When a serial killer is convicted we often expect them to spend the rest of their life behind bars – most likely sat on death row. Yet the justice system will always find a new way to surprise us year after year.
These following serial killers (some even cannibals) have taken the life of another and have been released back into society. Our hearts go out to the family of the victims who know that the person responsible for taking their loved one’s life now roams free.
8. Pedro Lopez
Pedro Lopez was born in 1948 as the seventh of thirteen children. He grew up in Santa Isabel, Colombia. His mother was a prostitute and his father was killed before he was born while defending his grocery store from mobsters. When he was eight-years-old, his mother caught him fondling his younger sister and he soon ran away from home to Colombia’s capital city, Bogota.
Young and alone, he was picked up by a man from the streets, taken to a deserted house and repeatedly assaulted. At twelve-years-old, he was kindly taken in by an American family who put him in eduction, but then he ran away again after a male teacher allegedly molested him.
To earn his living, he would steal cars and then sell them to the local scrap yards. This landed Lopez his first prison sentence; he was once again repeatedly molested in prison. Lopez later confessed to stalking everyone who had assaulted him behind bars and killing them.
After his release, he went on a murdering spree, targeting young girls in Peru. Lopez claimed that by 1978, he had killed over one hundred but then a native tribe who planned to execute him caught him. An American missionary took pity on Lopez and managed to persuade them to release him to the state police.
Once again, Lopez served very short time in prison and as soon as he was out he had moved to Ecuador and then Colombia where he began killing three girls a week. Lopez shockingly revealed, “I like the girls in Ecuador, they are more gentle and trusting, more innocent.”
By the time Lopez was arrested for a third time – he had already committed over three hundred abductions and murders. Nobody believed he was capable, until a massive grave site was uncovered with many of his victim’s bodies buried there. Then according to the BBC: “He was arrested in 1980 but was freed by the government in Ecuador at the end of (1998)” Lopez said his early release was for “good behaviour.”
7. Genene Anne Jones
63-year-old Genene Anne Jones will be released from prison in 2018 on “mandatory terms” for “good behavior.” In 1984, she was convicted of murdering a baby and suspected of killing up to 46 more. Her early release means that she would have served just a third of her 99-year sentence.
Jones was working as a nurse at Bexar County Hospital, San Antonio, Texas when she was convicted of murdering 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan. She had injected the baby with a lethal dose of muscle relaxant, suxamethonium chloride, while she was still in her mother’s arms.
Chelsea’s mother, Petti McClellan told ABC, “I was holding Chelsea, she was facing me, and Jones gave her the first shot in her left thigh. Immediately Chelsea had trouble breathing. Chelsea was trying to say my name, but she couldn’t. I was extremely upset.”
Jones was sentenced to 99-years, along with another 60-year sentence for injuring another child who luckily survived. Criminal prosecutor Ron Sutton, who won the conviction, believed that Jones is also responsible for as many as 46 more deaths at the hospital between the times she worked there – 1978 to 1982.
Shift supervisor at the time, Cheryl Pendergraph, was responsible for assigning patients to nurses. She noticed a significant rise in the unit’s infant mortality rate and found an unsettling pattern. She told ABC: “Most of the deaths were on the 3-11 shift, which was the shift that Genene Jones worked on. And most of the infants who died were Genene’s patients. She was assigned to them.”
This Texas law, which allows the early release to happen, has since expired. Currently Pendergraph and others are coming forward to appeal against Jones’s pending early release.
6. Nikolai Dzhumagaliev
In 1979, Nikolai Dzhumagaliev killed and cannibalized nine people. On August 21st, when he was drunk, he accidentally shot his colleague and was arrested. The Siberian Institute diagnosed him with schizophrenia but in less than a year he was released and returned to his home city of Uzunagach, Kazakhstan. He became known as “Metal Fang” because of his white metal teeth.
After his ninth murder, Dzhumagaliev was arrested again. He had invited several friends to his home, killed one of them and began to dismember the body in the next room. His guests fled in horror after they looked into the next room to find out what Dzhumagaliev was doing. When the police arrived, they found Dzhumagaliev on his knees, smeared with blood, naked and holding a hatchet.
The police were so shocked that he managed to flee the scene of the crime and was on the run until he was eventually arrested at his cousin’s house. After searching the house they also found a woman’s severed head.
In 1981, a new trial took into account his previous diagnosis of schizophrenia and he was declared insane. Dzhumagaliev was sent for treatment at clinical hospital where he spent eight years until doctors claimed he was cured and could be released. Many skeptics believed that Dzhumagaliev will never be cured because of his cannibalistic instincts and that he should be kept behind bars for a very long time.
5. Juha Valjakkala
In 1988, 23-year-old Juha Valjakkala was travelling through Åmsele, Sweden, with his 21-year-old then-girlfriend Marita Routalammi. Around midnight, he stole a bicycle and was chased by the owner, Sten Nilsson and his 15-year-old son, Fredrik, to a local cemetery and when cornered, Valjakkala pulled out a shotgun and killed both of them.
Later when Sten’s wife and mother of Fredrick, Ewa Nilsson, went looking for them both, Valjakkala led her into the woods and slit her throat. Valjakkala and his girlfriend went on the run but they were caught in Odense, Denmark a week later.
During the trial, both Valjakkala and his girlfriend blamed each other for the murders. A psychiatric evaluation found Valjakkala was a psychopath and had extremely aggressive tendencies. The killings were also his twelfth criminal conviction. He was sentenced to life on three counts of murder, and his girlfriend received two years for complicity in assault and battery.
Valjakkala was given a life sentence on three counts of murder, while Routalammi received two years for complicity in assault and battery. Routalammi was released after serving half of her time, and Valjakkala was transferred to Finland to serve out the rest of his sentence.
In 2008, Valjakkala changed his name to Nikita Joakim Fouganthine. Then in the same year, the Supreme Court of Finland decided that he would be released with a suspended sentence on February 2009. In 2013, he changed his name once more to Nikita Bergenström and married his new wife, Alexandria.