Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Carol Campbell, California Serial Killer Bandit, 1974

3 deaths:

Jun. 25, 1974 – Richard Pipes, Santa Cruz, Ca.
Jul. 12, 1974 – Louis McNamara, Hillsborough, Ca.
Jul. 17, 1974 – Stephen Russell, Idaho.


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): With a nervous smile and a shrug of his shoulders, Barry Austin Brown, 21, received his second life sentence of the day Tuesday from Superior Court Judge Gilbert Perry for the June 25 slaying of Richard Pipes, a 7-11 store clerk.

Brown, a former Santa Cruz resident, received the sentence on top of an earlier lifetime term handed down by San Mateo Court Judge Gerald E. Ragan for the slaying of Louis McNamara of Hillsborough on July 12 and Stephen Russell of Idaho on July 17.

Brown pleaded guilty to all three murders on the condition that special allegations that would qualify him for the death penalty be dropped on Oct. 1.

His co-defendant, Carol Campbell, is scheduled for trial Dec. 2 in San Mateo County. She has pleaded innocent to all three murder charges.

Brown's sentencing lasted no more than five minutes before a small audience and was preceded by joking with a newsman in the audience.

The prison-garbed Brown said nothing after his sentence.

He is being sent to state prison to serve his term, and was turned over to the San Mateo Sheriff's Department after sentencing.

Pipes was killed June 25 after a $70 robbery of a 7-11 food store on Cardiff Place.

Socialite McNamara's death was linked to Brown after her blood splattered car was found abandoned at San Francisco International Airport. Her body was later found in a steep gully near Redwood City.

Russell, an ex-sailor, was killed July 17 after Brown picked him up as he was hitchhiking along Highway 1. His body was found in a gully off Tunitas Creek.

[“Brown Gets Second Life Term,” Santa Cruz Sentinel (Ca.), Oct. 17, 1974, p. 18]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): Carol Campbell, the woman who was arrested last summer in connection with three murders, was sentenced to three to 24 years in the state prison Wednesday at a court hearing in San Mateo County.

She still must face charges in Santa Cruz in connection with the June killing of a Santa Cruz 7-11 food store clerk. Her boyfriend, Barry Brown, has already been sentenced to the state prison after entering guilty pleas in both San Mateo and Santa Cruz County.

The Associated Press reported that Campbell pleaded guilty to two counts of accessory and to forging a $1,500 check of one of the murder victims.

She admitted hiding the gun used by Brown in killing Hillsborough socialite Lois Jean McNamara, 57, last July and a discharged Navy man, Stephen Russell, 22, five days later.

Charges of murder against Campbell were dropped. She will appear in Santa Cruz next week to face the third murder charge.

Campbell's attorney contended that she should not be sent to prison because she cooperated with police. AP reported, but Superior Court Judge William Lanam rejected the argument, saying her statements indicated that she "is a pathological liar."

[“Campbell Sentenced To Prison,” Santa Cruz Sentinel (Ca.), Jan. 16, 1975, p. 28]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Carol Campbell, 27, arrested last summer in connection with the shooting death of a 7-11 food store clerk in Santa Cruz, was sentenced today to state prison.

She had pleaded guilty to a charge of being an accessory to the killing.

Her co-defendant, Barry Brown, 21, of San Carlos, has already been convicted of three counts of murder and is serving a life sentence in state prison.

Campbell and Brown were arrested last summer in connection with the slaying of Richard Pipes, a food store clerk.

They were also charged in San Mateo County with the murders of Lois Jean McNamara, 57, of Hillsborough, and Stephen Russell, 22, a hitchhiker.

Campbell pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the three murders, and also to forging a personal check of McNamara's.

Superior Court Judge Donald May today ordered that Campbell's five - year maximum sentence run consecutively with sentences already handed her in San Mateo County. Asst. Dist. Atty. Bill Kelsay commented after the court hearing today that Campbell could spend as much as 20 years in custody.

Campbell's attorney, Larry Biggam of the public defender's office, argued that the Santa Cruz sentence should run concurrently with the San Mateo sentences. He commented that realistically there is no difference in consecutive and concurrent sentences, and the only reason judges impose the former is to "raise a red flag" in warning to prison authorities that the defendant is involved in a serious crime. The raising of that flag was achieved when the San Mateo County judge sentenced his client to consecutive terms, he reasoned.

His argument fell on deaf ears, however. May said the Santa Cruz offense had nothing to do with the San Mateo killings, so they should be treated separately.

[“Campbell Gets Prison Sentence,” Santa Cruz Sentinel (Ca.), Feb. 11, 1975, p. 10]


EXCERPT (Article 4 of 4): On July 21, 1974, Brown and Campbell were arrested in San Mateo County on suspicion of murder in connection to the three homicides. The two were arraigned first in San Mateo County and then in Santa Cruz County for the murders.

Brown eventually pleaded guilty to murder in all three homicides and was sentenced to two life sentences.

Campbell would plead guilty to amended charges of being an accessory to murder and other charges for her role in the murders. She was sentenced to three to 24 years for charges in the San Mateo County murders and five years for the Santa Cruz County murder.

Prosecutors David Sherman and Conor McCormick attended the parole hearing at Vacaville State Prison to argue against Brown’s release.

Brown, who served 40 years of a life sentence, explained he was only 21 at the time and was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Though he confessed to the murders in 1974, Brown now claims Campbell pulled the trigger in all three murders.

The board ultimately denied parole and Brown will not be eligible to apply for the next five years.

[Calvin Men, “Man convicted in Santa Cruz County of three 1974 murders denied parole,” Santa Cruz Sentinel (Ca.), Jan.16, 2015]









Links to more Serial Killer Couples


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Catherine Labalue (Carron), Serial Killer, Belgium, 1840

Catherine Labalue, of Liège, Belgium, poisoned two persons, and conspired to poison another,  to death between Autumn 1837 and Autumn 1839. Arsenic was her poison of choice. She poisoned her step-mother Lambertine Chapeau and her husband, Henri Carron, at Vaux in August 1837 and October 1838 respectively. Catharine convinced her paramour, Toussaint Marèchal, to do away with his wife, Marie Gauthier, in the same manner, at Liége in October 1839. Maréchal was found guilty for poisoning his wife. Labalue was found guilty for poisoning her mother and her husband. Both were sentenced to death.


Aug.  1837 – Lambertine Chapeau, veuve Carron, mother-in-law (belle mère) of Catherine Labalue, Vaux, Chevremont; died.
Oct. 1838 – Henri Carron, husband of Catherine Labalue – Vaux, Chevremont; died.
Oct. 1839 – Marie Gauthier, wife of Toussaint Marèchal, Liége, died.
Jun. 17, 1840 – Labalue and Marèchal  arrested.
Nov. 20, 1840 – Catherine Labalue, Toussaint Marèchal found guilty in Liége and sentenced to death.


(1) (Toussaint-Marèchal C. min. pub.) — La cour; — Vu les art. 299 et 419 c. inst. crim.;—Attendu que l’arrêt attaqué renvoie le de Catherine Labalue devant la cour d’assises de Liège, comme premier d’avoir, en octobre 1839, à Liège, empoisonnê volantairement, à l’aide d’acide arsenieux, Marie Gauthier, son épouse, et d’avoir: 1° au mois d’août 1837, à Vaux, sous Chevremont, volontairement, à l’aide d’acide arsenieux, Lambertine Chapeau, veuve Carron, sa belle mère, 2° d’avoir en octobre 1838, en la même commune, empoisonné volontairement, & l’aide d’acide arsenieux, Henri Carron, son mari ;— Que cet arrêt ne fait aucune mèntion ni de complicité entre les accusés, ni de connexité entre les faits qui leur sont imputés, n’est virturellement, relativement, à ce cumul, qu’un arrêt de jonction dans la catégorie des arrêts de pure et contre lequel le recours en cassation n’est pas ouvert aux termes dé l’art. 416 c. inst. crim.; que si cette disposition inflige un grief au demandeur, ce grief n’est pas irréparable en définitif, puisque rien n’empêche qu’il n’obtienne la disjonction des affaires il le soutient, il n’existe aucune connexité entre elles; nouveau rapport, il ne peut y avoir ouverture à la voie de cassation ;— Attendu, au surplus, qu’il n’échet de se cassation contre les arrêts de renvoi à la cour d’assises, que spécifiés en l’art. 299 c. inst. crim., au nombre desquels la lacé le renvoi cumulativement fait par un seul arrêt de plus de faits distincts et séparés, et que, sous ce rapport envoi da demandeur n’est pas admissible;— Par ces motifs, recevable le pourvoi, etc.

