Very Bloody Valentines: 11 Infamous Killer Couples
Deadly duos whose lethal love turned terrifying and tragic
Photo By: JEFFREY Z. CARNEY
Photo By: Bettmann
Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka
Known worldwide as “the Ken and Barbie Killers” for their striking charisma and wholesome good looks, Canadian couple Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka horrified humanity with three sexual torture-murders of underage girls between 1990 and 1992 — including Karla’s own 15-year-old sister, Tammy Homolka.
After a December 1990 family Christmas party, Paul and Karla drugged Tammy with Valium and animal tranquilizer. They both then raped Tammy while she was unconscious. Shortly thereafter, Tammy died by choking on her own vomit, and the couple successfully made it look like an accident — at first.
Six months later, Paul kidnapped 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy after she attended a friend’s wake. Over the next 24 hours, Paul and Karla drugged, raped, and tortured the child, grotesquely giving her a teddy bear to hold between bouts of sexual violence.
Leslie died at some point on June 15, 1991. Paul and Karla dismembered her body with a circular saw and encased the pieces in concrete, which they then sunk in Lake Gibson, near St. Catharines, Ontario. Two weeks later, the concrete block was discovered, and Tammy was identified by her dental records. Later, police would discover a videotape of the child’s fatal ordeal.
On April 16, 1992, Paul and Karla attacked and abducted 15-year-old Kristen French from a church parking lot, in view of several eyewitnesses. As with prior victims, the couple sexually tortured and humiliated Kristen, but her agony went on for three full days — all of which was recorded on video.
In 1993, authorities hunted relentlessly for a fiend they deemed “the Scarborough Rapist.” With the cops closing in, Karla Homolka told her uncle that Paul Bernardo was the culprit. Authorities stormed Paul’s home and discovered shocking evidence, including the videotapes of the crimes.
Karla’s coming forward led to a controversial plea bargain in which she testified against Paul and got just 12 years for manslaughter. Karla made the arrangement before police discovered the videos that depicted her as an active participant in the rapes and murders. Prosecutors said they never would have made the offer had they seen the videos earlier. Karla Homolka walked free in 2005.
Paul Bernardo, in turn, was convicted on all counts and was ordered to serve a life term of at least 25 years, the harshest penalty allowed by Canada. In 2018, he was denied parole. [CrimeFeed]
For more on this case, watch "The Perfect Couple" episode of Investigation Discovery's Wicked Attraction on ID GO now!
Photos: Paul Bernardo [Kingston Penitentiary]; Karla Homolka [AP Images]
Gwendolyn Graham & Cathy Wood
Professional caregivers Gwendolyn Graham and Katherine Wood met on the job in 1986 at the Alpine Manor nursing home in Walker, Michigan. Friendship bloomed, followed by romance, and, then, serial murder.
In January 1987, Wood used a washcloth to fatally smother an elderly Alzheimer’s patient while Graham stood lookout. Graham later reportedly said she killed the woman to “relieve her tension.” The murder instantly bonded the pair who, in time, would come to be nicknamed “The Lethal Lovers.”
Over the next year, Wood and Graham reportedly made a game of killing four more weak and incapacitated residents, selecting them by their first initials, in an attempt to spell out the word “M-U-R-D-E-R.” Their victims ranged in age from 65 to 97.
Graham and Wood split up in 1988, after Graham reportedly got romantic with another female worker at Alpine Manor. That same year, Wood told her ex-husband about the killings and he immediately contacted the police.
In exchange for less prison time, Wood pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She got 20 years for each count, and has been eligible for parole since 2005.
Despite some observers questioning Wood’s credibility in fingering her former girlfriend as the mastermind, a jury ended up convicting Graham of five counts of murder in 1989, and she received five life sentences. [History]
For more on this case, watch the "Our Little Secret" episode of Investigation Discovery's Wicked Attraction on ID GO now!
Photos: Gwendolyn Graham & Catherine May Wood [Kent County Sheriff's Department]
Jack Williams & Kayleigh Woods
The murder of Bethany Hill, 20, at the hands of her ex, Jack Williams, 21, and his transgender girlfriend Kayleigh Woods, 23, turned out to be a kinky killing with an unexpected toy twist.
