Michael Stone’s Scale Of Evil: 22 Ruthless Killers Ranked
True evil walks among us, and it’s the people on this list who prove it. The “Gradations of Evil Scale” was developed by a forensic psychiatrist named Dr. Michael Stone. Stone has examined the crimes and personalities of some of history’s most well-known murderers and placed them on this scale of evil. You might recognize Stone’s name if you’ve ever watched the television show, Most Evil on Investigation Discovery.
The scale has 22 levels, one being the least evil and 22 being the most. Levels 1-9 deal with justifiable homicide or impulse murders where the killers are not actually psychopathic. Levels 10-17 deal with murderers who have a degree of psychopathy like manipulativeness, deceitfulness and lack of empathy. Levels 18-22 deal with those who are truly psychopathic, committing sexual and/or serial homicide as well as torture.
This list is all about ranking some of the world’s most notorious killers to put into perspective how evil they really are. Crimes rank from remorseful self-defence murders, to stomach-churning cannibalism and all the way to sexually perverse torture killings. A few names you’ll probably recognize include, Aileen Wuornos, Albert Fish and John Wayne Gacy. Warning, prepare yourselves, there are disturbing details ahead.
22. Level 1: Faith Martin – Self Defence
26-year-old, Faith Martin was living in a nightmare with her boyfriend, Willie Arrington. According to Martin, Arrington had been abusive with her in the past and one night the violence took a horrific turn.
During an argument, Arrington began punching and choking Martin. She was sure she was going to be killed, and so she ran to the kitchen to grab a knife to defend herself. Arrington continued to chase her, slamming her into a wall and pushing her to the ground. In an attempt to protect herself, Martin inflicted a single stab wound to her boyfriend which pierced his aorta.
Martin was initially charged with first-degree murder, but was acquitted after over a year in prison. Many witnesses testified that Arrington was an abusive and violent man whose rage couldn’t be controlled.
21. Level 2: Jean Harris – Jealous Lover
Don’t mess with a woman scorned! Jean Harris and well-known cardiologist Herman Tarnower were in a relationship for 14 years. Tarnower treated his lady like gold, showering her with gifts and exotic vacations. Unfortunately, none of this could make up for the fact that he was a serial cheater who had multiple affairs that Harris was aware of.
Over the years Harris became addicted to prescription medication. While she was popping pills, her lover met a woman 30 years his junior who he began yet another affair with. This affair was unlike the others, this one really got under Harris’ skin to the point that she drove to Tarnower’s house with a revolver. She claimed her original intent was to commit suicide, but when she arrived at his house and saw his mistress’ lingerie in the bedroom she snapped. An argument ensued which led to Harris shooting Tarnower four times.
20. Level 3: Susan Atkins – Killer’s Companion
Susan Atkins was a member of the Charles Manson “Family” – a band of young people who followed the notorious cult leader to help commit the murders of nine individuals over the period of five weeks in 1969. Followers like Atkins were said to be brainwashed by Manson while committing the murders.
Atkins was convicted for her participation in eight Manson murders. While in jail she bragged of each murder saying she even tasted one of her victims’ blood. Despite other followers claiming she was exaggerating her involvement in the murders, and forensic evidence suggesting the same, she stuck to her story. Years later, she eventually claimed she didn’t actually kill anyone. Too little, too late. Atkins was initially sentenced to death, but that sentence ended up being reduced to life in prison.
19. Level 4: Jose Elizondo – Provoked Self-Defence
Jose Elizondo went out with his wife and brother to a nightclub. At some point during the night, the three of them got into an argument with the owner of the club and security personnel. The altercation got pretty heated and so Elizondo escaped outside to his truck. The owner of the nightclub followed him out armed with a gun. Elizondo also grabbed a handgun from his truck and made a life-changing decision to pull the trigger, killing the club owner. He claimed self-defence but was charged with murder and sentenced to 25 years. His wife and brother also ended up being charged.
In this case, yes, Elizondo may have been acting in self-defence. But, the altercation that ensued at the nightclub provoked the attack in the first place. Killers who provoke their own self-defence kill rank as a level 4 on Michael Stone’s scale of evil.
18. Level 5: Martha Ann Johnson – Traumatized Killer
Now this case is a doozy. Despite the unthinkable scale of this case, the killer is only ranked at a level 5, but for a very specific reason. Martha Ann Johnson was on her third marriage and the mother to four children. Her marriage was allegedly very volatile and full of problems. Mysteriously, starting in 1977, one by one her young children began dying. Two of the deaths were ruled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and one of the deaths due to a seizure. Her final child’s death caught the attention of police because it was ruled as asphyxia.
Johnson was arrested and eventually confessed to killing all four of her children. Investigators discovered a pattern: seven to ten days after having altercations with her husband is when Johnson would commit the acts. She would kill her young children by rolling her 250-pound body on them as they slept. She claimed her motive was to punish her husband.
Johnson is rated a level 5 on the scale of evil because she is seen as a traumatized person which lead to her killing. She does not seem to exhibit classic psychopathic traits and showed remorse for her acts.