Ah, murderers. There’s just something so interesting about the worst people in history. We’re obsessed with what motivates them and how they work, especially with the weird little quirks that all the major ones seem to have.
There are calling cards left on the scene, cryptic notes to authorities, and others, but the best serial killer quirk is the trophies (and we’re talking about killers here, so best actually means worst). Whether to relive their crimes, prove them, or just to build a human skin suit, killers sometimes take from those they’ve killed—and some of what they take is insane. More insane than usual, even. This list ranks ten of the weirdest, wildest, or most gruesome trophies killers have ever harvested from their victims.
10 The Eyes: Charles Albright
The media has always had a habit of nicknaming every killer they possibly could, and if the killer has ever taken trophies, then there’s your name. That’s certainly true of our first entry, Charles Albright, known as “The Eyeball Killer.”
Albright spent most of his adult life hopping from one crime to another. Theft, illegal weapons, assault, fraud, and his transgressions only escalated. By the time he sexually molested a minor, it was clear that his mental state was degrading. He then moved on to murder, even mutilating the victim’s bodies. His trophies were their eyeballs, which authorities never found despite his arrest and conviction.
9 Camping Gear?: Ivan Milat
You may know Ivan Milat as the “Backpacker Murderer” or as “Australia’s worst serial killer,” but what you might not know is the unusual trophy collection he amassed from his seven victims.
Milat targeted backpackers, offering them rides and then driving them into the forest, where he shot and/or stabbed them. His victims were apparently on their way to or coming from a camping trip, as he chose to take their camping supplies as trophies. When police searched Milat’s home, they found, in their own words, an “Aladdin’s Cave” of camping gear. Sleeping bags, a portable stove, canteens—you name it. And, for some insane reason, Ivan Milat killed for it.
8 Their Baby: John Edward Robinson
Over his lifetime, John Edward Robinson earned no shortage of cruel accolades. He was a scam artist, embezzler, and forger, and his most famous title was “the Internet’s first serial killer” due to his habit of luring victims via chat rooms. Yet another dark deed of Robinson’s came in the form of one possession he stole from one of his victims: their four-month-old daughter.
Robinson met Lisa Stasi in 1985 while she was down on her luck and staying at a women’s shelter in Kansas City. Under a fake name and posing as someone more successful and less murder-prone, Robinson offered Stasi a job, a home, and a better life. Instead, Robinson killed Staci and stole her daughter. Stasi’s body was never found, but the child fared better, thankfully. Robinson only kept her for a short while before giving her to his brother and sister-in-law. Evidently, they were unaware of her kidnapping. They raised her like they would have their own daughter in the end.
7 “The Screaming Boy”: Chris Busch
This entry is a weird one because the trophy in question came only from a serial killer suspect, and therefore could be no trophy at all.
The identity of the Oakland County Child Killer, who killed at least four children in 1970s Michigan, was never conclusively determined. However, one of the suspects, Chris Busch, stood out, if only for the possible trophy. Busch allegedly committed suicide (which is debatable and worth looking into further), and at the scene, taped to the wall above his dead body, was a hand-drawn picture. It showed a young boy, seemingly screaming in pain, who bore a striking resemblance to one of the confirmed victims, a young boy named Mark Stebbins.
6 Bathtubs of Blood: Elizabeth Báthory
Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed was a Hungarian noblewoman whose misdeeds have become legends. Over the years, the stories of her cruel and cannibalistic acts have grown, to the point where she has been hypothesized to be a possible inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But there is very likely a true core to her legend. Elizabeth Báthory tortured and killed hundreds of young women. The real question is whether or not she kept containers of their blood for drinking and bathing.
Historians disagree on the legitimacy of those claims, citing them as either propaganda, fear-mongering, or just idle gossip. It is true that, as a child, Báthory’s doctors prescribed rubbing on and drinking healthy, young blood to treat her seizures. Combined with her targeting of healthy young virgin women and her extreme sadism, it seems possible that the blood remained a part of Báthory’s life through adulthood, too.
5 37 X’s Mark the Spot: Robert Hansen
How Robert Hansen murdered a possible 37 women sounds like it could only happen in a movie. After kidnapping and torturing his victims, Hansen would fly them out into the remote Alaska wilderness, release them into the frigid wilds, and hunt them for sport. The trophy he kept? A map, hidden behind his headboard, with little X’s on it everywhere he dumped one of their bodies.
The most chilling feature of the map is that Hansen had written 37 X’s on it, while only 17 of his victims have been confirmed. Some of the 17 were found at locations the X’s denoted, including bodies that were previously unknown as Hansen’s victims. This strongly points to the legitimacy of the map, then further suggesting that potentially 20 more of Hansen’s victims await discovery to this day.
4 Their Voice: Eddie Leonski
At first mention, it may seem like killer Eddie Leonski shouldn’t make this list. After all, after three murders, he never once left the scene with a trophy. Instead, Leonski earns his spot because he carried out every murder for the sole purpose of obtaining trophies—he simply failed every time. He failed because it was impossible to harvest the desperately desired trophies, namely women’s voices.
In 1942, while Leonski was an active service member in the U.S. Army during World War II, he strangled three women. From witness reports, it was clear that he had attempted to murder several others similarly. When picked out of a lineup by multiple women, Leonski confessed to his crimes. His reason? Like Ursula the Sea Witch, he was desperately jealous of women’s singing voices and only killed to “get at their voices” himself.
3 Feet, Socks, Shoes: Jerry Brudos
If Jerry Brudos were just into feet, he would be off this list and instead featured in “Top 10 Kinks that You Should Stop Shaming. Who Cares, Anyway? I Mean, Come On” (Name still in alpha). But Brudos loved feet too much. Far too much.
Brudos loved feet so much that he would murder women, cut off their feet, and keep the rotting appendages as models for his shoe collection—also partially taken from his victims. Though feet were by far Brudos’s biggest fetish, it’s worth noting that he also kept victims’ breasts to make plastic molds of them for use as paperweights.
2 Just Everything: David Parker Ray
Suspected of more than 60 murders, David Parker Ray, also known as the Toy-Box Killer, is one of history’s most prolific serial killers. If even half the allegations against him, many by his closest friends and accomplices, are true, then Ray was an abnormally twisted, wicked individual. As befitting such a rare beast, the trophies he took from his victims are horrifying, both in content and in quantity.
The FBI maintains a website that lists, with pictures, every trophy of Ray’s thought to have come from a murder victim. The many trophy pictures are heartbreaking especially knowing the inhuman amount of torture he subjected his victims to. Many are jewelry, but some are personal and intimate. Worst of all, some of them clearly came from young children. Scroll through the collection at your own risk.
1 The Dog: John George Haigh
You don’t get the nickname “The Acid Bath Murderer” because you’re a great guy. But there are even worse things than killing and dissolving people. Specifically, there is stealing someone’s dog, which is as bad as it gets. That’s why John George Haigh, The Acid Bath Murderer, makes it to the top of this list.
In a nutshell, Haigh’s original story revolves around him going to prison for fraud and realizing that the best crimes leave no witnesses or evidence. Hence, when he was released and returned to his life of crime, he started tying up loose ends and throwing them in vats of acid. However, his worst crime came after he murdered Archibald and Rose Henderson to steal their possessions and sell them off. Though he sold most of their estate, he decided to keep and raise their dog for some reason. That’s a tremendous insult to add to an already immense injury.