Du 4 août 1840. C. C. de Belgique, ch. crim.-MM. de Sauvage, pr.—Peteau, rap.

[Désiré Dalloz, Répertoire méthodique et alphabétique de législation, de doctrine et de Jurisprudence, Tome Vingt Huitieme, Paris, Au Bureau De La Jurisprudence Générale, 1854, p. 283]


[“Tribunaux Etrangers; Cour Des Assises De Liege (Belgique). (Correpondence Particuliere.); Audiences des 18, 19 et 20 novembre. Double Empoissonnement. – Deux Condamnations A Mort.” Gazette Des Tribunaux (Paris, France), Nov. 25, 1840, p. “85” (p. 1)]

[Désiré Dalloz, Répertoire méthodique et alphabétique de législation, de doctrine et de Jurisprudence, Tome Vingt Huitième, Paris, Au Bureau De La Jurisprudence Générale, 1854, p. 283]

[Pasicrisie Belge: Recuil Général De La Jurisprudence Des Cours Et Tribunaux de Jurisprudence des Cours des France et Belgique …, Deuxieme Serie. – 1814-1849. Cours De Belgique. Bruxelles, Meline Cans et Compagnie.1853 pp. 449 ff.]

[Dr. René Charpentier, Les Empoisonneuses, Étude Psychologique Et Médico-Légale, G. Steinheil, Paris, 1906, p. 72 (identified by place but not by full name)]




Marie-Barbe Ravez, (Quénardel), Serial Baby Killer – France, 1839

Marie-Claudine Charpentier lived with her husband, Pierre-Henri Quénardel (31) and her mother-in-law, Marie-Barbe Ravez (61), at Verzenay, France. On May 18, 1839 a newborn child of Marie and Pierre was poisoned with chlorydic acid and died. It was later discovered that four previous babies had been done away with in the same manner.

The three were tried at Reims for murder. Pierre-Henri Quénardel and his mother Marie-Barbe Ravez were found guilty and Marie-Claudine Charpentier was acquitted. The former were executed by guillotine March 28, 1840.

Décembre 1839
Pierre-Henri Quénardel et Marie-Barbe Ravez, veuve Quénardel

36 et 61 ans, cultivateurs, fils et mère. Empoisonnent avec une potion de zinc et de l'acide chlorhydrique la fillette nouvelle-née de Pierre le 18 mai 1839 à Verzenay. Auraient commis le même genre de crime sur les quatre enfants précédents, n'épargnant que les aînés. Marie-Claudine Charpentier, épouse Quénardel est acquittée.
Guillotinés le 28 mars 1840
[Source: La Veuve Guillotine, Condamnations 1832-1869]


[Désiré Dalloz, Répertoire méthodique et alphabétique de législation, de doctrine et de Jurisprudence, Tome Vingt Huitieme, Paris, Au Bureau De La Jurisprudence Générale, 1854, p. 283]

[Untitled, Journal des Débats Politiques et Littéraires. (Paris, France), Dec. 27, 1839, p. 2]

[Mateo Orfila y Rotger, Traité de toxicologie, Volume 1, Labé (París) – 1852, Page 217]



Françoise Serval (Chamblas), Serial Killer – France, 1842

Françoise Serval, wife of Claude Chamblas, lived in Retournac, Haute-Loire, France. Over a period of four months she poisoned to death her husband, who had decided to make his will out forbidding his wife from remarrying in case of his death, as well as her two children, a 5-year-old daughter, named after her mother, and a 14-year-old son, Christophe. Françoise had designs on marrying a neighboring fellow, Joseph Cheynel. The murderess was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.


Note: Two spellings are found: Chamblas and Chamblais. It is presumed that Chamblas is the correct version.

Aug. 7, 1840 – Claude Chamblais (37), husband, dies.
Nov. 16, 1840 – Françoise (5), daughter, dies.
Nov. 28, 1840 – Christophe (14), son, becomes ill.
Dec. 1 (or 2), 1840 – Christophe (14), son, dies.
Mar. 23, 1842 – sentenced to death.
Apr. 21, 1842 – appeal rejected (Pourvoi rejeté)


[“Tribunaux. Cour D’Assises De La Haute-Loire. Presidence de M. Smith, Conseilleur A La Cour Royale de Riom. Audiences des 21, 22, 23 mars. – Empoissonnements commis par une femme sur son mari et ses deux enfants.” Le Censeur, Journal de Lyon (France), Apr. 4, 1842, p. 3]

[Grellet (Félix). Plaidoyer de Me Félix Grellet, avocat du barreau de Riom, prononcé à la Cour d'assises de la Haute-Loire, le 23 mars 1842, en faveur de Françoise Servel, veuve Chamblas, accusée d'un triple empoisonnement sur la personne de son mari et de ses deux enfants, Le Puy, impr. J.-B. Gaudelet, 1842, 33 pages]

[Adelon et al., Annales D’Hygiène Publique et De Médecine Légale, Tome Vingt-Huitième, Paris, J.-B. Ballière, Librare de L’Académie Royale de Médicine, Juillet 1842, pp. 107-168; illustration of Marsh Apparatus on p. 134]

[Dr. René Charpentier, Les Empoisonneuses, Étude Psychologique Et Médico-Légale, G. Steinheil, Paris, 1906, p. 72 (identified by place but not by full name)]


23 mars 1842
Le Puy-en-Velay
Françoise Serval, veuve Chamblas
Pourvoi rejeté le 21 avril 1842
37 ans, cultivatrice. Empoisonne à l'acide arsénieux à Retournac le 07 août 1840 son mari Claude Chamblas, puis sa fille Françoise, 5 ans, le 16 novembre 1840 et Christophe, 14 ans, le 02 décembre 1840. Claude avait accepté de faire sa femme son héritière, à condition qu'elle ne se remarie pas en cas de veuvage, et prenait comme raison supplémentaire l'intérêt de leurs enfants pour la dissuader de reprendre mari s'il venait à disparaître. Celle-ci, maîtresse d'un voisin avec lequel elle entendait refaire sa vie, ne l'entendit pas ainsi.

[Source: La Veuve Guillotine, Condamnations 1832-1869]



Monday, September 28, 2015

Emma LeDoux, American Black Widow Serial Killer - 1906

Emma LeDoux, born Emma Head in 1871, tall and beautiful, was a Vamp – a sexual predator. She married five men during her matrimonial career. Four of them died (according to one source). The first she married At the age of 16. They each met their deaths in remote places where Emma was known to nobody, then she moved on.Charles Barrett, no. 1, died in Mexico. The widow claimed he had been killed by bandits. William Williams, no. 2, according to one source, died in Arizona under mysterious circumstances leaving the widow a large sum of money.

It was in 1902 that she married no. 3, Albert N. McVicar, who, when he discovered her with another man, separated from her. She became, it was said, a prostitute. Then, without any intervening divorce porocess, came No. 4. While still legally married to McVicar, and staying with her mother in Stockton, California, Emma took on another husband on August 12, 1905, Eugene Ledoux, an elderly fellow.

On Mar. 11, 1906 she accidentally came across McVicar, not telling him about her bigamous marriage to LeDoux, and they ended up reconciling. Emma purchased some cyanide and that was the end of him. His bloodied corpse was found at a train station. The trunk was traced to Emma and she was tracked down and arrested. She never admitted guilt and was tried for bigamy and murder. She was found guilty on both counts: a prison term for the lesser count, a death sentence for the greater. She managed, nevertheless, to forestall execution and in 1909 trade a confession for commutation of sentence.

