Some of the world’s most twisted serial killers have targeted prostitutes because women selling sex often go unnoticed once missing, and, cruelly, public sympathy is diminished because of their trade. In the US, a study showed that between 1981 and 1990 active sex workers were 18 times more likely to be murdered than women of similar age and race.
Here we examine some of the most disturbing killers who targeted prostitutes...
1. Rurik Jutting
On 8th November 2016 British banker, Rurik Jutting, 31, was found guilty of murdering two prostitutes in Hong Kong. He killed two Indonesian sex workers after cocaine binges.
The mutilated bodies of Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 31, were found in his luxury apartment on 1 November 2014.
The jury heard Jutting had described going hunting for his next ‘prey’ after torturing and killing his first victim, Sumarti Ningsih, then stuffing her body in a suitcase.
The trial judge described Rurik Jutting as a sadistic sexual predator. Jutting faces life without parole.
2. Jack The Ripper
In London, infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper murdered at least five sex workers in 1888.
There were murders of other prostitutes during the same time period but it is uncertain whether the same man was responsible.
The recurring sickening characteristic of mutilation to the bodies after death links ‘Jack The Ripper’ to victims Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly.
3. Peter Sutcliffe
Between 1975-1980 Peter Sutcliffe – known as the Yorkshire Ripper – murdered 13 women, some of whom were sex workers.
Sutcliffe claimed that the ‘voice of God had sent him on a mission to kill prostitutes’.
Sutcliffe was sentenced to twenty life terms in prison, but, after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1984, he was incarcerated in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.
However, in August 2016, Peter was declared sane enough to return to prison.
He will continue to have his mental health monitored and could be returned to a psychiatric hospital if there is a change in his condition.
4. Steve Wright
Steve Wright murdered five sex workers in Ipswich between October and 10 December 2006. The bodies of five prostitutes were discovered naked, but there were no signs of sexual assault.
On 21 February 2008, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict against Steve Wright on all five counts of murder. He was jailed for life.
5. Gary Ridgway
One of the most prolific serial killers in US history, the Gary Ridgway from Seattle confessed to killing 48 sex workers from 1982 to 1998.
Chillingly, the murderer known as The Green River Killer explained his reasoning for targeting sex workers, saying: ‘I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.’
6. Robert Hansen
Robert Hansen murdered between 15 and 21 sex workers, near Anchorage, Alaska, between 1980 and 1983.
Hansen abducted, raped and murdered at least 17, and possibly more than 30 women, in and around Anchorage, Alaska, hunting them down in the woods using various weapons. A baker by trade, Hansen earned himself the nickname The Butcher Baker.
He was arrested and convicted in 1983 and was sentenced to 461 years with no possibility of parole.
7. Joel Rifkin
Joel Rifkin confessed to killing 17 sex workers in the New York area between 1989 and 1993. Most were addicted to drugs and there hadn’t been a missing persons report filed on any of the women during that time.
Rifkin committed his first murder in 1989, killing a woman in his Long Island home. He dismembered her body, put her head in a paint can left it in the woods of a southern New Jersey golf course.
His sick spree ended in June 1993 when the corpse of his final victim, a prostitute and dancer, Tiffany Bresciani, 22, was discovered by police in the back of his truck.
Rifkin was found guilty of nine counts of second degree murder in 1994 and sentenced to 203 years. His first possible parole date is February 26, 2197.
8. Robert William Pickton
Pickton is regarded as Canada’s most heinous criminal. In 2002, the remains of numerous missing sex workers and drug addicts were found on his family farm.
Friends testified that he’d bragged about killing scores of women and feeding their corpses to the pigs he kept on his farm in an attempt to hide the evidence.
He is suspected of killing up to 50 women but there’s insufficient evidence to support the accusation.
In December 2007 he was convicted of second-degree murder of six women and sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
9. Samuel Smithers
A deacon at First Baptist Church in Plant City, Florida, Smithers was a family man.
But by 1996, Sam was picking up prostitutes on the street and subsequently murdered Denise Roach, 24, and Christy Cowan, 31.
The defence argued that the killer had been so traumatised by his abusive childhood that he hadn’t really known what he was doing.
But the jury were unconvinced, finding him guilty of murder on both counts, and recommend that he be put to death.
Samuel Smithers now resides on death row, awaiting his date to meet his Maker…