Little is known about the chemistry between two people that sparks a killing rampage. These deadly duos have been some of the worst. Learn about couples who kill.
10: Ray and Faye Copeland
Perhaps the most unusual pair to commit murders, Ray and Faye were 76- and 69-years-old respectively when they went to trial on five counts of murder. The senior citizen duo had developed a fraudulent check scheme using drifters to illegally purchase livestock and resell it, making the drifters disappear after the scheme was complete. When authorities were tipped off about the surprising crimes, they discovered five bodies of young men in their early to upper twenties buried in various parts of the Copeland’s farm.
The couple was tried separately, with Faye being found guilty of four of five counts of murder and receiving the death penalty, though she argued to the end that she was a battered woman and did not willingly participate in Ray’s schemes. Her sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison, until she suffered a stroke in 2002 and was paroled to a nursing home. She died in December of 2003 at the age of 82. Ray was found guilty of five of five counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death. He died while awaiting execution at the age of 78.
9: Gwendolyn Graham and Catherine May Wood
Though they served as nurses – their duties to help and protect their patients – Graham and Wood used their positions to take the lives of those they cared for. In their roles at Alpine Nursing Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Graham and Wood developed a romantic relationship in 1986. The following year, the nurses began to brag to their co-works about smothering six of their patients, which eventually led to the bodies being exhumed and the pair arrested, despite the duo’s claim that they were only "joking."
Wood allowed Graham to take the fall for the murders, arguing that Graham was the mastermind. Wood received a reduced sentence of 20 to 40 years in jail, while her partner in crime received a life prison sentence.
8: Alton Coleman and Debra Brown
Reckless, vicious, and without any real plan, Alton Coleman and Debra Brown worked their way through the Midwest, killing when they felt like it and stealing from or harming anyone who got in their way. In total, they are believed to have committed eight homicides, three kidnappings, up to seven rapes and 14 robberies. The 53-day spree from Wisconsin to Kentucky finally ended when the pair was captured in a park in Evanston, IL.
Brown was found guilty for murders in Ohio and Indiana, receiving two life sentences in Ohio and the death penalty in Indiana. She is currently serving time in Ohio, and it is unclear whether she will receive the death penalty. Alton Coleman received the death penalty in 2002 in Ohio at the age of 46.
7: Gerald and Charlene Gallego
By the time Gerald Gallego met Charlene Williams, he had been arrested at least 23 times, following in a long line of criminals in his family, including his father, the first to receive the death penalty in Mississippi using the gas chamber. Williams, on the other hand, grew up in an upper-class neighborhood with a stable family, her background nearly untainted until she discovered drugs and alcohol in high school and took a turn for the worst. Williams was immediately attracted to Gallego when she met him, and before long she was under his thumb, helping him scout young girls to use as "sex slaves." Pre-dating the similar activities of Daveggio and Michaud, the Gallegos used a van to lure young victims for Gerald’s pleasure before taking their lives.
When the Gallegos were eventually caught, Charlene turned on Gerald and became the star witness for the prosecution with a reduced prison sentence, arguing she had been afraid of Gerald and had no choice but to comply with his plans. Gerald, meanwhile, was tried in both California and Nevada and received the death penalty in both states. Charlene was released from prison in 1997 and is believed to have resumed using her maiden name. Gerald died in a Nevada medical center in 2002 at the age of 56 due to metastasized cancer.
6: Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom
Jens Soering, an 18-year-old honor student at University of Virginia, met 20-year-old Elizabeth Haysom at the university in 1984, and the pair became fast friends and eventually romantically involved. Haysom’s parents, however, disapproved of the relationship, and this disapproval would eventually cost the Haysoms their lives. In March 1985, Soering had dinner with Haysom’s parents before brutally stabbing them to death. He and Haysom then fled the scene and escaped to Europe, where they were intercepted by authorities. Soering protested extradition, fearing the death penalty, but eventually he was returned to the US with Haysom. Soering received two life terms in prison, while Haysom received 90 years (45 years for each murder).
5: Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi
Cousins Angelo Buono, Jr. and Kenneth Bianchi both found trouble at an early age, each committing numerous petty crimes and more serious felonies independently until they came together in Los Angeles in 1975. The pair would drive around LA pretending to be policemen, and would question young women, take them home, abuse them and then murder them. While they tried out many methods for killing, strangling became their main technique, thus dubbing them the "Hillside Stranglers."