After parole in 1920 she was in and out of prison, having been caught violating parole. It was the illegal selling of the property of her late post-prison husband, no. 5, a Mr. Crackbon, whom she is believed to have murdered, that sent her back to prison for good, where she died in 1941.

[Robert St. Estephe; Based on facts found in: Ellery Queen, “The Body in the Trunk,” The American Weekly, Jan. 20, 1957, p. 10; Jay Robert Nash, The Great Pictorial History of World Crime, Volume 2, 2004; “Bigamy”]


Article from 1931:

FULL TEXT: For the third time, Emma Le Doux is in California’s San Quentin Prison, under life sentence.

Although she now is faded and close to 60, men and romance brought about her latter-day downfall just as they did in the days when, as the “trunk murderess,” she was known all over the United States.

Emma LeDoux achieved notariety as the “Stockton trunk slayer” in 1906. She also was the first woman sentenced to hang in California. Also, she was the first woman to be paroled, break the parole agreement, and win yet another chance. Now, she faces the prison walls for the rest of her life.

Men and romance have figured in her life for 30 years. Her great regret, as she returned to prison, was the blasting of her latest romance.

“I’m afraid it ‘s all over now,” she said. “We were to he married next month. He is a Portland contractor, whom I met several months ago.

Romance blossomed early in the life of the woman, born to parents of comfortable circumstances on a California ranch. She was little more than a child when she married. She divorced this husband. Her next husband was Jim Williams. He took out heavy life insurance in his wife’s favor, and died suddenly.

Then she married Albert N. McVicar, miner, Arizona. And it was his death that has given the woman so much prison life.

The LeDoux “trunk murder” was one of the most sensational criminal cases ot 1906, attracting oatioDwide attention.

~ Ships Body in Trunk. ~

A trunk, left at the Stockton, Calif., station for shipment to San Francisco, was left behind, because it was not properly labeled. A baggageman became suspicious and called police. They found the body of a man, dead from poison.

He was identified as Albert N. McVicar, undivorced husband of Mrs. LeDoux, with whom she had been at Stockton several days. Mrs. LeDoux was traced to San Francisco, where she met a man infatuated with her, and was arrested later, hiding in a small town.

At the trial, the prosecution brought out the fact that Mrs. LeDoux left McVicar, and married Eugene LeDoux in 1906 without getting a divorce. She and LeDoux lived on her mother’s ranch.

Early in 1906, she met McVicar. The latter was working in the Mother Lode mining district. Mrs. LeDoux joined him there, apparently reconciled. They ordered furniture in Stockton to be shipped to the mining camp. The furniture shipment was ordered delayed, and soon McVicar quit his mining job to go, he told friends, to his mother-in-law’s ranch as superintendent. In Stockton, they ordered more furniture, this to be shipped to the ranch. A few days later, McVicar’s body was found in the trunk.

The prosecutor contended that Mrs. LeDoux. was fearful of having her bigamous status exposed. They coupled the furniture purchases to support their theory that she sought the furniture for herself and LeDoux, and poisoned McVicar to get him out of the way.

~ Given Parole ~

After conviction and sentence to hang, a new trial was granted by the Supreme Court. Just before this, she entered a plea of guilty, and won life imprisonment.

In 1920, she won parole. But freedom was short-lived. Within a year, she was in trouble again, and back in San Quentin. Five years later she again appealed for parole. She was 52, and wanted to live a life of usefulness. She was given another chance by the parole board.

Little was heard of her until her marriage to L. A. Crackbon, a California rancher. The couple lived quietly until Crackbon’s death in 1929.

Of recent months, parole officials have received disturbing reports. Court records showed her in and out on minor charges, mostly check cases.

Then came word, according to parole officers, that at 68, she still was a lure for gullible men; that through a matrimonial bureau for which she was sole correspondent, she was hearing from scores of lovelorn men with money.

She was arrested in Oakland on a minor charge, and given a suspended sentence. Parole officials began a search for her. And now the woman, who was sentenced to hang and. twice paroled from a penitentiary, faces incarceration the remainder of her life.

Emma has made three requests of the warden, now that she’s back for the rest of her days. She wants her old prison number again. She’d like to have the same cell she occupied so many years. Also, she wants to again be given work as a prison seamstress.

[“California Woman Goes to Prison For Life Term for the Third Time,” Indian Journal (Eufaula, Ok.), Jun. 4, 1931, p. 5]


Husband No. 1 – Charles Barret; married ca 1887; died in Mexico (or divorced, as was claimed), ca. 1891.
Husband No. 2 – Jim Williams; married ca. 1896; died ca. 1902.
Husband No. 3 – Albert N. McVicar, divorced; married. Bisbee, Arizona; Sep. 1902
Husband No. 4 – Eugene Ledoux; married Aug. 12, 1905.
Husband No. 5 – L. A. Crackbon, married ca. 1925; 1929.


When arrested, Emma said, "I expected it, but I did not think I would be caught until I reached my mother's home in Jackson."


1871 – Emma Head born.
c. 1887 – marries Charles Barret, (Emma Cole [sic] was 16).
Sep. 1902 – Husband No. 3 – Albert N. McVicar, divorced; married.
Aug. 12, 1905 – Husband No. 4 – Eugene Ledoux, elderly.
Mar. 4, 1906 – E. L. purchases cyanide.
Mar. 15, 1906 – E. L & McVicar arrive in Jamestown.
Mar. 21, 1906 – McVicar quits his long-standing job.
Mar. 24, 1906 – McVicar body found in trunk.
Mar. 26, 1906 – E. L. arrested; Antioch, Ca.
Jul. 4-23 , 1906 – trial; convicted for bigamy & murder, sentenced to death.
Aug. 7, 1906 – sentenced to be hanged.
Arp. 10, 1907 – stay of execution secured.
Oct. 9, 1907 – scheduled date of execution.
Jan. 13, 1908 – case argued in Supreme Court.
May 1909 – Supreme court orders new trial.
1910 – confesses McVicar murder; sentence commuted.
Jul. 20, 1920 – paroled from San Quentin.
Jul. 9, 1921 – back in prison; parole violations.
Mar. 30, 1925 – paroled.
Ca. 1925 – marries L. A. Crackbon; Husband No. 5.
1929 – Crackbon dies.
Ca. 1929 – E. L. back in prison; illegal sale of dead husband’s property.
1931 – About to marry a “Portland contractor” when sent back to prison.
1933 – transfer to Tehachapi Women’s Prison.
Jul. 1941 – E. L. dies.





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


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Melissa Margarita Calderón Ojeda ("La China"), Mexican Serial Assassin - 2015

Her nickname, “La China,” means “minion” (or “handmaiden”). Melissa Margarita Calderón Ojeda, 30,  was arrested at Bellavista, Baja California Sur, Mexico on June 16, 2015. She is leader of a gang responsible for 178 crimes of violence in La Paz during a turf war. She had broken with Damaso Lopez of the Sinaloa Cartel and started her own organization in competition with him.

She was captured, along with her boyfriend, following a major siege executed by three levels of government in a joint operation.

[Based on facts in: “¿Quién es “La China”? Melissa Margarita Calderón Ojeda Ex Jefa De Las Fuerzas Especiales Damaso,”, Sep. 27, 2015]


EXCERPT: La China reportedly works with other women, specifically Gabriela Hulzar Lopez, or "La Gaby," to lure and kill their rivals, authorities told local news outlets. In one documented case, which has been said to be their typical modus operandi, La Gaby pretended to be drunk outside of a bar, falling down, with her skirt nearly above her waist. When the intended target stopped to try to help the woman, La China emerged from the darkness, guns blazing.

