Thursday, September 22, 2011

Angenette Haight, Black Widow Serial Killer, Dereuter, N.Y. - 1884

FULL TEXT: Syracuse, N. Y. –  At 10:30 this morning Mrs. Angenette B. S. Haight was sentenced in Morrisville to be hanged on April 18th next, between the hours of ten and four o’clock, Justice Murray said, before pronouncing sentence: “Everything humane has been done for you, and you should not take any delusive hope, as I fully concur in the verdict. You should give yourself up to repentance. There is no chance for a new trial. All hope will rest with the clemency of Governor Cleveland.”

The trial, which resulted in the verdict guilty of murder in the first degree against Mrs. Haight shortly before midnight Saturday, had lasted for two weeks, mid excited greater interest than any murder trial that was ever held in the State of New York, Mrs. Haight is the first woman tried for such a crime in this State for many years. Geo. W. Haight was the third husband of the murderess. Shortly after three o’clock on the morning of February 27, 1883, a bullet was fired into his brain as he lay in his bed at Dereuter, N. Y, he was removed to the house of his uncle at his own request, and lived a few days in a semiconscious condition. On the same day that he was shot, he made an anti-mortem statement, to the effect that, both retired as usual, he was up at 2 a. m. to wait upon his wife, who complained of suffering from rheumatism, he left her sitting in an easy chair und returned to bed. At 3 a. m. he was awakened by somebody approaching him. He saw Mrs. Haight with a cloth in her hand. Before he had time to arouse himself, she produced a revolver from the cloth and fired a bullet into his brain.

This was the evidence that the prosecution had, and the defense tried to overcome it by the theory that George Knight committed suicide, and was of unsound mind when he made his statement. The circumstance that Mrs. Haight was eager to have the insurance company in which her husband had a life policy notified of his sinking condition, strengthened the suspicion that she committed the crime to obtain the insurance money. Her father and her other two husbands had wills in her favor, and it is hinted that she also caused their death through mercenary motives. She will certainly hang unless Governor Cleveland interferes in her behalf as he has been somewhat prone to do in behalf of convicted murderers of late.

[“A Modern Lucretia. - Three Husbands Poisoned for Their Life Insurance. - The Loving Spouse Found Time Also to a Fatal Dose to Her Own Sire.” The Decatur Daily Republican (Il.), Feb. 26, 1884, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): Albany, N. Y., April 11. – The Governor has commuted the sentence of Angenette B. E. Haight, who was convicted in Madison County of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to be hanged on April 18, 1884, to imprisonment for the term of her natural life in the Onondaga County Penitentiary, and has filed the following reasons: “I have examined the facts in the case and have no doubt of the justice of the conviction. The sentence of death necessarily followed such conviction under the provisions of the criminal law. While there is naturally a feeling of repugnance against the execution of a woman, I am by no means satisfied that  in the present condition of the law which prescribes the punishment of death for murder in the first degree females should be exempt from such punishment solely on account of their sex, but in this particular case, having made a full investigation of the condition of the condemned, I find that she is advanced in years, and the report of the medical examination made by my direction discloses that her bodily ailments and infirmities are such that it is quite likely her life will not be of long duration in any event. I have determined, therefore, to commute her sentence of death to imprisonment for life.”

[“A Death Sentence Commuted.” The New York Times (N.Y.), Apr. 12, 1884, p. not known]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): “The Governor’s action in commuting the sentence of Mrs. Angenette B. E. Haight is a very silly action,” said Mr. Jerome B. Haight, brother of George W. Haight, at the Vanderbilt House last evening.

“If he had concluded to commute the sentence of death, why didn’t he say so in as few words as possible without placing a premium on every old woman who chooses to commit a murder. He goes on to say that Mrs. Haight’s conviction of murder in the first degree was just; that she had a fair trial: that he is not averse to hanging a woman and all that, but still he commutes the sentence. Mrs. Haight may live forty or forty-five years and be numbered among the centenarians. In this case the county of Madison would have to pay for her board for a long time. If she had had some motive for committing crime besides the mighty dollar people would have looked upon the matter differently.”

The Rochester Post-Express of yesterday says: “About the poorest use to which a man can be put is banging him, and there is naturally a still stronger prejudice against the legal and deliberate strangulation of a woman. Still, our respect for the truth compels us to remark that Mrs. Haight, whose death-sentence Governor Cleveland has just commuted to imprisonment for life in the Onondaga County Penitentiary, was a particularly ‘hangable’ woman. Her crime was utterly unrelieved by any feature of romance or passion. Hers was a deliberate murder from a sordid motive, and it is extremely doubtful whether her husband’s blood was the only blood upon her hands.”

[“Mrs. Haight’s Commutation. - The Opinion of the Murdered Man’s Brother—A Contemporary’s View.” Sunday Herald (Syracuse, N.Y.), Apr. 13, 1884, p. 1]



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


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


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