20 Disturbing Interviews With Killers
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re looking at 20 Disturbing Interviews With Killers.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most troubling interview footage with accused or convicted killers.
Have you seen any of these? Let us know in the comments.
Richard Kuklinski, a.k.a. “The Iceman,” has been the subject of multiple documentaries over the years, and even a feature film. The validity of his claims has been questioned, specifically the large number of contract killings in which Kuklinski had reportedly taken part. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that Kuklinski was a startling interview, one that gave credence to his chilling namesake. Kuklinski does indeed come across as icy and detached within both “The Iceman Tapes” and “The Iceman Confesses,” describing his double life as a devoted family man and cold-hearted killer. Although the Iceman passed away in 2006, his reputation lives on within this disturbing footage.
This interview with convicted murderer Stephen McDaniel is chilling for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s not often that local news audiences get to witness a killer speaking to the press prior to their arrest. McDaniel’s demeanor seems busy and energetic, as the wheels appear set in motion within his head. He attempts to set up an alibi for himself, although he’s soon caught off guard when he learns, on camera, that part of his victim’s remains have been recovered.  At this point, McDaniel stops dead in his tracks, his eyes glaze over, and his reactions say it all: he knows he’s been caught. It’s surreal to see it all play out in real time.
It’s the brazen and nonchalant attitude emanating from Dennis Rader that makes this interview with the BTK Killer so disturbing. The piece was conducted by Massachusetts psychologist Robert Mendoza, and it took place almost immediately after Rader plead guilty to ten counts of first-degree murder. To hear Rader describe his methodology in such laissez-faire terms is chilling, as BTK details how he would stalk and learn about his potential victims before striking. He even describes a kit of tools that he would use during the proceedings. Rader also tells Mendoza that he “couldn’t help” but commit these crimes, and he muses as to whether or not being dropped on his head as a child resulted in some form of demonic possession.
Full disclosure: the purpose behind this interview with the “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz, is a vehicle to showcase the killer’s born-again beliefs. Still, the source details are there. Berkowitz is interviewed with soft, acoustic guitar music in the background and flattering lighting, the exact opposite of what we normally expect from these sorts of interviews. It’s still a bit unsettling, this humanizing of the .44 Caliber Killer who held New York City in the grip of fear back in the 1970s. Around the time of this interview, Berkowitz also tried to insinuate that a Satanic cult had used him as a pawn in these killings, but a new investigation could not corroborate these claims.
Jack wasn’t the only Ripper in England. Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, terrorized the areas of Manchester and West Yorkshire between 1975 and 1980. Sutcliffe targeted sex workers or women that he perceived as being involved in such business, although his criteria for such assumptions could be something as innocuous as a woman being out in the early morning. Sutcliffe’s various phone interviews with officials and the media lean into the Ripper’s violent and misogynist views, to the point where he callously labels one of his victims as being in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” Sutcliffe even went as far as referring to his victims as “filth” during his confession to police.
Peter Kürten was dubbed “The Vampire of Düsseldorf,” due to the killer’s reputation for savagery, as well as his fixation on blood. Although this interview report dates all the way back to Kürten’s execution on July 1st, 1931, and has admittedly fallen into the realm of nebulous urban legend, the legacy is no less chilling. Kürten was speaking with a prison psychologist while awaiting the guillotine when he asked whether or not would he shortly afterwards be able to hear the sound of his own blood. His head currently resides at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum in Wisconsin as an exhibit attraction.
It’s infuriating to think that a serial killer can go on killing for so long that they can eventually just slow down due to old age. Samuel Little possessed the largest confirmed victims list in U.S. history, beginning way back in 1970, if not sooner. Little continued his murderous ways for over thirty years until he was finally apprehended, thanks to advances in modern forensic pathology. This career criminal never showed remorse for his behavior, either. The official FBI YouTube account has a wealth of confessions from Little, all of which possess the killer’s relaxed, almost self-satisfied attitude.
So many true crime aficionados study the interviews of serial killers, but the stories from the underworld of organized crime can be equally chilling. Take, for example, the story of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. “The Bull” was a notorious Gambino Family underboss who broke the organization’s code of silence in speaking to officials and testifying as a government witness against mob boss John Gotti. Gravano’s own demeanor during this 1997 interview with Diane Sawyer is a mixture of frankness and arrogance as he describes a life of contract killing. “The Bull’s” story feels just as cinematic as “The Godfather,” a stranger-than-fiction story of true, organized crime.
The case of Diane Downs is one steeped in trauma and violence, a situation of loss for everyone involved. Downs was convicted for killing one of her children and making an attempt on the other two on May 19th, 1983. Downs has claimed in interviews, such as this 1984 piece from KEZI Eyewitness News, that she was herself the victim of abuse as a child. However, Downs also attempted to play off her attack as a random crime perpetrated by a carjacker. Additionally, her demeanor in this interview exudes this sense of calm, with plenty of smiles and very specific recollections about the incident. It’s chilling stuff.
Westley Allan Dodd
There is a shocking matter-of-factness within almost every interview containing soundbites from Westley Allan Dodd. The convicted killer and predator was known for saying, point-blank, that he would kill again, if set free. Dodd was so intent on underlying his crimes and behavior that he even stressed, on multiple occasions, that he deserved the death penalty. Dodd never shied away from detailing his criminal past, recounting how he’d been committing horrible crimes of violence since he was very young. Eventually, Dodd got his wish, as he was executed on January 5th, 1993.
