Sunday, June 1, 2014

Murder-Coaching Moms


Following are 35 cases in which mothers coaxed or ordered their own children to commit murder.

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1740 – Elizabeth Branch – Taunton, Somerset, England

Elizabeth Branch and her daughter Mary were executed for the murder of a 13-year-old servant girl. They had tortured this and other victims in their employ mercilessly. One boy was tortured until he soiled himself and was then forced to eat his own excrement. It was suspected that Mrs. Branch has murdered her husband and her own mother and another servant girl.

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While her husband was eating, Roxalana Druse “stole up behind him and shot him. The daughter Mary, who had been provided with a rope noose, then appeared upon the scene, threw the cord about him and dragged him to the floor. Mrs. Druse then called Frank Grates back into the house. Handing the boy the pistol, she said it would not go off, and ordered him to shoot her husband or himself be shot. The deed commanded seemed more desirable to the youngster than its alternative, and he commenced the work with trembling alacrity. But before he had emptied all the chambers of the revolver the infuriated female tore the pistol from his hand and finished the horrid task herself. Then with an ax she cut off the dying man's head, dismembered the body and chopped it small enough to burn and boil, the boys gathering shingles to make right hot fires in both stoves. All this with the assistance of her daughter Mary and in the presence of her little son George. Then she fell into the errors that finally led to her detection. The fragments of the body were thrown into the boiler and two red-hot stoves.”

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1887 – Kate & Kit Kelly (Kelly Family) – No Man’s Land, Kansas, USA

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Sexually tortured and murdered 3 orphan girls. Her son’s participation was not clear, but he was at least a passive participant.

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1897 – Nancy Staffleback – Galena, Kansas – Leader of a murderous clan guilty of at least 6 murders; 2 sons convicted along with their mother.
“George and Ed Staffleback have been found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to the penitentiary for life, while the mother, hoary in crime as in years – she is now 65 – has been found guilty of murder in the second degree and will no doubt end her years in prison, having received a twenty-five-year sentence.”

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1901 – Mrs. Stallion – Aurora, Missouri

Mrs. John Stallion and two sons by a former marriage murdered Alice Stallion, her step daughter, aged sixteen. The boys held Alice while her mother broke her skull with a poker. The body was then thrown in the James river.

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At the instigation of his mother, Baroness De Courvigny, who was a drunk, Robert De Courvigny murdered his father. The wife had failed in poisoning her victim but the son succeeded in the task by means of a bullet.

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Mother and 17-year old daughter; leaders of a large gang; daughter lured victims to the Tamarin home where they were robbed and murdered and cannibalized. 27 corpses were found.

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1913 – Yates / Farris case – Troy, Tennessee

Mrs. Hennie Yates, thirty-six, and daughter, Floy Farris, fifteen, charged with the murder of Ligon Yates, twelve, and Ida May Yates, ten. They were the step-children of Hennie and the half-siblings of Floy. Children drowned in creek near home at Troy, Tenn.  Mrs. Yates will give no other reason for committing the crime than: “They made my life miserable.” The woman is apparently rational, realizes the enormity of her crime, but does not in any way show that she is remorseful. . The little girl cowered in a separate cell as far away from her mother as she could get. She declares she is afraid of her mother and assisted in the murder only after she had been threatened with death by her parent if she refused.

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1919 – Broderick / Woodlock case –  St. Louis, Missouri

Ursula Broderick claimed she killed her father, Thomas P. Broderick, when she was 12. She was acquitted of murder by a jury who had believed her testimony that she had been protecting her mother from being beaten, and when 16, murdered her step-father, Joseph F. Woodlock, whom she falsely claimed has attempted to rape her. She was found guilty after three trials. Testimony revealed that Ursula had attempted to bribe a witness to perjure herself by repeating in court the false rape accusation story. After Ursula’s conviction, Mrs. Woodlock was charged with the murder of her both husbands, the state contending that Ursua had lied to protect her mother.

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Ray Clough, 14, shot his father, James A. Clough, to death after his mother gave him the gun and instructed him to do the deed, falsely claiming the boy’s two younger brothers had just been murdered by the father.

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Elizabeth Potegian, an Armenian immigrant living in central California, was accused of murdering her husband, two stepchildren. Mrs. Potegian under arrest, accused her mother, Mrs. Maria Torosian. When the police went to arrest the woman they found her body dangling from a rafter in her home. She had hanged herself. On the same day Mrs. Potegian tried to kill herself in her jail cell, slashing her wrists. During the investigation it was learned that while living in Armenia, Mrs. Torosian had been married six times, each husband meeting his death under mysterious circumstances. Mrs. Potegian was tried for the murder of her step-daughter, with her surviving son, Gordon, as the principal prosecution witness, and was found guilty.

