Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Betty Rowland, Executed Husband-Killer, Suspected of Two Other Husband-Killings – England, 1836

Betty Rowland was prosecuted for the murder of her husband, William Rowland (50). At her trial is was disclosed that she had been long been suspected of murdering two previous husbands by poisoning.


FULL TEXT: WILFUL MURDER. – Betty Rowland, 46, was charged with the willful murder of her husband, William Rowland, at Manchester, on the 19th of November last.

Mr. Brandt conducted the case for the prosecution; the prisoner was undefended.

The prisoner, when placed at the bar, presented a most wretched and decrepid appearance; her age appeared nearer 60 than that started in the indictment.

Jeremiah Crawley – Knew the deceased for many years. The prisoner and deceased were both Irish. Witness saw the deceased on the Sunday before his death, when he was in perfect health. Went into prisoner’s house on the next Sunday Saw prisoner and another woman there. The prisoner and the other woman offered him some drink, which he refused. Saw a coffin, and asked prisoner what she had done with this man. Told her it was suspected she had poisoned him, as she had done with two previous husbands. Witness then went out, and prisoner followed him to say something to him, when he said, " No, you wretch, nothing you can say will prevent me from giving notice to the public authorities.'' Witness then acquainted a police officer. Witness went on the Saturday following (the 28Üi) to the burying-ground in Every-street, and recognised the body of the deceased, when it was disinterred.

Ann Heaton — Lived in November last near the house of the prisoner. Was called up at a quarter before four o'clock on Thursday, the 19th of November, by the prisoner, who asked witness to get up, for that her (prisoner's) husband was just dead. Witness got up, and prisoner said, " Nanny, it will be very awful for you, for he is sitting in the chair with my cloak round him." Prisoner opened the door, and then stepped behind witness. Witness went into the house and saw deceased sitting in a chair with a cloak round him. Prisoner showed witness a gill jug, and said, "This is the mug out of which my poor bus band drank last." She said she had given him some ale and rum. She had given him some gin and garlic also. Prisoner showed witness the mag again, and said, See, he has drunk the whole of it." Prisoner never left the jug out of her own hand all that time.

Alice Benker — I went with the prisoner to Mr. Goodman's, a druggist, to buy some pobon for rats. Dr. Goodman sold the prisoner something from the left-hand part of the shop. It was like flour. Prisoner afterwards told witness that the poison was for rats in the cellar.

Thomas Goodman — Is a druggist at Manchester, "The last witness was in the habit of purchasing articles at his shop Does not know the prisoner. In November last the arsenic kept in his shop was on the left-hand side; generally gives nux vomica for poisoning rats, unless arsenic be asked for. Arsenic is white, like flour, and might deceive an inexperienced person. Never gave arsenic without a caution as to its use, and always wrote " Poison" on the paper in which it is wrapped.

James Sawley — Is a police officer at Manchester. Went on the 22d of November to the house of the prisoner, in consequence of information which he had received. Saw at the prisoner's house from fifteen to twenty people. The corpse of the deceased also lay there, and the people in the house were drinking. Witness said the deceased should not be interred until he (witness) had reported the circumstance to the coroner. Several persons in the house said it should be interred at once, and witness replied, " Then I must take this woman into my custody," which was also resisted ; but after a while they consented that she should go, and some followed them on the way, the prisoner exclaiming several times, "Oh, dear me! I never gave him anything." After a consultation with the coroner the prisoner was liberated, and directions given that the interment of the deceased should not be interrupted, but that the place of burial should be watched. Mr. Thomas, superintendent of police at Manchester, proved that the prisoner confessed, whilst in custody, having put the arsenic into some gruel she had made for her husband, saying it was by mistake for sugar.

Mr. Olliver — Is a surgeon, made an examination of deceased s body on the ä7th November. The examination took place in the burying ground where the corpse had been interred. Analysed the contents of the stomach and found it to be white arsenic. "There was a great deal of it, as much as would have poisoned any man in the course of twenty-four hours. The arsenic was the cause of death.

