15 Most Heinous Women Criminals

When one thinks of notorious criminals, men usually spring to mind. With everyone from Hannibal the Cannibal to killer clown John Wayne Gacy being difficult to forget, it can be hard to remember that women can also be as brutal and vicious as their male counterparts. With everything from the sexual assault of multiple victims to the outright skinning and torture of others, these women prove that the “gentler sex” does not apply to them. To prove it, we have gathered the below 15 most heinous women criminals. They include women from hundreds of years ago to the first female serial killers and even a few who are still around and even free today. Listed mostly by number of victims killed or thought to be killed, the below contains graphic content.
  1. Ilse Koch Simply being a Nazi might be enough to get you on this list, but Ilse Koch stood out even among her own peers. Wife of Karl Otto Koch, she traveled with him and assisted in the running of the notorious concentration camps. In addition to overseeing the mass executions, she was known to keep mementos of her victims, mostly in the form of keeping skin with distinctive tattoos and making them into various household items such as lampshades. Although tried and acquitted, tried and pardoned, and finally tried and convicted, she ultimately committed suicide in 1967.
  2. Irma Grese What do you have to do to be second on this list? Be the top female supervisor at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Charged with the supervision of 30,000 female prisoners, many would die unimaginable deaths under her charge. In 1945, she was tried for war crimes by the Allies in Germany and was even represented by council. She was sentenced to death by hanging and was the youngest of the concentration camp commanders to get that sentence.
  3. Elizabeth Bathory Also known as the Blood Countess, she is believed to have killed over 600 girls. One of the most notorious serial killers in history, she was a Hungarian countess who had developed a taste for cruelty early on in life. Using the premise of jobs and pay, she would often lure young girls into her castle, where they were killed. She was also known to actually bathe in their blood. After tossing the bodies of her victims literally out the window, the townspeople rose up against her, caught her in the act, and found her diary detailing her horrific acts. Although many of her cohorts were given cruel deaths as part of the town’s search for justice, her sentence was simply confinement to the castle, where she eventually died.
  4. Griselda Blanco It is unknown how many died as direct or indirect result of her actions, but being known as The Cocaine Queen of Miami earns her a spot on this list. Born in Columbia, she was a child prostitute by the age of eleven. After a life of crime, it is reported that Miami was where she became even more bloodthirsty, ruthless, and sexually deviant. Already have been thought of committing or ordering multiple murders related to the drug business, she was behind the Dade County Shopping Mall Massacre in which four people were killed. In 1985, she was finally arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking. A resulting scandal with the prosecuting office ended up reducing her 20 year sentence to only a three year sentence. She was then deported to Colombia at the age of 61.
  5. Belle Gunness Standing at about six feet tall, she might have just been the most fearsome of the women criminals. A Norwegian immigrant, she came to the U.S. in 1883. She found a certain amount of success in collecting insurance money after a few suspicious fires and the untimely death of her husband. Using this money to buy a farm, more suitors and children mysteriously died. After the farm burned down in 1908, several bodies were discovered that had not died in the fire. Although the number remains disputed, it is estimated that America’s first female serial killer was responsible for about 40 deaths.
  6. Mary Ann Cotton She was born in the village of Low Moorsley in Sunderland, England in 1832. One of the very first female serial killers, it is rumored that the number of people she killed is at about 20. The number is unclear because so many people around her, including her various husbands and children, died from a similar form of gastric fever. As more died, more seemed to be insured from death, a practice which was not as common as it is now. It wasn’t until officials finally performed an autopsy on her stepson, who had also died from gastric fever, that they found arsenic in his system. She was finally tried and sentenced to death in 1873.
  7. Bonnie Parker She is half of the infamous team known as Bonnie and Clyde. Although she didn’t turn out that way, Parker seemed to be the sweetest of women. She did well in school and worked hard to support her family. She even refused to divorce her first husband because it didn’t seem fair to do so while in prison. However, her life changed when Clyde Barrow came into it, convinced her to help him break out of prison, and begin a life of crime. While their first robberies focused on banks and didn’t involve shooting anyone, that would soon change. The escalation would lead to twelve dead people, six of them police officers. In the end, Bonnie and Clyde rode into an ambush, resulting in the pair’s death.
