10 People Who Survived Famous Serial Killers



10 People Who Survived Famous Serial Killers

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Well, that was a close one. For this list, we'll be looking at those people who narrowly avoided dying at the hands of famous killers, either by escaping the attack itself or by surviving their injuries. The criminals don't have to meet the strict definition of “serial killer”; as long as they killed multiple people, they fit the bill. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the top ten people who survived famous serial killers.
Well, that was a close one. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten people who survived famous serial killers.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those people who narrowly avoided dying at the hands of famous killers, either by escaping the attack itself or by surviving their injuries. The criminals don’t have to meet the strict definition of “serial killer”; as long as they killed multiple people, they fit the bill.

#10: Holly Dunn
Survived: Angel Reséndiz

Reséndiz went by the name of The Railroad Killer, a man who claimed at least 15 lives throughout Mexico and the United States during the 80s and 90s. On August 29, 1997, Reséndiz attacked both Christopher Maier and his girlfriend, Holly Dunn, who were walking alongside some train tracks. He tied both of them up and killed Maier by dropping a large rock on his head. He proceeded to stab Dunn in the neck with an ice pick, beat her over the head with a plank of wood, and sexually assault her. She managed to survive her injuries, becoming the only known victim of The Railroad Killer to have done so.

#9: Rose Steward
Survived: Dean Carter

In March of 1984, Dean Carter murdered five women and received the death penalty for his crimes. However, his first attempt at murder was not successful. Rose Steward, a woman whom Carter had known and grown attached to, woke up to find him in her room, whereupon he had his way with her for five hours. However, Steward pretended to enjoy his company. Due to the compassion she showed him, he let her live, and she promised to call him while he was leaving. Steward quickly went to the authorities, but Carter was long gone. Steward later testified against Carter in court, helping to put him behind bars.

#8: Teresa Thornhill
Survived: Robert Black

Throughout the 1980s, Robert Black kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young girls throughout the UK, with most ranging in age from 5 to 11 years old. The 15-year-old Teresa Thornhill was almost added to his body count when she was grabbed by Black on the streets of Nottingham. However, she managed to squeeze his groin during the struggle, which in turn loosened his grip and allowed her to scream for help. Her nearby boyfriend heard her screams and raced to her aid, resulting in Black hopping back into his car and speeding away. Another two years passed before Black was apprehended in Scotland. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2016.

#7: Tali Shapiro
Survived: Rodney Alcala

No one knows how many lives Rodney Alcala ended. Some say it could be 50, others say it could be as high as 130. Known as The Dating Game Killer because he once appeared on the game show before his crimes were known, he was sentenced to death in 2010 for five murders, and received an additional 25 years after copping to two others. His spree began in 1968 with 8-year-old Tali Shapiro, whom he sexually assaulted and beat with a steel bar in his apartment. After responding to a 911 call, a police officer found the bloodied Shapiro, but Alcala had fled. Shapiro survived the ordeal and now works as a chef.

#6: Larry Flynt
Survived: Joseph Paul Franklin

The first male victim to appear on our list is Larry Flynt, the president of Larry Flynt Publications and the producer of Hustler magazine. On March 6, 1978, Flynt and his lawyer were shot by a man who was standing across the street from them. Years later, white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin, who had slain between 7 and 22 people throughout the late 70s, claimed responsibility. Franklin stated that he was upset by interracial photos that were featured in Hustler. While Flynt survived the attack, his spine was irreparably damaged, leaving him permanently paralyzed and dependent on medications.

#5: Corazon Amurao
Survived: Richard Speck

While Speck’s reign of terror lasted only one night, it is harrowing all the same. On the night of July 13-14, 1966, Speck broke into a dormitory that housed student nurses, and it was here that he brutally raped and murdered eight of its occupants. Amurao could have been the ninth victim, but she hid under a bed while Speck was finishing off the other eight women. She stayed under the bed until 6 AM, when she finally emerged amidst the blood and bodies. Amurao later identified Speck in court, a move that helped sentence him to life in prison. It was there he died from a heart attack in 1991.

#4: Kathy Kleiner & Karen Chandler
Survived: Ted Bundy

Bundy is a killer who needs no introduction. The man who killed 30+ people almost added two more to his list on the morning of January 15, 1978, when he broke into a Florida State University sorority house. After bludgeoning one woman with a fire log and strangling another, he attacked Kleiner and Chandler. Kleiner suffered a broken jaw and a lacerated shoulder while Chandler suffered a concussion, a crushed finger, a broken jaw, and some lost teeth. Bundy’s attacks on all four women lasted all of fifteen minutes. Had he stayed longer, there’s no telling how many more would have suffered.

#3: Whitney Bennett
Survived: Richard Ramirez

Known as The Night Stalker, this monster burgled many homes and murdered at least 13 people in California from June 1984 to August 1985. He almost added 16-year-old Whitney Bennett to his list, and amongst Ramirez’s survivors, her story is perhaps the most perplexing. Bennett was beaten with a tire iron and strangled with a telephone cord. However, Ramirez saw sparks shoot from the cord, and when Bennett took a breath, he was frightened and ran away. Ramirez was a Satanist, and he believed this was a sign that Jesus Christ had saved his victim – hence his fear. He left Bennett alive, but with massive lacerations to her scalp that required 478 stitches to close.

#2: Bryan Hartnell
Survived: The Zodiac Killer

The Zodiac Killer is one of the most infamous serial killers of all time, and perhaps his most well-known attack was the one at Lake Berryessa. On the afternoon of September 27, 1969, Bryan Hartnell and his girlfriend, Cecilia Shepard, were having a picnic at Lake Berryessa. It wasn’t long before the Zodiac, complete with an executioner’s hood, appeared. The couple were both tied up, and the Zodiac proceeded to stab them numerous times while they were on the ground. Hartnell survived his wounds and later told his story to the authorities. However, it was in vain: The Zodiac Killer was never caught.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Maria Viricheva
Survived: Alexander Pichushkin

Kevin Bright
Survived: Dennis Rader

Scott Davis
Survived: Richard Beasley

Sean Cribbin
Survived: Bruce McArthur

Rhonda Williams
Survived: Dean Corll

Jennifer Asbenson
Survived: Andrew Urdiales

#1: Rebecca Garde
Survived: Gary Ridgway

Known as the Green River Killer, Ridgway’s 49 confirmed murders make him the most prolific serial killer in American history. And unconfirmed murders could bring the total higher than 90. Garde was almost added to the tally when she was picked up by Ridgway while hitchhiking along the Pacific Highway. After offering to perform an intimate service on Ridgway, she was taken into the woods, where Ridgway attacked her. She managed to fight him off and ran to a nearby trailer home, where she was quickly taken in and sheltered. While she could barely speak immediately after the attack, she survived, and is extremely lucky to have done so.