Mr. Goodman recalled by the Judge — The quantity of arsenic sold for a penny is sufficient to poison half-a-dozen persons. It would be impossible to mistake arsenic for sugar.

The Learned Judge, in summing up the evidence, commented thereon at much length.

The jury retired, and, after a short deliberation, found the Prisoner Guilty, and his Lordship sentenced the prisoner to be hung on Saturday (this day).

[“Wilful Murder.” The Morning Post (London, England), Apr. 9, 1836, p. 4]


FULL TEXT: The unfortunate female, Betty Rowland, convicted on Thursday last of the willful murder of her husband, Wm. Rowland, at Manchester, on the 31 st March last, suffered the extreme penalty of the law on Saturday, in front of the County House of Correction, Kirkdale.  It having been announced in the newspapers, by mistake, that the execution would take place early in the morning, an immense number of persons assembled in the fields and roads adjacent to the goal by five o’clock, and notwithstanding a notice issued by Mr. Amos, the respected governor of the prison, to the effect that the fatal ceremony would not take place until three o’clock in the afternoon, they most tenaciously determined to disbelieve it, and from that period up to the stated time they continued on the spot. They conducted themselves in a most discraceful manner, pelting each other, and finally committing depredations in the most open manner. They made an attack upon the females (of whom we regret to say there was a large sprinkling), tearing away their tippets [a scarf-like narrow piece of clothing, worn over the shoulders], shawls, bonnets, and other articles of dress, convenient to carry away. Many of the females took refuge from the villains in the goal, and were let out through the Court-house at the other end of the building. The wretched creature who called forth the curiosity of the multitude, for a fortnight previous to her conviction, and immediately after her condemnation, and immediately after her condemnation, appeared fully sensible of the awful situation in which she was placed, paying the most devoted attention to the religious consolation afforded to her, when she was again pressed to make confession of her crime and acknowledged the justice of her sentence. She again stated that her intention was not to murder her husband; for although they sometimes had had quarrels, at times they lived happily, and were very fond of each other.

The religious ceremonies having been concluded, the under-sheriff", Mr. Birchell, accompanied by Mr. Amos, proceeded to the chapel, where the latter delivered up his charge to the under-sheriff, saying, " Betty Rowland, this is the under-sheriff, I deliver you up to him to undergo the awful sentence of the law which has been awarded." She was then accommodated with a chair, until the clock tolled the hour of three, when she was led to the fatal scaffold, the funeral service was read, and in a few minutes she ceased to exist.

The unfortunate woman, who was described as 46 ye:ir8 of age in the calendar, appeared to be nearly 60. She was dressed in one of the Lancashire bedgowns, a linsey-wolsey petticoat, and a frilled cap. She supported herself with fortitude during the whole of the awful ceremony. John Berry, of Prestwich, the other unfortunate malefactor, was respited at nine o’clock on Friday night, in consequence of a representation from the jury, to the effect, if they had considered their verdict would have hanged him they would have returned a verdict of manslaughter. The respite for fourteen days.

[“Execution of Betty Rowland, And Disgraceful Riot.” The Morning Post (London, England), Apr. 12, 1836, p.  4]



Dec. 18, 1835 – William Rowland (50), becomes ill.
Dec. 19, 1835 – William Rowland (50), dies.
Dec. 22, 1835 – funeral scheduled.
Dec. 25 ca., 1835 – Body exhumed and examined. arsenic found.
Dec. 30, 1835 – Betty Rowland (46); defendant at coroner’s inquest.
Mar. 30, 1836 – She was found guilty at the trial on 30 March and sentenced to death. 
Apr. 19, 1836 – Betty Rowland (46) executed; hanged in front of the House of Correction at Kirkdale, Liverpool; riot.


