EXCERPT (Article 1 of 1): Parrish, a self-ordained storefront preacher from East Baltimore, was convicted in 1989 of arranging for the murder of four friends and relatives in order to cash in on their insurance policies. She also was convicted in the botched attempt to kill her 29-year-old niece. She married at least eight men, four within 18 months.
A nephew who married Parrish said he had been placed under her spell by a North Carolina "root woman," who he believed had doctored a meal of barbecued goat meat. In another twist, authorities searching in a paupers' cemetery for one of her victims exhumed the wrong body -- twice. Parrish, 58, is serving multiple life sentences as prisoner No. 906-073 at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup. [Jay Apperson, “Murderer promises a colorful tale, but publisher backs out on her life story,” Baltimore Sun (Md.), Apr. 15, 1994]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): On May 10, 1989, Geraldine Parrish, 52, will be sentenced for one of the most bizarre murders in Baltimore history. Accused of killing 48-year-old New Jersey resident Albert Robinson, Geraldine Parrish recruited 19-year-old Lionel Robinson (no relation to victim) to pull the trigger and her 21 year old niece Renee Burns to lure the victim to his death.
Throughout her childhood, Renee Burns had quietly listened behind doors when she was supposed to be asleep, hearing family members whisper rumors about the sinister ways of her Aunt Geraldine Parrish.
The opinions of the family, as well as those of the congregation of the storefront church which Geraldine Brown Parrish served as Minister/Prophetess, were divided among those that thought of her as the sweet and caring shepherd of her church flock, and others who were deathly afraid of her voodoo-methodology and thought that a darker side lay beneath her exterior personality.
When Renee became older she was taken into the confidence of Aunt Geraldine. These discussions made Renee realize for the first time that many of the family’s accusations of murder for insurance levied against Aunt Geraldine might indeed contain some grain of truth.
Although Renee at this time had no concrete proof of her Aunt’s involvement in the act of murder, she was becoming increasingly convinced that Parrish was capable of murdering for money.
Renee also believed that Parrish had actually committed murder and lived well off the insurance benefits she received as the sole beneficiary of her victims.
It was a combination of these informed hunches as well as what she saw in the large sums of cash, fine clothes, flashy automobiles and the luxurious lifestyle which Aunt Geraldine surrounded herself that shaped Renee’s decision to assist her Aunt as a murderess’ apprentice.
Those were the reasons Renee gave for deciding to adopt her mother’s sister as her role model, thinking that maybe she too could have some of the finder things in life.
“From the time she first approached me with an opportunity to make some big cash I knew that I was interested in having some of the material; things that she had. She had the stuff therefore she was the best person in the world to show me how to get those things for myself,” said Renee.
Renee said, “As for the multiple marriages without ever divorcing, and the baby-selling, and the incest, torture and satanic rites involved in what Aunt Geraldine represented to some people, I did not get that picture. Not all at once anyway. Those things were slowly revealed to me about my Aunt and for that matter, my entire family.”
“The first time I was approached I must have been about 18 years old (Renee is now 21). Aunt Geraldine called my house where I was living with my mother and step-father and asked that I meet her to discuss something that she called important.
“The only thing that she would say over the telephone is that she wanted me to ride up to New Jersey with her so that she could go to the bank.
“When she came to the house she said that she wanted to go at night and I thought it was awfully strange that she would be going to the bank at night. After all, what bank is open at night?”
Renee said that her Aunt “told me to get one of those guys that I know and persuade them to travel with us, the money would be good for both him and me.
“She kept making cracks about how we spent our time on small potatoes, like minor drug deals when she could show us how to make some really big cash if we hung with her.”
Lionel Robinson was the man Renee chose to accompany them on their bizarre journey to New Jersey.
Renee said that “The reason why my aunt wanted us to go to New Jersey was to kill Albert Robinson (no relation to Lionel) for her. She painted a picture of Robinson as a tired old useless wino who would make an ideal murder victim for us because he would be easy prey and he would not be missed by too many folks.”
Niece Renee says, “Like she did with all her victims Geraldine first became the beneficiary of their life insurance policies adding them to a list of persons from which she could later ‘tap’ for needed funds when she killed them and later collected their insurance.”
“Another tactic used by Parrish was to marry her victim and later collect their insurance money. It was easier to collect if you had a connection like marriage.
“People ask me how and why I got into something like this, they have to understand that I grew up with these people. My step-father has stopped speaking to me because of the incident but he’s not the same guy who married Geraldine Parrish for money in New Jersey 15 years ago.
“That’s why my mother and him never married, he was still legally married to Geraldine the entire 15 years that he lived with my mother as man and wife.”
“Aunt Geraldine never came to the house much when my mother was alive. Mom died in 1987 and Geraldine promptly went to the jail where my father was and told him that I had poisoned my mother, causing her death. From then on he stopped having anything to do with me,” Renee added.
“The combination of the trial and my testimony at the trial and the fact that Geraldine told my step-father that I murdered my mother by giving her some poison orange juice have made me run scared since this trial started.
The police have given me a place to stay that nobody knows about. I have a 16 month old son that I have to think about now.
“There will be no more murder trials coming up, and I will be called on to testify in them. I hope that all goes well.”
When the AFRO contacted Jack Lessor of State’s Attorney’s office, he would only identify Renee Burns as the indicted co-conspirator in the first Parrish murder case.
He declined to answer questions regarding Burn’s placement in a State witness protection program or the possibility of her being called upon to testify or be indicted in the upcoming murder trials of Geraldine Parrish.
[“21-year-old niece exposes: Voodoo widow murderess,” Baltimore Afro-American (Md.), Apr. 22, 1989, p. 1]
FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): Baltimore – A preacher and a hired gunman have pleaded guilty to killing three people and attempting to kill three others to collect on their insurance policies Geraldine Parrish, 54, and Edwin Gordon, 23, pleaded guilty Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court.
"These were some of the most unbelievable murderers," said Baltimore prosecutor Jack I. Lesser. "I just can't believe how vicious and cold-blooded these people were."
Parrish, who at one time feigned insanity and claimed to be illiterate, will serve two consecutive life sentences and six concurrent life sentences imposed by Judge Elsbeth Levy Bothe.
Gordon, already serving life without parole for a separate contract murder, received six concurrent life sentences.
Parrish first was convicted last month for killing a New Jersey man to get his insurance benefits. With her guilty plea Thursday, she has been convicted of orchestrating four murders from November 1985 to May 1988 to get $39,000 worth of insurance benefits. Her friends and her sister's common-law husband were among the victims.
[“Preacher, hired gunman plead guilty to 3 slayings,” syndicated (AP), The Frederick Post (Md.), May 20, 1989, p. A-4]
Other source: “The police seized 45 insurance policies from locked closets and safes at her house.”
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.