Money, revenge, pure insanity—these are the main reasons why these women committed their crimes. Some operated alone, and some had accomplices, but they had one thing in common: pure evil.
10 Beverley Allitt
Beverley Allitt was born in 1968 and started working as a pediatric nurse in 1991. During a period of 58 days, she murdered four children and attacked another nine, who were lucky enough to survive. From an early age, she showed signs of Münchausen syndrome and later Münchausen by proxy, which may explain her actions. Münchausen is a mental disorder in which a person feigns illness or trauma to attract attention. She was finally arrested and tried at Nottingham Crown Court in 1993, pleading not guilty. She received 13 life sentences for murder and attempted murder.
9 Raya And Sakina
Sisters Raya and Sakina ran a drug and prostitution ring (along with their spouses) in Alexandria. Being business women, they saw great financial opportunity in killing and robbing women. Their victims were known to wear gold jewelry and carry large amounts of money. The sisters would lure the victim into a rented house where one of the husbands would suffocate them. Afterward, the body was stripped of valuables and buried under the house. The disappearances didn’t go unnoticed, and the investigations eventually led back to them. Both couples received death sentences. Raya and Sakina were the first women to be executed in modern Egypt.
8 Martha Needle
Born in 1863 in Morgan, South Australia, Martha Charles grew up in a poor and abusive family and showed signs of instability from an early age. In 1882, she married Henry Needle and had three children: Mabel, Elsie, and May. By 1891, she poisoned all four of her family members, one by one. She then collected the insurance money, most of which she used for a family grave that she often visited.
A year later, she was hired as a housekeeper by two brothers: Otto and Louis Junken. She began an affair with Otto, but Louis opposed the engagement. He mysteriously fell ill and died a few months later. Otto’s second brother, Herman, also fell ill after moving in with the couple. This time, the autopsy revealed the arsenic Martha was feeding Herman. An investigation began, and the bodies of her husband, children, and Louis body were exhumed. All but Mabel tested positive for arsenic. Martha professed her innocence in court but was found guilty and sentenced to death. Surprisingly, Otto stuck by her side to the end.
7 Jeanne Weber
Jeanne Weber was born in 1874 and had three children, two of whom died in 1905. In March of that year, she murdered four children by strangulation, including her third (and last) son and two nieces. All of them showed visible signs of strangulation that were ignored by the physicians who examined the bodies. That April, Weber stayed home with her 10-year-old nephew while her two sisters-in-law went out shopping. When they came back early, they found Maurice gasping for air and Weber standing over him with a crazed expression on her face.
Eight murder charges were filed, including all three of her children and two others who died in her care. She was acquitted on February 1906 due to her brilliant lawyer and misguided jurors. She then started working as a babysitter, which resulted in two more deaths. In 1908, a father found her strangling his 10-year-old son and had to punch her three times to make her let go of the lifeless body. Weber was ultimately declared insane and spent two years in an asylum before hanging herself in 1910.
6 Juana Barraza
Juana Barraza was born in 1956. Her mother was an alcoholic who traded her own daughter to a man for three beers. That man repeatedly raped Barraza, who gave birth to four of his children. Experts believe that Barraza began her killings sometime around 1990. Her victims were always women over 60—typically ones who lived alone. Posing as a government official, she would gain access to the victims’ houses and then murder and rob them.
Witnesses led the police to believe the suspect was a male dressed in women’s clothes due to Barraza’s masculine features. Imagine their surprise when they arrested a woman who was trying to flee the house of the latest victim. Fingerprints taken from Barraza linked her to 10 murders, but at least 40 more were suspected.
Barraza confessed to four murders but denied involvement in all other cases. She was tried in 2008 and found guilty on 16 charges of murder and aggravated burglary and 11 separate counts of murder. She was sentenced to 759 years in prison.
