.
Landru was arrested in 1919 after the sister of one of his victims reported him to the police. The lady didn’t know his name and only found him by his home address. No body was found to link Landru to the murders, so the police charged him with fraud. This changed after police found several documents linking him to the missing women. Apparently, he burned the remains of his victims. Landru was convicted of murder and was guillotined on February 25, 1922.
5 Herman Webster Mudgett
Herman Webster Mudgett is one of the first documented serial killers to operate in the United States. In 1885, he took up a job in a pharmacy, where he was known as Dr Henry H. Holmes or H.H. Holmes, which remains the most famous of all his aliases. Holmes took over the pharmacy after the owner mysteriously died and soon constructed a three-story house nearby. The house would later be known as the Murder Castle, for it contained an elaborate system of small rooms and trapdoors which he used to torture, kill, and dispose of his victims.
Holmes converted the house into a hotel, where several female patrons went missing. Thereafter, some of the women he was seeing started going missing. The women knew him by several of his aliases, including H.H. Holmes, H.M. Howard, and Henry Gordon. At one time, he made one of the women, Minnie Williams, transfer her properties to one Alexander Bond, who was actually him. Afterward, he killed Minnie and her sister, Annie. Holmes was also involved in the organ trade and sold the skeletons and organs of his victims to medical schools.
Holmes worked closely with Marion Hedgepeth and Benjamin Pitezel, who once took the alias Benton T. Lyman for a good part of his career. Both men knew him as H.M. Howard, a fact Hedgepeth revealed to the police after his arrest. By the time police discovered that Holmes, Howard, and Mudgett were the same person, Holmes had killed Pitezel’s wife and three of her children. Holmes was arrested in November 1894 and confessed to killing 27 people, even though it is estimated that he might have killed up to 200. He was executed on May 7, 1896.
4 Raman Raghav
Raman Raghav was an Indian serial killer infamous for beating his victims to death with a steel rod. He killed more than 40 people in Mumbai during two killing sprees that lasted between 1965 and 1968. The first killing spree lasted between 1965 and 1966, while the second occurred in 1968. The second spree created such unrest that over 2,000 police officers took over the streets of Mumbai in search of the killer. Neighborhoods also established vigilantes, whose only achievement was beating up homeless beggars and unfortunate wanderers found walking at night.
The police only got Raman by chance after an officer found him wandering and wearing bloodstained clothes. Investigations revealed that Raman used different names, including Sindhu Dalwai, Anna, and Thambi while on his killing sprees. He had also been arrested during his first killing spree but was released for want of evidence. As punishment, he was banned from entering Mumbai for two years, which explains why he returned for the second killing spree exactly two years later. He died of kidney failure during his 19th year in prison.
3 Peter Tobin
Peter Tobin is a serial killer from Scotland. In the 1990s, he was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for raping and attempting to kill two young girls. He was released after ten years and took the name Pat McLaughlin. In September 2006, he brutally raped and murdered 23-year-old Angelika Kluk, a student and part-time church worker, in the garage of the church they were both working in. He buried her body near the church’s confession box.
Police dug deeper into Tobin’s activities after Kluk’s murder and discovered two more bodies at the back of the house where he lived in 1991. They also discovered that he had lived in 23 cities across the UK under several aliases, including James Kelly, John Tobin, Peter Wilson, Paul Semple, Peter Proban, and Pat McLaughlan. He had also used more than 20 SIM cards within the same period. Tobin did not deny the three murders and even confessed to committing 45 more. Police suspect he is the infamous “Bible John” killer who killed three women in Glasgow in the 1960s. He was given three life imprisonments.
2 Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy is one of the most infamous serial killers in US history. He was sentenced to death for killing three women even though he confessed to killing 36. Investigators believe he killed more than 100 women. Ted used several aliases, like Chris Hagen, Kenneth Misner, Officer Roseland, Richard Burton, and Rolf Miller during his murder spree.
He approached the ladies on the street, where he pretended to be an injured man or an authority figure. Once they fell for his gimmick, he proceeded to rape and beat them to death. Ted was executed in Florida State Prison’s electric chair on January 24, 1989. Crowds outside the prison celebrated his execution and even set off fireworks.
1 Angel Maturino Resendiz
During the night of December 16–17, 1998, a man entered into a home in Houston, where he raped and murdered Claudia Benton. Claudia’s husband, George, and their daughters had been visiting some relatives, and Claudia had stayed behind because she needed to make a presentation at a college the next day. The man stole Claudia’s jeep and drove it to San Antonio. Fingerprints taken from the steering wheel revealed that the murderer was a man named Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, who was already wanted for series of murders.
Police launched a manhunt for Rafael in the summer of 1999. Around the same time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) caught him trying to sneak into the United States from Mexico near El Paso. They searched his fingerprints against their database, but nothing came up. Police soon discovered that Rafael Resendez-Ramirez was one of the many aliases of Angel Maturino Resendiz, an illegal migrant, burglar, robber, rapist, and serial killer who regularly shuffled between Mexico and the United States.
Angel was arrested on a bridge between El Paso and Ciudad Jaurez, Mexico, on July 13, 1999, after his sister convinced him to surrender to the police. Investigations revealed he had more than 30 aliases, regularly went in and out of US prisons, and had been deported 17 times. Angel was charged for 16 murders, even though he is believed to have committed more, especially in his native Mexico. He was executed by lethal injection on June 27, 2006.
Listverse’s writers have had much to say about serial killers Read more on 10 Brazen Serial Killers Who Murdered In Plain Sight and 10 Common Misconceptions About Serial Killers.