Utterly disturbing death row inmates from killer who ate own eye to Black Widow

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Death row inmates are among the world's most infamous and disturbing criminals.

Cold-blooded killers such as Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer have become known for their brutal and twisted crimes.

But despite many of 2,600 prisoners awaiting the death penalty becoming household names, there are those whose despicable acts remain largely under the radar.

Here, we take a look at some of the worst offenders facing execution today…

The killer who removed both of his own eyes – and ate one

In one of the most bizarre cases of self-mutilation on record, Andre Thomas's brutal murder of his ex-wife and two young children might seem horrific enough, but that was just the start.

After being sentenced to death in 2005, Thomas removed one of his own eyes.

Three years later, after a failed suicide attempt, he removed his other eye – and ate it, leaving him completely blind.

During his murder trial, the court was told Thomas, who was in his early 20s at the time, used different knives for each of his victims because he did not want to "allow the demons inside of them to live."

Despite being considered a schizophrenic by a number of psychologists, he was ruled sane enough to stand trial.

He remains on death row to this day, but has since been moved to a criminal psychiatric ward in Texas.

He is appealing his sentence.

The Slavemaster

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Serial killer, conman, embezzler, kidnapper and forger, it's safe to say John Edward Robinson was a career criminal.

Despite racking up a long record during the 1960s and 70s, it was the next three decades that followed that his notoriety took on a depraved and deadly twist.

He became obsessed with sadomasochism and sexual torture.

Throughout the 1980s, 90s and 00s, a number of women either employed by Robinson or under his alluring spell vanished.

In 1985, he sold a baby of one of his young victims to his unsuspecting brother and sister-in-law for $5,000 (£3962), claiming the child's mother had "committed suicide".

By the early 1990s, Robinson joined sadomasochistic chat rooms online, using the handle 'Slavemaster'. During this time, several other women also disappeared.

After he was charged with sexual battery in June 2000, police searched his home, storage facilities and land. Officers found two bodies in metal drums in Kansas and a further three in barrels in Missouri. All died as a result of blunt force trauma.

He was convicted of multiple murder and sentenced to death in Kansas in 2003. He also pleaded guilty to five murders in Missouri to avoid the death penalty for a second time.

While the official death toll remains at eight, police believed he was responsible for many other murders.

He is appealing against his death sentence in Kansas.

The ice box killer

When Denise Huber, 23, disappeared after attended a Morrissey gig in 1991, police and her family were baffled.

She was last seen leaving a bar in Long Beach to drive to her parents' home, where she also lived.

Her car was found a day later on an Orange County freeway in California by a friend, but Denise was nowhere to be seen.

It took another three years until her fate was finally uncovered.

Police were alerted by a woman who had become suspicious of a man named John Famalaro, who she had bought some paint from.

She asked officers to check a rental truck parked on his driveway because it looked suspicious. Having run a licence plate search, police discovered the truck had been stolen from Orange County.

While at Famalaro's house, a deputy spotted an electrical lead running to a freezer in the truck.

He initially thought he had found a mobile drugs lab, but, instead, he discovered Denise's naked body inside. It was handcuffed and wrapped in bin bags, while her skull was badly damaged.

Famalaro was accused of taking her to a deserted warehouse before raping and killing her.

He was convicted of kidnap, sexual assault and murder. He was sentenced to death in 1997.

Famalaro currently resides on death row in California.

The stalker who went on a mass killing spree

When Richard Farley met colleague Laura Black in 1984, he became instantly obsessed.

While the pair worked for a tech firm in Silicon Valley, Farley began to pester his love interest, but she refused his advances.

However, the constant rejections did little to dissuade him.

He began sending her letters and gifts, driving by her home and following her. He became increasingly threatening – both at work and in public.

He was eventually fired from his job in 1986, but the stalking continued – until she was forced to get a temporary restraining order against him.

Two years later, a day before the order was to be made permanent, Farley headed to his former company carrying a shotgun and other firearms.

Once he arrived, he started shooting indiscriminately until he reached Laura's office.

She slammed the door in his face, but he shot the door open and opened fire on her, hitting her shoulder and puncturing one of her lungs.

She survived, but by the time the shooting spree ended, he had killed four former co-workers and three others, while wounding many more.

Farley was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1992.