SEE: Naomi Clifford , “Three women hanged for poisoning their husbands in 1836: Betty Rowland,” Nov. 11, 2016,


For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lois Thacker, Double Black Widow – Indiana, 1984

FULL TEXT: Paoli, Ind. – Authorities charged a woman during the weekend in the ambush killing of her second husband and reopened an investigation of her first husband’s death.

Orange County Prosecutor Darrell Ellis said Sunday that authorities have new information that could lead to a new suspect in the 1983 shotgun-slaying of Phillip Huff, 29.

At the time, Huff’s wife, now Lois A. Thacker, 26, admitted she killed him with a deer slug through the heart but a grand jury declined to charge her, deciding she acted in self-defence.

The new information came out in investigating the slaying of John E. Thacker, 31, who also was killed with deer slugs fired from a 12-guage shotgun.

[“Woman Charged In Husband’s Ambush Death,” Pharos Tribune (Logansport, In.),

FULL TEXT: Jasper, Ind. – A jury returns today to decide whether to recommend the death penalty for a Paoli woman it convicted of arranging the murder of her husband for $134,000 insurance.

The Dubois County jury deliberated less than 1 ½ hours Friday before finding Lois Thacker, 27, guilty of murder.

Six other people were charged with aiding in the plot against John Thacker, 31, killed with two shotgun blasts in an ambush on a rural road near his home last Nov. 3.

The other defendants are Mrs. Thacker’s sister, Connie Busick; her mother, Mary Music; a cousin, Charles Music; and three friends of the family, Rwauna Wilder, Donald R. Buchanan and James L. Hart.

Hart, 34, and Charles Music, 17, are awaiting trial on murder charges. The others were accused of lesser crimes.

Buchanan, 27, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Miss Wilder, 23, was sentenced to two years after pleading guilty to obstructing justice. Ms. Busick, 18, was sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to assisting a criminal.

Mrs. Music, 46, is awaiting trial on charges of assisting a criminal.

Ellis said three women charged along with Mrs. Thacker were accused of helping conceal the crime.

The trial was moved to Dubois County because of publicity in Orange County, where Thacker was killed.

Dubois Circuit Judge Chad Songer ordered stiff security measures for Mrs. Thacker’s trial, including guards for the sequestered jury and metal-detector screening of the courtroom audience.

It was the first murder trial in Dubois County since 1977.

Orange County Prosecutor Darrell Ellis said before the trial he has reopened an investigation into the 1983 death of Mr. Thacker’s first husband, Phillip Huff, whom she cliumed to have shot in self-defense.

[“Thacker Jury to decide whether Paoli woman dies,” Seymour Daily Tribune (In.), May 18, 1985, p. 16]


Jan 27, 1958 – Lois Ann Music born.
Feb. 5, 1983 – Phillip Huff shot to death. In 1985 she claims John Thacker fired shot that killed Huff.
Mar. 29, 1983 – Lois marries John Thacker.
Nov. 3, 1984 – Thacker (31) is murdered; 2 shotgun blasts.
Nov. 5, 1984 – Lois arrested.
May 1, 1985 – Trial begins.
May 17, 1985 – Guilty verdict.
Jun. 27, 1985 – Death sentence; Dubois Circuit Court, Judge Chad Songer.
Oct. 11, 1985 – Execution date; stayed.
Jul. 23, 1990 – Indiana Supreme Court sets aside death sentence (3-2 vote). Resentences Lois to 60 years.






For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Queen Piea Waar, Cannibal Double Black Widow – Hermit Islands, 1896

FULL TEXT: The following is taken from a New York paper:  – Any man who wants to be king of a cannibal island, and to rule over 2,000 dusky subjects, has only to go out to the St. John’s group of islands in the Southern Pacific, and to offer his hand and heart to the Queen. Her name is Piea Waar. The Queen is looking for a husband, and she is not over-particular about his qualifications. The reason she is not married is that there is no man among her subjects, who are all women. These astonishing facts have just been related by the captain and crew of the American ship Bonanza, which arrived recently at San Francisco.

