Who we are as individuals is a mixture of biological, psychological and social. Serial killers are no different or as FBI Profiler Jim Clemente famously said, “Your genetics load the gun, your personality aims it, and the events in your life pull the trigger.” Raising children is always a challenge, however, if you’re a mother who is domineering, physically abusive and unable to show compassion – then this has been proven to have a negative effect on the child.
These following mothers all created a home environment for their children that set them on the path of becoming serial killers. We don’t get to choose our mothers and all of these family dynamics had disastrous consequences.
10. Edmund Kemper Buried His Mother’s Head In The Garden
Edmund “The Co-Ed Killer” Kemper murdered his own mother, his paternal grandparents and seven other victims in cold-blood. Kemper’s relationship with women was unhealthy to say the least and at 6ft 9″ tall he was able to easily overpower any victim. Growing up in Burbank, California, he was an extremely gifted child but his alcoholic mother Clarnell Strandberg would often lock him in a dark basement at night, as she believed he would potentially abuse his own sisters.
Above: Kemper showing the police where he buried the bodies
In 1973, Kemper entered his mother’s bedroom and bludgeoned her to death with a claw hammer before slitting her throat with a knife. He then decapitated her and recalls, “(I) put (her head) on a shelf and screamed at it for an hour (and) threw darts at it.” He later buried her head in the garden. The strain of the killings had taken its toll and he finally confessed his sinister crimes to the police his sinister crimes.
9. Henry Lee Lucas’ Prostitute Mother Forced Him To Watch
Henry Lee Lucas is one of the most notorious serial killers in history who personally claims to be responsible for killing more than 3,000 victims – although he was only convicted of 11 homicides. His abusive and twisted mother Viola Davis never allowed her son to express emotion – even banning him from crying at his own father’s funeral. She worked as a prostitute and often forced Lucas and his siblings to watch as she sold her body to strangers in front of them.
Above: Lucas with his partner in crime – serial killer Ottis Toole
Lucas also recalls how his mother would beat him so badly he would end up in the hospital and she often forced him to dress like a girl. By the year 1960, he couldn’t take it anymore and murdered his mother. He was sent to Ionia State Hospital but made parole ten years later. Following his release, he turned to drink excessively and murder, confessing, “I was drinking before every one of my killings. I was never sober.” Soon his crimes caught up with him and he stayed behind bars until his death in 2001 aged 64.
8. Ted Bundy Was Made To Believe His Mother Was His Sister
In 1946, Ted Bundy was born at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont. His young mother Eleanor Cowell had listed an Air Force Veteran as the father although there are no records that show he ever really existed. To avoid a scandal that often came when babies are born out of wedlock, Eleanor moved to Philadelphia with her parents and they raised the boy as their own. The young serial killer in the making was then led to believe throughout most of his childhood that his mother was his sister.
After his cousin revealed a birth certificate that proved Eleanor was really his birth mother, Bundy was filled with resentment and rage. He later said, “(My mother and I) didn’t talk a lot about real personal matters. My mom has trouble talking on personal terms. There’s this logjam of feelings in her that she doesn’t open up and explain.” Later in life, Bundy took his resentment towards women too far; butchering, mutilating and burying more than thirty women in seven different states.
7. Anthony Sowell Was Beaten As A Child With The Same Weapon He Later Used On His Victims
Anthony “The Cleveland Strangler” Sowell grew up without a father and in the trappings of an extremely violent mother. One of seven children, he was tied to a banister and beaten with an electrical cord until he bled. Later in life, he used the same weapon to strangle his own victims. It wasn’t unusual for the Sowell children to attempt to run away from their abusive mother, as his childhood home was truly a house of horrors.
Unlike his other siblings, Sowell grew up with a desire to inflict pain and terror on women. In 2009, when police arrived to arrest Sowell on an attempted rape charge they discovered two bodies belonging to other victims laid on the floor. Following a search of the property, eleven bodies were uncovered at the house of horrors and now he remains on death row.
6. Richard Kuklinski Said “My Mother Was Cancer”
Serial killer and Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski is believed to have killed more than 150 people although he was only convicted of murdering six people. Alongside contract killing for the mob, he was also involved in hijacking, arms dealing and narcotics. Behind closed doors, he was known as a loving family man but to the mob, he was “the devil himself.”