Hill, Williams, and Woods all shared an apartment in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, where the crime took place. On February 3, 2015, Williams and Wood tied up Hill, bound her hands, and used a knife to slash her throat, fatally slicing into her jugular vein.
At least 12 hours later, Woods called police to say that her “best friend” was dead and to claim she had no idea how it happened. Officers discovered Hill’s body in a blood-soaked bathroom. Later, Woods would claim that Williams had abused her, killed Hill by himself, and then pressured her into covering up the homicide.
Investigators eventually found a “fetish Barbie doll” that Williams and Wood reportedly practiced torturing and cutting up before enacting those real horrors on Bethany Hill.
Both Williams and Wood were convicted of murder and each received a maximum sentence of 26 years to life. [CrimeFeed]
Photo: Fetish Barbie victim [Worcestershire Police]
Doug Clark & Carol Bundy
Between June and August 1980, Los Angeles laborer Doug Clark and his barfly accomplice Carol M. Bundy turned their passion for having threesomes with prostitutes into an orgy of rape, torture, murder, mutilation, and even necrophilia.
As the bodies piled up around Hollywood that dark, hot summer, the duo’s doings was initially believed to be the work of a lone psycho called “The Sunset Strip Killer.”
Shortly after sexually abusing an 11-year-old female neighbor on June 1, Clark brought home teenage runaways Gina Marano and Cynthia Chandler. After forcing them to perform oral sex on him, he fatally shot the girls, and then raped their corpses.
Twelve days later, Clark picked up a pair of prostitutes, Karen Jones and Exxie Wilson, who he shot to death in his car. After decapitating Wilson, he dumped their remains out in the open, then took the head home for a later “bout of necrophilia.”
Three days after the double murder, the body of runaway Marnette Comer turned up in a wooded area. A medical exam determined that she died three weeks prior and was therefore Clark’s first victim. Clark is also believed to have murdered a young girl who remains unidentified.
Carol Bundy helped Clark cover the crimes, but her drinking habit got her talking. After drunkenly mentioning the atrocities to Jack Murray, her ex, Bundy lured him into his own van where she had sex with him, killed him with a shotgun, and then cut off his head. Bundy left behind sloppy evidence such as spent shell casings, however, which led police to the killer couple.
After two days in custody, Bundy confessed everything and fingered Clark. She pleaded guilty and got 52-years-to-life. Clark was sentenced to death in 1983, but died in prison 20 years later from heart failure. [Murderpedia]
For more on this case, watch the "Murder on the Sunset Strip" episode of Investigation Discovery's Vanity Fair Confidential on ID GO now!
Photos: Doug Clark [LAPD]; Carol M. Bundy [California Department of Corrections]
Jeremy Steinke & Jasmine Richardson
In 2006, Jeremy Steinke, 26, and Jasmine Richardson, 12, met at a local punk rock show in Alberta, Canada, and, they say, fell in love.
Both the adult male and the female child were interested in goth fashions and wore ghoulish makeup. They were each also active on a social-media community known as Vampire Freaks. Online, Jasmine claimed to be 15. Jeremy, in turn, claimed to be a 300-year-old werewolf and, according to friends, Jasmine may have believed him.
An illegal romance bloomed, with Jasmine and Jeremy communicating via text and emails, ultimately plotting how they could be together — particularly after Jasmine’s parents balked at the prospect of their preteen daughter being involved with a man in his 20s.
At one point, Jasmine wrote: “I have a plan. It begins with me killing them and ends with me living with you.”
Jeremy replied to that idea with, “Well I love your plan but we need to get a little more creative with like details and stuff.”
Then, three days prior to the murders, Steinke wrote about the Richardsons in his online journal: “Their throats I want to slit. They will regret the sh– they have done. Especially when I see to it that they are gone. They shall pay for their insulince [sic]. Finally there shall be silence. Their blood shall be payment!”
