A scan through a database of the world's deadliest serial killers reveals a long list of men behind the gruesome deeds. However, their female counterparts are often equally as deadly. Although most female killers use rather “soft” methods to eliminate their victims, some are more ruthless and brutal than some of the notorious male killers. The motivations of female murderers are often different from that of their male counterpart. Psychopathic characteristics and childhood abuse history are some of the major motivations for the majority of female killers.
The United States
The United States tops the list with 835 female killers. The figure is higher than the combined female killers in Europe and Africa but stilly nearly a third of the amount of male killers in the US. Most of the female killers in the US are typically white, educated, have been married, and have held a caregiving role such as a mother or a health worker. About 40% have experienced some degree of mental illness. Financial gain was the most common motivation for killing while the common method of killing included poisoning and suffocation. The majority of the female killers knew all or most of their victims and most victims had little chance of fighting back. Some female killers in the US include Aileen Wuornos, Jane Toppan, and Kristen Gilbert. It should be noted that accurate and frequent reporting could be a factor behind this high number.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, with 112 female killers, is at position two globally. Beverley Allitt, Mary Cotton, and Joanna Dennehy top the list of female killers in Britain. Of the suspects convicted of murder in the UK, about 10% were female. Female killers in the UK used different methods than that of their male counterparts. Most of the killers had a history of childhood brutalization, sexual abuse, and trauma. About 20% of the female killers carried out the act in the company of a male friend.
Canada and France
Canada and France, with 26 and 24 female killers, are in the third and fourth positions. In Canada, husbands and lovers topped the list of victims of the female killers. Elizabeth Wettlaufer has been convicted for executing eight homicides in two nursing homes in Ontario over the span of seven years. French female killers were mostly caregivers who worked in nursing homes or took care of children with elderly women being the main victims.
Australia with 22 female serial killers ranks among the top five globally. Katherine Mary Knight is perhaps the most evil woman in Australia. She killed her husband by stabbing her 37 times, especially on the vital organs, carefully skinned him and used his meat to prepare a stew for her family. Katherine was sentenced to life without parole.
Germany has 12 female killers, the third highest in Europe. A woman without a face is one of the most wanted female serial killers in Germany. The woman whose identity is not known is believed to have been on a killing spree for close to 20 years now. However, Germany’s known serial killer accused of 18 murders and 17 attempted murders while serving as a caretaker for the elderly is currently in prison in Lower Rhine region.
Mexico and South Africa
Mexico and South Africa each have eight female murderers. In Mexico, Delfina and Maria de Jesus Gonzalez are accused of killing over 91 people. The bodies of 11 men, 80 women, and several fetuses were found buried in a property that was owned by the two sisters. Most of the girls killed were prostitutes who worked for them while the men were customers who seemed to have had a lot of cash. In South Africa, Daisy Smith was charged for killing her first and second husband and a son with the motive of inheriting their wealth. Her trial attracted unprecedented public interest with spectators waiting overnight to secure a place in the courtroom.
India, Russia, and Sweden
India, Russia, and Sweden have six recorded cases of female killers each. In Russia, Madame Popova operated murder-for-hire service that aimed at liberating women from cruel husbands for free. She was accused of murdering 300 people using her hands, poisons and hiring assassins. In India, Cyanide Mallika is currently serving a life term in prison for administering cyanide to seven women in temples with the motive of taking away their gold jewelry.
Austria and Belgium
There are five and four female killers in Austria and Belgium respectively. In Austria, an ice cream killer murdered her husband and boyfriend before dismembering their bodies with a chainsaw. She hid the bodies using a concrete mixing. Belgium’s Marie Becker killed her husband to spend more time with her lover. When her lover could not satisfy her she dispatched him too. Marie opened a dress shop where she robbed and poisoned elderly patrons. She was finally discovered when she tried helping her friend dispatch her husband.
Other countries with a considerable number of female killers include the Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Finland, and Italy. These countries have recorded at least three female killers. Enriqueta Marti was a well-known witch-doctor who kidnapped children and killed them for rituals. She is accused of murdering over 10 children. Taiwan, Poland, Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Nepal, Monaco, and Hong Kong are some of the countries with the least number of female killers with each country recording one suspect. In Kenya, Alice Njoki killed her deaf son to save her marriage from collapsing. She was sentenced to six years in prison in 2013.
Why and how do Women Kill?
Female killers are likely to kill for financial gains, pleasure, or as revenge. Unlike the male counterparts who target strangers as their victims, females are likely to kill people who are emotionally and physically attached to them, especially husbands and lovers. However, their victims are not confined to their lovers but also include children and the elderly. They often use quieter and less messy methods to finish off their victims than the male such as poisoning, drowning, suffocation, and stubbing. Female killers also operate in specific places they are familiar with such as their homes or health care facilities where they work. They rarely go out to look for victims in the open like male killers unless they are involved in a gang.