BySam Warrington, writer at

Women, often lovingly titled "the gentler sex," are often seen as more compassionate and nurturing, while men can sometimes be seen as more outwardly aggressively.

When we think of a serial killer, most of us will envisage a tall, strong man, intimidating and frightening. You probably don't see a sweet looking old woman who looks like she wouldn't hurt a fly!

It's time to dispel the traditional image of a serial killer with this bunch of women that - although they look kind and harmless - have actually committed some of the most disgusting crimes imaginable.

8. Dorothea Puente

An unlikely looking killer, dubbed 'The Death House Landlady,' Dorothea murdered between 3-9 people that were lodgers at her home. In the 1980s, Puente ran a boarding house in Sacramento, California, and cashed the Social Security checks of her elderly and mentally disabled boarders. Those who complained were killed and buried in her yard.

She even managed to convince a local handyman to make her a a box 6 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet to store "books and other items." This was then found floating in a river by a fisherman, when it was opened it didn't contain books, but the badly decomposed body of an elderly man.

On November 11, 1988, police inquired after the disappearance of tenant, Alvaro Montoya, a developmentally disabled schizophrenic whose social worker had reported him missing. After noticing disturbed soil on the property, they uncovered the body of tenant Leona Carpenter, 78. Seven bodies were eventually found, and Puente was charged with a total of nine murders, convicted of three and sentenced to two life sentences.

7. Joanna Dennely

The unrepentant killer has recently been told that she will never set foot out of prison alive after she butchered three men to death, and attempted to murder two more.

When she was taken to the police station to be charged with murder, the twisted killer said; "It could be worse – I could be fat.”

When asked why she had killed her victims, and attempted to kill others, by a psychiatrist she cooly said, “I killed to see how it felt, to see if I was as cold as I thought I was… then it got more-ish.”

6. Juana Barraza

This elderly lady who had dreams of making it big as a professional wrestler became famous for a much more sinister reason, mass murder.

Sentenced to 759 years in jail, she has been convicted of 11 murders, but the real number could go up to around 50. All elderly women that lived alone, Juana would gain their trust before bludgeoning them or strangling them to death before she robbed them.

Bernardo Bátiz, the chief prosecutor in Mexico City, initially profiled the killer as having "a brilliant mind, quite clever and careful." Officers investigating suspected that she posed as a government official, offering the chance to sign up to welfare programs.

5. Dagmar Overbye

During a seven year period from 1913 to 1920 Dagmer, a professional child caretaker from Denmark murdered between 9 to 25 children left in her care.

She looked after children that were born out of marriage, and she would strangle, drown or the burn the babies to death. The corpses were either cremated, buried or hidden in the loft.

Overbye was convicted of 9 murders, as there was no proof of the others. Her lawyer based the case on Overbye being abused herself as a baby, but that did not impress the judge. On March 3, 1921, she was sentenced to death in one of the most talked about trials in Danish history. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

4. Theresa Knorr

There's nothing like a mothers' love, someone should really tell Theresa because she was known for being physically, verbally, and psychologically abusive towards her children.

A heavy drinker with several failed relationships, the alcoholic began to direct all her anger towards her daughters, two of which she eventually murdered, while making an attempt on the life of a third.

In 1983, Knorr grabbed a 22-caliber pistol and her shot eldest daughter, Susan in the chest. The bullet became lodged in her back, but Knorr refused to seek medical help and left Susan to die in the family bathtub.

Susan survived, so Knorr handcuffed her to a soap dish and began to nurse her back to health. Susan eventually recovered from her wounds without professional treatment.

The Knorr Childrem
The Knorr Childrem

After asking her mother if she could move out, she agreed but only if she could remove the bullet rom Susan's back. She demanded that her son Robert cut the bullet out with a box cutter. As infection set in, the young girl became delirious, but Theresa told her children to walk over their sister, who was sprawled on the kitchen floor, explaining she was "possessed by the devil."

Over the years she had trained her sons Robert and William to help torture her daughters, and at her command, they drove Susan into the desert, covered her with gasoline and set her alight.

Forcing her second daughter, Sheila, into prostitution, Theresa then accused her of being pregnant and giving her mother an STD from a toilet seat. When she disagreed, Theresa tied her up, put her in a closet and refused to give her food or water. She died several days later.

The heartless mother is now locked up in prison and won't be allowed to apply for parole until 2027.

3. Kathleen Folbigg

Herself a victim of tragedy, when she was 18 months old her father murdered her mother, something her defense later claimed could be the reason why she never forged strong paternal bonds with her children.

Killing all four of her infant children between 1991 and 1999, she wasn't caught until her husband Craig found her diaries at their home in New South Wales, Australia, which detailed her feelings towards the crimes.

The Diary Used As Evidence
The Diary Used As Evidence

She smothered her four infant children, 8-month-old Patrick Allen, 10-month-old Sarah Kathleen, 19-month-old Laura Elizabeth, and Caleb Gibson, who was just 19 days old, but claimed they had all died of natural causes.

Kathleen, Craig and Sarah
Kathleen, Craig and Sarah

Writing in her diary about a time when her memories of the killings would come to the surface she said;

"That will be the day that they lock me up and throw away the key. Something I am sure will happen one day."

She is currently serving a 30 year sentence.

2. Leonarda Cianciulli

It might be best if you avoid eating while reading this story, because it might put you off your food.

Leonarda Cianciulli was an Italian woman who killed three women between 1939 and 1940. She then used the corpses of her victims to make top quality soap and cakes. Her three victims, Faustina Setti, Francesca Soavi, and Virginia Cacioppo, were all killed for financial gain, but she clearly enjoyed committing her crimes.

She attempted to poison Faustina with drugged wine, but when she wouldn't accept she gave up, instead attacking her with an axe. She used this method for her next two victims.

In a book she wrote titled 'An Embittered Soul’s Confessions,' Cianciulli described her first murder:

“I threw the body pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”

Aren't you glad I told you not to eat while reading?!

1. Aileen Wuoronos

America's most vilified and hated female serial killer is Aileen Wuoronos.

Having a less than bright start to live Aileen was abandoned by her mother, her father wasn't in the picture and had been in prison for sexually abusing a young boy. As a young teen she was known to give sexual favors to local boys in exchange for food, after her grandfather, who she lived with, severely beat her and kicked her out of the house.

Forced to give up a child at a young age for adoption it was rumored that she was made to give her baby boy away as he was the result of sexual abuse at the hands of both her grandfather and her elder brother Keith. After years of neglect and torment she left home to start her life on the road.

murder weapon
murder weapon

She shot and killed seven men while plying her trade as a prostitute while hitch hiking around America, between 1989-1990. First she claimed she did it in self defense and that all of the men had attacked her. She then said that she had lied and killed the men to avoid having any witnesses when she robbed them.

Attempting to support both her girlfriend and herself, there has been a lot of speculation about the involvement of Ty, Aileen's girlfriend, as she claimed she knew nothing of the crimes, even when Aileen would just appear with a car and no explanation. However she was given full immunity in order to help to get Aileen to confess, so was never charged with anything.

Movie rights were sold before the end of the trial by police, and Aileen slowly descended into madness before her execution by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. As she was executed she said:

In this video, Aileen confesses to the crimes, but some say she only did so to be executed by the state after already serving 12 years on death row.


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