You’ve probably heard the saying, “Kids can be so cruel,” which is usually in reference to schoolyard bullying. It might also relate to such things as young kids pulling the legs off spiders.
Psychologists tell us one of the reasons for such cruelty, especially against animals, is that children have not fully developed their sense of empathy. Sometimes they just don’t understand the gravity of their actions. But then older kids should know better.
Psychologists also tell us older kids that tend to be evil might have suffered from abusive relationships. They might also just be little psychopaths in the making, domineering devils with an anti-social attitude, and sometimes it seems there’s no rational explanation why they are the way they are. We are going to introduce you to the ten most evil kids ever.
10. Peter Woodcock
We’ll start with the oldest kid on this list, who we admit could be said to have been almost an adult when he did his wicked deeds. He was 17 when he first started raping and killing young children in Toronto, Canada, in the 1950s.
Peter Woodcock had a bad start in life – like many kids on this list – he was put up for adoption by his 17-year old mom and then he was physically and sexually abused by his foster parents. He moved from home to home and was constantly bullied.
At age 17, some say 16, he stalked young kids in Toronto. He molested and killed a boy of nine, another boy of 6, and also a girl of 4 in a short time span, and was soon arrested. He did strange things to his victims, like biting them, or with the girl, committing the rape partly with a tree branch.
He defecated next to one of his victim’s bodies and ritualistically sprinkled pennies or paper clips over the dead. He was found to be insane and was locked up in a psychiatric facility.
There he underwent all kinds of strange therapies, including being given powerful LSD and locked in a dark room. Nothing worked. As an adult, he would kill again, and that’s a very strange story for another time. He is so high on this list only because it’s debatable if he was actually a kid when he did those evil things.
9. Brenda Ann Spencer
We could of course include numerous school shootings on this list, most of which happen in the USA for some reason. We won’t start a gun debate here or mention the worst of those tragedies, but we will mention this 16-year old girl only because of her utter lack of remorse.
In 1979, she took a rifle to school. She shot 8 kids and a police officer, none of whom died. She also killed her school principal and a custodian. When asked why she did it, she replied, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” She said it was a lot of fun, adding that the kids “looked like a herd of cows standing around; it was really easy pickings.”
Before being imprisoned, she had lived in poverty with her alcoholic dad. It’s been said she is psychotic and also depressed. She is still in prison today.
8. Edmund Kemper
You probably know this guy already as one of the worst serial killers in history, a man who fits the description of the killer genius. Edmund Kemper certainly sounds quite clever in his numerous interviews that you can see on YouTube.
He also looks scary at 6 foot 9 (206cm) and 300 pounds (136 kg). We won’t say too much, as we may feature him in his own show, but we will tell you that at age 15 he shot and killed both his grandparents.
He was always a dark kid, and not the only cat killer on this list. When asked why he killed his grandparents, he replied, “To see what it was like.” He underwent many tests and it was discovered he had a high IQ and that he was a paranoid schizophrenic.
He stayed in an institution for mentally ill convicts until he was 21. Was he cured? Definitely not; he would go on to do some very, very bad things.
7. The unnamed Brit
This sounds like something from the opening scene of a horror movie. A 13-year old boy walks into a police station holding a knife. He is covered in blood. Shocked police look on as the boy tells them he just killed his little brother. This happened in the UK in 2001.
Police rushed to the house where they met the mother who knew nothing about what had happened. She’d been asleep on the sofa. They all dashed upstairs to find a six-month old baby dead in its cot. The baby had been stabbed 17 times and one of his hands was cut off.
When interviewed by police, the boy said he knew what he was doing when he got a knife from the kitchen drawer, but he wasn’t sure why he wanted to hurt his brother. He told police when they asked him why he did it, “I want to be with my mom.”
The police report stated that the boy had obviously had his faculties together when he committed the crime, as it wasn’t over quickly: “The wound through the spine would have required a significant degree of force even with a sharp-tipped knife, and he couldn’t have severed the hand without looking,” said the report.
But the boy only got manslaughter due to his circumstances. His mother had severely neglected him and she had been abused by her own mentally ill father. It’s said the boy had also been sexually abused by her parents.
