8 Times Police Let Serial Killers Escape Justice

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Imagine that the police have a serial killer in custody, and they allow them to slip away. That may sound like the beginning of a juicy Lifetime movie or a crime thriller, but believe it or not, it has happened in real life more than you think.

There have been many cases in which a killer escaped police custody and went out to kill again.

Sometimes the killer is just really crafty. Sometimes there isn’t enough evidence for a formal charge. No matter the reason, it’s maddening to know a killer is on the loose.

Most of the time, police officers are amazing at their jobs. They follow the procedures and solve the crimes and capture the bad guy.

Detectives are amazing at finding the evidence needed to get criminals off the street.

It goes right much more than it goes wrong, but when it goes wrong, the results can be catastrophic.

Here are 8 examples of times that killers got away from the police.

1. Arthur Sawcross

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Arthur Sawcross was active as a serial killer during the 70s and 80s. In 1990, he was found guilty of murder, 10 counts.

He did his killing during two separate time periods. The first was in the early 1970s. He raped and killed two children. Jack Blake was ten years old and Karen Ann Hill, who was eight.

In 1972, he confessed to these horrendous crimes, and was sentenced to 25 years.

When he was at the 15 year mark, he was released from prison on parole. It was 1987.

He began killing again almost immediately. Over the next two years, he mutilated and killed eleven sex workers.

Eventually, he was captured again when he was seen by a police helicopter when visiting one of the bodies.

This time, he got a life sentence, and he died in prison in 2008.

H/T – Source

2. Henry Lee Lucas

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Henry Lee Lucas was perhaps one of the most ruthless and evil killers that ever lived. His story of murder, rape, and cannibalism will chill your bones.

Along with his accomplice, and also his lover, Ottis Toole, he claims to have killed hundreds of people.

Toole confessed to the murder of Adam Walsh. He was the son of America’s Most Wanted host, John Walsh. Lack of evidence and the fact that he later recanted left the case still open and unsolved. Later, he confessed again, on his deathbed.

Over twenty-three years, Lucas was caught two times, and later released. He killed his own mom in 1960, and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years for that crime. He served 10 years, and was released in 1970.

After being released, he was again arrested, this time for molesting teenage girls, in 1971. He ended up serving time for a reduced charge of kidnapping. He was granted parole once again in 1975.

After that, he killed a number of people, an exact figure isn’t known. He confessed to around 350, but most cannot be substantiated. Three, including his mother, have been confirmed.

It’s troubling that he was in custody two times, and let back into the world to kill again and again.

H/T – Source

3. John Christie

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In the 40s and 50s, at least 6 people, all women, were killed by British serial killer John Christie.

His MO was to feign knowledge of abortion, which was illegal, or some other surgical procedure. He’d gas them supposedly to perform surgery, and then he would rape and kill them.

Timothy and Beryl Evans moved into the building where Christie lived and in 1949, Beryl and her baby turned up missing. John Christie was supposedly going to perform a procedure on Beryl, but she and her daughter, Geraldine, wound up strangled.

Christie wasn’t suspected, because he was so well respected in the community. Timothy Evans ended up admitting to the accidental death of his family, even though he wasn’t the perpetrator. He later recanted, and named Christie as the killer, telling the police of a botched operation.

He was ignored, and John Christie testified against Evans, helping convict him for murders he didn’t commit. Timothy Evans was hanged for killing his family in March, 1950.

He was later pardoned, but it was too late to spare his life.

Christie killed 4 more women over the next few years. He was eventually caught and hanged for his crimes in 1953.

H/T – Source

4. Ted Bundy

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Ted Bundy is one of the most well known serial killers of all time. He admitted to the murders of well over 30 women, but the actual number is probably closer to 100.

He killed in a total of seven states in a four year period from 1974-1978. His murder spree began in Washington, where he committed two murders in public at a park one day. There were hundreds of people there. He was good at luring women to remote areas, so he could kill them.

The police knew his first name only, and that he owned a tan Volkswagen. That’s what they went on at the beginning of the investigation.

They would have no luck, however, because Ted then moved on to Utah, where he went to law school.

Bundy had a girlfriend named Elizabeth Kloepfer and she was aware of his strange behavior. She started to suspect her Ted and the Ted wanted by police were one and the same.

