Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bessie Folse Toups, Suspected Serial Killer – Louisiana, 1962

Bessie Folse Toups was investigated for the possible murders of one husband, a female friend, a handyman and of crippling another husband in a murder attempt.


FULL TEXT: Franklin, La. – Police charged Mrs. Bessie Folse Toups, 44 year-old Berwick woman, Tuesday with murder of her second husband and attempted murder of her third husband.

Mrs. Toups, wife of Laurie Toups, 56, a druggist, was arrested Monday night, after a six week investigation that started when doctors at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans found arsenic poisoning in Toups. Toups was reported bedridden after a lengthy stay at the hospital.

After the body of the woman's second husband, Octave J. Folse Jr., was exhumed, Orleans Parish coroner Dr. Nicholas Chetta found arsenic poisoning in his body.

Folse died Nov. 16, 1959, three days after entering Franklin hospital. Officers declined today to say how his death was classified at that time.

The St. Mary Parish sheriff's office said the woman had been married three times but that her first husband, who is still living, was not involved.

The woman married Toups about 13 months ago.

She is a native of Newnan, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. She drives a St. Mary Parish school bus.

[“Women [sic] Held For Poisoning Two Husbands,” syndicated (AP), Lake Charles American Press (La.), Mar. 14, 1962, p. 7]



FULL TEXT: Franklin, La. – Authorities today were expected to reveal “startling new information” uncovered in a widening probe of the background of a 44-year-old mother of two accused of the arsenic murder of one husband and attempting to kill another spouse the same way.

Two investigators left this small south Louisiana town Wednesday saying their probe was in “a new phase” and adding a new development was not far from “breaking.”

Mrs. Ressie [sic] Folse Toups is charged with murdering her second husband, Octave Folse, a teacher, and with the attempted murder of her third husband, Laurie Ira Toups, 51, Toups, 51, a druggist.

Michael J. McNulty, assistant district attorney for St. Mary Parish, said investigators have uncovered what he considers a “pretty good motive.” He would not comment further.

Mrs. Folse, who drives a school bus, steadfastly has denied the charges against her. She married Toups in December, 1960 – 13 months after the death of her previous husband lives in Georgia.

Toups, a town alderman, is still partially paralyzed from what doctors labeled arsenic poisoning. They said it was administered in small doses for a long time.

The hospital report on Toups led the parish coroner to order exhumation of the body of the second husband. Tests uncovered traces of arsenic.

Mrs. Toups’ sone by her first marriage, William Wright, 20, visited his mother Wednesday. He said she was concerned about him and about her 10-year-old boy, Octave Folse Jr.

In a conference with Dist. Atty. Knowles Tucker, Mrs. Toups intimated someone else must have administered the poison. It was not made public if she gave any names but authorities have conceded they know considerably more than is being released.

“If we didn’t have any more on this case than we released so far, we’d be in bad shape,” one officer said.

The more recent investigating has centered around Mrs. Toups’ past. Neighbors, acquaintances, and Mr. Toups himself say they have only limited information about the accused. She has been described as a reserved and gentle woman.

[“New Developments Expected In Arsenic Murder Cases,” Alexandria Daily Town Talk (La.), Mar. 15, 1962, p. 10]


FULL TEXT: Franklin – Officials exhumed another body Tuesday in the continuing investigation of Mrs. Ressie [sic] Toups, the Berwick housewife charged with murdering her second husband and attempting to murder her third mate.

Two more bodies are expected to be exhumed this week, possibly today.

Tuesday the body of Negro handyman Eddie Blunt of Berwick was removed from a cemetery. He died this year after complaining of severe stomach pains. His death was listed as due to natural causes.

Blunt worked for Mrs. Toups, who is charged with the arsenic poisoning of her second husband and of administering arsenic to her third husband.

The body of her second husband, Octave Folse, Jr., will be re-exhumed. The first time his body was removed traces of arsenic poison were found.

The body of Mrs. Leona Cutrone of Baton Rouge is also scheduled to be exhumed from a Baton Rouge cemetery. She was a friend of Mrs. Toups who also complained of severe stomach pains before dying in  February.

[“Officials Exhume Body of Negro In Troups [sic], Probe,” Shreveport Journal (La.), Jul. 18, 1962, p. 6A]


FULL TEXT: Franklin – The St. Mary Parish Grand Jury today resumed consideration of the case of Mrs. Bessie Folse Toups, accused of murdering her second husband and trying to kill her third.

Mrs. Toups has been charged with the murder, by arsenic poisoning, of Octave J. Folse, Jr. who died in November of 1959. A charge of attempting to murder her third husband, Laurie I. Toups, a 51-year-old Berwick town alderman and druggist, has also been filed.

Toups was partially paralyzed from ingestion of arsenic in small doses over a period of time last year, officials said.

Three bodies were recently exhumed in connection with the case, one twice. An examination of Folse’s remains determined that the 42-year-old Patterson High school mathematics teacher died of arsenic poisoning. This exhumation took place in March.

In mid-July the body of Mrs. Leona M. Cutrone was exhumed. Formerly of Morgan City, she died in February, 1961 and was buried in Baton Rouge. Authorities described her as “a friend of Mr. Toups.”

The body of Negro handyman Eddie Blunt of Berwick was removed from a Berwick cemetery for examination. Blunt died in early 1962.

Also, Folse’s body was re-exhumed.

The results of the mid-July exhumations were not made public.

The first Folse exhumation was performed when it was learned that Laurie Toups was being treated at a New Orleans hospital for arsenic poisoning.

[“Grand Jury Resumes Toups Case Hearing,” The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, La.), Sep. 4, 1962, p. 1]


FULL TEXT: Franklin, La., Sept. 5 – The St. Mary Parish grand jury today freed Mrs. Bessie Folse Toups, accused of the murder of her second husband and attempted murder of her third husband.

The grand jury returned no true bills on each of the two charges against Mrs. Toups.

She was charged with the arsenic murder in 1959 of Octave J. Folse, a school teacher who was her second husband, and the attempted murder last winter of her third husband. Laurie L. Toups, a Berwick druggist and former alderman.

Mrs. Toups’ first husband, named Wright, is alive and living in Georgia.

She was arrested last March by the St. Mary Parish sheriff’s office, which had investigated the case along with state police.

The case went before a grand jury last May but it reached no verdict and put the matter over until this week’s grand jury term.

Mrs. Toups, who was free in $10,000 bond, had denied she was guilty.

[“Mrs. Toups Released by Grand Jury,” The Shreveport Times (La.), Sep. 6, 1962, p. 9A]


Dec. 1960 – Bessie marries Laurie Toups.
Feb. 1961 – Leona M. Cutrone, friend of Bessie dies; Baton Rouge.
Nov. 16, 1959 – Octave J. Folse Jr., husband #2, dies.
Early 1962 – Eddie Blunt, dies.
1962 – Laurie Ira Toups, 56, husband #3, poisoned, survived.
Mar. 12, 1962 – Bessie Toups (44) arrested.
May 26, 1962 – Bessie released on $10,000 bond.
1962 – Husband #1, Wright, still living.




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

[500-4/8/20; 969-11/5/21]

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