Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Martha Ann Johnson, Georgia Serial Killer Mom who Wanted to Get Back at Hubby – 1989

Deaths (Martha Ann Johnson’s children from 3 marriages):

Sep. 25, 1977 – James William Taylor, 23-months-sold
Nov. 30, 1980 – Tabitha Jenelle Bowen, 3-months-old
Feb. 15, 1981 – Earl Wayne Bowen, jr., 31-months-old
Feb. 21, 1982 – Jenny Ann Wright, 11-years-old


EXCERPT: “On the tape [Martha Ann Johnson] confessed to suffocating Jennyann and James as a way of getting back at her husband after they’d argued. Her actual words to the police were ‘…I was just in a rage. I was mad. It hurt.’ Of the suffocation, she explained ‘I took Jennyann to bed with me and laid on her so she could not breathe. When she stopped moving I knew it was over with.’ At another juncture she said ‘I hated him (Earl Bowen) so much for what he put me through.’ But she denied killing the two children actually fathered by him.”

[Carol Anne Davis, Women Who Kill: Profiles of Female Serial Killers, 2001, Allen & Busby Ltd, London, p. 58; spellings “Jennyann,” “Tibitha,” in original text retained]


Wikipedia: Martha Ann Johnson (also known as Martha Ann Bowen) (born 1955) is an American serial killer from Georgia convicted of smothering to death three of her children between 1977 and 1982. Johnson was in her third marriage by the age of 22. Her first marriage produced a girl, born in 1971. Her second marriage produced a son in 1975 and her third marriage, to Earl Bowen, produced a son and daughter, born 1979 and 1980, respectively.

On September 23, 1977, Johnson claimed 23-month-old James William Taylor was unresponsive when she attempted to wake him up from his nap. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was determined to be sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

On November 30, 1980, Johnson claimed her three-month-old daughter Tabitha Jenelle Bowen was blue when she went to wake her up from a nap. Paramedics were unable to revive Tabitha, and her death was also attributed to SIDS.

In January 1981, 31-month-old Earl Wayne Bowen was found with a package of rat poison. He was treated and release from the hospital, after which his parents claimed he began to have seizures. On February 12, 1981, Earl went into cardiac arrest while being taken to the hospital during a seizure. He was revived and placed on life support; however, doctors pronounced him brain dead, and he was removed from life support three days later.

Johnson claimed her 11-year-old daughter Jenny Ann Wright was complaining of chest pains, for which a doctor prescribed Tylenol and a rib belt. On February 21, 1982, paramedics found Jenny Ann face down on Johnson's bed with foam coming out of her mouth, but were unable to resuscitate her. An autopsy indicated that Jenny Ann had died of asphyxia.

Johnson and Bowen separated permanently, and Johnson remarried.

In December 1989, an article in The Atlanta Constitution questioned the deaths, and the cases were reopened. Investigators determined that each child's death was preceded seven to 10 days by marital problems between Johnson and Bowen.

On July 3, 1989, Johnson was arrested, and she confessed to killing two of her children. After confrontations with Bowen, Johnson would suffocate the children by rolling her 250-pound body on them as they slept. She claimed the motive was to punish her husband. Johnson claimed she was not responsible for the deaths of her two youngest children.

By the beginning of her trial in April 1990, Johnson had retracted her confession. On May 5, 1990, she was convicted of first-degree murder for the smothering deaths of three of her four children and sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life on appeal. She is currently housed at Pulaski State Prison.


For more examples of Maternal Filicide as Spousal Revenge, see:

Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive: Facts vs. Feminism (24 cases)

Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive


1 comment:

  1. Martha was never sentenced to death. She was found guilty of felony murder sentenced to life on Jenny. Charges were nolle prossed on the two other Clayton co deaths. Fulton co case was never prosecuted. Source Colin McDonald trial Atty for Martha Ann johnson