[Nathaniel Janowitz, “’La China,’ Female Leader of Sinaloa Cartel Assassin Squad, Captured in Mexico,” Vice News, Sep. 22, 2015]


EXCERPT: Melissa Margarita Calderon Ojeda, 31, was the ultimate femme fatale and is believed to be linked to more than 150 murders both indirectly and directly. Up until her arrest on the weekend, she was the leader of a group of assassins, or “sicaria” as they are known in Mexico, that worked for an enforcer gang, Los Antrax. “She proved her intestinal fortitude in killing people,” Mike Vigil, former DEA chief of international operations told the San Antonio Express-News.

[“One of Mexico’s most feared female assassins arrested after boyfriend turns on her,”, Oct. 6, 2015]









More: Hitwomen


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dessie Keyes, Suspected Texas Serial Killer – 1921

Aug. 6, 1921 – Leslie Keyes, died
Juky – Maud Aven, died
Fannie Elbert Aven, 5-m-o, died.


FULL TEXT: W. I. Keyes of Winnsboro, Texas, is in Kinney today. He is the father of Leslie Keyes, the young man killed near Waco a few weeks ago, and whose death led to the arrest of the young man’s wife, Dessie Keyes, and and his own uncle, W. T. Aven, against whom charges of murder have been filed for the killing of Mrs. Maud Aven, Fannie Elbert, five-months-old daughter of Aven, against whom charges of murder have been removed from the Waco jail and taken elsewhere as a precaution against any violence, and that section is said to be stirred over the horrible crimes that recently have been brought to light in the alleged murder cases. W. I. Keyes who was reared a few miles southeast of McKinney and in which section his son, Leslie Keyes, was born and reared, said that he believed if the body of his son is exhumed and the stomach and other vital organs examined and an analysis made it was his candid opinion that poison would be found. Mrs. Maude Aven and her baby’s stomach contained arsenic poison sufficient to have produced death.

~ Visited at Windsboro ~

Mrs. Keyes stated that Leslie Keyes and his little three year old daughter visited at his home at Winnsboro, Texas, for two weeks recently. They returned to their home near Waco on Wednesday and the Saturday night following he was killed. Leslie had been sick before he went to visit his parents, and his father stated that he was given a dose of medicine by Aven, and became so sick that he was rushed to Dallas and placed in a sanitarium where he remained for several days and was just getting over the illness when he went to visit at Winnsboro. Mr. Keyes said that his wife told her son that he had been “doped.” Mrs. Dessie Keyes did not accompany her husband and little daughter to Winnsboro on their visit. The grape juice which Aven claims made Keyes intoxicated on the night he was found dead. Keyes’ father said was made from large grapes which his son gathered at his home near Winnsboro just before running to his home near Waco.

~ Had Fear of Passion ~

Mr. Keyes recalled the fact that Mrs. Aven had told her sister that Mrs. Aven had told her sister in Ft. Worth a few days before she died that she was going to be poisoned. A few days following Mrs. Aven’s almost instant death, Aven and his daughter and others were questioned by the county attorney of McLennan county concerning the death, said Mr. Keyes. He said today that had the officers gone ahead and exhumed the body of Mrs. Aven and found the poison in her stomach, as was the case later, that the lives of his son, Leslie Keyes, and little Fannie Elbert Aven would have been spared as Aven would have been in the strong arm of the law.

[“Father Of Leslie Keyes Visits Here Asserts That Central Texas Section Stirred Over Recent Revelations.” The Daily Courier-Gazette (McKinney, Tx.), Aug. 30, 1921, p., 1]


Frona McMahan’s Hobby Was Marrying & Murdering Men – North Carolina, 1915

3 deaths:
Jun. 12, 1898 – Thomas Meadows, husband No. 1, died.
Circa 1906 – William Gregory, husband No. 3, married 1900; died circa 1906.
Aug. 6, 1915 – Dove McMahan – husband No. 6, died.

[Note: Some sources erroneously spell the name as “McMahon.”]


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): Doug D. McMahon, a section hand on the Tenn. and N. C. R. R. was found shot and dying in his home above Sunburst last Friday [Aug. 6] morning about 5 o’clock, and a pistol was found about 2 feet from the left side of the bed on the floor.

Mrs. McMahan, the wife, was in the kitchen and another woman, Mrs. Hamilton, was in another room near by and they cried out. Charles Campbell was asleep upstairs and heard the shot and the cries of the women. He dressed hurriedly and came down. Mrs. McMahan gave him a lamp and he went in where the man was breathing his last on the bed. A pistol was on the floor. The wife did not go into the room.

Dr. McFayden, the coroner, held an inquest Friday and although the first news of the matter indicated suicide the jury was not satisfied with the theory and would not pronounce it suicide.

The funeral was held at Dillsboro Saturday and Mrs. McMahan was arrested and brought her for trial. A preliminary hearing was held in the court house yesterday afternoon before R. Q. McCracken, Esq.

It was shown that he must have been shot while laying on his back about a foot from the left or outside the edge of the bed and the shot went straight through the body, bedding and mattress. Mrs. McMahon never went into the room. The clothing was not much powder burned or scorched. The pistol was on the floor on the left side. These were the main suspicious circumstances the States representative, Grover C. Davis, relied on for holding conviction or holding the accused.

Gilmer Leatherwood represented Mrs. McMahan very ably. He put no witness on the stand. Mr. Campbell didn’t think the wife could have had time to be in the room do the shooting and return to the kitchen from the time he heard the short and her cry, just after which came from the kitchen.

After the argument Esquire McCracken announced that he could not find sufficient evidence to bind the defendant and she was released. – Mountaineer.

[“Charged With Murder of Husband.” Jackson County Journal (Sylva, N. C.), Aug. 13, 1915, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): Waynesville, Feb. 14. – In Haywood Superior court Saturday, Mrs. Frona McMahan entered a plea of guilty of manslaughter in having killed her husband at Sunburst, in this county, last August. Judge B. F. Long sentenced the woman to three years in the state penitentiary. Mrs. McMahan was tried at this term of court for murder in the first degree and after spending 53 hours in deliberation the jury was unable to reach an agreement, standing eight to four for conviction.

Mrs. McMahan is 34 years of age, and in the course of her short life has had six husbands, three of whom have died under suspicious circumstances and three of whom have deserted her. Small in stature [statue] and a decided brunette, she was the center of interest to one of the largest crowds ever attending a session of court here. Her story on the witness stand was most remarkable, and throughout the trial she maintained a perfectly calm appearance, never evincing any emotion even under the grueling cross examination to which she was subjected by attorneys prosecuting the case.

A native of this county, she testified that she was first married in Graham county, this state, when slightly under 16 years of age to a man named Thomas Meadows. That was April 4. On the 12th of the June following, Meadows killed himself in the presence of his girl wife and her two small sisters, shooting himself through the side. She was tried before a magistrate for having murdered him, but probable cause was not found and the matter was dropped.

Two years later in Tennessee she was married to William Metcalfe, with whom she lived for about five or six years, when he ran away with another woman. Without bothering about a divorce a little less than a year later she married William Gregory, also in Tennessee. Shortly thereafter he obtained a position at Proctor, in this state, and one day when he was journeying across the mountains to his home he was taken suddenly ill when about a mile away and died before aid could reach him. Less than six weeks the widow mourned for the departed for within that time David Shields had won her heart and hand. He was rather an old man and it was a month or so before he left for California without the formality of saying goodbye. The deserted wife was consoled by a younger man in a very short time, again without the usual divorce, this time to Luther Shields her truth being pledged. In the course of a few months, however, the domestic harmony was shattered, a lady from Little Rock, Ark., persuading the husband away.

Then came the sixth husband, Dove McMahon. The couple had been living as man and wife for nearly two years and were getting along fine at the big plant of the Champion Lumber company, at Sunburst, until one August morning last year the man was found dead in bed, a bullet hole through his heart.

The case against the woman was entirely circumstantial. She testified that he had gotten up and then came back to bed, she getting up then to prepare breakfast. A few minutes later the pistol shot rang out, while she was in the kitchen according to her testimony, and she was discovered dead. There were several people in the house at the time, but no eye witness. From the wound and the position the pistol was found the state argued that the state argued that he could not have killed himself, and that his wife was found to be the guilty party. She pleaded innocence, and the jury could not agree.

