The U.S. can lay claim to a large number of the most notorious, and brutal murders the world has ever seen. But we cannot claim a monopoly on it. Brutal murders get reported from every corner of the world. The heinous murders on this list are not just among the scariest the world has ever seen, they also committed some of the most brutal, heartless, remorseless murderers anyone has ever witnessed. Sadly, this list could be updated on an almost annual basis.
But you can’t judge a sociopathic murderer by the look in their eyes; it was that calm, cool, confident look that made it so easy for serial killers like Ted Bundy to get away with murder for years. Many of the worst murders are committed by seemingly normal, friendly next door neighbors, or fun loving coworkers
The Toolbox Killers
When people think of psychopathic monsters, Charles Manson often comes to mind. But Manson’s got nothing on the Toolbox Killers. Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker and Roy Lewis Norris are rapists and serial killers known as The Toolbox Killers. Why did the press give them that moniker? The two men used common household items, often found in a toolbox, to torture and murder their victims (pliers, ice pick, hammer, etc.).
Bittaker (born September 27, 1940) and Norris (born February 5, 1948) were known to police since they were basically infants, having racked up a number of arrests going back to their teens.
That doesn’t mean Bittaker and Norris were dumb. Bittaker dropped out of high school but had a tested IQ of 138; only two percent of the population can claim to have an IQ as high as that.
Having a high IQ though doesn’t necessarily make you smart either.
Proving there is someone for everyone, Bittaker and Norris met in prison in 1977: Bittaker was serving time for attempted murder, while Norris was serving time for rape. It was there the two men discovered they shared a mutual hatred of girls, and shared a love of rape and murder.
Despite hospital psychiatrist’s warnings that Bittaker was a sophisticated sociopath, he was released from prison in November 1978 and moved to Los Angeles. His cohort was released on January 15, 1979, and moved in with his mother in L.A. Norris is said to have had an incestuous relationship with his mother.
Bittaker and Norris Reconnect out of Prison
The two met up outside of prison and hatched their plans.
One of the first things they did was buy a 1977 GM cargo van; it had no side or back windows, and a large sliding door on the passenger side. They made alterations to the van making it “easier” to abduct, rape, and murder girls. They nicknamed the van “Murder Mack.”
Between February and June 1979, the two drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway and practiced their killing spree; stopping at beaches, talking with girls, and taking their pictures. Bittaker and Norris also found an ideal spot for dumping bodies – an isolated road in the San Gabriel Mountains.
During this time, they picked up more than 20 girls, all of whom, Norris would later say, they could have abducted but didn’t.
Eventually though, the two put their plans into action.
Five Girls Raped, Tortured, and Murdered
Over a five month period, June to October 1979, Norris and Bittaker kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered five teenage girls: Lucinda “Cindy” Schaeffer (16), Andrea Joy Hall (18), Jackie Gilliam (15), Leah Lamp (13), and Shirley Lynette Ledford (16).
Over the course of the murders, Bittaker and Norris ramped up their torture to include taking polaroids of their victims’ terrified faces, and using a tape recorder to record the sounds of their brutal rapes and murders.
The pair were eventually caught when Norris bragged to an old prison buddy about their exploits. The friend, Jimmy Dalton, contacted police who eventually arrested Bittaker and Norris. The pair were identified by Shirley Sanders, the only victim to escape.
Norris accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to 45 years in prison at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. He is eligible for parole in 2020.
Bittaker went to trial over the deaths of the five girls. Steve Kay, the Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted the case, broke down twice during the trial and wept at the brutality of the crimes Bittaker committed.
Shirley Lynette Ledford Tapes
From the court transcripts of the Bittaker-Norris Halloween tapes:
“At this point, after Bittaker had forced Shirley to fellate him, repeated sounds of an administered beating, interspersed with loud screams can be heard as Bittaker savagely beat Shirley about the breasts and, to a lesser degree, head. Bittaker then extracted his pliers from the tool box. Shirley then emits several high-pitched, prolonged screams and cries of agony as Bittaker alternately squeezes and twists her labia, clitoris, nipples and breasts with the pliers. Bittaker then returns the pliers to the tool box. Banging sounds can also be heard throughout, which are believed to have been made as Shirley came into contact with the walls and inner contents of the van as she writhed and flailed.
