FULL TEXT: BREWTON—A plump farm woman was under a life sentence today for the insurance poison murder of her fourth husband. A circuit court jury yesterday found Mrs. Bessie Lee Cunningham, 41, guilty of first-degree murder, and fixed her punishment at life imprisonment.
Defense attorneys announced they would appeal the verdict. She was sentenced immediately after the jury finding was announced.
She showed little emotion. Mrs. Cunningham had been charged with poisoning two of her four husbands to collect their insurance, but was tried only for the death of Arthur Cunningham, 44. The dead men were brothers.
The State had demanded the death penalty. The jury deliberated less than three hours.
The State accused Mrs. Cunningham of poisoning Arthur and Willie E. Cunningham, 46. Arthur died last Aug. 26. She married Arthur three months after Willie’s funeral in May, 1940.
The Stale charged Mrs. Cunningham killed both to collect life insurance policies—$2,200 on Willie and $5,000 on Arthur.
A State toxicologist told the jury autopsies showed both were given arsenic in quantities more than sufficient to cause death.
[“Woman Sentenced To Life In Prison In Poison Murder,” syndicated (AP), The Aniston Star (Al.), Nov. 3, 1950, p. 12]
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.