[“Three Years For Killing Husband - Haywood County Woman Enters Plea of Guilty on Charge of Manslaughter. – Has Had Six Husbands – Three Died Under Peculiar Circumstances and Three Ran Away From Her.” High Point Enterprise (N. C.), Feb. 14, 1916, p. 7]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Mrs. Frona McMahon, only 34 years old, has begun her sentence of three years for killing her husband, Dave McMahon, in Haywood county last August. She has had six matrimonial experiences, three of her husbands dying under suspicious circumstances, and three abandoned her. She remarried after each abandonment without the formality of divorce.

[Untitled, The State Journal (Raleigh, N. C.), Feb. 25, 1916, p. 6]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 4): Durham, N. C., March 3. – Mrs. Frona McMahon of Haywood county went once too often to the altar. As a result of the death of her sixth spouse she started a three-year term in the state penitentiary for manslaughter, pleading guilty after a jury failed to agree in a fifty-three-hour session.

Mrs. McMahon is 34. She was first married when 16. The first died suddenly, the second eloped, the third  died suddenly, the fourth and fifth eloped and the sixth, Dave McMahon, she shot.

[“Admits Killing Husband – Woman Goes to Prison After Disposing of Her Sixth Spouse,” Fitchburg Daily Sentinel (Ma.), Mar. 3, 1916, p. 8]



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


Friday, September 25, 2015

Minnie Taylor, Tennessee Serial Killer Prostitute - 1875

FULL TEXT: On the 9th day of February, 1874, L. R. Lane, a citizen of this county, living at Woodruff station, on the L., P. & S. W. Railroad, left his home and went to Paducah with a considerable sum of money about his clothes. He was seen in a house of ill-fame in that city about 11 o’clock at night, and was never seen again. This item was published in the Times of February 25, and fears were then expressed by us that he had met a tragic end. Now comes the information that clears up the mystery concerning his sudden disappearance and untimely tragic death. From the Paducah News we learn that Minnie Taylor, a notorious courtesan of that place, better known to our people as Pinkey Plummer, was recently tried and convicted before the Circuit Court at Humboldt, Tenn., for killing her paramour, and sentenced to the Tennessee Penitentiary for life. After her incarceration in Jail, finding her case a hopeless one, she confessed to the killing of three men, one of them being Lane. He visited her house as before stated, and they went out riding. She says she killed him and threw him in a river. Lane was a man of family. He married into a respectable family of the country. He came from Missouri to this State.

[“A Female Fiend. – A Courtesan Confesses to Three Murders.” Republican Banner (Nashville, Tn.), May 4, 1875, p. 2]


Four years earlier, in 1871:

FULL TEXT: A desperate woman – is Minnie Taylor alias Pinkey Plummer, well-known both here and in Clarksville, near which latter place, at Dunbar’s Cave, a favorite summer resort, was a large pic-cic on Wednesday week last, and just as the party had ended the pleasure of the day preparatory to returning to the city, Minnie Taylor made her appearance. Some of the gentlemen told her to go away, as one of her character would not be allowed in the presence of respectable persons. At this she be came highly incensed, and, drawing a pistol, fired several times at one of the gentlemen, a bullet grazing his neck, but inflicting no serious wound. The gentlemen then pounced upon her and whipped her very badly, after which, not content with her preliminary revenge, she left for home, but halting at a doggery in the suburbs of the city, she halted a gentleman, who, refusing to “come in and drink,” was also fired at, but fortunately missed. She was forthwith arrested, and being held in $500 in each case, was kept from jail by a gentleman, who went on her bond. Considerable excitement was created, and the citizens demand that the city be freed from such desperate and infamous characters; and well may they ask the suppression of such crime, which so has preyed upon the vital and moral interests of society. If the law is not sufficient, then other means must be resorted to. Even murder is connected with those of this unfortunate class in Clarksville.

About eight or nine weeks ago, a gentleman with several hundred dollars on his person stopped in Clarksville on his way to Missouri. He deposited his valise in a saloon and then went out to one of the dens of infamy, since which time nothing has been seen or heard of him. On the porch of the house several bills were discovered early in the morning by a policeman, whose suspicions, as to foul play, had been aroused, several of the women and the proprietor, whose name is Wm. Rhen, of the house the missing man lodged at, left on the first train and have not returned. Diligent, yet futile search has been made for the missing man by the police officers, who say that he has been robbed and murdered. The Attorney-General has used every effort to get some clue to the mystery but has not succeeded.

[“Desperate Woman At Large. – Assault Upon Peaceable Citizens.” Nashville Union And American (Tn.), Sep. 3, 1871, p. 4]


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


Nancy Lyman, Double Black Widow – New York state, 1868

FULL TEXT: A woman named Nancy Lymans [sic] has been arrested at Jordanville, Herkimer County on the charge of having in February last murdered a former husband, Ephriam Garner. She has had three husbands. The first, named Knox, died six years since, under suspicious circumstances. In January last, she married Garner. After living with him six or seven weeks he suddenly sickened and died, under circumstances that indicated foul play. Within four weeks after the death of Garner, she married her present husband Mr. Lyman. Two or three weeks after the death of Garner, his body was exhumed, and the stomach portions of the liver were sent  to Prof. Charles Porter, of Albany. After a careful analysis, considerable quantities of arsenic were found by the Professor, upon the report of which the arrest was made. It is stated that a few days before the death of Mr. Garner the woman purchased a quantity of arsenic for the alleged purpose of killing rats. The affair causes considerable excitement at Jordanville and throughout the town of Warren.

[“Supposed Terrible Crimes.” (from: Shenectady Star 17th inst.), The Daily Times (Reading, Pa.), May 22, 1869, p. 1; typos in original corrected “Lymans,” “uder”]


FULL TEXT: The Grand Jury of Herkimer County, N. Y., on the 22nd inst., found a bill of indictment against Mrs. Nancy Lyman for the murder, by poison, of her late husband, Ephraim Gardner. Gardner died in March last, under suspicious circumstances. Shortly after the body was exhumed, and portions of it were sent to Albany for examination. The analysis was made by Dr. C. H. Porter, who discovered in them considerable quantities of arsenic.

[“A Woman Indicted For Murdering Her Husband.” The Daily Sentinel (Raleigh, S. C.), Jun. 30, 1869, p. 3]



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


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Julia Calahan, Serial Baby-Killer – Massachusetts, 1871

FULL TEXT: Boston, August 11. - Three infants, said to have been farmed out to an old woman, Julia Calahan, in East Cambridge, died recently. The woman is under arrest on suspicion of killing them with opium. A Coroner’s jury is investigating the case.

[“A Female Fiend Poisons Three Infants.” The Memphis Daily Appeal (Tn.), Aug. 12, 1871, p. 1]



For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


Leila Banks, Serial Baby-Killer in Harlem (NYC) – 1925

NOTE: This is the only report on this African-American case so far accessible. The story appears in an out-of town African-American paper, so we can be sure that eventually more details will become available as more papers are scanned and posted in online sources. The other Manhattan baby farmer case, Helen Geisen-Volk, was a national story for months.


FULL TEXT: On complaint of Superintendent Pisarra, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Mrs. Lelia Banks, of No. 2153 Seventh Avenue, was locked up in the West One Hundred and Twenty-third street police station, charged with violating the section of the penal code relating of the boarding of children without a permit.

Ten children were taken from Mrs. Banks’ top floor flat to Bellevue Hospital.

Three children Mrs. Banks “boarded” died within the last month, according to Mr. Pisarra. They were, he said, David Cook, one year old, who died last week in the Harlem Hospital; Albert Dougherty, one month old, who died three weeks ago in Mrs. Banks’ apartment, and Morris Butler, six months old, who died two weeks ago in the infantorium.

According to Mr. Pisarra, Mrs. Banks occupied an eight-room apartment. The children she had in charge were kept in two front rooms, he said.

