When it comes to serial killers, scientists and psychologists have long debated the question of nature versus nature. Did life events make them prone to violence, or are some people simply born to kill?
While the majority of serial killers are middle-aged white men, there are certainly others who don’t fit the typical profile. Perhaps most disturbing of all are those who become serial killers before they are even out of their teens. It’s easy to vilify a murderous adult, but hating someone who is practically a kid? That brings up a whole new set of emotions for everyone involved.
Here are five teen serial killers who tried to get away with murder. Each one was apprehended, but as a word of warning, some readers may find their stories distressing.
1. James Fairweather – 15 years old
In 2016, James Fairweather was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison after brutally murdering two strangers. Fairweather says that the murders were inspired by his obsession with serial killers, particularly his favorite, Ted Bundy. His first victim was stabbed to death 102 times while lying drunk in a park, while the second was killed with a bayonet.
After the trial, Fairweather’s mother said, “James Fairweather is a monster in our eyes – and we will never be able to forgive him.”
2. Charles Starkweather
Have you ever seen the movie “Natural Born Killers?” The plot was inspired by the real-life story of Charles Starkweather and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate. After murdering Fugate’s mother, step-father, and two-year-old sister, the pair went on a two-month killing spree. By the time they were apprehended, 11 people were dead. Starkweather was sentenced to death by electric chair, while Fugate served 17 years before bars before being released.
3. Mary Bell – 11 years old
Although not quite a teenager, Mary Bell was assisted in her crimes by her 13-year-old best friend, Norma Bell, who was no relation despite having the same last name. Together, the pair strangled two young boys, ages three and four. When police investigated Mary’s background, they found out that her prostitute mother was abusive. On more than one occasion, she tried to kill Mary and forced her to engage in sexual acts with men.
While Norma was acquitted of the crimes on account of her feeble mindedness, Mary served 12 years in a juvenile detention center. Today, she’s a grandmother and lives anonymously under a new name.
4. William Heirens – 18 years old
William Heirens began committing petty crimes at the age of 13, but, five years later, he turned to murder. After brutally stabbing his second female victim, he wrote a message on the wall in lipstick. It read, “For heavens sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.” Sadly, he would murder a six-year-old girl before police finally caught him.
Heirens served 65 years in a Chicago prison before dying of natural causes.
5. Jesse Pomeroy – 14 years old
The case of Jesse Pomeroy is infamous because of his standing as one of America’s first-known teen serial killers. In 1871, at the age of 12, Pomeroy began murdering young boys in Massachusetts. After his family moved to South Boston, he continued his killing spree and was apprehended by police, but spent only two years in a juvenile detention center.
At the age of 14, Pomeroy was paroled and sent back to live with his mother. However, a short time later, he was found guilty of killing two more children. He was sentenced to life in prison and eventually transferred to the Bridgewater Hospital for the Criminally Insane.