10 Of The Most Horrifying Serial Killer Couples
Many families are still demanding answers to what happened to their loved ones.
Photo By: NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Photo By: Bettmann/Getty Images
Photo By: Screenshot via Reel Truth Crime - Crime Documentary/YouTube
Photo By: Mug shots of Fred and Rosemary West [Devon Police; Cornwall Police]
Photo By: Mug shots of Aubrey Trail & Bailey Boswell [Taney County Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Bettmann/Getty Images
Photo By: Valery Matytsin\TASS via Getty Images
Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck
Known as the “Lonely Hearts Killers,” this couple found their victims in the personal ads of a romance magazine. Fernandez was a WWII veteran who was likely suffering a traumatic brain injury. Beck met him by responding to a personal ad and eventually moved into his Brooklyn apartment. The killings began in 1946. Beck would pose as Fernandez’s sister, and Fernandez would charm older women into giving him their money. By 1949, their scheme had escalated to murder. Some estimates say they killed a total of 17 women. The pair was executed on March 8, 1951.
Gerald and Charlene Gallego
It was her third marriage and his sixth, and the couple went on to kill 10 women over the course of two years in the late 70s. The motive? Finding people who could satisfy Gerald’s escalating appetite for violent sex. Their first victims were a pair of teenage girls who were sexually assaulted and then murdered in September 1978. In 1980, the pair was finally captured after murdering at least 10 people. Gerald died in prison in 2002. Charlene was released in July 1997.
Ray and Faye Copeland
These two are the oldest couple ever sentenced to death in the U.S. Ray was a conman who lured homeless men to his farm under the guise of working, but he would frame them for writing bad checks at cattle auctions before killing them. A tip called in to police in 1989 led authorities to discover five bodies on the Copeland property. There was also a list of names of the men who had worked for the Copelands. The list was in Faye’s handwriting, and there were Xs scrawled by 12 of the names. The creepiest piece of evidence? Faye had made a handmade quilt from the dead men’s clothes.
David and Catherine Birnie
The Moorhouse murders rocked Western Australia when police realized David and Catherine Birnie had brutally raped and murdered four women during October 1986. They lured their first victim to their home by advertising tires for sale. The Birnies were caught when their would-be fifth victim escaped and was found running naked down the street by police. They were both sentenced to four life sentences for their crimes. David died by suicide in prison in 2005. Catherine remains incarcerated.
Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood
The so-called “Lethal Lovers” were nursing aids in a Grand Rapids, Michigan, nursing home when they hatched their plan and smothered five dementia patients to death in 1987. The victims ranged in age from 65 to 98, and some reports contend the victims were chosen by last name—Graham and Wood wanted to spell out “murder.” Graham was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Wood was released from prison on parole in 2020 after serving time for second-degree murder and is unsupervised as of June 2021.
Fred and Rosemary West
British serial killers Fred and Rosemary West were active for more than 20 years and killed at least 12 people. Two of them were the couple’s own daughters—Charmaine and Heather West, who were eight and 16 when they were killed. Other victims included Fred’s first wife and daughter from that marriage, as well as one of Fred’s lovers, who was pregnant at the time of her murder.
Aubrey Trail and Bailey Boswell
These killers lured their victims to their home using Tinder, a popular dating app, in November 2015. Sydney Loofe believed she was going on a date with a woman she’d met on Tinder when she went to the apartment that Boswell, then 25, shared with her boyfriend, Trail, who was 52. Loofe was dead within a half-hour. Her dismembered body was scattered around Clay County, Nebraska, and it took investigators three weeks to find any sign of her remains. Boswell and Trail were both found guilty of her murder, and Trail’s trial took a dramatic turn when he slit his own throat in court. Trail was ultimately sentenced to death. Boswell was sentenced to life in prison.
Alton Coleman and Debra Brown
When their 1984 killing spree was over, eight people in the Midwest had been killed. The victims ranged in age from seven to 77. The pair was captured in an Evanston, Illinois, park in July 1984 after a friend recognized Coleman’s face in a temporary 11th spot on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list. Coleman and Brown were sentenced to death, and Coleman was executed in 2002. Brown’s sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Inessa Tarverdiyeva and Roman Podkopaev
A married Russian couple killed 30 people over a six-year span—and it was a family affair. Assisted by their 25- and 13-year-old daughters, the family began robbing and killing rich families in 2009. They even killed Inessa’s goddaughters. Roman was killed in a shootout with police in 2013. Inessa and her daughters remain in a Russian prison.
Carol M. Bundy and Doug Clark
The so-called “Sunset Strip Killers” were active in 1980. Clark kicked off his killing spree alone, but when he met Bundy and told her about his crimes, she gleefully joined him. There were at least six victims, many of them sex workers. At least one victim’s head was kept in a freezer at their home. Bundy told police she would put makeup on the head and Clark would then use the head in a sexual manner. Bundy died in prison in 2003. Clark remains on death row.
Karla Homolka and Paul Kenneth Bernardo
The picture-perfect Canadian couple was dubbed the Ken and Barbie Killers, but there was nothing glamorous about the secret life they led. Bernardo was a rapist who targeted at least 13 women, though his appetite for power and violence gave way to serial murder with Homolka at his side. Their first victim was Homolka’s 14-year-old sister. The pair went on to kill two more times, but Homolka turned on Bernardo after he beat her, and she went to the police. Homolka took a plea deal that sent her to prison for 12 years. Bernardo was sentenced to life in prison. His latest attempt at parole was denied.
Find out more about their chilling killing spree in the four-part special Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes on ID December 12 and December 13 at 9 pm ET/8 pm C.