Following a failed murder attempt after having killed 10 women, Bianchi fled California to Washington State where he murdered two young college students. Without his partner he was sloppy, and authorities quickly apprehended him. Both men are currently serving life sentences in prison.
4: Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez
They were the odd couple: a thin, balding man with a vicious scar atop his head, and a 233-lb woman. They found each other in the 1940s via the "lonely hearts club," writing letters to each other. Fernandez’s motivation was to steal and defraud Beck, but eventually the two became involved, and married, when Beck convinced Fernandez that Fernandez was her true love and she wasn’t going away. It didn’t take long before Beck moved in with Fernandez – abandoning her two children to the Salvation Army – and began helping him trick women into marriage so the couple could get hold of their victims' assets. Their schemes quickly became wilder and more desperate, leading to deviant sexual practices, the murders of a number of women, and ultimately, that of a young child who was witness to their crimes.
Once apprehended, Fernandez and Beck were tried in a trial that rocked the nation with the crudeness of the couple’s acts. When Beck took the stand she admitted to the crimes, but also stood by Fernandez to the end, claiming her love for him and her willingness to do whatever he asked. The jury unanimously found the couple guilty, and they were sent to Sing Sing where they were to receive the death penalty. The couple sat on death row for three years, writing letters to each other that alternated between proclamations of love and statements of hatred. In the end, Beck professed her love to Fernandez on the day of their execution. Both received the electric chair.
3: Charles Ng and Leonard Lake
A demonic duo known for committing up to 25 murders together, Charles Ng (pronounced ING) and Leonard Lake met in the early 1980s and used a California ranch as the front for their operations, filming their heinous crimes for pleasure. Both Ng and Lake had been discharged from branches of the armed forces, Ng for dishonorable activities including theft, and Lake for mental instability.
Lake was apprehended by authorities in connection to shoplifting, and while under questioning confessed his real name and Ng’s identity before taking his life by ingesting cyanide capsules. Ng had fled to Canada and was eventually captured and stood trial in California where he was convicted of 11 murders: six men, three women and two baby boys. He was sentenced to death and now waits on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
2: James Daveggio and Michelle Michaud
Fueled by drugs and a passion for committing deviant crimes, James Daveggio and Michelle Michaud made a match for each other from the start. Daveggio enjoyed exerting power over his victims – young women -- and Michaud, a former prostitute, was no stranger to using sex as a commodity. Together, the couple toured Nevada and California "hunting" for victims, tying up young women in the back of their car and freeing them after they had their way with them. Their plans reached their peak when they captured 22-year-old Vanessa Lei Samson, brutally torturing her before they killed her and discarded her body by the side of the road.
The obviously heinous nature of Daveggio’s and Michaud’s crimes could not be diminished when they were ultimately captured, and both received death sentences in 2002, five years after Samson’s murder occurred.
1: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka
It began with a series of rapes in Scarborough, Ontario in 1987. By 1988, nine rapes had been committed without the authorities finding any serious leads to locate and capture the Scarborough Rapist. The man behind the deviant and violent crimes was Paul Bernardo, a young, charismatic and handsome man whom no one took for a criminal. The rapes continued until 1991, when Bernardo moved to St. Catharines, a nearby town, where he met Karla Homolka. Homolka immediately became enamored with Bernardo, and as their relationship progressed, Bernardo began to push the limits and opened Homolka up to increasing sexual deviance.
Bernardo’s actions turned from bad to worse when he convinced Homolka to drug her 15-year-old sister, Tammy, so the couple could perform sexual acts on her. The drugs used on Tammy, combined with a large amount of alcohol, caused Tammy to aspirate and ultimately die after Bernardo and Homolka had their way with her. Authorities never questioned the death – which appeared accidental – and Bernardo and Homolka continued to commit heinous crimes. The couple’s next two crimes were perpetrated upon 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffey and 15-year-old Kristen French, both of whom they kidnapped, raped and subsequently killed.
Eventually, Bernardo and Homolka were captured by authorities, and Homolka received a 12-year prison sentence in exchange for her testimony against Bernardo, who received life in prison with limited possibility for parole. Homolka was released from prison in 2005. Bernardo will be eligible for release in 2010.