Serial killers are described as having highly intelligent and manipulative personalities who often lead a double life and their crimes can go undetected for years. These following women all had to find out that the men they were married to had committed unspeakable crimes. Despite some potentially disturbing warning signs they were completely unaware of exactly who they were sleeping next to at night…
12. Myrta Belknap and Georgiana Yoke – married to H.H.Holmes (Killed: up to 200)
Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, who is now more commonly known as H. H. Holmes, was one of the first known serial killers in America. He lived in Chicago, and in 1893 opened a hotel which he had designed and built specifically for murder. His evil crimes caught up with him and he eventually confessed to 27 murders, of which only nine were confirmed, but his actual body count could be up to 200.
Alongside being a sinister serial killer he was also a bigamist. He married his first wife, Clara A. Lovering between 1878-1891, his second wife Myrta Z. Belknap between 1887-1896, and his third wife Georgiana Yoke between 1894-1896. Overlapping marriages were not the worst of his deeds as his forth mistress, Julia Smythe, soon found out. In 1891, Smythe told Holmes that she had fallen pregnant and demanded marriage. Holmes suggested performing an abortion and she agreed for this to take place on Christmas Eve. Holmes administered Smythe a chloroform overdose which killed her. When questioned on her disappearance Holmes just said she was attending a family wedding.
On May 7th, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison. Both the wives he was married to at the time, Myrta Belknap and Georgiana Yoke, witnessed the death – most likely thankful they had a very lucky escape.
11. Elena Popkov – married to Mikhail Popkov (Killed: 22)
Former police officer, Mikhail “The Werewolf” Popkov, used axes, knives and screwdrivers to murder 22 women in his home town of Angarsk, Russia. The deranged 50-year-old would lure women into his car, then brutally murder them with tools and sexually assault their bodies after. He even beheaded one of his victims and ate her heart after carving it out of her chest. In 2012, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment after confessing to the murders.
Despite all the evidence including her husband’s own confession, Elena Popkov did not believe he was a killer and she told The Siberian Times, “We have been married for 28 years. If I suspected something wrong, of course, I would divorce with him. I support him, I believe him. If he were to be released right now, I would not say a word and we would continue to live together.” The 48-year-old continued, “I love him, I support him. He did not cause me any harm for all these years. I felt safe with him.”
10. Alice Carignan – married to Harvey Carignan (Killed: 5-18)
During the 1970s, Harvey Carignan used wanted adverts to lure women to their death. He would bludgeon them to death with a claw hammer either before or after sexually assaulting them. He described himself as: “An instrument of God, one who was acting under His personal instructions. Murder, rape and mutilation are all part of a Grand Plan. God is a figure with a large hood and you can’t see his face.” Based on instructions from God he is considered to have murdered between 5-18 women.
Carignan married Alice Johnson on April 14th, 1972, and moved in with her and her two children, 11-year-old Billy and 14-year-old Georgia. Two months later Billy moved out of the house after being badly beaten by Carignan. Alice had found a button from a woman’s dress in Harvey’s car and began to wonder about the trips away from home he was making – suspecting an affair. That was until her husband had been picked out of a line up by one of his victims and after a search of his car police found maps with around 180 red circles drawn in isolated areas of the United States and Canada. Many of the circles linked him to a string of unsolved homicides and other crimes involving women. He was sentenced to a maximum of forty years in prison in Minnesota in 1975.
9. Darcie Brudos – married to Jerome Brudos (Killed: 4)
Jerome Brudos was a serial killer also known as “The Lust Killer” and “The Shoe Fetish Slayer”. He had a fetish for women’s shoes from the age of five and reportedly stole a pair belonging to his first grade teacher. As a teenager he began to stalk local women, knocking them down or choking them unconscious, before fleeing with their shoes.
In 1961, he married 17-year-old Darcie the pair settled in Salem, Oregon suburb, where they had two children together. His fetish continued as he asked Darcie to do housework wearing nothing except for a pair of high heels while he took photos. Late at night, he would sneak out the house and prowl the streets looking for women who he could kill and steal their shoes. He kept the bodies of his victims in the garage where he told his wife never to enter. He set up an intercom system and if she needed him out of the garage then she could speak to him through this.
Brudos was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of four women between 1968 and 1969. He died behind bars in 2006 of liver cancer.
8. Julie Baumeister – married to Herb Baumeister (Killed: 11 confirmed, 9 suspected)
Herb Baumeister was an alleged serial killer from Westfield, Indiana. In 1996, Baumeister committed suicide before his trial and never confessed to the crimes despite the damning evidence against him.
During the early 1990s, police were investigating a string of disappearances of gay men in the Indianapolis area and one victim, who had managed to survive an attack, gave police the licence plate of Baumeister’s car. Police arrived at his house and conducted a search which uncovered the remains of 11 men but only 8 could be identified. Julie Baumeister told the police that her husband’s 100 trips to Ohio where for “business”.
7. Mary Elizabeth Harriman – married to Russel Williams (Killed: 2)
David Russell Williams is a Canadian convicted murderer, rapist, and former Colonel in the Canadian Forces. On February 8th, 2010, he was formally charged by the Ontario Provincial Police with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of forcible confinement, two counts of breaking and entering, and sexual assault; another 82 charges relating to breaking and entering. Williams was sentenced to life imprisonment and stripped of his awards by the Governor General of Canada . His uniform was burned, his medals were destroyed and his military vehicle crushed and scrapped.
