Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Teachers Who Turned Into Infamous Criminals

Teachers are charged with molding young minds, protecting our children, and serving as role models, but some of them have actually been charged with crimes. Getting caught was probably not in their lesson plan, and some quit their careers as teachers before becoming psychopathic murderers, but the kind of wrong-doers sometimes found in our education system is just frightening. You’ll want to get background checks on your professors or kids’ teachers after reading about these 10 teachers who became criminals.

  1. Andrei Chikatilo

    Known in Russia as the Rovstov Ripper, Andrei Chikatilo was convicted for murdering 52 victims, though he confessed to 56 killings. But before his homicidal spree from 1978 to 1990, Chikatilo got a degree in Russian literature and then started an unsuccessful career as a teacher. Complaints of indecent assaults seemed to follow him, so he had to move from school to school. He committed his first murder while still teaching, but soon after that killing, he went to work at a factory. Chikatilo’s method of killing involved luring women and children to remote areas where he would stab them to death for sexual release. He was executed for his crimes in 1994.

  2. Albert Fentress

    A story about a middle-school teacher who kills and eats a local teenager sounds like the stuff of fiction, but it happened in 1979. Albert Fentress, an educator in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., murdered 18-year-old Paul Masters when the young man wandered into his yard. Fentress somehow got Masters to come down to his basement where he tied him to a post, mutilated him, and then shot him in the head. After Masters was dead, Fentress cooked and ate some of his body parts. The former teacher confessed to the killing and was found innocent by reason of insanity. He lived for years in a non-secure psychiatric hospital until he admitted that he had sexually abused some young boys, at which point he was moved to a secured mental ward.

  3. Mary Kay Letourneau

    The name Mary Kay Letourneau has become synonymous withinappropriate teacher-student relationships. Letourneau, a married mother of four, was a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher who began an affair with one of her students in 1995. What started out as a mentor relationship with Vili Fualaau quickly became romantic. She described the 12-year-old boy as her "soul mate" to a close friend and eventually became pregnant with his child. Letourneau was charged and convicted of statutory rape, and was to receive probation after three months in prison if she never had any contact with her underage lover again. But when she was released, she was caught with Fualaau and sentenced to seven and half years in prison. She later gave birth to their second child. Now that Letourneau is out of prison and Fualaau is in his 20s, the two are married.

  4. Ronald Janssen

    Just last year, details were still emerging about the technical drawing teacher who confessed to murdering three people in Belgium. Ronald Janssen’s latest crime had been the shooting of his neighbor and her fiance, but he had been suspected in the death of another girl, a crime so perfect that authorities couldn’t pin it on him until he admitted his guilt in 2010. Many Europeans fear that he may have a much longer list of victims if he was able to carry out that murder without leaving any evidence behind. Janssen is still making his way through the Belgian legal system and authorities are re-opening many previously unsolved abductions and murders to see if Janssen might be the culprit.

  5. Charles Albright

    When three prostitutes in Dallas were found dead in the early ’90s, the connection between them wasn’t obvious until medical examiners looked at their eyes — or their lack of eyes. Each victim’s eyeballs had been surgically removed neatly without cutting the eyelids. This "Texas Eyeball Killer" turned out to be Charles Albright, a former high school science teacher with a background in taxidermy. He had a past filled with fraud, sexual assault, and theft, and an obsession with eyeballs. And though he’d only landed his teaching job with falsified documents, he was actually pretty good at it. In 1991, Albright was convicted of the three murders and received eight life sentences.

  6. Pamela Smart

    Exciting enough to be the subject of a made-for-TV movie (starring Helen Hunt, no less), Pamela Smart’s tale of forbidden love, murder, and passion centers around her role as a school aide in New Hampshire. She met 15-year-old Billy Flynn at her job and seduced him. She allegedly told Flynn that she would stop her sexual relationship with him unless he killed her husband, though she denies involvement in her husband’s death. Flynn and some of his friends went to her house and shot her husband in the head in 1990. Smart was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering and is now serving a life sentence.