  8. Myra Hindley While the above women criminals may not have preferred children as their victims, this was not the case here. In 1963 in England, she and her husband murdered their first victim, a 16 year old girl who was also sexually assaulted. They would go on to kill at least four more children that would be dubbed as the “Moor Murders.” However after being imprisoned, Hindley admitted to killing two others, even providing evidence to where one of the bodies was. She would die in prison of natural causes in 2002.
  9. Beverly Allitt When parents leave their sick children in the care of a hospital, it is assumed that they are in better hands. Not so for the unfortunate children in the hospital in Lincolnshire, England under her care. Dubbed the Angel of Death, Allitt was convicted of killing her patients using drugs accessible to induce cardiac arrest or outright suffocating them. Convicted of killing four children, she is thought to have attempted to murder three more, and caused serious injury to six more. In 1993, she was sentenced to 13 life sentences.
  10. Rosemary West Along with her husband, Fred, she participated in the torture and murder of their own children. Using their own cellar as the torture chamber and garden as a burial spot, they were actually charged with a serious crime in the middle of their murdering spree but were able to convince a magistrate of their innocence. Eventually, their activities became too outrageous to ignore and police conducted a search of the English home. Fred West was charged with twelve counts of murder and hung himself before trial. Rose was found guilty on ten counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  11. Marybeth Tinning In another entry where the criminal preferred children as the victim, she used her own children as victims in her murder spree. All of her nine children died before the age of four, some being smothered instantly on their births. Currently serving a sentence for smothering her four month old daughter in New York, she is actually eligible for parole but has been denied several times.
  12. Karla Homolka After meeting Paul Bernardo, it was rumored that Karla would do anything to please him. To prove it, she offered and went through with a plan to drug her own sister so that Bernardo could rape her. The act would be the first of many and was dubbed in Canada as the “Scarborough Rapes.” In exchange for testifying against Bernardo, Homolka was given a lenient sentence even though there was plenty of evidence against them both including his own diary and possession of a Mickey Mouse watch belonging to one of the victims. However, after serving only twelve years for her part in multiple rapes and murders, Homolka was freed.
  13. Patricia Krenwinkel Also known as Katie, she was a member of the infamous Manson family and took part first-hand in many of their murders. During the first murder, it is reported that Krenwinkel chased down Abigail Folger, who ran from the murders, and stabbed her numerous times, despite pleas from Folger. Krenwinkel would later go on to be arrested and charged with seven counts of first degree murder. However, as described by Charles Montaldo of About.com, she seems to be the most remorseful of the Manson family and is even eligible for parole.
  14. Mary Surratt This female criminal is historic for both being part of the first presidential assassination and being the first woman executed by the United States government. After her husband died, she moved into a home of her own, rented a tavern to an ex-policeman, and had a son who was a Confederate secret agent, who was acquainted with John Wilkes Booth. After Lincoln’s assassination, the policeman would testify that Mary Surratt played a vital part in acquiring the weapons and helping to coordinate the assassination attempt. After her conviction, then President Johnson was asked to reduce her sentence to life in prison because of her gender and age. He refused to do so and she was hanged, along with three others, in 1865.
  15. Katherine Knight It is an unfortunate reality that relationships go bad and that spouses can make the choice to kill each other rather than go through a lengthy and painful divorce process. However, Katherine Knight of Australia took the murder to shocking new level. After stabbing her husband 37 times, she skinned him and hung the remains on a door, in addition to other things too disturbing to mention. She also became the county’s first woman to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Whether they killed one or one thousand, the above 15 most heinous women criminals can leave any society terrified and unfortunately have loads of company in both the past and present. Because most, if not all, of them exhibited strange and suspicious behavior leading up to their capture, it is important to report any activity of note to the authorities as soon as possible.