If you are a fan of true crime stories, you know that there are no happy endings in many cases.

Indeed, many criminals, including murderers, rapists, serial killers, or any combination of those, were eventually apprehended and sentenced to imprisonment for life or death.

Very rarely, the targets and victims managed to fight back and escape killers. With strong determination, intelligence, and perhaps some good luck, some people survived brutal attacks from infamous violent criminals.

Facing all sorts of challenges in the killers’ face, they beat the odds and came out alive. Emotional scars remain and will not likely fade away so quickly.

Still, their testimonies proved to be a great help for the authorities to get rid of dangerous criminals from the street and, in the process, prevented others from becoming the next victims.

Survivors have moved on from the horrifying life-threatening episodes and grown just enough courage to tell their tales. Here are some of the most memorable escape stories.


10 /10 Whitney Bennett

The “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez broke into Whitney Bennett’s home in the Sierra Madre on July 5, 1985.

For some reason, he bludgeoned Bennett with a tire iron as she slept. Ramirez then tried to strangle the girl using a telephone cord, but he was startled when the line made electrical sparks.

Bennett was severely injured during the attack that it took 478 stitches to close the lacerations on her scalp. She survived and was willing to testify in court to help put Ramirez on death row. He died while awaiting execution.

San Quentin Prison

9 /10 Rose Steward

On March 29, 1984, Rose Steward was woken up by a stranger holding a knife to her neck. The stranger was Dean Carter, who in the next five hours repeatedly assaulted and raped her.

Steward managed to survive by pretending that she liked Carter. After hours of agony, Carter left without killing her.

Immediately afterward, Steward sought help from a neighbor, who then called the police.

After Carter was arrested, police found out that he had raped and murdered five women in 18 days. He is now on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

SPUTNIK / Alamy Stock Photo

8 /10 Maria Viricheva

When she was 19 years old – and three months pregnant – in 2002, Maria Viricheva had a life-threatening encounter with Alexander Pichushkin, a.k.a. The Chessboard Killer.

Pichushkin approached Viricheva in a Moscow metro station, pretending to offer her some work that required her to go to a specific place. The two then went to the spot near a 30-foot well.

Pichushkin pushed her down the well. She managed to climb to the surface and was rescued by a passerby.

Viricheva filed a report to the police, but the investigation started much later. In 2007, Pichushkin was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.


7 /10 Teresa Thornhill

For five years between 1981 and 1986, Robert Black spent his time preying on young girls in the United States and the United Kingdom.

He might have been responsible for unsolved child murders throughout continental Europe, Britain, and Ireland between 1969 and 1987.

At least one target managed to escape from him. Teresa Thornhill, who was only 15 years old when she had the unfortunate encounter with Black, fought back and ran to her home as he tried to kidnap her in his van. Black died in prison in 2016.

Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy Stock Photo

6 /10 Corazon Amurao

Approaching midnight on July 13, 1966, Richard Speck forced his way into a Chicago home where nine female student nurses lived together. He raped, beat, and stabbed eight of them.

One of the students named Corazon Amurao hid under the bed and played dead for six hours.

After killing eight students in the carnage, Speck was so intoxicated he couldn’t keep count. Amurao provided a sketch of the attacker to the police and added details like the “Born to Raise Hell” tattoo. Speck died in prison in 1991.


5 /10 Kate Moir

Australian serial killer couple David and Catherine Birnie abducted Kate Moir in 1986. The victim was 17 years old when the couple took her to their home, where she had to endure torture and rape.

When David went to work, and Catherine was out to buy some drugs, Moir made a brave attempt to escape through a window.

She told her ordeal to the police. David and Catherine were eventually arrested and sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment.

The former was found dead in 2005, and Catherine is still serving her time in the Bandyup Women’s Prison in Australia.

Wikimedia Commons

4 /10 Tracy Edwards

Two Milwaukee police officers had no idea what they were getting into when they saw a man running to them with his wrist handcuffed.

The man was Tracy Edward, who had just gone through a bizarre encounter with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Edwards led the officers to where Dahmer tried to kill him. A more thorough search of the Milwaukee police Criminal Investigation Bureau’s apartment revealed seven human skulls and more human remains.

Dahmer was arrested and sentenced to 15 terms of life imprisonment. Another inmate killed him in 1994.

Wikimedia Commons

3 /10 Carol DaRonch

Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in history, once approached DaRonch in a parking lot to falsely inform them that her car was almost stolen.

Bundy dressed up as a police officer and asked her to file a report with him. She did follow Bundy to his Volkswagen; then, suddenly, she found herself handcuffed.

Somehow DaRonch fought back and escaped. She then went to the police and told her story.

DaRonch even provided details about Bundy’s abduction technique. In 1975, Bundy was arrested from his Volkswagen. He was executed in Florida in 1989.


2 /10 Tali Shapiro

In 1969, a second-grader, Tali Shapiro, who was never fond of taking the bus to school, had an encounter with Rodney Alcala.

She liked walking to school, and that was why she rejected it when the stranger in the car offered her a ride.

Despite her reluctance, Shapiro eventually accepted the offer. One Good Samaritan who happened to saw Shapiro climbing into the vehicle knew something was wrong.

He followed the car to a nearby apartment, then called the police. She was found severely injured on the floor. Alcala escaped, but he was eventually arrested and sentenced to death in 2010.

Public Domain

1 /10 Bryan Hartnell

No one knows who the Zodiac Killer is or if he is still alive at all. There have been many theories, but there is no definite evidence of the serial killer’s identity. The killer claimed to have killed 37 people.

There are survivors, too; one of them is Bryan Hartnell. While having a picnic with his girlfriend Cecilia Shepard at Lake Berryessa, a person dressed in a hoodie approached them.

This person was also holding a gun. Instead of shooting them both, the hooded killer stabbed the couple repeatedly with a knife. Hartnell survived, but Shepard died from the wounds.

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