  7. Carolyn Warmus

    Former sixth-grade teacher Carolyn Warmus is often compared to the obsessive character in the movie Fatal Attraction. While having an affair with married colleague Paul Solomon, Warmus became fixated with the man and his relationship with his wife. One night when Warmus and Solomon had arranged to meet, Warmus went to Solomon’s house where his wife was alone and shot her to death, then met up with Solomon for drinks and sex afterward. Solomon had no idea his wife had just been murdered. Warmus will be eligible for parole in 2017, but it’s doubtful that she’ll find another job as a teacher anywhere. Maybe she can find comfort in watching the two television movies that have been made about her case.

  8. William Sidney Bradfield Jr.

    The case known as the Main Line Murders made everyone take a step back and look at the teachers in their own community’s schools. A teacher named Susan Reinert (and presumably her two children, though they were never found) was murdered, and all clues pointed to her fellow teacher, lover, and beneficiary of her life insurance policy, Willam Bradfield. The school’s principal is also assumed to be involved by many, but after years on death row, his conviction was overturned because of misconduct by the prosecution. Bradfield, who was living with another woman at the time of his affair with Reinert, convinced Reinert to take out the life insurance policy and then teamed up with the principal to carry out the murders, after which Reinert was stuffed in her car trunk. Bradfield was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and died in prison.

  9. Mohammed Sarwar

    As an information technology teacher at Burnage Media Arts College in England, Mohammed Sarwar was respected by students and coworkers alike, but in the criminal world, the man known as "The Teacher" was earning a far less respectable living. Sarwar was discovered to be the head of a gang that sold cocaine to drug dealers throughout the city of Manchester. In 2009, police bugged Sarwar’s car and trailed him around the city, uncovering his drug-baron activities and seeing him take a student to a probable drug deal. One of his gang members also ratted him out. Earlier this year, Sarwar received a sentence of 21 years in prison for his large-scale cocaine operation.

  10. Melissa Petro

    Technically Melissa Petro’s crime happened before she became a teacher in the Bronx, but she definitely attained a level of infamy for it. Petro revealed on The Huffington Post in 2010 that while in graduate school, she was a prostitute offering her services through Craigslist. To the dismay of the New York City Department of Education, Petro was one of their own elementary school art teachers at the time of her confession. She says she only sold sex for a few months and that she had quit before becoming a teacher, but unsurprisingly, that wasn’t very comforting for parents and the administration. After pressure from the education department, Petro resigned her position. She still lives in New York.

10 Fictional Cops We Wish Were Real

With all the shows and movies focusing on police these days, it’s hard to find any unique or likable cop characters. Many seem to be cast from the same mold, making it hard to connect to them or emotionally invest in their characters. But there is a handful of fictional cops who know it is their duty to protect, serve, and entertain. Whether we love them for their competency or for their hilarious mistakes, here are 10 police characters that we wish were real.

  1. Larvelle Jones from Police Academy

    One of the most important skills for a police officer to have is the ability to produce awesome sound effects with his mouth, and Larvelle Jones is a master. He should’ve been able to skip the police academy altogether. He uses this talent to not only annoy his authorities but to intimidate suspects and entertain the public (or make them flee in terror depending on the circumstances). From gunshots to helicopters to harmonicas, Jones can do it all, and he’d make a very effective officer in the real world since most of us would probably be much more willing to cooperate with a human beatbox than a normal cop.

  2. Officer Michaels and Officer Slater from Superbad

    Officer Michaels and his partner Officer Slater would probably be the last police officers you would want protecting you, but the only ones you would want busting you at a party. They attempt to do their jobs sometimes, and if there was a person in danger, they would probably help, but for the most part, these guys are just laid-back idiots. It’s nice, though, to see cops relating to young people and helping one guy have the best night of his life. Maybe it’s a little extreme to set your own police car on fire, but that just keeps criminals from doing it later.

  3. Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show

    When it comes to small-town deputies, Barney Fife is as tough as they come. Between locking up alcoholics in one of Mayberry’s two jail cells and wooing Thelma Lou, Barney still found plenty of time to inadvertently foil criminals’ plans and take care of a goat full of dynamite. He may not be the biggest or smartest policeman to walk a beat, but he helped keep Mayberry one of the safest TV towns. Every city could benefit from a big-hearted, strong-willed deputy like Barney Fife who will work day and night to nip crime in the bud.