[“Harlem Woman Held As ‘Baby Farmer’ When Three Die and Ten Go To Hospital,” The Pittsburgh Courier (Pa.), Jun. 27, 1925, p. 6]


NOTE: The Pittsburgh Courier was an African-American newspaper published in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1907 until October 22, 1966.


For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mary L. Bowsher, Ohio Serial Killer Mom - 1868

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 6): We are informed that our neighboring town, Upper Sandusky, was thrown into a state great excitement on Tuesday last [Jan. 7], by the arrest of a mother upon the charge of poisoning five of her children, three of whom have died. We have room only for brief statement of what we are told are facts, as follows :

The woman, Mrs. Bowsher, until the death of her husband a few years since, bore a good character and moved in good society. Since that event she became dissolute and depraved, and in due time became the mother of three illegitimate children, borne two years since, a man to whom she became very much attached, proposed to take her in charge with the younger children if by some means she could relieve herself of her five legitimate children. She immediately set to work to effect the object by means of poison. About eighteen months since, the eldest daughter, a beautiful and virtuous girl of eighteen, died under circumstances which filled the mind of the attending physician, with suspicion, but not sufficient to warrant him in taking a decisive step. Subsequently, another daughter fell a victim, and about three weeks ago a son, a young man, also died. Investigations of a private nature were set on foot, which resulted in the her arrest and a preliminary examination before the justice, who committed her for trial on the charge of murder. The two other children were seized with illness bearing the same symptoms as the cases which had proved fatal, but were attended to in time to save their lives, and the presence of arsenic was discovered.

We will give full particulars next week.

[“Sensation at Upper Sandusky - Horrible Poisoning Case.” The Hancock Jeffersonian (Findlay, Oh.), Jan. 10, 1868, p. 3]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 6): We have been unable to learn but little farther than what we gave last week in regard to the Upper Sandusky poisoning case.

The examination before the Justice in that town closed Friday last and she was admitted to bail in the sum of $2.000. In the examination the State had several witnesses, one of whom gave testimony very important and interesting. This witness, a gentleman whose family was some what intimate with the accused woman, Mrs. Bowsher, testified, as we learn that some eighteen months ago the woman approached him and said she wanted to get rid of her five children, and enquired of him if she could not poison them. He told her that she she could not do it without getting caught, for if she bought arsenic her name, description, etc., would have to be taken. She then told him that she could get the arsenic from her brother-in-law in Fort Wayne, and administer it at different times so as not to create suspicion. The witness testified that he did not consider the woman in earnest. He further stated that when the five children died he suspected the woman but did not feel like making it known. He kept the matter to himself till the last or those poisoned died and then he told his wife of the above conversation and informed several prominent men of it, but always under promise of secrecy. It was also brought out that Mrs. Bowsher did receive a package from Ft Wayne, but it had not been ascertained what it was. She claims that it was a pound of sugar. The defence in the case brought forward but few witnesses, preferring to wait for the trial before the Court.

The affair is a horrible one, and the feeling against the woman intense. Her appearance while on examination was bad; she was indifferent and brazen.

[“Upper Sandusky Poisoning Case.” The Hancock Jeffersonian (Findlay, Oh.), Jan. 17, 1868, p. 3]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 6): Upper Sandusky, O., Jan. 14. – Some years since, Milton Bowsher, of this place, died, leaving a widow and live children, named respectively, Fanny, William, Theodore, Olive and Lettie. Home time alter his death, Fanny (the eldest) left home, refusing to live with her mother, on account of her disreputable actions. About one year ago she was taken sick at the place where she was living and died, all efforts to relieve her proving unavailing, and the cause of her disease unknown.

Nothing was thought of it until last fall, in September, when Olive was taken sick in the same manner, at home. She was relieved, and was able to be up, when she was taken again and soon died, having the symptoms of poison. Suspicions were quietly whispered about, but nothing done. Then little Lettie (the youngest) was taken sick in the same violent manner, but recovered, partially, and is able to be around, but not well, the suspicions were whispered louder, and the physicians thought of exhuming the body of Olive and having a post mortem examination, but it was not done. About the 15th of last December William was also taken down with the same mysterious disease, and a few days after, Theodore, likewise. William died in a few days, and a coroner's jury was summoned, and a postmortem examination made, and the stomach, and a portion of the liver taken to Columbus tor analyzation. Meantime Theodore was removed from home, and recovered. In due time the Professor at Columbus reported that he had discovered arsenic in very notable quantities in the stomach and liver of William Bowsher. On receipt of this, the bodies of Fanny and Olive were immediately disinterred, and the stomachs of each sent to Columbus. On these the Professor reported “ditto,” but not having finished the analysis, he could not report the quantities of arsenic found. The mother was suspected very strongly, because of her want of feeling and apparent disinterestedness. No proof sufficient to warrant her arrest was found until last Tuesday evening, when a Mr. Shaffer divulged the following conversation, which he said he had held with Mrs. Bowsher, about fifteen months before, viz : “Mrs. Bowsher said she had received a letter from a man, in which he said that if she would get rid of the older children, he would take her and her three little (illegitimate) children and keep them, and clothe the children and send them to school. She said, I was so mad at Fanny, the other day, that I had a notion to step into a drug store and get some arsenic and poison her. I remarked that she would not get poison without being found out, for they would take her name, age, &c. She could send to Fort Wayne and get it of her brother, or send to this man and he would send it to her. I told her that she could not poison Fanny, for she did not live at home. She said she could bake it in a cake and send it to her by the little girl. She could poison all her children one by one, it she wanted to, and the doctors never would find it out. She could poison my wife, if she wanted to, by sending her a ginger cake with some poison in it. I told her I did not want any of her ginger cake at my house.”

The above is the substance of his story, and on the strength of it she was immediately arrested, and on Thursday the inquest was finished by hearing Shaffer's and other testimony, after which the coroner's jury rendered their verdict, “That Wm. Bowsher came to his death from the effects of arsenic administered by Mary L. Bowsher.” The next day she had a preliminary trial, and was committed to jail to answer the charge of murder. Effort is being made to bail her out of jail. Who can conceive a greater crime than that of a mother murdering her own offspring? The affair causes much excitement in town.

[“Crime. - Alleged Murders - Particulars Of The Upper Sandusky Case.” ( From the Cincinnati Gazette), The Harrisburg Telegraph (Pa.), Jan. 24, 1868, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 6): At Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the case of Mary L. Bowsher, charged with the murder of her son, by poison, after a continuance of eight days, was closed on Thursday night. The jury were absent three hours, and brought in a verdict of not guilty. She was immediately after removed to jail to await trial on two other indictments for the murder of her two daughters. The evidence against her is all circumstantial.

[Untitled, The Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pa.), May 26, 1868, p. 3]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 6): Mrs. Mary Bowsher, charged with poisoning her children, and who was confined in the Wyandot county jail for some time, has been admitted to bail in the sum of $8,000.

[Untitled, The Triffin Weekly Tribune (Oh.), Aug. 6, 1868, p. 3]


EXCERPT (Article 6 of 6): At the February term in 1868, Mary L. Bowsher, a resident of Upper Sandusky, was indicted for the murder of William, Olive and Frances Bowsher, her children. Upon being arraigned, she pleaded not guilty. Thereupon it was ordered by the court that Robert McKelly and John Berry, Esqs., be appointed to assist the Prosecuting Attorney in the prosecution of the case. During the May term, she was tried and acquitted on the first indictment — charging her with the murder of William Bowsher; but on the second indictment, charging her with the murder of Frances Bowsher, she was held to bail to the amount of $4,000, and on the third indictment, charging her with the murder of Olive Bowsher, she was also held to bail in the sum of $4,000. Finally, however, at the September term, 1868, a nolle prosequi was entered respecting the last indictments, and she was discharged “to go hence without day.” It was supposed that she hastened the death of her children by administering poison. Her own death occurred recently.

