When we talk about true crime, and especially serial killers, the same names come up again and again. Ted Bundy. Charles Manson. Jack the Ripper. Ivan Milat. With such a heavy emphasis on a small percentage of killers, it’s easy to overlook the many others out there—some who were never caught.
Here are three you have likely never heard of.
The Volga Maniac
Considered one of Russia’s most prolific serial killers with thirty-two confirmed murders between March 2011 and September 2012, The Volga Maniac was captured on CCTV, but has never been caught.
The Volga Maniac targeted elderly women in Kazan (a major city) and nearby districts that clustered around Russia’s Volga river. His victims were between the ages of seventy-five and ninety and lived alone, almost always in low-rent apartments. Based on investigator’s theories and the testimony of one surviving victim, he gained access to the women’s homes by claiming to be from social services, claiming to be hired by the homeowners’ association, or by helping them with their shopping. Once inside he used items from their homes, such as power cables or bathrobe belts, to strangle his victims.
Based on his appearance in the CCTV footage captured during his final spree and the survivor’s testimony, he was between twenty-five and thirty at the time of the attacks. He likely isn’t Slavic, but from the Tartar or Udmurt populations—both which are common in the region. Police theorise he was raised by his grandmother, who he disliked. As of this year, the investigation is still ongoing.
Jukka Torsten Lindholm
Lindholm, born 1965, is the only known Finn serial killer. A series of thefts, attacks, and the abduction of a sixteen-year-old girl while he was a teenager saw him spend a year in a youth facility.
Within months of being released, the now twenty-year-old Lindholm murdered his mother, Laina, who he believed betrayed him by leaving him in the facility. Initially, another man was suspected of Laina’s murder, and Lindholm remained free.
Less than a year later, in 1986, Lindholm lured two twelve-year-old girls to his apartment, offering them money for alcohol. He strangled one. The other managed to escape and alert the police. During interrogation Lindholm also admitted to his mother’s murder. He was convicted of two counts of manslaughter and sentenced to nine years and seven months imprisonment.
However, he was granted parole just five years later, in 1992. In 1993, he killed again, strangling a woman in her apartment. He was sentenced to another nine and a half years. After his release in 2008, he went on to attempt the murder of three more women, including a cleaner he’d hired. In 2018, while he was being investigated for separate crimes, he murdered a sex worker in an apartment. This time, he received life in prison.
Lindholm’s story has led many people to criticise the Finnish justice system, which has an emphasis on rehabilitation and one of the lowest global recidivism rates.
While female serial killers are far less common than their male counterparts, they still exist, and can kill for a wide variety of reasons, as Leonarda Cianciulli proves.
Born in 1893, Cianciulli had an unhappy childhood. She allegedly visited a fortune teller who told her she would find a husband and have children, but that all of her children would die young.
During her twenties she married a clerk and attempted to start a family, but the fortune teller’s words always hung close by. She had seventeen pregnancies. Three ended in miscarriage. Ten children were born, but died. Four survived, and she became excessively protective over them.
In 1939, Cianciulli’s oldest son and favourite child told her he was planning to enlist in the Italian army and fight in World War II. Cianciulli was horrified. She was also heavily superstitious, and believed she could save her son with human sacrifices. She was well liked in her small province in southern Italy, and used that to her advantage: luring three of her neighbours into her home under the guise of helping them find husbands or jobs, drugging them with medicated wine, and murdering them with an axe.
In all three cases, Cianciulli encouraged the women to write postcards to friends and relatives, which she kept and mailed out after they were dead. All three victims were dismembered. Their blood was dried and baked into teacakes, which Cianciulli ate and gave to other neighbours. The final victim, an opera singer who Cianciulli had promised a job in Florence, was boiled and turned into soap, which was likewise passed around to others in the town.
Cianciulli was arrested after a relative alerted police. She passed away in prison in 1970. Several artifacts, including the pot Cianciulli used to boil her victims, are on display in the Criminological Museum in Rome.
There are four books (so far) in Darcy Coates Black Winter series. The most recent being Silence in the Shadows.
Silence in the Shadows by Darcy Coates
The stark world continues to change. Each passing day twists it further, pushing the survivinghumans closer to the brink of extinction. But, for the first time, there is hope. Clare and Dorran have set their sights on returning home to Winterbourne Hall. It's a daunting journey, but vital. Humanity needs more refuges—safe areas where food can be grown without attracting the attention of the hollow ones—and the old gothic manor is their best bet. But their home is no longer a sanctuary. It’s become a trap: carefully crafted for them, lying in wait for their return. By the time they realize just how dangerous Winterbourne has become, it’s already too late. The fight for survival is far from over.
More information about the author can be found on her website. You can also follow her Twitter @darcyauthor,