So, it’s not surprising that the court heard that the boy suffered from “serious psychiatric problems”, and also had Aspergers syndrome. One of three psychologists that examined the boy said, “His existence was wretched.” The question is, should we have any pity for him?
6. Mary Bell
Now for some more female evil. Mary Bell made the headlines in the UK after she was convicted of strangling to death both a four year old and a three-year old in 1968 in Newcastle, England.
She may be on here with a double murder, but she perhaps gets more sympathy from the public because of her childhood. Her mom was a prostitute and it later became known that Bell had suffered continually from sexual abuse from her own mom and from her mom’s clients. It gets even worse.
This mother from hell even tried to kill Mary Bell on several occasions and make it look like an accident. One time she threw Mary out of a window and another time overdosed her on sleeping pills. But Mary survived. She committed one murder at age 9 and another at age 10. On one victim, she had carved an “M” in his stomach.
After the murders, Bell was sentenced, and she got out of jail in 1980 when she was 23. This was too early for many Brits to stomach, and those devilish tabloids told the people where Bell was staying. Because of this, she had to go into protective custody lest the mob string her up from a lamppost.
The plot thickened years later when Bell’s 14-year old daughter started receiving abuse, a girl who hadn’t before then even known what her mom had done. The public was also angered that Bell made money from a book that was written about her.
The author of the book said Bell was not a criminal but a “horribly damaged child”. It also turned out that the tabloids that were ostensibly furious about Bell getting some cash for the book had actually offered her more money for her story.
5. Joshua Phillips
This is the story of Joshua Phillips, a story you may have heard as it’s been on TV plenty of times. Philips bludgeoned his 8-year old neighbor, Maddie Clifton, to death in 1998. Search parties went looking for the girl, and in the party was Philips himself.
But it was his mom who discovered the gruesome truth when she checked a water bed that was leaking in one of the bedrooms. Stuffed inside the bed was the beaten body of Clifton. She had been beaten with a baseball bat, strangled, and repeatedly stabbed. Philips was arrested while at school and he admitted to the murder straightaway.
He was given life in prison without parole. Speaking of his crime, Philips said, “I really don’t know if I deserve (to be released) or not. But I know I want… a second chance. Maybe I deserve to die in prison.”
So, what drove him to this act of evil? Some people blame the father, who was a violent alcoholic who ruled over the household with an iron fist. The perpetrator now wants a second chance in life and has appealed his sentence. Many people in America think that he should stay in prison for the rest of his life.
Others say crimes such as this merit the death penalty, but there are people who believe some amount of leniency should be shown when it is a child that does the damage. The parents of the girl don’t think so, and they once told press: “We were raising our girls in a Christian home where we prayed every day. What we didn’t know was that the devil himself had moved in right across the street.”
4. Robert Thompson and Jon Venables
This is the crime that shook the UK in 1993, a crime that has never been forgotten and remains divisive among the public. The boys that committed the crime were just ten. If you are from the UK and old enough to remember, you will have seen CCTV footage of these two young boys taking a 2-year old from a shopping mall.
It later turned out that their first plan had been to abduct a child and then take him into the street and push him in front of a vehicle. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they took the child on a journey, all the time hitting him and dropping him on his head.
People even saw them with the child, but the boys told them the kid was their little brother. They then took him close to a railway line where they poured paint into the boy’s eyes, stamped on him, threw stones at him, and even put batteries they had bought into the boy’s orifices. They then killed him by dropping a heavy part of the railway line on his head. They left the boy on the track and he was later cut in half when a train passed.
As you can imagine, many of the British people wanted blood. The killers remained hidden and the public was not allowed to know where they were kept. They were released in 2001, but still today people debate what should have been done about this. Are kids that young wholly responsible or should their somewhat abusive backgrounds be taken into consideration?
As adults, the two men lived under different identities to protect themselves from street justice. Venables was later arrested numerous times for downloading and distributing child pornography. He is in prison right now for that crime.
Robert Thompson, who the press say was the ringleader in the brutal crime, has not re-offended. It’s believed he educated himself and is currently settled down in a stable relationship. Many Brits believe he doesn’t deserve that kind of happiness.