However, he is still on death row at San Quentin, California.

The murderer who killed his kids and ex-lovers – and then blamed the police

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In 1982, ex-inmate and prison guard George Emil Banks shot 13 people dead, including five kids and their mums, with an assault rifle.

Weeks after being placed on leave from his job due to his increasingly erratic and violent behaviour, Banks killed eight people in his own home, including five kids – four of which were his – and three ex-partners.

But the savage attack didn't end there.

Once outside his property, he shot two neighbours, killing one, before heading to another girlfriend's trailer. He then killed her, his son by her, her mum and her nephew.

He also shot his partner's brothers, but they survived.

Banks later surrendered after a standoff with police.

During his murder trial, he claimed it was the police who actually killed his victims and that he had only wounded them, despite several of his children being shot in the head from point-blank range.

He also said the murders were because he didn't want his kids, who were biracial, to be "victimised in a race war".

Despite being convicted of murder, he was declared not mentally fit for execution.

However, Banks remains in a death penalty unit in Pennsylvania.

The child killer who filmed his evil crimes

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In a truly chilling case, murderer and sex offender Joseph Duncan beat three family members to death, kidnapped two of their young children and filmed himself molesting them.

In 2005, he launched his attack after spotting an eight-year-old girl playing in the family's yard in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.

He bludgeoned the girl's mum, Brenda, her boyfriend and her 13-year-old son Slade to death.

He took Brenda's two other kids, Dylan, nine, and Shasta, eight, and filmed himself repeatedly abusing them. He later murdered Dylan.

Weeks later, Duncan was arrested after being seen with Shasta at a restaurant in the county.

During his trial, the court offered therapy and counselling for jurors after claiming the depraved video footage would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Duncan pleaded guilty and was sentenced him to death.

He now remains at a death row facility in Indiana.

The murderer who tried to summon Jesus and the Pope to his trial

In September 1992, Scott Panetti donned military clothing, shaved his head and drove to his in-laws' home in Texas, where his estranged wife and baby daughter were staying.

He broke in, shot her mum and dad and took his wife, who had left him because of his abuse and "strange" behaviour, and baby hostage.

Despite later releasing his captives, both of her parents died during the bloody attack.

During his trial, the court heard how Panetti, who had a long history of mental illness and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, had buried furniture because he thought the devil was in it and nailed blinds shut after fearing his neighbours were filming him.

He also tried to summon a range of famous figures to the courtroom, including Jesus, actress Anne Bancroft and the Pope.

Panetti was sentenced to death in September 1995.

He came close to being executed in 2014, but received a stay.

The killer remains on death row to this day.

The Black Widow

It's not only men who make our fiendish list. And serial killer Blanche Taylor Moore certainly deserves her place among death row's most devious.

She earned the nickname the Black Widow due to her penchant for poisoning men between 1966 and 1985.

First marrying James Taylor in 1952, he died 21 years later – initially thought to have been caused by a heart attack.

During her marriage, Blanche's alcoholic dad Peter Kiser also died, reportedly of a heart attack, in 1966.

Just months after her husband's death, she started a relationship with Raymond Reid, which lasted for 12 years.

A year after the breakup, Reid was hospitalised, initially diagnosed with shingles. He died several months later.

Soon after Reid's death, Blanche began dating Reverend Dwight Moore. They married three years later.

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But he became seriously ill within days of their honeymoon. He had collapsed after eating a chicken sandwich his wife had given him.

While in hospital, a toxicology report revealed the minister had 20 times the lethal level of arsenic in his system.

Despite Blanche's claims her partner had been working with herbicide, police were informed.

During the investigation, officers discovered Blanche had tried to change Moore's pension in a bid to become the sole beneficiary.

As a result, the bodies of her dad, Reid and Taylor to be exhumed for testing. Autopsies revealed high levels of arsenic in all three, with fatal amounts in both Reid and Taylor's corpses.

In 1989, Blanche was arrested and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon for poisoning Moore, who had survived his ordeal.

During her trial a year later, the cases of Taylor and Moore were eventually dropped, but she was sentenced to death for Reid's murder.

Despite consistently claiming her innocence for the next 32 years, she remains the oldest woman on death row in North Carolina.

The bizarre case has been recounted in several books, TV shows and a film.

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