He had been married to Mary Elizabeth Harriman since 1991 and the pair would regularly go on golfing trips together. During court proceedings, prosectors heard Williams kept his alter ego a secret from her by burying the crime-scene photos and videos (his personal trophies of the attacks) in a “deeply nested and complex series of subfolders” on their computer. He also told his wife that his late-night walks were to help stretch out his sore back.
6. Cathy Wilson – married to Peter Tobin (Killed: 3)
In 2007, Scottish serial killer Peter Tobin began serving a life sentence for the murders of three young women. Tobin had already served ten years in prison for a double rape committed in 1993. Skeletal remains of two young women who had been missing since 1991 were found at his former home in Kent, England. He was considered by experts to be a textbook psychopath.
Cathy Wilson married Tobin in 1989 when she was just 16-years-old. He badly beat her and the pair divorced in 1993. It wasn’t until she turned on her TV more than ten years later that she realised at the time of her marriage, her husband had been killing young teenage girls and even buried their bodies in their own backyard. The “sandpit” Tobin had built was, in fact, a grave site for his victims.
5. Linda Yates – married to Richard Yates (Killed: at least 13)
Robert Yates from Spokane, Washington, murdered at least 13 women, all of whom were prostitutes, from 1996 to 1998. He is currently is on death row at the Washington State Penitentiary.
His wife Linda did suspect something – that he was having an affair. She revealed to The Spokesman-Review that she found her husband throwing several credit card statements into the fire at their home. Then she noticed charges for motels where customers could pay by the hour. Linda said, “I was raised with old-fashioned values. When you marry, you marry. Apparently he didn’t take it seriously like I did.” Her suspicions were right, Yates was having an affair but even worse than she imagined – it was with prostitutes that he would shoot in the head and bury in rural locations afterwards.
4. Judith Lynch – married to Gary Ridgway (Killed: at least 48)
Gary Ridgway is better known as the Green River Killer. He was convicted of killing 48 women and girls, later confessing to nearly twice that number making him one of the most prolific American serial killers in history. Most of his victims were vulnerable, either working as prostitutes or teenage runaways. The media labelled him the Green River as his identity went unknown for quite some time. He would strangle his victims, then dump the bodies in forested areas, returning days later to have sexual intercourse with the corpses.
Judith Lynch was married to him between 1988-2002. On November 30th, 2001, detectives told her of the crimes Gary had committed. She remembers saying to them “No I don’t believe that. He’s always been so, so gentle and caring.” She told her husband she would stand by him and testify in court. During the trial, she could see images of slain women, locations and places on maps, and taking into account her husband’s plea deal – she finally had to admit to herself that her loving husband really did have a twisted alter ego.
3. Feodosia Chikatilo – married to Andrei Chikatilo (Killed: at least 52)
Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, sexually assaulted, murdered and mutilated at least 56 women and children between 1978 and 1990 in the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Uzbek SSR. He was sentenced to death and executed by gunshot in February 1994. Chikatilo was known in the media as the Rostov Ripper and the Butcher of Rostov. During later interviews he also confessed to eating parts of the bodies.
In 1963, he married Feodosia Odnacheva after being introduced through his younger sister. According to Chikatilo, although he found Feodosia attractive, the marriage was forced upon them and their sex life was nonexistent. Chikatilo was unable to maintain an erection for his wife that would have been even more of a shock for her to find out he was responsible for the sexual assaults of many young victims. When he was sentenced to murder she fled from her hometown.
A senior psychiatrist, Dr. Andrei Tkachenko, found that although he was suffering from borderline personality disorder with sadistic features, Chikatilo was legally sane and competent to stand trial. Judge Leonid Akubzhanov made the following speech in court: “Taking into consideration the horrible misdeeds of which he his guilty, this court has no alternative but to impose the only sentence that he deserves. I therefore sentence him to death.” I therefore sentence him to death.” He was then taken to a soundproofed room and shot once behind the right ear.
2. Paula Rader – married to Dennis Rader (Killed: 10)
Dennis Rader murdered 10 people in and around Wichita, Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. He was known as the BTK Killer as his method was “Bind, Torture, Kill” and he would send letters to the police describing his killings along with his BTK signature. He was eventually arrested and is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas, where he is kept on lockdown for 23 hours a day.
Dennis grew up in Pittsburg, Kansas, and as a child would torture animals. He also had a fetish for women’s underwear and wore the underpants of his own victims. He would stalk his victims in the lead up to their kidnapping. One of his intended victims, Anna Williams, escaped death in 1979 when she returned home much later than he expected. During his confession, he stated that he was obsessed with Williams and “absolutely livid” he had never caught her for torture.
Friends of his wife, Paula Rader, said they would stand by her and help her understand that she had done nothing wrong. Paula bravely returned to their hometown of Wichita and kept her job working at a local convenience store. After her husband was sentenced to a minimum of 175 years, Rader stated, “The final victim is my wife. That and my family.”
1. Carole Hoff – married to John Wayne Gacy (Killed: at least 33)
John Wayne Gacy, also known as the Killer Clown, killed at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. All of Gacy’s murders were committed inside his own Norwood Park Township home. Gacy was cherished in the local community as he would often attend charitable events, parades and children’s parties dressed as “Pogo the Clown”. He married his wife, Carole, in 1972, but three years and two children later he told her that he was bisexual and there would be no more sexual intercourse between them.
To get his kicks he then began luring victims back to the address by either force or deception, and all were strangled to death – apart from his first victim who he stabbed. Gacy buried 26 bodies within the crawl space of his home. His wife knew nothing of his activities. Convicted of 33 murders, Gacy was sentenced to death by lethal injection on May 10th, 1994.