FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Lucretia Borgia! Mrs. Lulu Johnson is just now being tried in the Oklahama territory, America, for systematically poisoning her husbands. Of these she had six, and all are suspected bf having met their end by means of arsenic, administered by their wife. Mrs. Johnson was born in Illinois, and as a girl was remarkable for net strength of will. At sixteen she eloped with a farmer named Kent, and at seventeen, being free again, married a railway fettler named Green. Three years Inter, the fettler not having iron enough in his constitution to stand poison, went out suddenly, and his blushing widow espoused a soldier named Homsher, who managed to survive the shock for just twelve years. Then came Mr. Frank Smith, who saw and conquered, but was eventually himself vanquished and sent to interview his predecessors in the churchyard. Mrs. Johnson’s sixth husband was Mr. Ketchum, a wealthy man in one of the capitals, and he lasted just long enough to settle up things and leave her a fortune. Then, tiring of matrimony, the lady became a kind of free lance, eventually going off with a strolling player in his gilded caravan. This last was her one fatal step, as the player, having a wife living, the latter turned up at one of the performances and openly accused Mrs. Johnson of having murdered her former husbands, partly out of deliberate sin and sometimes for gain. The accusation being made in public, someone got the authorities to exhume a few of the deceased husbands, and to have their remains examined. As arsenic was found in every one of them Mrs. Johnson was arrested, and is now being tried for murder.
[“She Poisoned Six Husbands.” Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW, Australia), May 30, 1899, p. 4]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Enid., O. T., March 23. – The jury tonight brought In a sealed verdict, which is believed to be for acquittal. In the case of the Territory of Oklahoma against Mrs. Lulu Johnson, charged with poisoning her alleged husband, William N. Shirley, in December, 1894, taken on a change of venue to Enid and which has been In progress before Judge John L. McAtee here during the past week. The territory was represented by Samuel Ridings, county attorney, and Judge Mackey of Pond Creek, and the defense by O. G. Eckstein of Wichita and W. H. C. Taylor of Pond Creek.
Mrs. Johnson having been acquitted the murder of her last husband, J. W. Johnson, alleged to be her eighth husband, the present charge of murdering her alleged seventh husband has given the case a wide reputation, and is the leading murder case in the annals of Oklahoma Territory, to date.
The prosecution were well prepared, having as an expert chemist Professor Bartow of the University of Kansas, who is regarded as one of the most eminent chemists west of the Missouri river, and who has testified as such in the leading poisoning cases in the west.
The questions involved in the case were of a very scientific nature, treating of different poisons and their effects upon the human system. The prosecution claiming that the deceased died of arsenic administered by the defendant, the body having been exhumed four years after death, opened up a wide field of scientific investigation; the defense claiming that the deceased was a morphine fiend, and that death may have resulted from other causes than arsenic, though two and a half grains was found in his body. The cross examination of the experts covered a wide range, and was enough to mystify a professional man, let alone a jury.
The prosecution proved that the deceased and the defendant lived together as husband and wife, and that they had frequently quarreled and that she had often threatened to take his life and had sent away for poison. Other than this the testimony was purely circumstantial.
The defense claimed by numerous witnesses that deceased was addicted to the morphine habit, and that he was in a dying condition from the result of the same and would have died whether arsenic was administered to him or not.
A better prepared case was never tried in the territory, and Judge McAtee, who presided, sustained this well earned reputation in his rulings when the difficult problems presented.
The case went to the jury yesterday. The summing up by the attorneys on both sides showed great research and study, the speeches of the attorneys for the defense causing many a tear to flow in the densely packed court room, and closing with a peroration describing the pathetic death-bed scene and the gray-haired defendant smoothing the pillow of the dying man.
[“In the Case of Mrs. Lulu Johnson, Tried at Enid - For Husband-Poisoning - It Is Believed That She Has Been Acquitted.” The Wichita Daily Eagle (Ka.), Mar. 26, 1899, p. 2]
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.