Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
From 'The Happy Face Killer' To 'The Co-Ed Butcher,' These Are The Creepiest Serial Killer Nicknames
Here's how murderers like "The Giggling Granny" and "The Barbie and Ken Killers" got their names.
Some serial killers' given names live on in infamy: Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and so on. But others are usually recognized only by a nickname
Consider Keith Hunter Jesperson. The serial killer murdered at least eight women in the 1990s throughout the United States. When he didn't get as much attention as he felt he deserved, he wrote taunting letters to the media and prosecutors which he signed with smiley faces. He thus became known as "The Happy Face Killer," as seen on the new Oxygen special "Snapped Notorious: The Happy Face Killer," which airs on Sunday, October 10 at 7/6c on Oxygen.
The juxtaposition of a simple smiley face and horrific murders makes Jesperson's nickname even more disturbing. Here are other creepy serial killer nicknames.
1. The Night Stalker
From June 1984 to August 1985 in California, Richard Ramirez embarked on a terrifying killing and home invasion spree. He employed a handful of different weapons (including knives, handguns, a machete and a tire iron) and a variety of methods to break into his victims’ residences, and was ultimately found guilty of murdering 13 women.
Due to his habits of breaking into homes during the night, Ramirez, a self-avowed Satanist, became known as "The Night Stalker."
2. The Weepy-Voiced Killer
Paul Michael Stephani ultimately killed three women in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, but he insisted he felt guilty about it. After the murders, he would make calls to the police to report the crimes, all in a tearful, high-pitched voice. Those calls earned him the nickname "The Weepy-Voiced Killer."
3. The Co-Ed Butcher
Ed Kemper went on one of the most disturbing killing sprees in the United States, starting with the murder of his grandparents and culminating in the murder of his mother. In between, Kemper, a rapist and a necrophile, preyed on college-aged women in the 1970s in California. He soon became known as the "Co-Ed Killer" or "Co-Ed Butcher."
4. The Giggling Granny
With her jolly demeanor and her status as a grandmother, the 49-year-old Nannie Doss didn't even remotely seem like your typical murderer. But in 1954, the Oklahoma woman confessed to poisoning four of her husbands, Tulsa World reported in 2015.
The press nicknamed her "The Giggling Granny," thanks to her warm and friendly attitude toward reporters.
5. The Barbie And Ken Killers
Karla Homolka and Paul Bernando were a young Canadian couple that left behind a string of bodies from 1990 and 1992 in Canada. They raped and killed three underage women, including Homolka's own sister. Homolka would later claim she was an unwilling accomplice, although videotapes of the crimes that surfaced seemed to potentially contradict her claims, The Globe and Mail reported in 2000. She was released from prison in 2005.
Due to their youth, blonde hair, and good lucks, they became known as "The Barbie and Ken Killers."
6. The Dating Game Killer
When Rodney Alcala appeared on the 1978 show "The Dating Game," he made such a good impression he won the competition -- although the girl he won a date with refused to go on it because she ultimately found him creepy. It was a good call. Alcala was in the middle of rape and murder spree in California. Alcala ultimately tortured and murdered eight women. Due to his disturbing television appearance, he's more commonly known as "The Dating Game Killer."
Dennis Rader terrorized the Kansas area for almost 20 years. His modus operandi -- bind, torture, kill -- also became his nickname "BTK." Rader killed 10 people during the time period and delighted in sending taunting letters to police and media about his crimes. Strangely, Rader eventually stopped killing in 1994, but he couldn't resist taunting police yet again in 2004, which led to his capture in 2005.
8. Son Of Sam
During the summer of 1997, a serial killer prowled the streets of New York City: David Berkowitz. He shot and killed six people during those two months, and wounded seven others. Berkowitz would later claim his neighbor's dog compelled him to kill, although he eventually admitted the story was a hoax.
Berkowitz coined his nickname, Son of Sam, himself. At one murder scene, he wrote a letter to law enforcement that read,
“I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon [sic] hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the ‘Son of Sam’ … ‘Go out and kill’ commands Father Sam,” he wrote, adding, “I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wave length then [sic] everybody else—programmed too [sic] kill.”
Crime News is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.