Serial killers have often been known to keep mementos of their prey; gruesome relics that provide a gateway for them to re-live the murder, while also bestowing upon them a sense of ownership over the dead - a human form of trophy hunting, if you will.
Psychologist Joel Norris notes that serial killers often experience a period known as the 'totem phase' after they've done the bloody deed, which is characterized by a steady slope into depression, alleviated only by experiencing the thrill of the kill once more.
A victim's leftovers and traces allow them to access those memories, but what the killer chooses to keep varies from case to case. What follows are some of the creepiest, most shocking souvenir collections to have ever been gathered by twisted killers. I should warn you: this is not for the faint hearted...
1. Jeffrey Dahmer - Genitals and Skulls
Prominent serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, murdered (and in many cases molested) 17 men before he was brought to justice. Dahmer, a necrophiliac, had plenty of time to accumulate his collection of human trophies, dismembering his victims and keeping their bloody body parts as reminders of his crimes.
Dahmer was known to keep the skulls of those he'd killed, as well as their genitals, storing them in a lobster pot of all places. He was eventually arrested in 1991, before being killed by a fellow inmate three years later.
2. Ahmad Suradji - Saliva
Ahmad Suradji, one of the busiest and most brutal killers to come out of Indonesia, admitted to murdering 42 young girls and women over a period of 11 years. A great believer in ritual sacrifice, Suradji would bury his victims up to their waists before strangling them with a cable. The sadistic psychopath would then position their heads so that they'd face his house, believing this would bring him extra powers.
Believe it or not, things got even weirder in 1988, when Suradji claimed his father's ghost had appeared to him in a dream telling him he'd become a mystic healer after killing 70 women and drinking their saliva. So, unnaturally, that's exactly what he set out to do. Suradji was executed by a firing squad in 2008.
3. Ed Gein - Faces
Perhaps the most notorious collector of sickening souvenirs to have lived, Ed Gein was always going to appear on this gruesome list. The inspiration for Texas Chainsaw Massacre's skin fetishist Leatherface, Gein was one truly messed up individual.
Though he's only been linked to two confirmed murders, the seriously unhinged killer more than made up for his body count with his 'unconventional' tendencies. When he was finally captured, police discovered his farmhouse full of human-made ornaments: a skull-formed bowl, seats made from flesh, a belt made from nipples and gloves made of skin. Worst of all, Gein had even constructed masks out of his victim's faces; the most macabre of mementos imaginable.
4. Jerome Brudos - Feet
Jerome Brudos, otherwise known as the Lust Killer, nurtured a strange and intense obsession with shoes from a very young age, finding and keeping a pair he found in a junkyard at just 5-years-old. As he grew older, his fascination with feet only grew to become more sinister, as he began to stalk women home solely based on their shoe type.
Brudos killed four women in total, saving their footwear for himself. He even took one of his unlucky victims' feet home with him, trying them on inside his morbid shoe collection. Brudos claimed insanity in his defence, but died of natural causes in prison back in 2006.
5. Anatoly Onoprienko - Underwear
Ominously nicknamed the 'Terminator,' Ukrainian serial killer Anatoly Onoprienko had a particularly creepy habit of keeping all of his victims' underwear.
After selecting an isolated house, Onoprienko would take either an axe, hammer or gun and begin terrorizing those unfortunate enough to be inside. When he was finished committing his reprehensible acts, the Terminator would burn the house to the ground, but not before swiping a pair of panties as a memento. Onoprienko would even bring these sick relics home to give to his girlfriend, Anna, as a present. Now that's effed up...
6. John George Haigh - His Victim's Dog
John George Haigh, a.k.a. the 'Acid Bath Murderer,' claimed six lives before being apprehended. Considering he's known for dissolving his victims' bodies in a bath of sulfuric acid (Breaking Bad, anyone?), you'd think there wouldn't be much left to save - but Haigh did find one souvenir: a pet.
In 1948 Haigh murdered Dr. Archibald Henderson and his wife, Rosalie. They both got the acid bath treatment, but Haigh spared the life of their dog, nurturing it for himself.
7. Ted Bundy - Heads
The man who described himself as the “most cold-blooded son of a b*tch you’ll ever meet” was sure to have a few macabre mementos in his closet. Sure enough, Bundy collected human heads as reminders of his atrocious crimes, even keeping them in his house to use as masturbation aids. He quite literally lost his own head and turned to acquiring others.
8. Elizabeth Bathory - Blood
Deemed by Guinness World Records as the most prolific female murderer of all time, Elizabeth Bathory has been tied to over 650 killings. The wealthy Slovakian Countess would torture young female peasants by freezing them and jamming needles under their fingernails.
The vampiric Bathory believed that she could retain her beauty and youth by drinking others' blood, which she would drain, store and consume. Bathory was eventually caught, but served out her punishment under house arrest.