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Which country has the fewest serial killers?

Armed police patrolling a park in Marina Bay
Image: Singapore has one of the most efficient police forces and just a single recorded serial killer | Tremendous Shots /

From Jack the Ripper to Harold Shipman and Ted Bundy, serial killers are a subject of fascination for countless people around the world. Often, the most infamous killers continue to be household names for decades after their deaths. Some have even been immortalised in popular culture through books, films and television series.

Whilst there’s no legal definition, a serial killer is generally considered to be someone who murders at least three people on separate occasions over several days, weeks or months.

It will be no surprise that the countries that have recorded the most serial killers over the years include the likes of the USA and the UK. But have you ever wondered which countries have the least?

Iceland – only one recorded serial killer in history

Iceland has long been considered one of the safest countries in the world. In 2023, it was declared the third safest. While it is not immune to petty theft and antisocial behaviour, the most dangerous thing you can find in Iceland is usually a volcano.

As such, it’s not hugely surprising that such a peaceful country has only one recorded serial killer in history.

His name was Björn Pétursson (also referred to as Axlar-Björn), who committed his crimes in the 16th century. Due to being so long ago, details are limited, but it is reported that he killed between nine and 18 people before he was arrested and executed in 1596.

Cyprus – not a single serial killer until 2016

Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for thousands of people, and for good reason. With great weather, beautiful scenery and friendly locals, it’s not a place that is a hotspot for violent crimes.

In fact, before 2016, the island hadn’t recorded a single serial killer in its history.

But then the Mitsero murders shook the island to its core. These were a series of killings committed by Nikos Metaxas, a military officer in the Cypriot National Guard, which occurred between September 2016 and August 2018.

Over nearly three years, Metaxas killed seven people. Five were women he’d met on a dating app, with the other two being children of the victims. Their bodies were discovered over a period of three months in 2019.

Metaxas pled guilty to 12 charges relating to the abduction and killing of the women and girls and was sentenced to seven life sentences of 25 years each.

Malta – only one serial killer

When you think of Malta, you’re probably unlikely to think of serial killers. This beautiful island country in Southern Europe has only had one to date. And even that occurred quite a while ago now.

Salvatore 'Silvio' Mangion is Malta’s only known serial killer. He committed his crimes between 1984 and 1996, during which he murdered three elderly pensioners. The victims were Rozina Zammit, Maria Stella Magrin and Francesco 'Frenc' Cassar.

But for many years, the scope of Mangion’s crimes wasn’t known. First convicted for the murder of Frenc in 2004, he later received further sentences for Rozina and Maria in 2010. He is currently incarcerated at Corradino prison.

Singapore – stringent laws and only one serial killer

Of all the countries listed here, Singapore has the most stringent laws and arguably the most efficient law enforcement. As a result, it’s considered the safest and most peaceful country in Asia, and there are very few recorded cases of serial killers.

The only case dates back to the early 1980s when 19-year-old Sek Kim Wah murdered three hostages during an armed robbery on a bungalow.

An accomplice of Sek protected a further two hostages from harm, but both men were arrested and charged with murder. Sek received the death penalty and was hanged for his crimes in 1988.

It was subsequently revealed in police investigations that the killer had also been responsible for an unrelated murder of two more victims, making him Singapore’s most notorious murderer and only serial killer.

Croatia – no recorded serial killers in over 30 years

Croatia has low levels of crime and violent crime is especially rare. Statistically speaking, it meets all the criteria for being an extremely safe country, but it features the most serial killers on this list so far – although the most recent one was more than 30 years ago.

The country’s first serial killer was a woman called Milka Pavlović. Over five months in 1934, Pavlović poisoned family members, relatives and servants with arsenic in an attempt to gain their inheritance. She killed six, and a further 10 others were wounded.

After being convicted of the crimes, she was sentenced to death and subsequently executed in 1935.

More recently, Vinko Pintarić became only Croatia’s second serial killer after murdering five people, including his wife, between 1973 and 1990. After successfully escaping from custody three times, he was killed in a police shootout in 1991.