Twisted tales of psycho cops who killed – from Dennis Nilsen to Werewolf Killer

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Throughout history a select few members of law enforcement have committed murder during their time as a serving officer or after leaving the force.

By wearing the uniform, they were able to gain the trust of people and use that to their advantage in their crimes – in some cases even faking arrests or using tools from their jobs to help lure in and abduct their victims.

From a twisted Scottish killer who killed 15 males for sexual gratification to the Russian murderer who mutilated dozens of women over two decades, we look back at some of the most despicable killers to have been called a police officers.

Wayne Couzens

Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was jailed for the rest of his life on Thursday for the kidnap, rape and murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard.

The copper, who was £29,000 in debt and had concocted a horror plan to abuct and rape a woman, snatched 33-year-old Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham to Brixton on March 3.

The twisted killer used his warrant card and cited coronavirus restrictions when he stopped Sarah, handcuffed her and bundled her into his car.

It is still not known when exactly the 48-year-old killed her, but it was revealed in court that evidence suggested he had, at some point, restrained her using velcro straps, and that the offending was "sexual and homicidal" in nature.

Dennis Nilsen

The Scottish serial killer took the lives of at least 15 men and boys during the 1970 and 80s.

Dennis Nilsen was enlisted in the army before taking up police training in 1972 but resigned after around a year.

He would befriend gay men, homeless men or others who simply lived of the grid both food and shelter back at his flat in North London.

Is reported on a Netflix documentary, Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes, that Nilsen would typically drown his victims in the bath while they were still alive but unconscious.

He would then lay the dead body in his bed and pleasure himself. The bodies of his victims were found under floorboards, wardrobes, a tea chest and a chest of draws, when police raided.

Nilsen is believed to have had an obsession with the morgue that reportedly began during his time with the police.

He was caught after Nilsen tried to get rid of body parts by flushing them down the toilet. The drains became clogged and his murders were finally uncovered.

He was sentenced to life in prison but later died from a pulmonary embolism and bleeding in his abdominal cavity at the age of 72 at HMP Full Sutton near York.

Gerard John Schaefer

During his time as a sheriff's deputy in Martin County, Florida, Gerard John Schaefer was fired for attempting to kidnap two teenage girls while on patrol. He took the two girls to a remote location where he threatened to kill them. Schaefer, who had already tied them up, was called away on his radio but told the girls he would return.

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The girls escaped and went to the nearest police station, which happened to be Schaefer’s. When he realised they had gone, he phoned the station and said he was pretending to threaten them to show how unsafe hitchhiking was. Schaefer's boss did not believe him and he ordered Schaefer to the station, where he was stripped of his badge and charged with false imprisonment and assault.

Two months after he posted bail, He later killed two other young girls and buried them in Oak Hammock Park in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. The bodies were only found six months following the murders.

Schaefer allegedly bragged he had killed over 30 young women and girls. Investigations linked him to 12 possible victims who all disappeared with some having connections to Schaefer. He was stabbed to death in 1995 while in prison serving a life sentence..

Drew Peterson

The retired Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant (retired) was convicted in 2012 for murdering his third wife back in 2004.

According to E, his wife Kathleen Savio was found dead in her bathtub with a 1-inch cut to the back of her head. However, the bathtub was dry but her finger tips were wrinkled. Police ruled it was accidental drowning after believing the woman had tripped and fell.

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Peterson was only made a suspect three-years later following the disappearance of his fourth wife, who has never been found.

He had already been suspended from the police in 2007 for an alleged "serious lack of judgment" during a police pursuit and then resigned his full pension.

James DeAngelo

Known as the elusive Golden State Killer, James DeAngelo was one of the most notorious serial killers. He served as a policeman between 1973 to 1979, in Exeter and Auburn in California, before being suspended for shoplifting. DeAngelo was later fired for threatening to kill his police chief.

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According the Guardian, he would stalk neighbourhoods in southern California before breaking into homes to rape and torture women and girl. He would also attack and tie up couples before killing them. Victims were either shot or bludgeoned to death.

His spree took place over the 70s and 80s but officers only connected DeAngelo using DNA in 2018. DeAngelo is reported to have been part of at least 13 murders, dozens of rapes and 120 burglaries. He was the first public arrest obtained through genetic genealogy, which uses family tree databases to narrow a search.

Mikhail Popkov

Known as the Werewolf Killer, Mikhail Popkov is responsible for killing women over two decades.

He started his killing spree, which he confessed to 83 victims, in 1992 during his time as a police officer in the Irkutsk region of Russia.

According to The Mystery Box, Popkov resigned from his position in 1998 but his killing spree continued into 2010 when he worked as a security guard.

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His victims would be women who had been out drinking in bars, where he would offer them rides before raping, torturing and killing them in the woods.

The nickname, The Werewolf, was given due to his victims being so mutilated that they resembled being eaten by one.

His wife also worked in the police and provided an alibi for Popkov several times. Reasons for his murders have been speculated on revenge over his wife’s affair or the abuse he suffered from his alcoholic mother.

He was given a life sentence.

James Duckett

The Mascotte Police Officer in Florida was sentenced to life in prison for sexual battery in 1988.

James Duckett offered to give 11-year-old Teresa McAbee a ride home after spotting her visiting a convenience store late at night.

The next morning McAbee’s body was found in a lake around a mile away from the store. Medical testimony confirmed she had been sexually assaulted while alive and then drowned.

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According to a Orlando Sentinel, Duckett was later identified through blood and a pubic hair found in her underwear and semen on her jeans.

Three girls between the ages of seventeen and nineteen also came forward and testified that Duckett had given rides to each of them and had made sexual advances.

  • Serial Killers
  • Crime

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