Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mary T. Godau, Alabama Black Widow - 1912

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Mobile, Jan. 1. – Mrs. Mary T. Godau is in one cell, her son, Willie Green, in another, and her daughter, Theresa Virginia Wasserleben, is in still another at the county jail, charged with murder, the victim being Fred Wasserleben, husband of the latter, and for some time a member of the Mobile police department. The body in police uniform was found in a pond some distance from the house in Mohawk avenue, where it had been hauled and thrown after the crime was committed on Saturday night during a heavy rainfall. Inspection of the home after the crime disclosed blood marks in the floor of the room the man had occupied and signs of a struggle. In the bath room was found freshly washed clothes with bloodstains, and beneath the house in a fresh made hole, bloody effects in which the body had been wrapped before removal. Arrest of the three then followed.

This morning Mrs. Godau confessed to killing her son-in-law, claiming he tried to assault her in his room, and after she beat him off, he fired at, but missed her, he then threw his pistol on the bed, and falling on it, told her he didn’t care if she killed him. Seizing the weapon she fired a bullet into his forehead. When the body fell on the floor she sent two other bullet into his body. She then claimed, after her children had gone to bed, to have tied a rope around the man’s neck, dragged the body down stairs, placed it in a wagon, carted it to the pond, and threw it in.

Returning, she tried to wash away the tell-tale blood stains. Nine years ago Mrs. Godau’s husband was killed on a rainy night in his home at Cottage Hill, and his body was found in a lot nearby. His life was insured. A previous husband, Charles Stein, was mysteriously killed, as was a son-in-law, all at the homes of Mrs. Godau. Wasserleben has $75,000 insurance. It looks like a second Gunness farm tragedy.

[“Woman Conducts Murder Farm – Two Husbands and Two Sons-in-Law Are Mysteriously Slain. – All Were Insured,” Trenton True American (N.J.), Jan. 2, 1912, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): Mobile, Ala., July 12. – Mrs. Mary Godau, charged with the murder of her son-in-law, testified on the witness stand to-day that her confession made at the Coroner’s inquest last December was procured by the State through promises of immunity for her daughter, wife of the slain man, and for her son. This confession was admitted to the jury to-day after a tilt of more than an hour between counsel for the State and for the defense.

In her confession Mrs. Godau stated that she, a cripple, shot and killed her son-and-law, Fred Wasserleben, when he was drunk in her room. She claimed that she slew him because he had made an attack upon her person.  Her confession says that she dragged the body of the dead man a mile and a half to a pond, where it was found the following morning. The State has brought charges against the dead man’s wife also. She will be brought to trial next week.

The jury in the Godau trial was secured to-day after four panels of 100 veniremen each had been

[“Mrs. Godau Disavows Confession of Murder – Says Admission Procured By Promise Of Immunity For Children.” The Courier-Journal Louisville, Ky.), Jul. 13, 1912, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Mobile, Ala., July 13. – Mrs. Mary T. Godau, who confessed killing her son-in-law, Policeman Fred Wasserleben, last December, asserting that he had threatened her, was found guilty by a jury today and and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mrs. Fred Wasserleben, wife of the slain man, will be tried next week on the same charge.

Mrs. Godau is a cripple. She says she killed Wasserleben in her room. The body of the policeman, who was unusually large in stature, was found on the morning after the killing wrapped in the gunny sack in a pond a mile and a half from the Godau residence. The woman stated on the witness stand that she dragged the corpse down the stairs, rolled it in a basket and hitching a horse to it, dragged it to the place where it was found.

[“Life Imprisonment – Mrs. Mary Godau is Found Guilty of Murder and Sentenced,” The Bennington Evening Banner (Vt.), Jul. 16, 1912, p. 3


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 4): Mobile, Ala., March 22. – Mrs. Theresa V. Wesserleben has been convicted of murdering her husband and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Unless the supreme court interferes she will join her mother, Mrs. Mary T. Godau, in the Alabama penitentiary, where Mrs. Godau is serving a life term on conviction of implication in the murder of Wesserleben.

The victim, Fred Wesserleben, a policeman, was shot to death in his home the night of December 31, 1911. His body was found next day in a pond nearby. The state contended the women killed him to obtain $7,000 life insurance Mrs. Wesserleben had on her husband’s life.

[“For Slaying Husband. – Alabama Woman Sentenced to Life Imprisonment.” The Evening Star (Washington, D. C.), Mar. 22, 1913, p. 1]



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


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