THE LEAGUE TABLE: Killers who staked a place in criminal history

The 12 murder charges faced by Frederick West ensured the name of the Gloucester builder was linked with the gallery of British serial killers.

The first, and still best-known, example of the "serial killer" - a term coined by an FBI agent in the 1970s - was Jack the Ripper who murdered five prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of east London in 1888.

If the 12 killings in the Cromwell Street "house of horror" and elsewhere in Gloucestershire were the work of one person, the murderer would take a place halfway up the "league table", above John Christie and Ian Brady, and just below the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

1. MARY ANN COTTON: 20 or more victims. She married three times and in 20 years poisoned husbands, children, step-children, other relatives and friends with arsenic. Motive - insurance money, remarriage or sheer spite. Hanged in 1873.

2. DENNIS NILSEN: 16 victims. He strangled young men "for company" at his home in Muswell Hill, north London, keeping their bodies under the floorboards and bringing them out to watch television. Jailed for life in 1983.

3. MICHAEL RYAN: 16. Gun-club enthusiast who went on a one-hour rampage through Hungerford, Berkshire, in 1987, firing119 shots with a Kalashnikov rifle and a pistol. Shot himself dead after being surrounded by police.

4. BRUCE LEE: 15. The 20-year-old arsonist started a series of fires in Humberside. He was convicted of 26 murders, but the number was reduced to 15 on appeal. Detained for life in 1977.

5. PETER SUTCLIFFE: 13. Known as the Yorkshire Ripper, Sutcliffe preyed on prostitutes and young women, mainly in the Leeds area. Detained for life in 1981 and sent to Broadmoor high security mental hospital.

6. IAN BRADY: 10. A decade after he was jailed for the Moors murders with accomplice Myra Hindley, Brady admitted killing another five people, bringing the total number of his victims to 10. Jailed for life in 1966.

7. JOHN HAIGH: 9. Disposed of his victims - wealthy widows from whom he had conned money - by immersing their bodies in a 40-gallon drum of acid. Haigh boasted that there was no evidence, but a forensic scientist found one plastic denture which survived the acid. Hanged in 1949.

8 JOHN CHRISTIE: 8. He gassed, strangled and raped six women. At 10 Rillington Place in London's Ladbroke Grove, he is also believed to have killed the wife and child of his tenant Timothy Evans. Christie was hanged in 1953.

9 KENNETH ERSKINE: 7. Known as the Stockwell Strangler, all his victims were frail pensioners. After throttling them, he would clean their homes and leave the bodies lying in bed with sheets pulled up to the chin. Jailed for 40 years in 1988.

10 JOHN CHILDS: 6. Victims were killed for cash, dismembered and burned in the grate of Childs's flat in Poplar, east London. He carried out two of the contract killings dressed all in black, complete with an undertaker's hat. He was jailed for life in 1980.

11 COLIN IRELAND: 5. Victims died because Ireland, an unemployed drifter, wanted to make his mark in life. He targeted homosexual men who indulged in sado-masochism and killed them in their own homes after deliberately setting out to be classed as a serial killer. Jailed for life in 1993.

Since Jack The Ripper, criminologists say there have been roughly 100 known cases of serial killers around the world, including Pedro Lopez, the "Monster of the Andes", who confessed to killing 360 pre-teenage girls in Bolivia in the 1970s.

The world's most prolific murderer was an Indian, Behram, who strangled 931 people with a yellow and white cloth between 1790 and 1840.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'