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1929 – Ethel LewisSt. Joseph, Michigan

Two demented mothers who murdered their five children confessed to killing their newborns. Mrs. Okal Gorham, 25, said the babies were poisoned or strangled to death by herself and her mother, Mrs. Ethel Lewis, 57. she could give no reason for the acts but said she and her mother frequently quarreled over family matters.

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Landlady, a Hungarian immigrant took out insurance on her immigrant tenants and is suspected of many murders. Her son was implicated in pushing one of them from a window, witnessed by a man and a small girl, after poison failed to killed him.

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1933 – Dorothy Irene Turley – St. John, Arizona

Mattie Turley, 15, shot her father in the back with a shotgun, having been encouraged by her mother, Mrs. Dorothea Irene Turley, who had convinced the daughter that the spirit world had required the act, having used a Ouija Board session to elicit the death order. Mattie understood, she declared, that “mother must be freed in order to marry the handsome cowboy.”

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“I’ll buy you a car if you help me kill your Uncle Robert,” Mrs. May Carey, 52, told her sons Howard and James. They did it and – but not until eight years later – one of them got hanged along with their murder-coaching mom.

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In prison since 1928, serving a long term for car theft which she committed with her son, Earl De Costa Mayer, a crime for which he also was also in prison, 73-year old, Mary (alias “Shoebox Annie” French) confessed to the murder of the car’s owner, plus three earlier murders, all four murders committed in league with her son. As soon as Mayer learned he was to be prosecuted for murder he committed suicide.

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Chloe Davis, 11, was ordered by her mother, Lolita Davis – who had just seconds before beaten to death with a hammer the little girl’s siblings Daphne, 10, and Deborah, 7 – to beat her little brother Mark, 3, and the mother herself with the weapon. A coroner’s jury decided Mark died from his mother’s blows – not Chloe’s – and that Mrs. Davis died after slashing her own wrists.

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During the trial of Leonarda Cianciulli for murdering three women in succession and cooking their body parts to make soap and desserts, the prosecution made an effort to prove that without assistance a woman could not overpower his victims, dismember the bodies and transport them. Leonarda, however, stood by her story that she committed the crimes alone and that her son, Joseph Pansardi,  had no involvement. A 2008 documentary film, La saponificatrice - Vita di Leonarda Cianciulli, argues that the murderess did indeed have Joseph as her accomplice and that Leonarda lied to protect him and was indeed successful in achieving that end.

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Mrs. Gertrude Inez Brennan and two of her sons, Raymond, 23, and Robert, 16, killed 2 men she met through “lonely hearts club” letters. The men were shot in the head buried in a pigpen on the Brennan farm; later the bodies were dug up, burned and scattered on the city dump.

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Asthmatic 16-year-old Sylvia Likens was tortured for months by her foster mother, her own children and neighborhood children, and eventually killed. She was beaten, had cigarettes put out on her skin, was forced to undress in the living room and insert an empty Coke bottle into private parts. After the beatings, Sylvia was forced into a scalding hot bath so she would be "cleansed of her sins." She was severely beaten and burned for wetting her mattress while asleep. She was thrown down the cellar stairs and locked in, given crackers for food and refused the right to use a bathroom. Gertrude Baniszewski announced to her children that Sylvia was a "prostitute, and she's proud of it; so we'll just put it on her stomach." She took a large needle and began to carve the words "I'm a prostitute and proud of it!" into Sylvia's stomach.

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1972 – Carolyn Elizabeth McCrary – Santa Barbara, Ca. – Ginger McCrary Taylor, 22, daughter; Carolyn McCrary, 45.

“Mrs. McCrary is one in a family of five being questioned about a variety of crimes across the nation, including about 22 murders. Currently she is serving a nine-month sentence for harboring her son and husband in a supermarket robbery in Santa Barbara.”

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It was a feminist murder – committed in the heyday of post-1960s women’s lib and involving four adult women and one 13-year-old girl, in a plot led by the wife of targeted optometrist John Bradford. The motive, as expressed by one of the killers, 18-year-old optometry assistant Joyce Cummings: “All we wanted was an all-female lab.” The pre-planned excuse was to be a concocted self-defense by a battered wife. The climax of the crime was when Priscilla Bradford ordered her daughter (from a previous marriage) to beat her bloodied, but still-alive, step-father with the iron skillet, the iconic feminist weapon, on the head.