~ Promised a Cargo of Bridegrooms. ~

The Bonanza was blown out of her course, and put into the St. John's group of islands for water. They  are near the Solomon Islands. The ship was invaded by a horde of dusky beauties, who swarmed over the sides and began to select husbands from among the crew. But for the prompt measures of Captain Bergman, in dismissing the women and prohibiting any man from leaving the ship, his entire crew would have deserted, and he would have been unable to navigate his way back to civilisation. As it was, he was only enabled to get away by promising the women of the St. John's Islands that he would ship a load of young men and return to settle down and furnish enough husbands to go around at the rate of 1 to 16.

~ A Remarkable Queen” ~

“The Queen,” said Captain Bergman, “is a very remarkable woman. She is tall, muscular, and of a commanding presence, and she would attract atten tion anywhere. As she is the absolute monarch of all she surveys, including the surrounding reefs and atolls that are unsurveyed, she would be a great prize for the lucky man who might win her dusky heart and not bloodless hand. Since the disappearance of all the men on the islands her nature has become greatly softened, and she now pines, as do her maidens, for the presence of the dear departed. It was whispered that she had made a ragout out of one or two of her husbands who had not lived up to her expectations, but no white man need fear any such fate. One charming characteristic of these women is the absence among them of jealousy.”

~ Only Themselves to Blame. ~

Captain Bergman says that the women, who are now miserable because of their loneliness on the St. John Islands, have only themselves to blame for their plight. Queen Piea Waar ruled with an iron hand and became a sort of amazon, waging war with woman troops upon other islands in the group. The women always outnumbered the men on these islands, and for some reason the female warriors were induced to make a war upon them. Only a few hundred men were left when the natural result of this war became apparent. Then a halt was called in this senseless war fare. The Queen had killed two of her husbands, but every effort was made to pacify the men who were left and to make them comfortable. Among themselves, however, they came to the conclusion that too many women were even worse than too few, and so they took the first opportunity of making their escape. A French barque dropped anchor there a year or two ago, and the men on the island made a deal with the captain to take them  to South America. They stole aboard one night, and in the morning they were gone. Since then no ship has landed at the island until the Bonanza was accidentally blown in there recently. By that time, the women had realised the full horror of their situation, and were willing to make almost any terms for husbands. Many of the women are said to be beautiful.

[“An Island of Amazons – All Clamouring for Husbands.” Hampshire Telegraph and Chronicle (Portsmouth, England), Jan. 16, 1897, p. 11; “Bananza” in text corrected to “Bonanza.”]



FULL TEXT: L. J. Reinhart, a San Francisco carpenter, is tired of leading a hand to mouth existence in America, moreover, he is inspired with a romantic desire to relieve beauty in distress. Therefore he is trying to raise a body of men to undertake a novel colonization scheme. His plan is to buy a vessel, equip it and sail to the St. John or Hermit islands, in the south Pacific ocean, where no inhabitants are left but dusky belles killed by cannibal wars or taken away by conscienceless blackbirders.

Most of the women are without husbands, as only a few old men are left on the islands, and they will welcome a large number of men who wish to leave behind them the cares of the civilized world and take up the indolent life of an ocean isle.

Captain Bergman of the American steamer Bonanza recently sent the news to San Francisco of the peculiar condition of affairs on the Hermit islands. He said that his ship was blown out of its course and anchored one day close to one of the islands. He was astonished to see none but women on the coral reef, for it was hardly more than that.

The women swam like mermaids to the ship. They told of the condition of affairs in the island and wanted the captain to leave some of his sailors. They said they would heap upon them all the honors of dusky royalty if they would but take their residence among them.