John Wayne Gacy
The recent Netflix documentary, “The John Wayne Gacy Tapes,” did a lot to point out the notorious serial killer’s sociopathic tendencies when it came to shifting blame for his accused crimes. This wasn’t the first time evidence to that end has come out, however, as documented by this piece from CBS News 2 Chicago, back in 1992. Interviewer Walter Jacobson doesn’t need to do much talking in his encounter with Gacy, as it quickly becomes clear that the former “Pogo the Clown” is trying his best to present alibi after alibi for his innocence. Gacy himself is composed for the most part, although there is a moment where he demonstrates his infamous “rope trick” with a shoelace that echoes the methodology of his horrible crimes.
Time can change many things about a person, including how they behave while being interviewed. The Ted Bundy featured in a 1977 jailhouse interview from KUTV News appears more in line with the suave-yet-cold-blooded reputation Bundy had amongst other notorious serial killers. He smiles a lot during the piece, and possesses body language that appears relaxed and almost happy. Bundy keeps eye contact with his interviewer throughout most of their conversation, and it’s easy to become lulled into a false sense of security… which was exactly Ted’s intention. Fast forward to the night before his execution, and we see a fearful and pensive Ted Bundy, a man seeking to shift blame for his crimes during his interview with Christian conservative evangelist James Dobson.
The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, may be one of the most frightening serial killers of all time, not only due to the brutality of his crimes, but also the projected aura of what many perceive to be “pure evil.” It’s easy to see why during some of Ramirez’s more notable interviews over the years, including one conducted with author Mike Watkiss. Richard’s somewhat tense responses to Watkiss’s questioning imply a coiled rage, an anger that’s also exemplified by the Night Stalker’s breathing as he seems to become annoyed with Watkiss. Ramirez is comparatively more relaxed during a piece with “Inside Edition,” although that interview also hammers home the Night Stalker’s obsession with Satanism, evil and the occult.
There’s something truly bone-chilling about the matter-of-fact way in which the Co-Ed Killer, Edmund Kemper, describes his past in the 1981 documentary, “The Killing of America.” Kemper’s impressive intellect and well-spoken nature belie the brutality of a life that committed its first murder at the age of fifteen. The killer even makes a self-referential joke to his modus operandi of picking up hitchhikers by putting on a pair of glasses, and asking the camera whether they would get into a car with him. Kemper’s mental state comes across as perpetually active, like a bubbling pot of water about to boil over, while the documentary's exploitative narration pushes the creep factor of this one over the top.
There’s no barely-repressed rage within the demeanor of Jeffrey Dahmer as he discusses his history with interviewer Stone Phillips. Nor are there aren’t any wild, headline-grabbing theatrics. Instead, Dahmer’s quiet and soft-spoken recounting of his horrible crimes lends the piece that much more power. There’s the power of shock as he discusses the failed attempts at creating “living zombies” with the remains of his victims. There’s also the power of how Dahmer’s moments of shocking violence are undercut by the killer’s regret for the decisions he made, and the futility of what seemed to be a date with infamy and destiny.
Gary Ridgway, a.k.a. the Green River Killer, was one of the most prolific of all American serial murderers. Ridgway was also perhaps one of the most unrepentant, a sentiment that’s placed front and center during any of his interviews. Take, for example, one he did with FBI psychopathy profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole, where he very calmly describes how he would gain the trust of his victims. O’Toole manages to get Ridgway talking in-depth about his past, his upbringing, and the dozens of victims attributed to the Green River Killer’s rampage.
There’s been a wealth of interview footage of Charles Manson released over the years, much of which can be used as evidence for the man’s often-unhinged persona. And there’s a lot of that here from this 1987 interview with “Today” correspondent Heidi Schulman. However, there’s also this intent to shatter the myth of Manson as a leader, and this is aided by the visual of Manson’s scattershot presence during the interview. Although the occasionally violent outbursts by Manson have been well-documented in this piece, it’s the more soft-spoken soundbites that reveal more about the man’s own admitted failures and shortcomings.
This interview with Ottis Toole is the stuff of nightmares. There are a lot of reasons for this, too, not the least of which is Toole’s explosive bursts of laughter, and absolutely chilling smile. Additionally, there’s the explicit nature of how Toole describes his past crimes, and how the former associate of fellow killer Henry Lee Lucas seems to easily disassociate the value of human life. The grainy and blown-out A/V quality of this interview footage only seems to add to the feeling of grime and filth left over by Toole’s gleeful accounts and delivery.
Unlike the majority of our other entries, Issei Sagawa isn’t technically a serial killer. However, this interview footage from Vice’s “Interview with a Cannibal” is too disturbing NOT to make our list. Sagawa’s history of murder is detailed in the documentary, while Issei himself describes the premeditated shooting of his classmate while living and studying in France. Sagawa’s obsessions are also detailed in the piece, as well as the legal loopholes that allowed the killer to escape prison time for his actions. Sagawa’s quiet and fragile demeanor undercuts his words, all spoken in equally hushed and inoffensive tones. It’s a frankly horrifying and unbelievable story.
This interview with Aileen Wuornos on the eve of her execution is disturbing for a number of reasons. For starters, there are the crimes for which Wuornos was convicted, but there are also the stories Aileen tells about her treatment in prison. Her accusations of sonic torment and food tampering speak to her paranoia and mental state during this time, a state that gradually reaches a fever pitch during the interview. Wuornos’s face as she directly addresses the camera is chilling, and the audience can only stare back into her eyes as the condemned killer accuses society of “railroading” and “sabotage.”