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In 1963 Theresa Jimmie Cross murdered the first of her three husbands. She was acquitted in a Sacramento, California court of murder on the basis of a fake self-defense claim. She married Robert Knorr, had four children with him and, in 1970, divorced him and undermined her children’s access to their father. She became increasingly abusive to the children, with constant beatings, escalating into tantrums in which she threw steak knives at them and put a gun to the head of her youngest child, Terry, threatening to kill her. Mom also stabbed and on another occasion shot Suesan, the bullet remaining in her body until the day before her murder. She forced her children to assist her in the brutal beatings of the chosen victim. When it came time to murder Suesan on June 16, 1984, she ordered the girl’s brothers William and Robert to burn their sister alive. Almost exactly a year later, on June 21, 1985, Sheila, whom her mother had forced to prostitute herself to raise cash for mom, died after having been beaten and tortured and locked in a closet for three days. It was not until 1993 that she was finally charged with the murders. To avoid the death penalty she pleaded guilty on October 17, 1995 and received a sentence of two consecutive life terms.

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1995 – Mary Tene Steiner (Tene-Bimbo Gypsy Clan) – San Francisco, Ca. – Mother & daughter.

It was known to many the “Gypsy Sweetheart Scam,” by its many victims, all defrauded, but not all murdered. But between 1983 and 1995, after a group of five deaths came to be linked to a Gypsy family’s murder-for-profit scheme San Francisco police gave the name “Foxglove” to the case – after the suspected death tool, digitalis, a heart medicine derived from the foxglove flower. Six elderly men were apparently murdered soon after being married much younger women, all members of the Tene-Bimbo Gypsy clan, based in San Francisco. It is suspected each was killed through poisoning with digitalis (heart medication). Suspects arrested in the scam were Angela Tene Bufford; her mother, Mary Tene Steiner, of San Francisco, and, in New York, Sylvia Mitchell.

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1996 – Anjanabai Gavit & daughters: Renuka Kiran Shinde, Seema Mohan GavitPune, Kolhapur & Nashik, Maharashtra, India – 

The family mother, 2 daughters and son-in-law kidnapped and murdered 9 infants and toddlers. The gang made ransom demands in some instances and used the children as props in petty thievery schemes. some victims were starved to death, others were murdered brutally by smashing them into telephone poles.

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1996 – Ludmilla (Lyudmila) Spesivtsev – Novosibirsk, Siberia – Mother and son, cannibalism.

Lyudmila Spesivtseva, an employee of a Soviet government school, was sentenced to life in prison (or 13 years according to some accounts) for luring teenage girls for the pleasure of her son, Sasha, so that he could rape, torture and dismember them. The mother cooked the remains and served them up to her son. It is estimated that the number of teenage female victims numbers up to 80.

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2000 – Lohstroh / Geisler case – Friendswood, Texas

A 10-year-old boy, who suffered from severe parental alienation induced by his mother, Deborah Geisler, of Texas, shot his father, Rick Lohstroh, with his mother’s gun in the back at the beginning of a parental “visitation.” Two years later his younger brother described the event: “When I was eight my DAD died ... I was scared! My mom told my brother to shot [sic] my DAD but my grandparents came to help me."

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Li Huijie, from the central province of Henan, is accused of killing all four of her husbands in a two-year period on the orders of her mother, Tian Xueqin, for the "bride price" paid by rural grooms.

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2003 – Judith Hawkey – Mark Center, Ohio

In 2003, Judith Hawkey's step-son, Corey Breninger shot and killed his father Robert Breninger at his Mark Center, Ohio, home. At the time, it was ruled an accident. The son revealed years later to a teacher after Hawkey had collected hundreds of thousands in life insurance from Robert. He said Hawkey had manipulated him to pull the trigger, and then lie about what happened.

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A woman (name not disclosed)  and her two young adult sons murdered a neighbor then cooked and ate his body.

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2005 – Shirin Gul – Kabul & Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Shirin Gul, her lover Rahmatullah, her 18-year-old son and four others murdered 27 men and robbed them in addition to killing her husband, the father of her son.

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2010 – Eva Cummings – North Collins, New York

51-year-old Eva Cummings and her 31-year-old son, Luke Wright – mentally retarded and marginally functional – were charged in the death of the woman’s 23-year-old severely mentally disabled daughter who investigators said was repeatedly raped, beaten and scalded and had her face pushed into feces.

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Silvia Meraz, leader of a small human sacrifice cult, comprising family members exclusively it would seem, was arrested, along with seven other family members, for the kidnapping, torture and murders of three persons, ritually sacrificed in 2009, 2010, 2012. Prosecutors say they believe the actual killings were done by Silvia and her son, Ramon.

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2013 – Diane Staudte – Springfield, Missouri

This mother-daughter serial killer team engaged in a homicidal house-cleaning project using antifreeze, a deadly poison,  as their tool. The serial poisoner mom told detective that she chose to terminate the life of her husband Mark because she “hated him.” Her son Shawn deserved to die because he was “worse than a pest.” Daughter Sarah, who survived the attempt on her life, barely, was deemed not fit to live because she “would not get a job and had student loans that had to be paid.”

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2013 – Inessa Tarverdiyeva – Stavropol region, Russia


A serial killer family: husband, sister & daughter as accomplices, with an estimated 30 or more victims.

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