3. Eric Smith
Eric Smith also didn’t get a good start in life. It’s thought that the epilepsy drug his mom was taking while she was pregnant with him may have been one of the reasons this child had extreme violent urges.
These urges culminated one day when he was riding his bicycle back from summer camp in Steuben County, New York, in 1993. At the time, Smith was just 13-years old. He came across a 4-year old boy in a park and asked the kid to go further into an area surrounded by trees.
There Smith strangled the boy to death. But the evil didn’t stop there. He then raped the boy with a tree branch and also dropped a large rock onto the boy’s head. The New York Times described what happened like this: “He then lifted a 26-pound rock in the air and smashed it several times against the boy’s head.
He took another rock and hurled it into the boy’s chest. He poured Kool-Aid from a lunch carton on the body and pulled down the boy’s shorts to shove a four-inch stick up his rectum.”
As you can imagine, this shocked America. Smith underwent all kinds of psychological examinations and it was said he had something called “intermittent explosive disorder”, which means a person can just fly into a violent rage for no reason.
Whilst in jail, Smith wrote to the family of the victim, saying, “If I could go back in time, I would switch places with Derrick and endure all the pain I’ve caused him. If it meant that he would go on living, I’d switch places, but I can’t.” He is still in prison right now, and many Americans think he should stay there forever.
2. Amarjeet Sada
This young Indian boy is said to be the world’s youngest serial killer. The eight-year old comes from Begusarai in the state of Bihar. In 2006, he was convicted of killing three babies, including his sister and cousin.
The babies, just a few months old, were either strangled or had their heads smashed with a stone. He was called a sadist, but psychologists said he just didn’t know right from wrong and was said to have “Conduct Disorder”.
As he was so young, he couldn’t go to prison, but it’s thought he spent about three years in a psychiatric facility and also a remand home. He never denied what he did, telling police of one murder, “She was sleeping in the school. I took her a little away and killed her with a stone and buried her.”
As we said at the beginning of this show, sometimes children who are older and have suffered from abuse may commit such violent crimes, but in the case of Sada, psychologists have been stumped given that he was so young.
A professor of criminology at Birmingham City University had this to say, “It is impossible to say with certainty whether a person is born a killer or becomes a killer, but most criminologists believe that it is a messy combination of the two.”
So, perhaps young Sada didn’t kill because of environmental damage, maybe he was just a natural born killer. Perhaps sadism just runs through some people’s blood.
1. Jesse Harding Pomeroy
This is the story of a young man from Massachusetts who was born way back in 1859. Jesse Pomeroy is known for being America’s most evil kid, and as it seems the USA pretty much has a monopoly on serial killers, we might just call him the world’s worst kid.
Stories differ as to how many victims he had, but he brutally tortured many kids aged 4 to 8 when he was aged 12-14. His tools of the trade were knives, sticks, pins, and rope. According to a story in Gizmodo, ”He killed two children and assaulted at least seven more in a criminal career that scarcely spanned a year. At times, he was attacking a boy a week.”
He really was quite the sadist, too. There is one report that says he tied some kids up to a beam and whipped them until they were unconscious. With other kids, he put pins in their bodies and mutilated their faces with a knife.
What makes him different from some other people on this list is that he seemed to take great joy in his work, sounding something like a character from a Marquis de Sade novel (that’s where the name ‘sadist’ comes from by the way. His books are not for the faint-hearted).
It’s said Jesse Pomeroy loved those acts of sadism. According to reports, and interviews with some of his victims, when Jesse was beating and stabbing them, he would laugh out loud. According to his own mother, he had a normal upbringing. They had money and his parents were kind to him. She also said that he was a sickly kid, and around him was a certain kind of darkness.
This became known early on as it’s reported he had strangled dogs and stabbed cats. After his first few tortures, he was caught and sent to juvenile reform prison but was released just after a year. Later, two kids were found stabbed and tortured… and dead; one had been almost castrated.
Yep, it was Jesse. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to hang. But being a child, this didn’t go down well with some people. His sentence was later reduced to life in solitary confinement. Apparently, he tried to escape a number of times and then gave up. Over the decades in solitary, it’s said he read 8,000 books and became fluent in several languages. In all, the ‘Boston Boy Fiend’ served 59 years. He died at age 72 in 1932.