Top 10 Partners in Crime



Top 10 Partners in Crime

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Joshua Schasny
From the Most Wanted lists to the front-page headlines. For this list, we will be focusing on the noted infamy of the world's most devious criminal couples. Our countdown includes The Menéndez Brothers, Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow, and more!
Script Written by Joshua Schasny

Top 10 Infamous Crime Duos

From the Most Wanted lists to the front-page headlines. Welcome to and today we will be counting down our picks for the top ten infamous crime duos.

For this list, we will be focusing on the noted infamy of these devious couples. Whether they acted as a husband and wife team, as brothers, or just plain partners in crime, their dastardly deeds have either shocked the world or left an important mark on culture and history.

#10: The Menéndez Brothers

In one of the first publicized murder cases in history, the gruesome murder of famed TV executive José Menéndez and his wife Mary by their two sons Erik and Lyle, shocked the public. In a much-covered court hearing, which saw evidence of crime scene tampering, allegations of abuse, and doctoring the murder to look like an organized crime hit, the Menéndez Brothers’ notorious case became the framework for many popular murder investigations broadcast on national television.

#9: Fred & Rosemary West

Among the U.K.’s most notorious killer couples are Fred and Rosemary West, who over a period of around twenty years, abused and murdered at least twelve girls. While some of the reported victims were the results of Fred acting alone, around eleven of these killings were done in partnership with his second wife, Rosemary, victims of which included Fred’s eight-year-old stepdaughter Charmaine, and the couples’ biological daughter Heather. In a shocking confession made in 1994, the West’s horrifying case came to light, which saw the West’s facing life sentences. While Fred committed suicide before sentencing could be given in early 1995, Rosemary has been given a full-life sentence, with no chance of appeal.

#8: Nathan Leopold & Richard Loeb

Intellectual superiority and brash egotism were the downfall of failed criminal masterminds Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, known for the kidnapping and brutal murder of the fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks. In what they deemed “the perfect crime,” Leopold and Loeb extensively planned the kidnapping, including intricate ransom notes and drop-offs, and a premeditated murder climax. The investigation into the murder became a media frenzy, seeing Leopold and Loeb hiding in plain sight only to be caught in 1924 due to Loeb’s own hubris. The aftermath saw the duo absolved of the death penalty and receiving life sentences in a controversial court case, turning their “perfect crime” into “the crime of the century.”

#7: Julius & Ethel Rosenberg

One of America’s most infamous post-war criminal couples did not receive their notoriety for murder or robbery, but for espionage. In the early stages of the Cold War, Jewish-American couple Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were arrested and accused of selling military secrets to the Soviet Union. With Communist sympathies and connections to the United States’ Manhattan Project developers, Julius Rosenberg was able to transmit top-secret nuclear test information to the U.S.S.R. While claiming the case to be a political frame-up, the Rosenbergs were famously executed for their crimes in a controversial decision that was met with public backlash, featuring protests from members from all ranks of society like Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Pope Pius XII.

#6: Myra Hindley & Ian Brady

British couple Myra Hindley and Ian Brady gained national media attention in the early-to-mid-1960s for their role in the unsettling Moors Murders, which saw five children abused and murdered by the unsuspecting couple who buried the bodies in the Saddleworth Moor. With victims ranging from the ages of 10 to 17, the unspeakable methods in which they were killed, the couple’s quick conviction and life sentences came as no surprise. Disturbingly enough, a similar case appeared in Australia in the 1980s where another couple, David and Catherine Birnie, murdered four women, ironically dubbed The Moorehouse Murders in a disturbing coincidence.

#5: Kenneth Bianchi & Angelo Buono

More famously known as The Hillside Stranglers, cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono effectively terrorized the Hollywood Hills for five months in the late 1970s after kidnapping and killing ten known victims. Furthermore, the accounts of torturing their victims led to widespread panic, especially when it was learned that the authorities failed to mention that not one, but two murderers were abducting and killing their victims until their arrest in 1979. However, in 1980, Bianchi attempted to cause even more panic by having an outside girlfriend attempt to murder a woman in a similar manner and planting some of Bianchi’s smuggled DNA on the body to prove his innocence in the case.

#4: Raymond Fernandez & Martha Beck

During their trial, this tale of love, black magic, and murder was splashed all over the papers. Fernandez and Martha Beck met through a lonely hearts ad in 1947. Fernandez had previously done time behind bars for theft, where a cellmate introduced him to black magic. Armed with the belief that this magic made him irresistible, Fernandez started a relationship with Beck, and together they used other personal ads to lure in female victims - hence their nickname, the Lonely Hearts Killers. Before their arrest in 1949, they killed at least three people, including a child, and were suspected of killing another 17. As they faced execution in the electric chair, their last words were of their love for one another. Sometimes love . . . is twisted.

#3: Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

Household names in thievery, Robert Parker and Harry Longabaugh, alias Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, had robbed countless banks and trains, marking them as wanted men by local authorities and the notorious Pinkerton Agency in the late-1890s. Sundance and Cassidy’s well-known trip south to Mexico and Bolivia gained the duo even more attention as they reportedly continued to rob banks and live in hiding until their eventual deaths at the hands of Bolivian authorities. However, due to their bodies not being properly identified, and lack of positive DNA evidence found in the 20th century, the famous outlaws may never have actually been killed in the first place.

#2: Frank & Jesse James

In post-Civil War Reconstruction America, thieves and outlaws ran rampant through the small towns recovering from the national conflict that already claimed so many lives. One such gang was the James-Younger Gang, co-headed by notorious brothers Frank and Jesse James. While being expert thieves and train robbers, the James-Younger Gang has gone down in history based on their professionalism and ability to evade the law. While Frank James retired from the criminal spotlight and lived out the rest of his life legitimately, it was the cowardly murder of Jesse James that turned these ruthless killers into American folk legends alongside other prominent Western anti-heroes like Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickock.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable, or in this case, dishonourable mentions:

Dick Hickock & Perry Smith

Caril Fugate & Charles Starkweather

John Muhammad & John Lee Malvo

#1: Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow

They’re names were Bonnie and Clyde. They robbed banks. Such a thing can still be heard in remembrance of America’s most notorious criminal partners. Bonnie and Clyde were considered one of the country’s biggest public enemies in the Depression Era mainly for their ruthless stickups that sometime resulted in civilian casualties. However, certain glamorization from the press gave the dastardly duo a charming image. After being violently gunned down in 1934 by Texan authorities on a Louisiana road, the couple faded into obscurity until being revived––and completely given pop culture status––in the famed 1967 movie about their exploits and downfall, turning them into tragic folk heroes instead of merciless criminals.