7 Famous Serial Killers From Ohio
by Daniel Lukacs
July 11, 2017
Some very famous serial killers, like Jeffery Dahmer, hail from Ohio, but they are connected to murders committed elsewhere, like Wisconsin. Though most of the following offenders listed below committed murder all over the country, they were born in Ohio.
1. Robert Berdella (Cuyahoga Falls; 1984-1987; Kansas City, Missouri; 6)
The former owner of Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar moved to Kansas City, and is likely to have started killing during the summer of 1984. Berdella drugged and kidnapped men that he met in bars or on the streets. After torturing and raping them, usually for weeks at a time, he suffocated them. Thanks to the escape of his last victim, Berdella was arrested and charged with multiple counts of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder.
Though the bodies of his victims were never found, police did find journals and volumes of pictures that chronicled his crimes. His victims were subjected to electric shock, bleach in their eyes, injection of drain cleaner in to their vocal cords, and repeated rape. They were then dismembered, stuffed in trash bags, and dumped in a landfill.
2. Thomas Lee Dillon (Canton; 1989-92; Indiana, Michigan, Ohio; 5)
Dillon was a serial sniper found guilty of killing five men. Directed by voices in his head, Dillon killed people randomly. According to attending psychiatrists, Dillon’s delusions of grandeur spilled over into the reality of his life, and the lives of his victims. His victims were killed by a high-powered rifle while they participated in outdoor activities, sometimes hundreds of miles from Dillon’s home.
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Authorities did not link them until Dillon sent a letter to a local paper. After the FBI put together a criminal profile of the killer, a friend of Dillon’s brought him to the attention of authorities.
3. Edward Edwards (Akron; 1976, 1980, 1996; Ohio, Wisconsin; 5)
Edwards spoke about prison reform and promoted his book about the subject after his release from prison in 1969, when he served time for robbery and unlawful interstate flight. Three years later he would commit his first convicted murder.
In 2010, in his late 70s, Edwards confessed to killing two couples. One couple were shot in the neck in 1977, and another was killed in Silver Creek Park in 1980. The woman had been raped and strangled, and the man had been stabbed. Edwards shot his foster son in 1996. He is considered a viable suspect by authorities in the Zodiac, The West Memphis Three, Jon Benet Ramsey, and other lesser known murders.
4. Donald Harvey (Butler County; 1970-87; Kentucky, Ohio; 37)
Harvey belongs to that group of killers known as “angels of mercy,” who claim to kill for the benefit of the victim. Harvey was convicted of 37 of his more than 57 suspected murders. He has confessed to as many as 87.
Harvey used different methods to kill his victims; suffocation with a pillow, turning off an oxygen tank, and a variety of drug overdoses. He once stuck a coat hanger in a patient’s catheter, and the man died days later from an infection.
When Harvey was hired at the Cincinnati V.A. Medical Hospital, he managed to collect over 30 pounds of cyanide, which he kept in his home. He also kept diaries and detailed notes on each of his victims, including how he murdered them.
5. Gary Heidnik (Eastlake, 1986-87, Pennsylvania, 2)
Heidnik put fellow serial offender Ariel Castro, also from Ohio, to shame when he abducted, tortured, and imprisoned six women in his basement in one year. The two victims that he murdered were fed to the remaining four, who were routinely exposed to excessive torture, electrocution, and starvation. Using the women against one another, he promised better treatment, food, etc., for information about captives who broke the rules.
One of Heidnik’s captives convinced him that she could be trusted to leave the house, she had already been allowed to roam throughout the house away from the basement, and promised to bring him a new captive when she returned. She brought the authorities instead. Heidnik’s ability to successfully invest his money, he had amassed over half a million dollars, was used as proof of competency at this trial.
6. Michael Madison (Cleveland, 2012-13, Ohio, 3)
Already a convicted sex offender, for which he completed a program and received treatment, Madison was later charged with aggravated murder. Rape and necrophilia were extenuating circumstances of his capital crimes. His three convicted cases involved young women he assaulted and strangled. Authorities were called to investigate a foul odor coming from property leased in Madison’s name. The decomposed remains of one body were found just inside the door of the garage. Two more bodies were discovered in the backyard of the same property, and the basement of a nearby vacant house the next day.
The remains of all three women were found wrapped in plastic bags. Police later found evidence that Madison kept the bodies in the home for a significant length of time.
7. Anthony Sowell (Cleveland, 2007-09, Ohio, 11)
At the time of Sowell’s arrest, seven dead bodies were found around his home, two in his living room, and five more throughout the dwelling, one only a head in a basket. During the extended search of the property, four more bodies were recovered, along with a freshly dug shallow grave. A woman who was brought back to the house and drugged and raped, escaped and lodged a complaint with the police.
Sowell’s activities went on for so long that for years he was known as “the smelly guy” by his neighbors. After many complaints from several different neighbors, police finally investigated his residence. They found him living in horrible conditions, his victims scattered about the cluttered and infested house.
Though most serial killers are supposed to be white, male, and 20-35 years of age, the Ohio serial killer seems to enjoy an equal opportunity serial killer state.
The state is the home of the NFL and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame, perhaps they need one for the serial killers from Ohio. Thank you for reading.