[The History of Wyandot County, Ohio: Containing a History of the County; Its , Chicago, Legett, Conaway & Co, 1884, p. 368]


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Female Serial Killers of the Jazz Age: 1920s USA

Perhaps seven of the female serial killer cases appearing in this collection may be found in the most complete lists of female serial killers that have been published in the print media (Creighton, Cunningham, Gifford, Klimek, Sorenson, Southard, Wise). TV has covered Carl and Malinsky on "Deadly Women." You will find that a good number of the cases that have fallen to the memory hole are quite amazing.

[Count: 31]


1920 – Anna Tomaskiewicz – Northhampton, Massachusetts, USA

“Mrs. Anna Tomaskiewiez, the strange woman ‘Bluebeard’ of South Hartley, was preparing for her sixth husband when her fifth spouse died. Mike Djurizzko, a boarder, was to be her next husband, according to testimony in the case. Mrs. Tomaskiewiez had already tried to obtain insurance made out in her name for Mike. The Polish insurance agent refused to accept the application and it was this fact that led to the unearthing of her tangled career.”

The press said she she was running a “murder factory.” The prosecutor charged “that the woman caused the death of two husbands, one in Connecticut and one in New York, and that suspicious circumstances attended the deaths of the other two.” The jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity. “Mrs. Tomaskiewicz, was seen to smile when the verdict was given by the jury foreman. Mrs. Tomaskiewicz was committed to the Northampton State Hospital for the Insane for life.”

1921 – Clara Carl – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Clara Carl Murdered two husbands and a father-in-law. Convicted in 1922 and sentenced to life in prison, she escaped in 1925, but was finally captured and returned. Newspaper headlines reporting her escape described her as the most daring of women criminals.

1921 – Mary Demmer – Schiller Park, Illinois, USA

“Mrs. Elizabeth Harwood, of Bensonville, mother of Mrs. Kolze, told the Coroner, it is said, that Mrs. Demmer had intimated, after her daughter’s death, that ‘something was wrong.’ Shortly before Kolze died Mrs. Demmer is alleged to have told Mrs. Harwood that ‘he would not live long unless he mended his ways.’” Mrs. Mary Demmer was held for questioning in connection of three arsenic deaths was released from custody after two weeks in jail. The state had no evidence against her even though arsenic had been found in the exhumed bodies of Mrs. Demmer’s husband and Mrs. Fred Kolze. The two families made their homes together.

1921 – Dessie Keyes – Elm Mott, Texas, USA

Accused of murdering, with her paramour accomplice, her husband, his wife and his baby daughter the man was convicted, but she went free, despite the fact that the both had made signed confessions. 

1921 – Lyda Trueblood Southard – Twin Falls, Idaho, USA

Between 1915 and 1920 Lyda Trueblood Southard committed, it is suspected, a total of six murders (4 husbands, a brother-in-law, and her own child). In each case she pretended that the deceased had contracted either typhoid, influenza or had died of ptomaine poisoning. In reality they all died from arsenic poisoning,. On November 4, 1921, in Twin Falls, Idaho, Lyda was convicted of the murder of her fourth husband on and was sentenced to 10 years in prison (Boise, Idaho). On May 4, 1931, she escaped and was not captured until July 31, 1932 and by then she had tied the knot with husband No. 5; later they divorced. Lyda was pardoned in 1942 and quickly married again. She died Feb. 5, 1948. It is not known what became of her 1942 catch.

1922 – Edith Murray “The Cleveland Black Widow” – Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Edith Murray’s name was never released to the public although the details of the investigation of her alleged crimes were front page news. The Cleveland Enquirer wrote that: “A divorced husband of a Cleveland woman suspected of having poisoned three of her husbands told Red Cross investigators in Pittsburgh he thought the woman had a mania for collecting insurance. The woman, who has been married five times, divorced twice, and three of whose husbands died suddenly under mysterious circumstances, while two of her children died of poison, told Prosecutor Edward C. Stanton she intended last week to become a bride for the sixth time.” The case was never prosecuted. It was only many decades later that a historian managed to turn up the name of the suspect.

1922 – Tillie Klimek – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Ottilie “Tillie” Klimek (or Tillie Gburek), a Polish immigrant to Chicago, was a serial killer whose suspected victims numbered, in some estimates, twenty, all of whom were relatives or lovers, including three husbands. She pretended to have precognitive dreams, accurately predicting the dates of death of her victims. The crime for which she was eventually tried was the murder of Frank Kupczyk, her third husband. In June 1923 she was sentenced to life in prison, the harshest sentence that had ever been leveled against a woman in Cook County. Her fourth husband, whom she was in the process of slow-poisoning at the time of her arrest, survived.

1922 – Nellie Sturmer Koulik – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Tillie Klimek’s cousin and accomplice, Nellie Sturmer Koulik, was never prosecuted, although the list of her probable victims was very impressive. : 1 – Wojcik Stermer, Nellie’s first husband, died in 1918. Body, exhumed, disclosed arsenic. 2 and 3 – Sophie and Benjamin Stermer, Nellie’s 7-month-old twins, who died within a month of each other in 1917. 4 –  Dorothy Spera, 2 year old granddaughter, who died in 1921, after her grandmother insisted that she be brought to her home for a simple cold. 5 – John Stermer, 22, Nellie’s son, who became ill in 1918 when his father died, but recovered. He declared he thought his mother had poisoned him.

1923 – Mary Frances Creighton – Newark, New Jersey, USA

Frances Mary Creighton was suspected of four persons and the concerted attempt to murder another. She was tried along with her lover for the murder of the man’s wife – who was the murderess’s “best friend” – and both were convicted and executed for that crime.

1923 – Eliza Potegian – Fresno, California, USA

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.

1924 – Annie Hauptrief – San Marcos, Texas, USA

Annie Hauptrief poisoned four step-children, who died, and husband, who survived. Murdered previous husband. The first murder involved a suicide pact with a husband. The husband drank the poison draught – and died – Annie did not. She committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial.

1924 – Euphemia Mondich – Detroit, Michigan, USA

Euphemia Mondich married nine times. Her second and fourth husbands once met to congratulate each other on being alive. Mrs. Mondich’s first husband died mysteriously. The skeleton of her lover, John Urdovich, was dug up by police under a house she once owned. She admitted shooting Urdovich. The body of her third husband, Joe Sokolsky, never was found. She said she and Urdovich had buried it where a building now stands.
“Mrs. Mondich under grilling, confessed she had killed a man named "John" with his own revolver, a week after she had seen him club her eighth husband, John Sokoloski, to death in an automobile.” She was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

1925 – Leila Banks – New York, New York, USA

Leila Banks was a Harlem child care provider who, like the much more publicized “baby farmer,” Helen Geisen-Volk, killed babies for profit.

1925 – Anna Cunningham – Crown Point, Indiana, USA

Anna Cunningham murdered her husband, three teenaged children, and attempted to murder another, who survived but was partially crippled. In her own words: “Something told me to draw in my head and told me I had to get rid of them. I thought that I was going to die and wanted to take them with me. I only poisoned the ones I loved best and I poisoned the ones I like best in turn because I wanted them with me.” She was intending suicide, she claimed.

1925 – Helen Geisen-Volk – New York, New York, USA

She is New York City’s worst serial killer.

Helen Geisen-Volk was a child care provider and child trafficker who abused, battered and murdered scores of children, mostly babies. In her own words: “Babies and animals should be disciplined all the same. When they become unruly, I hold them under water or push them in closets or bang them. I’ve trained children for 20 years that way.” An exchange at her trial: “Didn’t fifty-three infants die in your place?” asked District Attorney Pecora. “No,” was Mrs. Geisen-Volk’s reply. “There were only twelve or fourteen deaths.”
A neighbor, Mrs. Josephine Kass, of the murderess saw such “harrowing sights” that she suffered a nervous breakdown and moved away to California. Another woman, the mother of one of the baby farmer’s victims, little William Angerer, suffered a nervous breakdown as well.

