Serial killers who started on animals – the red flags that show murderous traits

Serial killers who started on animals – the red flags that show murderous traits


Abusing helpless animals from pets to captured wildlife has been the start of many serial killers’ evil deeds.

Murdering multiple people is not the only thing the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler and David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz have in common – all three are known to have also targeted creatures.

They are far from the only twisted men who have lashed out at animals before or alongside their heinous crimes on people over the last century.

Numerous research has been carried out to explain the link between someone’s desire to harm a creature and a human.



Dennis Rader
‘BTK’ killer Dennis Rader admitted to animal abuse as a child

According to a 2015 study by the Humane Society, 71% of domestic violence victims say their abuser also targeted their pet.

Staggeringly 45% of school shooters had histories of alleged animal cruelty, and 21% of serial murderers admitted to childhood animal abuse, Discover Weekly reported earlier this year.

Researchers at Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA, found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans, according to PETA.

So who are those serial killers who brought suffering to poor cats, dogs and even rabbits as well as racking up a devastating human death toll?

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Jeffrey Dahmer



Jeffrey L. Dahmer
Jeffrey L. Dahmer beheaded cats and dogs before switching to humans

Jeffrey Dahmer – dubbed the ‘Milwaukee cannibal’ – worked on his grim butchery skills by cutting up dogs and cats before dismembering 17 people.

As though hacking away at animals was not grim enough, Dahmer completed his savagery by impaling their heads on sticks.

Dahmer was bludgeoned to death in a prison bathroom by a fellow inmate in 1994.

David Berkowitz

David Berkowitz terrorised attractive young women in the New York City area under the moniker of “Son of Sam” during the summer of 1976.



David Berkowitz,
David Berkowitz, known as the ‘Son of Sam’, reportedly killed a bird as a youngster

He pleaded guilty to eight fatal shootings but his first taste for blood came from poisoning his adoptive mother’s parakeet, which he believed was a rival for her attention, Westchester magazine reports.

Paranoid beliefs that demon dogs summoned him to kill, also led to Berkowitz allegedly executing a neighbour’s dog.

Albert DeSalvo

The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo who murdered 13 women between June 14, 1962, and January 4, 1964 had earlier cruelly locked cats and dogs into orange crates to then use as target practice.

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Albert DeSalvo
Albert DeSalvo shot caged animals with arrows

DeSalvo, who died in 1973, used a bow and arrow to shoot and at them through slats in the crates, leaving none alive, says TheSnapper.

The Boston Strangler went on to spread fear and panic across the city following his first attack on a 55-year-old woman, who he sexually assaulted, strangled and ransacked her apartment.

The murders of more women aged between 65 and 85-years-old were being linked to one so-called ‘mother killer’, causing the Boston police chief to channel almost all resources on catching him.

Burglar DeSalvo was already an inmate at a state mental hospital when he confessed to the murders a year later.

Dennis Rader

Dennis Rader blinded, tortured and killed ten people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991, earning him the nickname ‘BTK Killer’.



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As with the other monsters mentioned, Rader confessed to committing animal cruelty as a child – apparently perfecting his strangling technique on dogs and cats before turning his attention to humans.

Despite enjoying what on the outside appeared to be a normal childhood in the town of Wichita, a disturbed Rader reportedly took pleasure from capturing stray animals and hanging them.

From his first victims, the Otero family on January 15, 1974, The BTK killer left a trail of strangulation and souvenir-taking while getting a sexual kick from his murders.

Ian Brady

Moors murderer, Ian Brady tortured and killed five children with accomplice Myra Hindley between July 1963 and October 1965.

But his tendencies to inflict pain and suffering on others started many years before the deaths of children aged between ten and 17, Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans.

Brady’s animal abuse as a child started when he was just ten years old, when he launched a cat from a high-rise tower block, he told Hindley.

His wicked acts ranged from ‘stoning dogs, decapitating rabbits, and, on one occasion, burning a cat alive.’ He later told Myra that he was when he killed his first cat.





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