10 Serial Killers Who Have Never Been Caught

By: Suzie Dundas & Nick Steinberg  | 
memorial for victim of Gilgo Beach murders
This makeshift memorial for victims in the Gilgo Beach murders stands along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach, New York. The Long Island killer is still at large. Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

There's something irresistibly macabre about serial killers that has long fascinated humans since the early days of newspapers. Perhaps it's the psychological fascination offered by someone who could do something so far out outside the bounds of social acceptance, or it might be the fear readers get from wondering about the tiny chance the person working at their local grocery store may have the most chilling of secrets.

But the stories that really keep the public up at night, or at least make the average person triple-check their front door dock, are the serial killers who haven't been caught. While it's unsettling to read about the atrocious acts committed by serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy, it's just as engrossing to speculate about the ones still at large — or the ones who are so skilled we don't even know they're out there.


Here are 10 of the most chilling stories of serial killers who have never been caught and may forever get away with their crimes.

10. The Babysitter Killer

babysitter killer
(Clockwise from top left) Jill Robinson, 12; Mark Stebbins, 12; Kristine Mihelich, 10; and Timothy King, 11 were all believed to have been killed by the Babysitter Killer (police sketch center) between 1967 and 1977. Birmingham Police/HowStuffWorks

The Oakland County Child Killer, also known as the Babysitter Killer, is an unidentified serial killer who murdered at least four children in Oakland County, Michigan, between 1976 and 1977. The killer's macabre alias comes from the fact that he bathed each child before committing the crimes, which led FBI profilers to posit that the killer had some form of twisted parental instinct.

The killer's choice to target children gripped parents throughout Michigan and spawned dozens of neighborhood-watch initiatives. Despite a few promising leads, including the discovery of a vehicle suspected to belong to the killer, the case remains open and unsolved. The most recent development was in 2012 when investigators managed to create a DNA profile of the killer — but it didn't match anyone arrested in conjunction with the case (or anyone in the police system, for that matter).


But perhaps the most disturbing part, aside from the fact that the killer is still at-large, is the extent of his abductions: all four children were held for anywhere from four to 19 days before being bathed and killed.

9. The Highway of Tears Killer(s)

Highway of Tears
Canada's Route 16, which connects Prince George and Prince Rupert, is called the Highway of Tears because it's estimated that as many as 40 First Nations women and girls have been murdered or disappeared on this stretch of road. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

While the modern-day serial killer may be thought of primarily as U.S. phenomenon — Jack the Ripper notwithstanding — Canada has had its fair share of heinous murders, including more than a few that remain unsolved.

Perhaps the most infamous are the Highway of Tears murders in British Columbia. The highway is a 450-mile (724-kilometer) stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert and has the unfortunate designation of being the site of at least 18 (and possibly as many as 40) murders or disappearances between 1969 and 2011, mostly of Indigenous women.


Since the murders span 50 years, investigators believe multiple killers were patrolling the highway. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found only enough evidence to prosecute one of the murders, leaving the other 17 cases in their purview unsolved. Unfortunately, investigators have concluded the perpetrator's whereabouts over the decades in question mean he could only be responsible for two of the other killings at most, so it's likely that the other killer (or killers) remain at large.

8. Bible John

Spurring Scotland's most extensive manhunt, the answer of who exactly is "Bible John" has shifted over the years. But the serial killer's identity has remained a mystery in the 50-something years since the murders of Patricia Docker in 1968, and Jemima McDonald and Helen Puttock in 1969, all in their late 20s to early 30s. All three victims were beaten and raped before their murders after meeting the killer at the same popular Glasgow nightclub: the Barrowland Ballroom.

The few details known in the case came from Helen Puttock's sister Jean, who shared a taxi with her sister and the supposed killer on the night of Helen's murder. Jean's information helped investigators form a psychological profile of the killer, who supposedly made frequent references to the Bible — hence his nickname. Unfortunately, Jean died in 2010, and as she was the only witness associated with the case, the chances of finding the true identity of Bible John are next to nothing.