1925 – Pearl Jackson – Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Pearl and Odell Jackson, a black couple living in Birmingham, Alabama, were convicted of an axe-murder. “The killing was one of Birmingham’s long series of axe crimes which covered a period of three years and claimed 26 lives in addition to the serious wounding of 21 other persons, both white and negroes.” The state’s star witness, testified that the couple had confided in her that they “planned to go out and rob some white man for money. They took an axe, she said, and declared they were going ‘skulling.’” They had both confessed, yet their statements, and thus their acutal guilt, was challenged since they had been given scopolamine (“truth serum”) before the confessions had been made. Yet the confessions of the five were consistent with one another and with statements made about details that were made when not drugged. They were convicted and sentenced to death. On three occasions, they were given a reprieve for the death sentence just before they were to be hanged.

1925 – Julia Shepherd – Chicago, Illinois, USA

From a 1925 news report : Chicago police, on the recommendation of a coroner’s jury, arrested Mrs. Julia Shepherd, who was characterized by Mr. Justice Olsen as the Lady Macbeth of a series of alleged murders designed to secure for herself and her husband a fortune of £500,000.

1925 – Della Sorenson – Dannenborg, Nebraska, USA

Della Sorenson murdered 8 relatives and neighbors, including 3 of her own children. In her own words:
“They bothered me, so I decided to kill them.”
“Every time I gave poison to one of Mrs. Cooper’s children, I said to myself, “Now I’m going to get even with you (Mrs. Cooper) for what you have said about me,” the confession said.
“After the death of my little daughter, Minnie, I had a feeling of elation and happiness. Then, after I got to thinking about what I had done, I was afraid and tried to hide it. I had the same feeling after the death of every one of those I poisoned.”
“I had feelings which would steal over me at times forcing me to destroy and kill. I felt funny and happy. I like to attend funerals.”

1925 – Birdie Strome – Springfield, Ohio, USA

Esta Strome, Birdie’s 14-year-old step-daughter, “died under mysterious circumstances after predicting that she would succumb at a certain date and on a specific hour.” An autopsy showed evidence of strychnine poisoning. Birdie was arrested and tried for murder. At the trial witnesses testified that Esta was in perfect health a few hours before her death. Mrs. Strome gave her tea, which, the prosecutor, contained strychnine. The prosecutor asserted that Mrs. Strome poisoned Esta, because, of an intense hatred for the girl and because the child lavished a wealth of affection upon her father. Other testimony revealed that Mrs. Strome’s first husband, George Frock, died under similar of strychnine poisoning 1922, and a sister in law of his died the same manner. Birdie was convicted of murdering Esta and sentenced to life in prison.

1925 – Alsa Thompson – Hollywood, California, USA

Alsa Thompson was 7-years-old at time she was apprehended. She had been caught poisoning family members, and wielding a razor blade against the children (including her toddler sister), at the Hollywood, California home in which her separated parents had temporarily placed her. Alsa confessed and added that she murdered her 2-year old twin sisters when her family lived in Canada.

1925 – Martha Wise – Valley City, Ohio, USA

From a 1926 newspaper: “Mrs. Martha Wise, whose “funeral complex” resulted in the poisoning of seventeen persons, three of whom died, made a supplemental confession today. Under the questioning of Joseph Seymour, county prosecutor, the Hardscrabble widow, admitted setting fire to ten houses and barns in the neighborhood of her home in the last few months. The confession clears up a series of arson plots on which authorities have been working. Mrs. Wise also said that she had stolen numerous pieces of jewelry from neighbors and relatives. In each case she wept bitterly and gave the same explanation offered for the poisonings: “The devil made me do it – he told me so.” Mrs. Wise will probably be sent to the Lima hospital for the criminally insane. She said the lure of funerals and suffering caused her to poison her relatives.” … “I liked their funerals. I could get dressed up and see folks and talk to them. I didn’t miss a funeral in twenty years. The only fun I ever had was after I kilt people.”

1926 – Rennette Cure Bussey – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

From a newspaper account of the trial: “Though there is but the one charge against her, police accuse her of causing the deaths of her husband and two other children. Lawrence Bussey, the father and husband, a city fireman, died April 3, 1925. Clarence, 3, died on Dec. 5, 1925, at 3 years of age. Esther, a baby [of] 16 months, died Jan. 1, 1926. Verdia, 5 years old, died Feb. 21, 1926. Physicians attributed the deaths at the time to various maladies – peritonitis, acute indigestion, liver and kidney maladies. The three bodies were exhumed by order of court after Mrs. Bussey’s arrest on the charge of  giving poison to Verdia. Chemists declare traces of mercurial poison were found in badly decomposed organs of all three. Verdia told court attaches just before her death: ‘Mamma gave me something to eat on a piece of bread and told me to eat it. In a little while I was spitting up blood. She said she’d whip me if I told anybody.’”

1926 – Mae Hamilton – Okmulgee, Oklahoma, USA

Mae Hamilton was formally charged with three murders and an additional three suspicious deaths investigated. Her trial for murder ended with a hung jury – 7 to 5 for conviction – after 43-and-a-half hours’ deliberation, on May 3, 1927. Although a retrial  was intended no newspaper reports of a second trial have been yet located.

1926 – Elsie Bible Malinsky – Flora, Illinois, USA

Elsie Bible Malinsky was a wife in the way killer. She murdered her female fiend so she could marry her husband Mr. Bible. Then she murdered him. Next she targeted another married man foir the same routine, murdering the wife and marrying him. Mr. Malinsky had no knowledge of the scheming of the murderess wife number two. In passing sentence of life imprisonment, Circuit Judge Thomas M. Jett unleashed a scathing denunciation of the woman and her crime.  “If you were a man I would hang you. The fact that you are a woman is all that saves you.”

1927 – Alma McClavey (Theede) – Memphis, Tennessee, USA

“Vance Avenue Alma” was a prostitute. She had seven husbands. Some she divorced, one died in a car wreck and others she murdered, three of them. She murdered No. 2 in 1919, and No. 4 in 1927 and no. 6 in 1946. Even numbers were unlucky.

1928 – Nora Edwards – Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA

Mrs. Nora Edwards was suspected of murdering 15-year-old step-son, her 12-year-old daughter and two husbands. When she was arrested, at the age of 38, for attempting to murder her third husband she was under a two-year prison sentence for burglarizing the home of a neighbor. She was convicted of attempting to kill her third husband, J. W. Edwards, 60, by administering poison to him. Her punishment for that crime was fixed at five years imprisonment.

1928 – Bertha Gifford – Catawissa, Missouri, USA

From a news report: “The ‘good samaritan,’ Mrs. Bertha Gifford, who was always ready to “sit up” with the sick and who watched eighteen persons die in paroxysms of pain caused, the state believes, by the poison she administered, must spend the rest of her life in an insane asylum. A jury … found the ‘poison woman’ not guilty of the murder of Ed Brinley ‘on the sole ground that she was insane at the time of the commission of the offense and has not recovered from such insanity.’ The verdict was reached after three hours and twenty-five minutes deliberation over the testimony that showed that she had calmly poisoned one man and two small children.”

1929 – Maude Dieden – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Mrs. Maude Dieden operated a baby farm in Chicago, where ten babies died within a three month period. She was arrested and 27 living infants were removed from her home and sent to juvenile institutions.

1929 – Okal Gorham & Ethel Lewis – St. Joseph, Michigan, USA

“A confession signed by 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.” “Mrs. Gorham, in one confession said seven babies had been killed but later changed her story saying only five were murdered. Three of those were her own and the other two her mother’s she said. One of her babies she wheeled 12 miles to Eau Claire, Wis., in a baby carriage to commit the murder, the confession said. “The murders were revealed when the coroner became suspicious over the death of the last infant.”

1929 – Ethel Lewis– St. Joseph, Michigan, USA

1929 – Hattie Stone – Belair, Maryland, USA

Hattie Stone was convicted of murdering her 15-year-old son and suspected of murdering four others as well: another son, her husband and her parents-in-law. Hattie took the insurance proceeds and spent them on her boyfriends who she took to Atlantic City for amusement.


SEE: Female Serial Killer Collections: MASTER LIST