Notorious Serial Killers from Kentucky


As a future forensic psychologist, I find serial killers pretty interesting. It is fascinating to try and understand their motives and methods. A while back I wrote an article about murders that occurred on college campuses across the U.S. Recently some coworkers and I were talking about notorious serial killers, and it made me wonder if any of them were from Kentucky.


  • Bonne Helm aka “The Kentucky Cannibal”

Born in Kentucky in the 1800's this serial killer has a wild story. Although his crimes did not occur in the 21st century I still thought he was relevant. After causing a lot of trouble in Kentucky Helm decided to move to California. For his travels he decided to take packages of human meat.


On his way to California he killed numerous people. By the time he was in Idaho police were looking for him. He killed numerous people in California, but after killing another fugitive, police were finally able to apprehend him. In 1864, he was hung for his crimes.


  • Donald Harvey aka “The Angel of Death”

Born in Ohio, Harvey moved to London, Kentucky when he was a child. He claims to have killed 87 people while working as an orderly in Marymount Hospital. His methods mainly involved strangulation and poison. Harvey differed from other killers in that he did not do a practice run. Many serial killers experiment with animals first, just to test the waters.


He killed Logan Evans on May 30, 1970, and the next day he killed James Tyree. By the end of 1970 Harvey had already killed 10 people. He was convicted of 37 murders, some people believe his death count to be 57, though Evans admitted to 87 murders. On March 28, 2017 Harvey was found severely beaten in his cell. He died two days later on May 30, 2017.


  • Clay Shrout

While most would not categorize him in the same group as the Kentucky Cannibal or the Angel of Death, Shrout still committed a horrendous act.


On May 26, 1994, Shrout killed his parents and his two younger sisters. He arrived afterwards at his high school and held his trigonometry class hostage. The assistant principal offered to trade places with his class if he let them go free. He agreed, and later surrendered when police arrived. He said he killed his parents, because they took away his weapons. He said he killed his sisters, because he did not want her to have to live without parents.


Shrout pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. He was sentenced to life with parole after 25 years. He is eligible for parole in 2019.


After doing research, there were very few serial killers who were from Kentucky, or who committed their crimes in Kentucky. There are other states that are plagued by serial killers like Alaska, Nevada and Florida. If you are interested in learning about serial killers check out these podcasts: My Favorite Murder, Cold Case and Serial.