7. The Alphabet Killer

Alphabet Killer Carmen Colon
In an attempt to locate the killer of 10-year-old Carmen Colon, who was raped and then strangled, a local citizens group in cooperation with the Rochester Police erected five billboards near her home asking for any clues. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

The Alphabet Murders occurred in the early 1970s in Rochester, New York. The killer's alias comes from his choice of victims: He only chose victims — all of whom were young girls — with first and last names beginning with the same letter.

The Alphabet Killer's three victims were each raped and strangled, and while there were several witnesses — including several motorists who saw 10-year-old Carmen Colon half-naked on the side of the road attempting to escape from the killer — police have never managed to close the case.


However, police did have several persons of interest in the case, one of whom was connected as recently as 2011. However, none of the four men considered by authorities could be linked to the crimes, though one was sentenced to death for the murder of sex workers in Nevada. Interestingly, all of his victims also had alliterative names.

6. The West Mesa Bone Collector

West Mesa Bone Collector
The West Mesa Bone Collector is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 11 women (right) and linked to 13 women still missing. Albuquerque Police

With a nickname that seems as much made for a movie poster as a police investigation, the so-called West Mesa Bone Collector may be currently active in the town of Albuquerque, New Mexico — or anywhere else, for that matter.

The mysterious killer hit the spotlight in 2009, when police found 11 bodies buried in an area of Albuquerque called West Mesa. Following a tip that a woman had noticed a human femur bone partially uncovered in a former construction site, police excavated the area and discovered the bodies of women who'd been reported missing in 2003 and 2005. However, there are at least 13 other missing women who may also potentially have been victims of the West Mesa Bone Collective, reported missing as recently as 2006.


Police considered several suspects, but lacked enough evidence to make a strong case against anyone. Recent theories have suggested that the West Mesa Bone Collector may actually be multiple people running a sex-trafficking ring, possibly because many of the victims were involved in sex work. As recently as 2021, police confirmed that the case is still active, though despite police receiving roughly 20 to 30 tips per year, no new evidence has moved the case along. The reward for useful information is currently $100,000.

5. Servant Girl Annihilator

One of America's first known serial killers, the Servant Girl Annihilator, as he was called in the parlance of the time, killed seven women and one man in Austin, Texas, between December 1884 and December 1885. All the victims were domestic staff, either killed while sleeping or dragged out of their beds and killed outside their homes. In just one night (Dec. 24, 1885), the killer murdered three victims with an ax — a signature that earned him his more politically correct nickname: the Austin Ax Murderer.

Because the case was nearly 125 years ago, police records are spotty — though a New York Times article from Dec. 26, 1885, wrote that more than 400 people had been arrested in conjunction with the case. Modern researchers have suggested that the Austin Ax Murderer may be none other than Jack the Ripper himself, who sent Londoners into a panic just three years later in 1888.


But realistically, the true Servant Girl Annihilator was likely local Nathan Elgin, who only had four toes on one foot, matching footprints found at most of the murder scenes. Elgin was killed by police officer John Bracken in 1886. Bracken shot him after responding to help a girl who'd been dragged from a saloon by a drunk man who was beating her. The girl's name was Julia.

Fortunately, given how long ago the crimes occurred, he's most certainly no longer operating.

4. The Long Island Killer*

The Long Island Killer
The Long Island Killer went relatively unnoticed until the discovery of Shannan Gilbert's body on Gilgo Beach in 2010 led to more and more bodies. Suffolk County Police

The aptly named Long Island Killer is an unknown murderer who's been killing in New York from 1996 to — possibly — the present. Somewhere between 10 and 17 murders can be attributed to the Long Island Killer, and since he may or may not still be operating, he's one of the most recent serial killers in America to remain at large.

Authorities know very little about the suspect, speculating that he is likely a white male in his mid-20s to 40s with extensive knowledge of law enforcement operations and techniques, which would explain how he successfully avoided capture.