”Ledford: My God! Please stop it! (Screams)
Bittaker: Is the recorder going?
Bittaker: Scream baby! Scream some, baby.”
“Just kill me!” are the last sounds on the tape before it runs out.
Bittaker Sentenced to Death
Bittaker was found guilty of the murders and was sentenced to death. He was also given an additional 199 years, in case the conviction was ever overturned or the death sentence was repealed.
He has been on death row ever since. And has not shown any remorse.
To show just how depraved and inhuman Bittaker and Norris’ actions were, the Bittaker-Norris audio tapes are played for FBI recruits to desensitize, and show them what kind of people they will be dealing with.
Moreover, Detective Paul Bynum, 39, the chief investigator of the Bittaker-Norris murders, wrote in a 1987 suicide note that he could no longer live because of the slayings, and could not get the tapes out of his mind. He also worried that Bittaker and Norris would somehow get free.
The torture, rape, and murder of Junko Furuta is one of the most vile, heinous crimes ever committed in Japan. The 17-year old Japanese high school girl was raped and tortured for 44 days before being murdered on January 4, 1989.
Known throughout Japan as “concrete-encased high school girl,” Furuta’s death drew nationwide attention due to the sheer brutality she endured. Outrage also followed after it was discovered that around 100 people knew she was kidnapped, tortured, and raped…but either did nothing about it, or participated.
Furuta was an outgoing, cheerful, and attractive girl who was more interested in getting good grades at Yashio-Minami High School in Misato than drinking and partying. This put her at odds with the rest of her classmates.
One of her classmates, Hiroshi Miyano, had a crush on Furuta, but the feelings were not reciprocated. This did not sit well with Miyano, who, aside from being a bully, was also a member of the Yakuza (a Japanese crime syndicate). He might have been a low ranking member, but nobody said “no” to Miyano.
Furuta Kidnapped for Rebuffing Boy
On November 25, 1988, Furuta was kidnapped by four men as she walked home from school: Hiroshi Miyano, Jō Ogura, Shinji Minato, and Yasushi Watanabe. The four took Furuta to a house owned by Minato’s parents in Tokyo.
While there, Furuta was forced to call her parents and tell them she was running away and staying with a friend. She also told them she was not in any danger. While Minato’s parents would drop by the house on occasion, Furuta was too afraid to tell them she was being held there against her will.
Later, even when Furuta begged Minato’s parents for help, they did nothing because they were afraid of Hiroshi Miyano and his Yakuza contacts.
Warning, the following information is graphic. Over the next 44 days, Furuta faced unspeakable torture and suffering.
- She was kept naked
- Was raped approximately 500 times by more than 100 men
- Was hit with golf cubs
- Head hit against cement floor
- Forced to masturbate in front of kidnappers and “guests”
- Had various objects forced into her vagina and anus (iron bar, scissors, roasting needles, chicken skewers, etc.)
- Forced to drink her own urine
- Fireworks were forced up her anus and set off
- Left nipple was ripped off with pliers.
- Legs and feet set on fire
- Dumbbells were dropped on her stomach
- Hanged from the ceiling and used as a punching bag
- Kept in a freezer for hours at a time
- Eyelids were burned with hot wax and lighters
- Breasts were pierced with sewing needles
- Vagina and clitoris were burned with cigarettes and lighters
- Stuffed a still lit light bulb into Futuka’s vagina and rammed around until it exploded.
During this period, the parents of one of the rapists, knowing what was going on, called police. Two officers went to the Minato house to investigate. They were simply told that no girl was inside the house and declined an invitation to look around.
By the time police arrived, Furuta had been in captivity for 16 days. Had police done their jobs, she probably would have survived.
On January 4, 1989, it is alleged that the kidnappers challenged Furuta to a game of Mahjong. Even in her savaged state, she was able to beat the four. Enraged at having lost, the four men beat her a