5 Helene Jegado
Helene Jegado was born in 1803, and she was trained as a domestic servant at an early age. Like most women, Jegado poisoned her victims with arsenic. Her first suspected poisoning was in 1833. Seven people died over three months, including a priest and Jegado’s own sister. Due to a recent cholera outburst in the area, no one suspected anything. In 1850, she poisoned several servants in another household. When the doctors requested an autopsy for one of the victims, Jegado declared her innocence out of the blue, before she was even suspected. She was arrested and tried in 1851 but was accused only of three murders, three attempted murders and 11 thefts. Jegado denied all accusations but was found guilty, sentenced to death by guillotine, and executed in 1852.
4 Maria Swanenburg
Maria Swanenburg received the nickname Goede Mie (Good Me) because she loved to care for the children and ill people in her poor neighborhood. Over the course of three years, she poisoned every family she worked for, starting with her own parents. She would then collect the inheritance of the deceased, claiming she earned it for her services—often leaving no money to cover a burial. Some of her victims managed to escape death but sustained irreparable damage. The survivors eventually led to her discovery.
She was caught in 1883 and tried for 90 murders—but found guilty of only three. She was sentenced to life in a correctional facility, where she died in 1915.
3 Amelia Sach And Annie Walters
Sach and Walters, better known as the Finchley Baby Farmers, also began their horrible operation in hopes of wealth. Sach owned two “lying-in” homes in London around 1900. One day, she started advertising that babies “could be left” and cared for—for a fee, of course. The clients were mostly servant girls who couldn’t keep both their children and their jobs. Parents were charged both for lying-in and for the adoption to a total amount of £25 to £30.
After a baby was born, Walters would poison it with chlorodyne. They were caught after Walters raised the suspicion of her landlord (who was also a police officer). A total number of victims could not be determined. Sach and Walters were tried and sentenced to death by hanging in 1903.
2 Vera Renczi
Vera Renczi was born to a wealthy family in 1903. Renczi was beautiful, and she was known to be involved with older men from the age of 15. Early childhood friends described Renczi as possessive and jealous. Her first marriage was with a wealthy businessman, who fathered her son Lorenzo. Renczi suspected him of cheating, so she poisoned his wine with arsenic, claiming he abandoned her to anyone who asked.
Her second husband disappeared the same way a few months later. Renczi decided she had enough of marriage—but not of men. Her boyfriends kept vanishing until she was reported to the police by an angry wife (she dated married men too). Searching her house, the police found a scene right out of an Edgar Allan Poe tale in her wine cellar: 32 male bodies in various stages of decomposition, each in his own coffin. She also murdered her son Lorenzo when he discovered her secret. Renczi confessed to all the murders and was sentenced to life in prison, where she died of brain hemorrhage.
1 Magdalena Solis
Magdalena Solis (also known as the High Priestess of Blood) was a Mexican serial killer and cult member. She became a prostitute at a young age and is one of the few documented cases of female serial killers who had clear sexual motivations.
In 1963, Solis and her brother were contacted by a pair of criminals, the Hernandez brothers. They tricked the poor and illiterate people of a small town into believing they were prophets of the Inca gods. The villagers would pay economical and sexual taxes to the brothers, after being promised that the gods would reward them with treasures.
After a few months, the villagers realized they weren’t getting any richer, despite doing everything the “prophets” said. That’s when the brothers claimed Magdalena was the reincarnation of a goddess—to restore faith. Magdalena demanded human sacrifice and devised a ritual that consisted of the brutal beating, burning, cutting, and maiming of the victim. The priests would drink the victim’s blood after mixing it with chicken blood. In the last sacrifices, they reached the point of dissecting the heart of the victim alive.
In May 1963, a 14-year-old local accidentally witnessed one of those rituals. He immediately reported it to the police, and a detective escorted him back to the village. That was the last day either was seen alive, resulting in a further police investigation. The Solis siblings were arrested and the Hernandez brothers killed. Magdalena and Eleazar were sentenced to 50 years in prison for only two homicides (those of the boy and the detective) because the police were unable to confirm their participation in the other murders.