She took action and reported him to police on three separate occasions, noting how he resembled the police sketches. She reported his unusual habits, such as keeping a set of crutches with him, which we later learned was to get people to help him by faking an injury.


She even found him attempting to destroy evidence once.

Law enforcement was inundated with literally hundreds of leads that they could not keep up with.

He was pulled over in 1975, and his rape and murder tools were discovered. He was believed to be the Ted who had been wanted for the murders for some time.

He was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to 15 years for it. While serving time for that, they did link him to the murders and charged him.

However, he was able to defend himself, and was so articulate and charming that they left him alone in the law library to do research and he jumped from a window on the second floor and escaped.

Almost a week later, he was caught in Colorado. While in jail this time, he escaped by going through the ceiling, stealing keys and he walked out like nothing.

He was able to remain free even after all of this, until he was finally captured and arrested in Florida, where he was put to death in the late 80s.

H/T – Source

5. Ed Kemper

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Ed Kemper, also know as the Co-ed killer, was so brazen that he would commit his murders in public, and then hang out in bars and steal to police at length about the serial killer on the loose.

His murdering ways started back in the 1960s, when he killed his grandparents. He was placed into a hospital for the criminally insane in 1964, and released just five years later to his mother.

Then he started his reign of killing female college students. He would pick them up as hitchhikers, and subsequently kill them, cut off their heads, and rape their dead bodies.

He would lock them in his trunk, and sometimes keep their bodies in his home for days after he killed them.

In 1973, he murdered his own mom and then turned himself in to the police.

H/T – Source

6. Gary Ridgeway

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Most of us have heard of the Green River Killer, but do you know his story? It is horrifying to say the least.

His reign of terror lasted nearly two decades, from 1982-1998. Some think he may have even been responsible for at least one murder in 2001.

He was once on a list of likely suspects, and police even spoke to him at his house on one occasion. Subpar DNA analysis and lack of incontrovertible evidence forced police to let him go.

He seemed totally normal on the surface, even keeping his composure while being grilled by detectives.

This led to the officers second guessing their clues that led to him in the first place.

They had him right there, but then he was free to keep on killing. He was ultimately tried and found guilty of 49 murders. He confessed to more than 70, and it is believed that he actually killed almost 100 people.

H/T – Source

7. Andrei Chikatilo

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Ukrainian born Andrei Chikatilo raped and killed more than 50 people. He was charged with 53, and convicted of 52. He claims to have killed 56.

He had many personal struggles, including anxiety, shyness and even sexual dysfunction.

Called the Butcher of Rostov, he found his victims at train stations and other public spaces located near forests or secluded spaces. He lured pretty young girls to those spaces to kill them.

He got his first victim, Yelena Zakotnova, on December 22, 1978. He stabbed her, raped her,
And choked her to death. Police found her blood in some snow near her body where it was disposed, and they had an eyewitness statement that said he was with her.

Even with that evidence, Aleksandr Kravchenko ended up being arrested and ultimately executed for that murder in 1984.

Another time they almost had him came after he had been killing for a decade. Chikalito was arrested for touching a female passenger on a train inappropriately. Upon searching his things, they discovered rape kits and a knife.

They took a blood sample to try and match it with blood and other bodily fluids from the unsolved murders, but a mix up allowed him to remain a free man again.

He wouldn’t be caught for another 6 years.

H/T – Source

8. Jeffrey Dahmer

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Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer and cannibal who killed 17 boys and men between 1978 and 1991.

He would do strange things such as drilling holes into his victims heads while they were drugged to attempt making live zombies, and doing photo shoots with the dead bodies.

In May of 1991, an Asian teenager, 14, was found wandering in the streets after being drugged by Dahmer. Dahmer has planned to kill the boy, but passed out after drinking too much.

When police found the boy, witnesses were interviewed, and Dahmer somehow made the officers believe the boy was his lover and that he was 19 years old and had just drank too much.

Witnesses tried to let the police know that it wasn’t true, but the cops let Dahmer take the young boy home with him. Of course, he was killed and dismembered after that.

H/T – Source


Written by Amanda Johnson

Amanda Johnson is a former Army brat who resides in southern Alabama. She is married to her wonderful husband, Brian, and has four children; Justin, Nicolas, Molly, and Lucas. She loves reading, writing, cooking, and going to concerts. She also loves spending time at the beach and hopes to retire there someday.

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