They say movies reflect real life, and while that’s sometimes true, it’s also true that the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. This is especially the case with real-life villains who walk among us today… or did so until quite recently, in some cases. The following are modern real-life villains who you probably haven’t heard of – so I’m not going to bore you with the obvious ones like Hitler.
10) Gerald Daniel Blanchard
Blanchard’s escapades are so incredible, it’s a wonder they haven’t made a movie about him. In 1998, Blanchard, his wife, and father-in-law visited the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. While they gawked, he disabled the alarm system before leaving.
Later that night, he parachuted onto the palace roof and stole the Star of Empress Sisi – a $2 million diamond-and-pearl hairpiece belonging to Elisabeth of Bavaria.
But that wasn’t all. He then replaced it with a fake he’d bought at the museum’s souvenir shop. But he still wasn’t through.
Unable to resist, he visited the museum the next day to smirk as guests admired the fake. It took authorities weeks to realize what had happened.
They only caught him in 2007 because Blanchard was arrested by Canadian police for fraud and heists on three continents. He admitted to the theft as part of a plea bargain, so they released him in 2010, whereupon he vowed to change his life and become a security consultant.
At least till they caught him in 2017 for shoplifting at Best Buy.
Talk about a demotion.
9) Joseph Konopka
Still waters run deep – just ask Joseph Konopka.
Born in 1976, Konopka decided he wanted more out of life, so he dropped out of high school and eventually became a computer systems administrator.
Probably tired of such a fast-paced existence in Wisconsin, of all places, Konopka came to the conclusion that he needed even more excitement. His solution? Don a new persona… Hello, Dr. [email protected], Lord of the Realm of [email protected]!
Sending out a call through the internet, [email protected] recruited a bunch of adolescent admirers and began his reign of terror in 2001…. from their secret lair, a.k.a, their bedrooms… his army was responsible for arson, taking air traffic control offline, causing 28 power failures, 20 disruptions at various power plants, jamming several radio and TV broadcasts, and bringing down several internet service providers. They carried out over 50 crimes and inflicted over $800,000 in damage because… they were bored.. I guess?
When finally caught the following year, he and a 15-year-old were found with sacks of sodium cyanide which they had been keeping in an unused Chicago subway tunnel. Asked in court why he did it, Konopka replied, “I don’t have a real good reason.”
So they gave him a 20-year sentence.
8) The Zodiac Killer
Remember the riddler from Batman? He’s obsessed with puzzles and riddles which he includes into his schemes, leaving them as clues for the authorities to solve. Well in the late 1960’s, northern California had its own version of this criminal mastermind.
Dubbed ‘the zodiac killer’, he was responsible for killing at least 5 people, but he’s linked to lots more, possibly even 37 in total. Without a discernable motive, this killer would shoot and kill young couples he’d targeted at secluded locations. While police were out looking for clues, this killer started taunting investigators by sending letters out to local newspapers. These letters included four cryptograms, which are types of puzzles using encrypted text.
One of the ciphers is even said to reveal his true identity. However, of the four cryptograms sent, only one has been definitively solved. In 1974, the letters stopped, and despite numerous clues and witnesses existing, as well as his long correspondence with the authorities, the Zodiac Killer has never been caught.
7) John Wayne Gacy
The Joker is one of the most infamous villains of all time. A certified nutcase, he paints his face and he’s always coming up with crazy, stupid schemes, just like John Wayne Gacy.
This real-world criminal murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men in the ’70s within a few years. But just like the joker, he was a man of many faces. What’s particularly strange is that before giving into his murderous instincts, he played a role in multiple community organizations. At the time, he seemed to be an upstanding member of society, running multiple KFC restaurants, and becoming “Pogo the Clown” or “Patches the Clown” at fund-raising events, parades, and children’s parties.
But let’s be honest, if he thought this looked entertaining, it’s obvious something was wrong with him. And there was, since he had a habit of forcing and deceiving victims to his address, where they were killed, and subsequently buried underneath his house.
6) Marvin Heemeyer
Have you seen this video of the guy who went amok in his Killdozer? It went viral in 2004. Do you remember why? Stick around as you’re about to find out.
Once a nice guy who ran his own modest muffler shop in Granby, Colorado, those who knew Marvin Heemeyer claimed he was a friendly sort who’d “bend over backward for anyone.” And so he did, till 2004.
Enter Mountain Park Concrete, Inc., which tried to buy Heemeyer’s land in 1992. Mr. Nice Guy wouldn’t bend, this time, so Mountain Park blocked the road to his shop. The concrete people then asked the town to rezone Heemeyer’s property, so the folk of Granby not only agreed, but they also vetoed Marvin’s request for an alternate route to his business.
Somewhat upset, Heemeyer built an armored bulldozer and went on a mad rampage on June 4th, 2004.
Two hours later, his Killdozer destroyed $7 million worth of property before he put a bullet through his head. On the bright side, no one else was hurt or killed.
5) Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr.
The higher they go, the harder they fall – which was certainly true for Suge. Only in his case, he tried to take down as many as he could.
Suge was a football player for the Los Angeles Rams and the National Football league who decided he’d taken one hit too many. So he became a record producer and music executive – working with the likes of Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Outlawz, and ThaDogg Pound.
And the name of his record label? Death Row Records. He took it seriously, too, taking interrogation to the next level. Vanilla Ice claimed he was forced to sign his royalties over to Suge after Suge threatened to hang him over a balcony.
Despite many other such incidents, Suge’s business boomed whilst he spent time in and out of jail. At least till January 29, 2015, when he was part of a hit-and-run that killed Terry Carter – co-founder of Heavyweight Records – and injured two others. He turned himself in the next day and was later sent to prison, leading him to obtain 13 criminal convictions. But what gives this villain his notoriety, is his willingness to take out popular, talented musicians. Many believe he was responsible for the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls.
If you weigh up the evidence and his track record, it’s likely that he was behind the attack. It’s suggested that 2pac was leaving Suge’s label for another one, and Suge wasn’t happy about it, so he orchestrated the attack. While nothing’s been proven, he’s linked to so many celebrity deaths and even high profile names believe Suge is responsible, such as Snoop Dogg.
4) Vladimir Kozak
This real-life villain disturbingly resembles the DC villain, the Mad Hatter, who loves hypnotism and mind control devices.
Kozak comes from Moldova, renowned for being the poorest country in Europe, making this a rather sad tale. According to police, he stole the equivalent of $40,000 from six banks in 2005. In a country where the average person lives on $2 a day, that’s a whole lot of money.
But was Kozak violent? Did he use terrifying weapons? No. He hypnotized bank tellers, hence his other name – the Hypno-Robber.
As such, Moldovan bank tellers are now told to avoid eye contact with customers lest they become the next victim.
They haven’t found him yet, but some suggest he was in Italy in March 2008. Turns out that a bank in Ancona was robbed of the equivalent of $1,200. According to the teller, a man approached her, asked for money, and the next thing she knew, it was many minutes later. Now that’s some superhero-esque skill I would love to have!
3) Richard Kuklinski
This former mob hitman was an all-around crazy criminal who went way beyond his regular job profile. Working for the Gambino crime family, it’s claimed he’d taken out over 200 people in his lifetime. Though he used all the weapons you could think of, from guns to knives and explosives, he had a particular penchant for cyanide.
He liked to inject it, sprinkle it in food, spray it as an aerosol, or just dump it on people. But it gets far worse than that. He also claims to have fed living people to rats and shot a random person in the head with a crossbow just to see if it worked. So… how did he get away with it so long? Well, he was clever about disguising his crimes. He’d throw forensic scientists off the scent by freezing their bodies inside a Mister Softee ice cream truck.
He’d then toss them out later, sometimes years later, so that the freezing would skew their estimated time of death. It worked for some time until he didn’t let one of the victims thaw long enough and the coroner found ice in the body.
2) Adam Worth
At just 17, Worth enlisted in the Union army, partly because he wanted the adventure but also because of the $1000 bounty, he was paid. He was injured by shrapnel during the Second Battle of Bull Run, and whilst recovering, he learned that he’d accidentally been listed as killed in action. He embraced this opportunity to leave the Army and used it to his advantage, so he moved to New York city and worked his way up among the gangs of the underworld, eventually running his own organization of pickpockets. When that got boring, he began carrying out elaborate heists. One included robbing a bank vault using tunnels he and his gang had dug.
Using his fortune, he then Ran off to London to live the high life and keep masterminding several heists and robberies. One included stealing a famous 18th-century painting by Thomas Gainsborough of Georgiana Cavendish the Duchess of Cavendish.
But he didn’t sell it… he kept it because he liked it. It seems criminal masterminds also appreciate the fine details of an oil on canvas masterpiece.
1) Juan Rivera-Velez
Batman fans will instantly recognize the similarity between this criminal and Harvey Dent.
Like Dent, Juan is known as ‘two-face’ due to the severe scarring he incurred to his face and head from burns suffered in a car accident. However, despite the batman villain once being an upstanding Gotham City District Attorney, Juan has never been close to being beneficial to society. Juan was an enforcer and hitman for the Morales crime family in Camden, New Jersey. When he was ordered to take out a rival dealer who was encroaching on his territory, he did just that and was eventually jailed for three years for shooting another man.
Clearly not having learned his lesson, he tried to take out the witness to one of his murders, but the man survived, and snitched to police. Thankfully, he was given two life sentences, but just like a fictional villain, he refused to apologize to the victim’s family and showed no remorse when in court.
I know there are far more, real-life villains out there that didn’t make this list. If you want to see more, or if you passionately believe that another real-life villain should have made this list, let me know in the comments down below. Thanks for reading.