There have been hundreds of individuals throughout the course of history who have shocked, appalled, and fascinated the world with their grisly murder sprees. It’s undeniable that serial killers hold a macabre allure over our collective imaginations. However, it isn’t only the stories of their crimes that add to their eerie auras. Below, read about 10 serial killers whose last words have haunted those who heard them.
10. The Last Words of Carl Panzram
Carl Panzram was a thorn in the sides of authorities throughout the Northwestern United States. Between the years of 1908 and 1917, he was arrested and imprisoned numerous times on charges such as robbery and sodomy. Every time Panzram landed behind bars, he inexplicably escaped.
In 1917, Panzram made his final escape from a prison in Oregon. He lied low for a few years, but in 1920 executed a profitable robbery on the William H. Taft Mansion in New Haven, Connecticut. With the money he stole, he funded a trip around the world that turned into a murder spree. According to his later confession, he killed 21 people.
In 1928, Panzram was arrested for the last time and given a hefty prison sentence. Less than a year later, he beat the prison laundry warden to death and was himself sentenced to death by hanging. When asked if he had any last words, he said, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”
9. George Engel
Whether George Engel should rightly be considered a serial killer is up for debate, but that doesn’t make his life story, or last words, any less haunting.
Born into an impoverished family in Germany, Engel showed an early interest in socialism. He eventually immigrated to the United States where he helped form the Socialistic Labor Party of North America. When the Haymarket Square bombings took place on May 4, 1886, Engel stood accused of being a conspirator and therefore responsible for the deaths of seven police officers and four workers.
When sentenced to death by hanging, Engel wrote a letter to the Governor asking that he be given no clemency, as he bore no regret for the events at Haymarket. He was hanged in 1887; his last words were: “Hurrah for anarchy!”
8. The Last Words of Marcel Petiot
Marcel Petiot lived a relatively normal life until he was gassed and injured by shrapnel while serving in World War I. He recovered physically but suffered from mental illnesses for the rest of his life. He was imprisoned and confined to mental institutions after being diagnosed with kleptomania. Despite this, he eventually earned a medical degree and became a local politician.
However, Petiot’s political career was haunted by the mysterious deaths of several people close to him. He eventually moved to Paris where he made a living performing illegal abortions, prescribing drugs to addicts, and other illicit activities. When World War II began, Petiot became part of a network that helped people escape from Germany. However, when neighbors began reporting thick black smoke billowing from his chimney, it was discovered that Petiot took part in the network to gain access to victims that were unlikely to be missed. He eventually confessed to killing 63 people.
His final words before being guillotined were, “Gentlemen, I have one last piece of advice: Look away. This will not be pretty to see. I’d like you to keep a good memory of me.”
7. Robert Alton Harris
In 1978, Robert Alton Harris approached his younger brother and asked him for help in robbing a bank. While on their way to commit the robbery, the brothers came across two 16-year-old boys, John Mayeski and Michael Baker, as they sat in their car in a supermarket parking lot. Harris demanded that the boys drive them to a nearby lake, stating that they wanted to use the car for their robbery.
At the lake, Harris ordered the boys out of the car and forced them to kneel. They began to pray, and Harris told them to “Quit crying, and die like men” before shooting them. He and his brother carried out the robbery but were apprehended by police officers, one of whom was the father of Michael Baker.
Harris was sentenced to death by gas chamber. His final words were, “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everybody dances with the grim reaper.”
6. The Last Words of Robert Erskine Childers
Childers isn’t best known for being a killer. He was a staunch supporter of Irish home rule and vehemently opposed British involvement in the country. He is known for being an Irish leader and writer.
However, leaders who supported British rule in Ireland disagreed. They held him responsible for deaths that occurred when “Home Rule” protests turned violent. He was eventually arrested on a minor charge of possessing a firearm and sentenced to death by firing squad.
As he faced the guns, Childers uttered his famous last words: “Take a step or two forward, lads, it will be easier that way.”
5. Albert Fish
Albert Fish is infamous for being one of the most terrifying serial killers in history. Throughout his criminal career, he claims to have victimized at least 100 children by molesting, killing, and eating them.
In 1934, the mother of Grace Budd, a girl who had been kidnapped and killed, received a letter detailing the gruesome nature of her daughter’s death. Police used the letter to launch an investigation, and the clues provided by the letter eventually led to Fish’s arrest.
While Fish stood trial, the jury questioned whether Fish was insane, and thus ineligible for execution. Reportedly, the jurors decided to find him sane because they believed that he deserved the death sentence regardless of his sanity. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair.
Some serial killers over the years have professed no remorse for their horrible crimes. Fish was among them. It is reported that his last words before facing execution were, “I don’t even know why I’m here.”
4. The Last Words of Jack Jones
In 1996, Jack Jones entered an accounting office where he found Mary Phillips and her 11-year-old daughter. He raped and strangled Mary while her daughter looked on in horror. Before leaving, he strangled Lacy and stored her body in a cupboard. Lacy miraculously survived, but Jones was later arrested and charged with murdering her mother and attempting to murder her. During the investigation, police were able to implicate him in the rape and murder of another woman, Lorraine Barrett, using DNA evidence.
Jones was found guilty sentenced to death by lethal injection. His haunting last words were addressed to Lacy: “I hope over time you could learn who I really am and I am not a monster. There was a reason why those things happened that day. I am so sorry Lacey; try to understand, I love you like my child.”
3. Barbara Graham
Barbara Graham undoubtedly lived a difficult life. Her mother was a teenager when Graham was born, and a troubled one at that. Graham eventually followed in her mother’s footsteps when she was arrested for vagrancy as a teen.
After a failed marriage, she became a prostitute. Life in the sex trade exposed her to countless criminals and Graham was soon involved in illegal drugs and other criminal activities. Her criminal life reached its peak in 1953 when she knocked on the door of 64-year-old Mabel Monohan. She and two accomplices forced their way into the house and murdered Monohan, intending to rob her.
All three was caught and sentenced to death in a gas chamber. Graham’s mysterious last words were likely directed at the many people who condemned her: “Good people are always so sure they’re right.”
2. The Last Words of Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos is one of the most notorious female serial killers in history. She dabbled in crime throughout her life, but the crimes for which she became infamous began in 1989.
At this time in Wuornos’ life, she was working as a prostitute, often searching for customers at truck stops in Florida. Within a period of about 12 months, Wuornos killed a total of seven men. In each case, she admitted to the murders but always asserted that the men were attempting to rape or kill her and that she killed them in self-defense. She was eventually found guilty of all seven murders. After 10 years in prison, she recanted her former statements about self-defense because she was tired of prison and wanted to die.
Wuornos was taken to be executed by lethal injection in 2002. Her last words were ominous: “Yes, I would just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back, like Independence Day, with Jesus. June 6, like the movie. Big mother ship and all, I’ll be back, I’ll be back.”
1. Peter Kürten
Peter Kürten was a career criminal. In the years before he began killing, he accumulated a lengthy criminal record that included charges of arson and attempted murder. In 1929, his killing spree began.
In less than a year, Kürten sexually assaulted and killed at least seven people and attempted to kill at least four others. The murders were brutal. Kürten often drank blood from his victims’ wounds as they died, earning him the nickname of “The Vampire of Düsseldorf.” He was eventually arrested and admitted to 68 crimes including 10 murders and 31 attempted murders. He stated that he had no remorse.
His confessions were chilling. He expressed ecstasy about killing, stating that the taste of blood gave him a sexual thrill. He was sentenced to die by guillotine in 1931. His eerie last words were in keeping with his ghastly confessions. Before dying, he said to the executioner, “Tell me…after my head is chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”