Out for revenge, fame, or fortune, criminals have always captivated our attention—as much for the dramatic attempts to bring them to justice as for their cunning plots and shocking acts. These serial killers, gangsters, terrorists, and assassins all made history for their unscrupulous acts. Some were caught for their crimes, while others remain on the 'Most Wanted' list. Biography.com takes a look at the lives of the most notorious criminals of all time and examines how they made it into the ranks of infamy.
Featured Notorious Groups
Browse through each group of infamous murderers, mobsters, terrorists, and even famous Hollywood stars who've committed violent crimes. Watch video to get a real look inside the mind of these notorious people.
Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.
Infamous Serial Killers
It's not just crazy loners who commit heinous crimes; many times, it's stars who are the most brazen killers, believing their notoriety and fortunes will get them off the hook for their violent behavior. Producer Phil Spector was one of the biggest names in the music industry in the 1960s before he was found guilty for murdering actress Lana Clarkson. O.J. Simpson was a star running-back before he stood trial for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Follow the rise and fall of these individuals and many more, who were famous—long before they became infamous.
Women Gone Mad
Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
These individuals have etched their names into history by plotting and executing the murders of prominent people. Whether their motivations were political, obsessive, or just plain insane, their high-profile murders earn them fame, fear and revulsion from the public. John Wilkes Booth shocked the nation when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater, James Earl Ray's assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was a tragic chapter in the civil rights struggle. See our picks, along with full biographies, photo galleries and videos, of these and other infamous assassins, who changed the course of history in the most brutal of ways.