The natives of the island have always been known as cannibals, and the sailors mentioned this as a reason why the offer was reluctantly declined. But the visitors assured them that their days of human flesh eating was over. Men were too scarce to be sacrificed in any such vulgar way.

Reinhart declares that it is not the report of the husbandless women that has moved him to project his enterprise. He says it is dissatisfaction with the condition of the labor world and the desire to lead a peaceful existence without having to struggle day and night for bread and butter. He wants to form a republic on co-operative lines. He says as it is in the south seas the islands support the natives with very little work. By combining forces and pooling interests he believes this proposed band can have all the comforts of life with little labor.

Reinhart, like many other carpenters, has been able to get very little work lately, and he is disgusted with the situation. He is uncertain what the future will bring forth, and he thinks happiness and ease can be obtained in the manless Eden in the south Pacific ocean. He was already secured the co-operation of several men like himself, and he expects to gain fully 50 or more to his proposition in a short time.

The scheme is for 50 men to put up $25 each. With this money he expects to buy a schooner and provision her for the voyage and at least a year’s stay on whatever island it may be decided to settle upon. On first landing they will build a fort and then take seeds in a few years they ought to be exporting great quantities of south sea island products.

Notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, it is shrewdly suspected that Carpenter Reinhart aspires to the hand of Queen Piea Waar. Her majesty, according to Captain Bergman, is a very remarkable woman. She is tall, muscular and of a commanding presence, and she would attract attention anywhere. As she is the absolute monarch of all she surveys, including the surrounding reefs and atolls that are unsurveyed, she would be a great prise for a lucky man who might win her dusky heart and not bloodless hand.

Since the disappearance of all the men on the islands her nature has become greatly softened, and she now pines, as do her maidens, for the presence of the dear departed. It was whispered that she had made a ragout of one or two of her husbands who had not lived up to her expectations, but no white man need fear any such fate. The St. John’s natives acknowledge a liking now and then for a bit of native flesh, but white men’s meat, they say, has such a salty flavor that it is unpalatable.

[“A Queer Expedition. – Colony of Husbands For the Manless Isle of the South Seas,” The Atchcison Daily Globe (Ks.), Dec. 18, 1896, p. 6]



The Hermit Islands are a group of 17 islands within the Western Islands of the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. Their coordinates are 1°30′S 145°4′ECoordinates: 1°30′S 145°4′E. The first sighting by Europeans of Hermit islands was by the Spanish navigator Iñigo Órtiz de Retes on 29 July 1545 when on board of the carrack San Juan tried to return from Tidore to New Spain. He charted them as La Caimana (a female caiman in Spanish). When passing by, Ortiz de Retes reported that some negroes got near the ship who flung arrows by hand without bows, that were made of flint suitable for striking fire. These islands belong to Micronesian outliers. [Wikipedia]


For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


Eugenia “Sweetlove” Moore, Black Widow Serial Killer – Ohio, 1987

FULL TEXT: Cleveland – A 67-year-old woman nicknamed “Sweetlove” who had already served time for killing two of her husbands has admitted to using a 5 ½-pound steel bar to beat to death her male roommate, authorities said.

Eugenia Moore, 67, was arrested last week and is being held in Cuyahoga County Jail in the death of L. C. Wright, 35. He was killed March 8 while lying on his sofa watching television, police said.

Moore told authorities she beat Wright with a steel bar because he assaulted her in an attempt to have sex with her.

Moore was committed to Lima State Hospital from 1966 to 1971 for the butcher-knife slaying of Joseph Woods, her live-in boy friend. In December 1956, police found the body of Moore’s husband of 18 years, Joseph Moore, at his home. He had been stabbed with an ice pick.

[“’Sweetlove’ has 3rd lover in his grave,” Daily News (New York, N.Y.), Mar. 17, 1987, p. C14]


For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

“Grandma Reed,” Suspected Serial Killer – New York, 2014

An unusual – and enlightening – article by Vice writer John Reed (not to be confused with the novelist of the same name), tells of his suspicions that his grandmother, aged 94 in 2014, might have been a serial killer. Her name is not given, so we’ll dub her “Grandma Reed” for our purposes here. She lived in New York City.