  4. William "Bunk" Moreland from The Wire

    William "Bunk" Moreland, a homicide detective in the acclaimed series, The Wire, is the kind of cop you want patrolling your city. As a character, he’s believable at his weakest, displaying faults like alcohol abuse and infidelity, but he’s amazing at his best. Bunk’s a hard worker who always tries to do the right thing and understands the community he’s protecting. He can get punk kids to talk, relate to informants, and use his wit to make you love him. He also provides consistency in the homicide department throughout the series, making you trust your own police force a little bit more. It’s all in the line of duty.

  5. Chief Clancy Wiggum from The Simpsons

    Growing up, Chief Wiggum was always the cop in cops and robbers, was a hall monitor, and maybe a part-time security guard. That’s the kind of dedication we’d like to see in our real-life police forces. Sure, he’s a little pudgy and mostly incompetent, but he’s always there when Springfield needs him, even if he’s not entirely helpful. He also has a couple heroic moments under his extra long belt: solving the attempted murder of Mr. Burns and saving the Simpson family from Sideshow Bob. Even though he’s quick to throw the rule book out the window, gets overly emotional about his fellow cops, and eats his weight in donuts, Chief Wiggum is responsible for Springfield being an undeniably happy place to live.

  6. Joe Friday from Dragnet

    Joe Friday was such an excellent cop, the actor who played him was buried with full police honors when he died. Friday was a no-nonsense detective with the Los Angeles police department who went about his job, boring paperwork and patrols included, with pride. He’s about as close to a real policeman as you can get on TV (or radio or the movies) because the show’s creators were careful to show every step of real LAPD cases, though most cops today can’t talk as fast as he does. Friday never revealed too much about his personal life, was never overacted, and never failed to earn respect for those in his line of work. And while we wish Joe Friday himself were real, it’s likely that we have someone almost exactly like him in our own police departments.

  7. Inspector Gadget from Inspector Gadget

    If there’s anything better than a cyborg, it’s a cyborg policeman. Inspector Gadget isn’t your typical cyborg or your typical policeman, but every child is amazed by his endless supply of high-tech tools that stay hidden beneath his hat and trench coat. He wasn’t exactly the sharpest investigator on the force, but he was brave enough to face the frightening Doctor Claw each week. It may be his niece Penny that really saves the day, but Inspector Gadget is the policeman we always tuned in to see. In real life, the police department might not hire him, but he could at least tour the country showing off his built-in helicopter and other gadgets, or make a really entertaining contestant on a reality show.

  8. Marge Gunderson in Fargo

    With a sweet Minnesota accent and a seven-month pregnant belly, Marge Gunderson is one of the most likable female cops of all time. As she investigates three murders (and those that follow) in her jurisdiction, she is incredibly competent and gets the job done by being polite and intelligent, rather than hard and unapproachable like many female police officers are portrayed. Even if the criminals hadn’t been bumbling idiots, it’s clear that Gunderson would’ve been hot on their trail. If we need role models for our little girls, we should point them toward Marge Gunderson, a strong, working woman with a husband, baby on the way and impeccable manners.

  9. John Kimble from Kindergarten Cop

    Before Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, he was a policeman (and Danny DeVito’s twin and a pregnant man, but that’s beside the point). But he wasn’t just any policeman; he was an undercover cop who became a teacher and had a ferret who helped save the day. Detective John Kimble knows how to keep both criminals and kindergarten students in line, and he does it all with his tough but lovable accent. Even though he assaults a kid’s father and starts a relationship with a woman who is both a fellow teacher and a witness in his case, most people would agree that they would feel safer if he was protecting their children.

  10. Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order

    In the series that spawned a thousand similar series, Lennie Briscoe is the man that works the streets and makes sure that the bad guys end up behind bars. Briscoe always has some wisecrack to make and gets along well with his coworkers, but isn’t afraid to take a stand for what he believes. During his 12 seasons on the show, he saw countless murderers sentenced to prison time and helped the audience see how the law really works. For many, Briscoe is the way we envision all homicide detectives, or at least how we would want them to be.