The night before the assault, Jasmine and Jeremy ritualistically watched their favorite film, Natural Born Killers (1994). Jeremy later told a detective, “I think that’s the greatest love story of all time.”
On April 23, Steinke, disguised by a mask and brandishing a large knife, snuck into the family’s basement, where he stabbed Debra Richardson 12 times. Marc Richardson rushed to his wife’s aid and brawled with Steinke. The younger man ultimately dominated, stabbing Richardson 24 times, including nine deep wounds to the back.
From there, Jasmine joined Jeremy as they slipped up to brother Jacob’s bedroom, where the 8-year-old was asleep. Jasmine stabbed her brother four times, and Jeremy slit the boy’s throat from ear to ear. Afterward, the pair fled the scene. Cops tracked them down the next day.
Jeremy Steinke pleaded guilty and received three concurrent life sentences. Jasmine Richardson entered a plea of not guilty. In 2007, a jury convicted her of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced her to the maximum penalty allowable for a child of 12 years of age: 10 years, four of which would be in a psychiatric hospital and four under supervised probation.
As a result, Jasmine became the youngest person convicted for triple homicide in Canadian history. At age 23, she was paroled in 2016. If she remains out of trouble until 2020, the murders will be expunged from her record. [CrimeFeed]
Photos: Jeremy Steinke, Jasmine Richardson [Medicine Hat Police Services Handout]
Danny & Janice Buttrum
Neglected at birth and abused throughout her childhood, 15-year-old Janice Buttrum met and married 26-year-old divorced, violent dad-of-two Danny Buttrum in 1978 and, from there, nothing but even worse trouble followed.
Over the course of their two-year union, it’s estimated that Danny severely beat Janice 15 to 20 times, and at one point he became so convinced he might rape someone, he checked into a psych ward. Horribly, Danny’s suspicions about himself proved correct.
In 1980, the Buttrums moved into the low-rent Country Boy Motel in Dalton, Georgia, with their 19-month-old daughter, Marlena. Janice, now 17, was pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Once settled in, the couple befriended 19-year-old neighbor Demetra Faye Parker, who would babysit Marlena while Danny and Janice cruised bars to find group sex partners.
After failing to obtain anyone for a threesome on the night of September 3, the Buttrums, with Marlena in tow, burst into Demetra’s room. Both Danny and Janice raped, beat, and sodomized Demetra relentlessly.
Finally, Janice used a pocket knife to stab their teenage friend 97 times and to slice a long, cross-shaped wound across Demetra’s mid-section. Throughout it all, little Marlena crawled around the carnage, bearing witness to the savage demise of her beloved babysitter.
The next day, a motel worker discovered Demetra’s body and multiple witnesses said they saw the Buttrums enter and leave her room in the wee hours of the morning. Police picked up the couple almost immediately.
Both Danny and Janice Buttrum were sentenced to the electric chair; Janice actually became the youngest woman in Georgia history to receive the death penalty. Danny hanged himself a week after the verdict came in. Janice remained on Death Row until 1989, when her sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. [CrimeFeed]
Photo: Janice Buttrum [Georgia Department of Corrections]
Fred & Rosemary West
Between the two of them, married serial slayers Fred and Rosemary West raped, tortured, slaughtered, and/or mutilated at least a dozen young female victims in the UK — including their own daughters and other relatives.
Both Fred and Rosemary came of age suffering horrific sexual abuse, which some experts believe informed Fred’s inherent sadism, Rosemary’s work as a prostitute, and the sexual nature of the couple’s crimes. In addition, Fred often sliced off each victim’s toes and fingers to keep as trophies.
Beginning in 1967, the Wests’ heinous reign of rape, incest, and homicide lasted 20 years. Fred committed two murders on his own, while Rosemary killed her husband’s eight-year-old daughter Charmaine. Otherwise the couple acted as a single sinister unit.
The 1987 disappearance of their 16-year-old daughter Heather West finally led authorities to search the couple’s residence at 25 Cromwell Street — seven years later.