The article shows just how slippery the typical female serial killer case usually is. We often are left with just circumstancial evidence, inference and ambiguity . . . and dead bodies.

Here is the article’s first paragraph:

“People were always dying around Grandma – her children, her husbands, her boyfriend – so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed, enshrouded in the darkness of the attic, and surrounded by the skin-and-spit smell of old age, was to know that mothers don't get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don't wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer.”

And another paragraph from the body of the article:

“Sometimes when I tell these stories, I have the feeling that people think I should have done something. Well, it was difficult psychologically to piece all of this together, and as a kid, I didn't understand what was going on. Before Grandma put me to bed she'd sometimes serve me this really rich hot chocolate that looked oily and thin. And when I woke up it would be 24 or even 72 hours later. Three or four times we rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night because I was having trouble breathing. But it wasn't until my 30s that I connected all this and it dawned on me that sleeping for three days is not normal or OK, and that the only times I woke up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, I was at Grandma's.”

[John Reed, “What Do You Do When You Think You Have a Murderer in the Family? I've come to believe that my grandmother literally poisoned those around her.” Vice, 26 Oct. 26, 2014]


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Adelaide Reece, Serial Baby-Killer Child Care Provider – England, 1883

FULL TEXT: The prisoner Charles Reece, who is charged jointly with his wife, Adelaide Reece, with the willful murder of the infant child of Mr. and Mrs.  Hancock, of New-street, Gloucester, surrendered to his bail in answer to the charge before the bench of city magistrates on Friday. A large crowd assembled in the vicinity of the court-house to see Mrs. Reece, but were disappointed, as the female prisoner was not taken to court, it having been arranged that no evidence should be offered that day. A formal remand was taken, and the male prisoner was again admitted to bail, Mrs. Reece being remanded at the prison in the afternoon. The case will come on again next Friday, when the evidence of Police-Constable Howes, who found the bodies in the garden, and Mr. A. P. Carter, the surgeon who held the post-mortem examination on Mr. Hancock’s child, will be taken.

[“The Horrible Discovery in Gloucester.” Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Jun. 16, 1883, p. 3]


FULL TEXT: Adelaide Reece, midwife was charged at the Gloucester Assizes yesterday, with the willful murder of the infant child of Mrs. Hancock. Eight bodies of infants were found buried in the prisoner’s garden, but the judge, after hearing evidence of murder or manslaughter. – The jury convicted prisoner of concealment of birth. Sentence was deferred.

[“Alleged Wholesale Murderess.” Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (England), Aug. 9, 1883, p. 3]


To learn more details about murderous child care providers in history, including baby farmers, adoption agents and baby sitters, see “Death on the Baby Farm,” by Robert St. Estephe, Female Serial Killer Index.


For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Yuko Takahashi, Double Black Widow – Japan, 2007

FULL TEXT: Fukuoka — The Fukuoka District Court sentenced a former bar owner to life imprisonment Thursday as sought by prosecutors for killing her husband in 1994 and then her next spouse in 2000. Yuko Takahashi, 51, was found guilty of stabbing her first husband Yuji Nomoto, 34, to death, with the help of her boyfriend, at their home in the town of Shime, Fukuoka Prefecture, in October 1994.

She was also convicted of drowning her next husband Takayuki Takahashi, then 54, without an accomplice in the bath of their home in the city of Fukuoka in November 2000. Takahashi's boyfriend Kenichi Ide, 36, a former home tutor, was sentenced to imprisonment of three years and six months. Prosecutors had demanded imprisonment of 12 years.

[“Ex-bar owner given life term for killing 2 husbands,” Kyodo News, Jul. 19, 2007]


Takahashi Yūko


For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.