Above: Kuklinski with his two daughters
Kuklinski’s mother was a strict Catholic who wouldn’t think twice about beating him with a broom if he disobeyed her. His father was violent too and Kuklinski lost his 9-year-old younger brother when the boy was beaten so badly he died of sustained head injuries. This was a real turning point for the future serial killer; he took his pain and frustration out on small animals like neighborhood cats – torturing and killing them. He explained, “My mother was cancer. She slowly destroyed everything around her.”
5. David Berkowitz Was Made To Believe His Real Mother Was Dead
David Berkowitz was known as the “Son of Sam killer” after he terrorized the streets of New York during a shooting spree between 1976 and 1977. Berkowitz might have walked a different path in life had his identity not been thrown into crisis as a young boy. He was adopted as an infant by a couple from the Bronx and they told him that his birth mother had died. When he was 14-years-old, his adoptive mother passed away from breast cancer and three years later, he learned of the existence of his real birth mother and made plans to reunite with her.
After meeting his birth mother, who he had mourned his whole life, he was heartbroken to find how unwelcoming and unloving she was. Berkowitz was now fully triggered by rage and he had begun having delusions of conversations with dogs, which eventually led him down the dark path of turning into a serial killer.
4. Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins Was Badly Neglected As Child
Donald Gaskins gained his nickname “Pee Wee” based on his small frame as a child. Born in South Carolina, he was one of many illegitimate children and suffered a lot of neglect. When he was just 1-year-old, he drank a bottle of kerosene and suffered from severe convulsions for the next two years. His mother spared such little time for him that Pee Wee only learned his real first name when he appeared in court for a string of robberies.
In 1951, when he was 18-years-old, Pee Wee attacked a teenage girl with a hammer as the result of an alleged insult and that was just the very beginning of his violent timeline. From 1975 to 1982, he claims he killed and mutilated more than 100 victims although he was only convicted of killing nine. His outlandish claims could not be verified before he was executed by electric chair so we’ll never really know the true extent of his evil.
3. Charles Albright’s Mother Taught Him Taxidermy Skills
Charles Albright is one of the most depraved serial killers ever to come out of Texas. During his younger years, his adoptive mother adored her son but would obsess over him, changing his clothes three times a day to keep him ‘clean’. To encourage him never get dirty, she took him to a polio ward for sick children at a local hospital and told him if he was ever to get dirty then: “You can spend the rest of your life here.”
His mother also showed him taxidermy as they both had an interest in stuffed animals, which would later take a sinister turn when he was charged with three counts of murder. Albright’s signature as a serial killer was to remove the eyes of all three female victims with surgical precision gaining him the name “The Eyeball Killer.” From loving little mama’s boy to a sinister trophy collector, his crimes came to an end when he was sentenced to life in prison.
2. Charles Manson Was Named “No Name Maddox” On His Birth Certificate
Cult leader Charles Manson orchestrated the brutal slayings of actress Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant and her close friends in a murder case that shook the world. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Manson didn’t have the best start in life as his 16-year-old mother was an alcoholic who wrote on his birth certificate: ‘No Name Maddox.” She even tried to trade him with a waitress for a pitcher of beer.
Above: Manson as a baby (edited in color)
When he was 9-years-old, Manson set his school on fire and ended up in a reform school as his mother refused to take him back in. He said of this turning point in his life, “The only thing my mother ever taught me was that everything she said was a lie. And I learned never to believe anyone about anything.” This early rejection was just the start of Manson’s long criminal history that claimed the lives of many innocent victims. Sentenced to life in prison, he died behind bars at the age of 83-years-old in 2017.
1. Ed Gein’s Mother Preached That Women Were True Evil
In 1906, Ed Gein was born in Wisconsin to a mother named Augusta who was a devout Lutheran. She believed sex was a sin and that her two sons – Ed and his older brother Henry – should not be exposed to any temptation. She preached that women were harlots and the real abominations of the world.
Above: Augusta Gein and the Gein Family Home
The family moved to a remote farm in Plainfield and they lived in isolation. When Augusta died age 67-years-old, Ed had lost the only woman he had ever loved and that’s when the real horror story had begun. He killed two victims and also dug up the graves of many other females. Police later found at his home; human skin covering several chair seats, skulls on his bedposts, bowls made from human skulls and more gag-worthy homemade items nobody should dare to image search. You know you have serious mommy issues when you are the inspiration behind the film Pyscho.