Why you should care
Because knowing about the worst of humanity can help you prevent it.
A sadist is a person who glorifies in the pain of others and seeks to cruelly exert a form of control over them. Good reason, kindness and forgiveness are not words that are part of their vocabulary. Yet even though their nature is to separate themselves from any form of understanding, OZY has been on the sadist beat from the beginning because, as one expert has noted, killers can teach the next generation how not to create monsters like them. Below are some that might make you want to take a shower after reading about them.
Carl Panzram called himself “rage personified,” and the destructive path he sowed throughout his life more than lived up to that description. The Minnesota native admitted to committing more than a thousand rapes of men and boys and nearly two dozen murders, including the shooting of co-workers whom he subsequently fed to alligators. But Panzram may not have been a killer if it weren’t for a horrible upbringing that included poverty, abandonment and physical abuse.
The man formerly known as Michael Gordon Peterson has not actually killed anyone, but his crimes are widely known, mostly because of a performance by Tom Hardy as Bronson a few years ago: assault and kidnappings inside prisons and countless beatings and torturous behavior. Surprisingly, he’s also a well-regarded fine artist, with his work receiving 11 Koestler Trust Awards. “Violence just makes me madder and stronger,” he once said.
About 36 of [his years in prison], by press reckoning, have been in solitary confinement because of his inability to play well with others. If you’re doing the math, that’s more than 120 prisons, at least 11 hostages, more than half a million pounds in damages and only about four months and nine days out of prison since 1974, when he was arrested for stealing 26 pounds (about $38). That incident set in motion a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies, since being near other people, if he’s not fighting with them, is an anxiety-ridden affair, according to Salvador, who recoils at being breathed on by other humans, at their smells and at, in total, a lot of what makes humans, well, human.
This is a man who contains multitudes of hatred. He grew up with a Jewish stepfather and later became a member of the racist Aryan Brotherhood. He has also killed a security officer by stabbing him 67 times and has dragged another dead victim, a fellow prisoner, around the tier like a senseless mannequin. Silverstein has been in his cell 23 hours a day for the past 32 years and for very good reasons.
“Though I know that I want to live and have always been a survivor, I have often wished for death,” Silverstein said in an Amnesty International report. “I know, though, that I don’t want to die. What I want is a life in prison that I can fill with some meaning.” Complicated in the face of considering what that might mean in light of life at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, or ADX, one of the so-called supermax prisons, where Silverstein is currently housed. Along with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, and Zacarias Moussaoui, a 9/11 conspirator.
The most prolific woman serial killer in history may have been this late-16th-century Hungarian countess, who used her privilege to get away with hundreds of murders. Báthory lured young women to her home with the promise of work but ultimately attacked them, with the help of her staff, committing senseless violence upon them. Prone to fits of rage and seizures, she was also a sexual sadist, historians believe, in addition to a psychopath.
With the help of a few of her maids and a dwarf manservant called Ficzko, Báthory began torturing and killing dozens of peasant girls, who had been lured to her castle by the prospect of employment. According to the testimony of witnesses, still preserved in the Hungarian archives, Báthory’s victims were beaten with lashes, knives, irons and cudgels; some were doused with cold water and left to freeze in the snow, while others had needles shoved under their fingernails and fingers lopped off if they tried to remove them.
A French gay woman who was also an incredible athlete, Violette Morris used her considerable talents in the service of darkness. One of history’s most notorious murderers, the former swimmer and boxer was known to beat down males in her time. When her home country dismissed her from the Olympic team for wearing a man’s suit, she turned around and became a spy and confidant of the Third Reich.
When Germany invaded France, Morris took her treason public: Now a Gestapo agent, she was in charge of dismantling Resistance operations and interrogating prisoners. Morris was in her early 50s, but her tremendous strength and brutal torture techniques earned her a horrifying nickname: the “Hyena of the Gestapo.”