The location promptly became known as “The House of Horrors.” Heather’s severed skull and smashed bones were unearthed under the patio; it would later be revealed that Fred forced his son to help dig the hole. In all, investigators removed the remains of 10 girls from 25 Cromwell in 1994, collecting body parts and pieces that had been hidden for years.
While awaiting trial, Fred hanged himself in his prison cell on January 1, 1995. Before dying he claimed he had committed up to 30 murders in total.
On November 22, 1995, a jury convicted Rosemary on 10 counts of murder ,and she received a life sentence. To guarantee she would die in prison, Home Secretary Jack Straw issued a “whole life tariff,” only the second such degree issued against a woman in modern England. The first went to “Moors Murderer” Myra Hindley. [Independent]
For more on this case, watch the "Lethal Lovers" episode of Investigation Discovery's Deadly Women on ID GO now!
Photo: Fred and Rosemary West [AP Images]
Holly Harvey & Sandra Ketchum
By 2004, girlfriends Holly Harvey, 15, and Sandra Ketchum 16, had already been a couple for two years and were determined not to let anyone get in the way of their relationship — even if they had to kill them.
At the time, Holly’s mother was in jail and the teen was living with her grandparents, 73-year-old Carl Collier and 74-year-old Sarah Collier, who did not approve of homosexuality.
Holly and Sandra had also recently escalated their intoxicant use from alcohol and marijuana to cocaine and crystal meth. In addition, Holly had recently begun making violent threats, to the point that Carl told a relative that she had directly stated she was going to kill him and his wife.
On August 2, Holly and Sandra smoked pot laced with coke in the Colliers’ basement and decided that, in order to take the elderly couples’ truck, they’d have to stab them to death. That is precisely what the teenagers did.
In a fit of rage, Holly stabbed Sarah Collier more than 20 times. When Carl ran in to break up the melee, both Holly and Sandra stabbed him more than a dozen times. The teens then took cash, jewelry, and the keys to the truck.
Police tracked the young couple down four hours later via cellphone. Investigators later found a “to-do” note in Holly’s handwriting that made their plan clear: “Kill-Keys-Money-Jewelry.”
Holly Harvey received two life sentences. Sandra Ketchum got three life sentences, to be served consecutively. [CrimeFeed]
For more on this case, watch the "Deadly Love" episode of Investigation Discovery's Killer Instinct With Chris Hanson on ID GO now!
Photos: Holly Harvey (left) and Sandra Ketchum [Georgia State Department of Corrections]
Ray & Faye Copeland
The oldest couple to ever receive the death penalty in the United States, married farm folk Ray Copeland and Faye Copeland didn’t take up serial murder until they were in their 70s — robbing and killing five transient workers and, in a macabre spin on their homespun image, making quilts out of the dead men’s clothing.
Ray Copeland, born in 1914, had spent time in and out of jail for scamming victims out of cash and property during the Great Depression. He married Faye Wilson in 1940 and, apparently, never gave up his grifting ways.
As a cattle farmer in the Ozarks, Ray had a reputation for stealing cows and bouncing checks, to the point that he was banned from purchasing livestock. Ray’s solution was to hire drifters, set up checking accounts in their names, and write bad checks using their names.
When the heat came down, Ray and Faye killed their employees and buried their remains on their land.
In 1991, police received a tip about a human skull and bones located at the Copeland farm. An investigation led to the unearthing of the remains of Paul Jason Cowart, John Freeman, Jimmie Dale Harvey, Wayne Warner, and Dennis Murphy. Each farmhand had been shot in the head at close range with a .22-caliber rifle, which was found inside the Copeland’s house.
After being convicted, Ray Copeland died at age 78 on Death Row. Faye Copeland’s sentence was commuted to life, and she was given a compassionate release in 2002 and turned over to a nursing home. Faye died at age 83 that same year. [CrimeFeed]
For more on this case, watch the "Murder at Twilight" episode of Investigation Discovery's Wicked Attraction on ID GO now!
