The United Sates may produce the most serial killers, but in terms of killers per population it’s a close contest and Australia are near the top of the list. There are countless Australians serial killers littering the history of this great country. It may be a relatively young nation, but that hasn’t stopped it from producing countless mass murderers, serial killers and other notorious criminals.
In this list of Aussie serial killers we will focus on the ones that standout the most, the ones that have earned themselves a place in Australian history as some of the worst killers this country has ever seen.
Eric Edgar Cooke
Between the years 1959 and 1963 Eric Cooke earned himself a reputation as one of the most feared Australian serial killers ad habitual criminals. He subjected the city of Perth to a crime spree in which he committed 22 violent crimes, resulting in the death of 8 people.
These murders earned Cooke a ticket to the gallows, where he became the last person to be hung on Western Australian soil.
Eric Edgar Cooke was a career criminal who was always destined to spend his adult life behind bars. As a youth he was arrested for arson, theft and burglary and as a young man he was caught stealing cars and spying on young women. When he eventually progressed to murder, his crimes were completely random. He murdered men and women, the youngest of which was 17, with the oldest being in their 50s. He was a man who lived to cause suffering to others.
Two other people were arrested for crimes that Cooke committed, with both of them serving long stretches. One of them, Daryl Beamish, served a total of 15 years, even though Cooke confessed to the crime he was convicted of just a couple years into his stretch.
Born in 1871, Martha Rendell was convicted of killing her husband’s son as well as his two daughters, who she is alleged to have subjected to a long and tortuous death, poisoning them and triggering a slow and painful demise.
A cruel and sadistic woman, Rendell is said to have beaten the children prior to killing them. They were under her care and although they were not related by blood, they still looked up to her and thought of her as their mother, which makes it all the more sickening that she tortured them for her sadistic pleasure.
This Australian serial killer met a somewhat fitting end, as she could well be spending the afterlife with Eric Edgar Cooke, even though she didn’t have any say in the matter. That’s because following her 1909 execution she was buried in Fremantle Prison in the exact same grave where Eric Cooke would be buried some 54 years later.
The two never met, but they certainly had a lot in common so let’s hope they are spending eternity together in perpetual torture and misery.
Born in Ireland in 1813, John Lynch was one of the very first Australian serial killers after he was transported to one of the country’s penal colonies in the 1830s. He is considered by many to be the worst serial killer in Australian history because of the brutality of his crimes.
He was a thief, a career criminal. His first murder was opportunistic, with Lynch murdering a cattle owner in order to steal the cattle and sell it for profit. He repeated this with his second and third victims, a father and son duo that were also in the cattle business. He then murdered an entire family, before burning the bodies and staking his claim to everything they owned.
In many ways, his crimes emulated those of H. H. Holmes, the Chicago based serial killer who would be active several decades later. He was a cold, callous murderer who killed for profit and had little respect for human life. In total, John Lynch killed ten people, becoming known as the “The Berrima Axe Murderer” before being arrested for his crimes in 1941.
He had been in Australia just over a decade at the time of his arrest and he would spend a further 12 months in his adopted country before they executed him and he was resigned to their history books.
John and Sarah Makin
The practice of “baby farming” was common in the UK and Australia throughout the 1800s. They would basically accept custody of an—often illegitimate— infant in exchange for money, taking them off the hands of the poor and struggling parents and removing all responsibility and duty of care in the process.
As you can imagine, these kids didn’t have a long and healthy life to look forward to. If they weren’t sold into slavery then they were simply killed on sight. Such was the case with British serial killer Beverly Allit, and it was also the case with John and Sarah Makin, two Australian serial killers that were convicted of killing a dozen infants in this manner.
They were also tasked with taking children into their care in exchange for regular payments, a form of Victorian-Era childcare. But the couple found it easier to simply “dispose” of the children and then make excuses to the grieving parents, accepting continued payments while letting the parents believe their children were still being cared for.
The couple are thought to have committed these vile acts while living with their own children, and it was these kids that eventually testified against them and helped with their conviction. However, one of those children appealed for the release of their mother after her death sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment. It was successful and she served less than 2 decades inside.
So while John Makin was hanged for his crimes, his wife served 18 years and was then released.
Christopher Worrell and James Miller met while in prison together, after which they formed a sexual relationship. This is said to have turned into more of a fraternal relationship on account of Worrell, the younger man, being straight and no longer happy to accept his partner’s advances. Throughout their time together, as lovers and friends, the pair are said to have killed 7 people. Technically, Worrell was never apprehended for the crimes, as he died in a car crash before the police could arrest him.
Miller became depressed after his friend’s death. Whatever sanity was left in him before soon ebbed away and he became reckless, eventually admitting his crimes to Worrell’s former girlfriend, who then went to the police.
Morrell was just 23 at the time of his death. Miller, who was 17 years his senior, would outlive him by a full 31 yeas, eventually dying in prison aged 68 from complications resulting from hepatitis C and cancer.
Other Australia Serial Killers
This country has produced scores of twisted serial killers, some of which were arrested, convicted and even executed, while others were eventually released or never even caught. Here are a few more serial killers from Australia.
Grills lived a long life, eventually dying aged 72 in prison. The same couldn’t be said for her victims though. In 1947 she killed four of her in-laws by poisoning their food with thallium. She was 59 at the time of the murders, a relatively late-starter in the serial killer stakes. She was sentenced to death and this was then changed to life in prison, where the inmates referred to her by the nickname “Aunt Thally”.
One of the first Australian serial killers, Jeffries escaped from a penal colony and killed a total of five people, before being put to death for his crimes in 1826. He was born in Scotland and transported to the penal colony for threatening to stab someone. While there, he took his threats to the next level and finished it off with some light cannibalism.
Lindsay Robert Rose
Rose was a contract killer and multiple murderer who took out his anger at having a woman’s name on at least five people. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1998 and is guaranteed to spend the last of his days behind bars. Considering the callousness and brutality of his crimes, it’s probably for the best.
Another immigrant that Aussies will be happy not to accept as their own, MacDonald was an Englishman who went by the moniker “Mutilator”. He murdered 5 people in the span of two years, beginning in 1961.