Though the Long Island Killer has killed at least a dozen people, police were unaware that so many of the prior disappearances and murders were linked until the 2010 disappearance of Shannan Gilbert. While searching in the area where she likely disappeared, police came across not just her body, but also 10 more victims buried under the sand on Long Island's Gilgo Beach. Police questioned several suspects, including former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, but no one was ever tried and the case remains unsolved. There's currently a $50,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

3. The Black Doodler

The Black Doodler
The age progression sketch from 2018 (right) is based on the original composite sketch (left) from 1975 and shows how the Black Doodler might have aged over the years. San Francisco Police Department

The Doodler could perhaps have had a more flattering nickname like "The Artist" or "The Sketcher," had he been kinder to the male models who posed for him. But instead, he sexually assaulted and stabbed them, ultimately killing somewhere between six and 14 victims in San Francisco. From January 1974 to September 1975, several men disappeared from the city's gay community, and several more were injured or the victims of attempted murder.

Though San Francisco has always been quite liberal, members of the LGBTQ+ community were generally not accepted into San Francisco's mainstream community in the 1970s, leading many of the killer's surviving victims to decline to cooperate with police for fear of being outed. As a result, there was very little information for authorities to go on, and the case remains open and unsolved.


However, unlike many cases on this list, police may be close to solving the decades-old mystery. More victims have been willing to come forward in the last few years, and thanks to DNA and fingerprint evidence, authorities have said they've narrowed down a person of interest who still resides in San Francisco. There's currently a $200,000 reward for anyone that helps them find the final pieces of evidence to prosecute the case.

2. The Zodiac Killer

The Zodiac Killer
The Zodiac Killer's 340 Cipher (left) was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 8, 1969. A group of codebreakers managed to crack the infamous 340 Cipher in late 2021. FBI

Thanks largely to the 2007 Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr. blockbuster "Zodiac" the Zodiac Killer is perhaps the most infamous unsolved serial killer case in the United States. Much like Jack the Ripper did in London nearly a century prior, the Zodiac taunted police by sending investigators and the San Francisco Bay Area press cryptic messages and clues over a one-year period in the late 1960s.

In a true game of cat and mouse, the killer made himself known to city residents by leaving clues at the murder scenes, threatening to shoot school buses full of children, mailing pieces of victims' clothing to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, and threatening the public if newspapers didn't publish the cryptic letters that became his hallmark.


As of 2022, only two of the killer's four ciphers — which he demanded be published in the paper, lest he claim more victims — have been definitively solved.

Police first opened the case in 1969 after the double murder of two high schoolers parked at a "lover's lane." Five murders have been definitively linked to the case, though the Zodiac — who gave himself the nickname — claimed to have killed 37 people total. There have been numerous suspects over the years, but the case is still very much open.

In 2021, a group of private crime-solving enthusiasts claimed to have identified the Zodiac: Gary Francis Poste. Poste died in prison in 2018, but not before being interviewed by police, who declined to comment on the self-described "elite team's" claims to have wrapped up the case.

1. Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper terrorized London in the late 19th century, killing and dismembering at least five women. Public Domain

It's hard to say why London's Jack the Ripper is arguably the world's most famous serial killer. It could be because he committed his crimes so long ago — in 1888 — they're so far removed from current times that no one connected to the case is still alive. It also could be because of the brutality his killings that earned him his hair-raising nickname or just simply because he was never caught, despite operating in a society that prided itself on law and social order.

Jack the Ripper is often credited with jump-starting the modern serial killer fixation. He murdered at least five women in London's East End — and no, they likely were not all prostitutes. The murders kept London on edge, especially as the police questioned men in professions ranging from butchers to surgeons to barbers, but failed to produce a credible suspect. During Jack the Ripper's timeframe, police and authorities received hundreds of letters signed by Jack the Ripper. While most were frauds, at least four letters likely were from the Ripper himself, including the infamous "From Hell" letter that inspired fiction ranging from comic books to Hollywood movies.

Given that most of the police records on the case were destroyed in World War II bombings, it's likely that the case will never be solved. But that doesn't stop amateur sleuths from pointing the finger in all directions, ranging from author Lewis Carroll to not one but two men linked to Queen Victoria: her surgeon John Williams, and her grandson and heir presumptive to the throne Prince Albert Victor.