Photo: Ray Copeland, center, is led in handcuffs from the Livingston Count Courthouse Monday, March 18, 1991 [AP Photo / Jeffrey Z. Carney / file]
Alvin & Judith Neelley
Car thief Alvin Neelley met his second wife, juvenile delinquent Judith Adams Neelley, in 1980. He was 26; she was 15. After eloping, the pair took off on an armed robbery spree that eventually led to Judith getting locked up in Rome, Georgia’s Youth Development Center (YDC), where she gave birth to twins.
On September 11, 1982, the Neelleys fired a gun four time times at YDC employee Ken Dooley. The next day, the couple firebombed the home of Linda Aldair, another staffer. Judith later claimed to have been sexually abused at the facility.
Two weeks later, Alvin and Judith abducted 13-year-old Lisa Ann Millican from a local mall. Both of the Neelleys raped the child four times over the course of the next three days. Eventually, Judith attempted to murder Lisa by injecting Drano and Liquid Plumbr into the girl. When that didn’t work, Judith shot Lisa in the head and tossed her body off a cliff in Alabama.
The Neelleys next kidnapped Janice Chatman and John Hancock on October 4. The couple tortured and murdered Chatman and attempted to kill Hancock by shooting him, but he survived and was able to identify the culprits.
Alvin Neelley pleaded guilty to the murder of Janice Chatman and got life. He died behind bars in 2005.
While awaiting trial for the murder of Lisa Ann Millican, Judith gave birth to a third child in prison. She was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to the electric chair. At just 18, Judith was the youngest woman sentenced to death in U.S. history.
In 1999, Alabama governor Fob James commuted Judith’s sentence to life plus 15 years. In 2018, she waived her right to a parole hearing. [Dayton Daily News]
For more on this case, watch the "Murderous Women" episode of Investigation Discovery's Most Evil on ID GO now!
Photo: Judith Neelley [Alabama Department of Corrections]
Ian Brady & Myra Hindley
The “Moors Murders” were committed between July 1963 and October 1965 by Ian Brady and his girlfriend Myra Hindley. The couple abducted, tortured, and killed five minors between the ages of 10 and 17. Brady and Hindley sexually assaulted at least four of the victims, and made a recording of at least one children’s torment. Afterward, the killers hid the bodies on Saddleworth Moor, which is how the crime got its familiar moniker.
The nightmare in 1963 began when Brady lured Pauline Read, 16, into his car. He raped her and fatally slashed her throat. Authorities did not discover Pauline’s remains until Brady said where she was in 1987.
Next, Hindley offered 12-year-old John Kilbride a ride home from a market. Instead, she drove him to Saddleworth Moor, where he was raped, strangled, and buried. Searchers dug up John in 1965.
A similar fate befell Keith Bennett, 12, on June 16, 1964. Hindley got him into her car and took him to the moor, where Brady raped and strangled him. Keith’s body has never been found and, cruelly, Brady suggested for decades while locked up that he knew where it was — but wouldn’t tell. Keith’s mother, Winnie Johnson, died in 2012 without the closure of properly laying her child to rest.
On the day after Christmas in 1964, Brady and Hindley took Lesley Ann Downey, 10, from a fun fair to their home. There, the couple stripped the girl, raped her, tied her up, and forced her to pose for pornographic photos. The killers also recorded Lesley screaming, crying, and pleading for her life. The entire 16-minute tape was later played to a stupefied courtroom during Brady’s trial.
Edward Evans, 17, went home with Hindley on October 6, 1965. Once inside, Brady chopped the teen 14 times with a hatchet and then strangled him to death. Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith, witnessed the murder. Since he had a criminal record himself, the killer couple didn’t expect him to call the police. Smith, fortunately, proved them wrong.
Brady received three concurrent life sentences. Hindley got two life sentences, plus seven years. England had abolished the death penalty earlier in 1965, otherwise it’s believed they surely would have been executed.
Myra Hindley lived to be 60, dying from pneumonia in 2002. Ian Brady made it to 79, finally succumbing to heart disease issues in 2017. [New York Times]
For more on this case, watch the "Evil Influence" episode of Investigation Discovery's Deadly Women on ID GO now!
Photos: Ian Brady & Myra Hindley [Getty Images]