Most people fantasize about meeting the love of their life. They are looking for that special connection, a perfect click with a soon-to-be lifelong mate. A typical checklist of desired traits includes physical attraction, a sense of humor, and shared interests. Then there are those unorthodox types who are seeking a special kind of spark — their dream soul mate snuffs people out. Here is a top 10 list of killer couples.
1. Alton Coleman and Debra Brown
This pair raped and killed on a tear through six states in 1984. By the time they were arrested they’d racked up eight murders, seven rapes, three kidnappings and 14 armed robberies. They were prosecuted in Ohio because the state has the death penalty. Both were found guilty and sentenced to die. Brown wriggled out of her death sentence, but Coleman got the needle.
2. David and Catherine Birnie The Birnies were an Australian couple that murdered four women in their homes in the 1980s. The Birnies lived at 3 Moorhouse Street, so the press referred to their kills as the Moorhouse murders. David grew up in a messy, dirty home full of alcoholism and incest. Catherine met David when she was 12 and he was 14. The rest is history.
3. Faye and Ray Copeland The Copelands gained infamy as the oldest couple in America sentenced to die. In 1990, when they were tried and convicted, Ray was 76 and Faye 69. They murdered five drifters, each via a single bullet to the back of the head. Ray had a long history of crime. Faye’s lawyers argued that she was a victim of battered woman syndrome. They were caught when a drifter told police he’d seen the remains of human bodies on their land. Faye swore she had no idea her husband was a murderer, but police found a written list of drifters and those who’d been killed had an X marked next to their names.
4. Fred and Rosemary West Between 1967 and 1994, between the two of them, this married couple killed at least 11 young women and girls. Rosemary killed Fred’s stepdaughter while he was serving time in prison for theft. Rosemary was infuriated that the girl wouldn’t cry during the beatings she gave her. In 1995, Rosemary was convicted on 10 counts of murdered and sentenced to life. Fred killed himself while in custody pending his trial. Fred claimed his childhood home was full of incest and his dad taught him bestiality. Fred encouraged Rosemary to become a prostitute and she obliged. These two deserved each other.
5. Gerald and Charlene Gallego This lovely couple killed 10 teenage and young adult victims after using them as sex slaves from 1978 to 1980. Charlene was raised in a decent family, but went off the rails when she turned to alcohol and drugs in high school. Perhaps it was the cocaine that fueled her sexual depravity. Her first husband was a heroin addict who complained that Charlene had lesbian tendencies. Meanwhile, Gerald grew up physically and emotionally abused by his mother. After Charlene’s two divorces she met Gerald and the two fell wildly, passionately in love. They completed each other . . . how romantic.
6. Jens Söring and Elizabeth Haysom Jens is the son of a German diplomat. In 1984, he fell in love with Elizabeth. In 1985, they murdered her parents. In 1986, they were arrested in London for a check fraud scheme, and they transferred to the United States in 1990. Jens was under the impression that his father could get him diplomatic immunity for the murder. How wrong he was. He hasn’t spoken to his dad since 2001. Jens received two consecutive life sentences for the murders. Elizabeth has a mandatory release date of 2032, when she’ll be 68 years old.
7. Judith and Alvin Neelley Judith met Alvin when she was 15 and he was 26. He’d been born in Georgia and became a teenage car thief. By the time they hooked up, armed robbery was their crime du jour. Things escalated — as they often do — and the pair was convicted of kidnapping, torturing and murdering a 13-year-old girl and later, a 22-year-old. Judith was sentenced to death for injecting the young victim with Drano, shooting her in the head, then throwing her into a Canyon. In 1999, her sentence was commuted to life without parole. She’s serving her time in Alabama. Alvin pled out for a life sentence and was doing his time in Georgia, but dropped dead during surgery in 2005.
8. Michelle Michaud and James Daveggio On September 18, 2002, a Sacramento couple named Michelle Michaud and James Daveggio were sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping, torturing and strangling a 22-year-old student in December 1997. The deranged dynamic duo had committed additional crimes, but that’s the one they were convicted for. They cruised around in a Dodge-van-turned-torture-chamber that was rigged with ropes and hooks that made many an abductee very miserable. Here’s the kicker: Michelle was a Catholic Church volunteer when she wasn’t busy indulging in depravity and mayhem. Prosecutors said the two modeled their crimes after Gerald and Charlene Gallego (see above).
9. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka This lovely Canadian couple enjoyed sadism, serial raping, torturing and killing. Well, everybody needs a pastime. Unlike other girls he’d known, Karla encouraged his diabolical behaviors. Apparently Paul grew up a happy-go-lucky adorable child despite the fact that his father sexually abused Paul’s sister, and that their mother became so despondent she moved into the basement. By the time he got to college, Paul enjoyed humiliating and beating women. He was just the right guy for Karla, who helped him rape and kill her sister. In 1995, Paul got life in prison for murdering a couple of girls in Ontario. Karla pled guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 12-year prison sentence. Oy.
10. Ricky Davis and Dena Riley By 13, Ricky was a delinquent and institutionalized. He graduated to prison for theft, then a few months after his release, he went back in — this time it was a 25-year sentence for raping a woman. He claimed the sex was consensual, but the jury didn’t go for it. He’d held a knife to the woman’s throat. Ricky got sex counseling, drug counseling and showed up regularly for parole visits, then perhaps he grew bored. He decided he wanted to make real snuff films. Meth head Dena was 38 when she met 40-year-old Ricky. Dena lured desperate meth addicts to Ricky in exchange for drugs or money. Ricky and Dena were such morons that they videotaped the murders, got caught and pled guilty.