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The serial killers who still haunt us

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(CNN) -- The deaths of five women -- all working as prostitutes --- in the past two weeks in Ipswich, eastern England, has triggered an urgent manhunt for a suspected serial killer. Here The Briefing Room recalls the infamous careers of some of the other chilling murderers whose crimes continue to haunt us.

Jack the Ripper

Victorian London's most notorious killer has haunted the popular imagination ever since the brutal deaths of five prostitutes in 1888 to which he owes his infamy. The name "Jack the Ripper" came from a letter to police purporting to be from the killer himself, although his true identity was never known and remains the subject of intense speculation. In an age gripped by the fictional murder cases of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle's first Holmes story, "A Study in Scarlet," was published a year earlier), the Ripper killings made newspaper headlines around the world.

Ted Bundy

Bundy was finally sentenced to death in 1979 for killing two women in their sleep and seriously wounding two others in a Florida State University dormitory. He was apprehended a few weeks later in February 1978 after killing 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. But he would eventually confess to more than 30 killings and perhaps committed many more in a murderous four-year spree across the U.S. during which he had twice escaped from jail. Bundy was executed by electric chair in Florida in 1989.

David Berkovitz

The "Son of Sam" killer terrified New Yorkers between 1976 and 1977, typically targeting young couples with a .44 Caliber handgun, killing six people and wounding seven others. His notoriety was enhanced by a series of macabre, incoherent notes to detectives working on the case and to the New York Daily News. Berkovitz was finally linked to the shootings in July 1977 by a discarded parking ticket. Police arrested him the following month outside his Yonkers apartment. Confessing to police, Berkovitz said a neighbor's dog had instructed him to carry out the killings. He was jailed for 365 years and remains in prison.

Fred and Rose West

West and his wife Rose sexually abused and killed a succession of young women who would stay at their home in Gloucester, south-western England, between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, including their own 16-year-old daughter, Heather. Police eventually found the couple's dismembered victims buried in the back garden as well as under the cellar and bathroom of what the media dubbed the "house of horrors." Fred West, accused of 12 murders, committed suicide before the case went to trial in 1995. Rose West was found guilty on 10 murder charges and jailed for life.

Andrei Chikatilo

Russia's most notorious serial killer was convicted in 1994 for the murder of 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990 -- a period when news and information about his crimes was largely suppressed by the secretive Soviet state. Most of the former teacher's killings occurred near the Black Sea port of Rostov until Chikatilo's eventual arrest in 1990. He was tried in 1992 and executed two years later.

Aileen Wuornos

Though Wuornos was not the first female serial killer, the murders of seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990 made her perhaps the most notorious -- her story was turned into the movie "Monster" for which Charlize Theron won an Oscar in 2003. All seven of her killings occurred while she was working as a prostitute on Florida's highways; initially she said she had acted in self-defense, claiming her victims had sexually assaulted her. Sentenced to death, Wuornos actively campaigned for her own execution, saying she would "kill again" given the chance. She was put to death in 2002.

Harold Shipman

The Manchester doctor is estimated by the UK's Department of Health to have killed as many as 236 people between the 1970s and 1998 when he was finally caught by police amid concerns among colleagues at the high death rate among his patients and following a clumsy attempt to forge the will of one of his victims. Shipman mainly targeted elderly ladies often living alone, injecting them with high doses of morphine and then amending their medical records to suggest poor health. He was convicted on 15 counts of murder in 2000 and committed suicide in prison in 2004.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Dahmer murdered 17 men and young boys in Milwaukee, mostly during a killing spree between 1989 and 1991. He was finally caught after a would-be victim escaped from his apartment and alerted police. When they searched Dahmer's home they found numerous dismembered human remains, including several human heads stored in a refrigerator, and evidence of cannibalism. Dahmer was sentenced to 943 years in prison in 1992. Two years later he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate.


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Harold Shipman: Britain's most prolific serial killer.

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