Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Most Daring of Women Criminals” - Clara Carl - Indiana, 1921


Husband Robert Gibson, 1st husband (married Mar. 14, 1908) – died Mar. 18, 1920
Frank Carl, 2nd husband – died Sep. 1921
Alonzo Carl, 85, father-in-law – died Jul. 3, 1921.


ILLUSTRATION CAPTION: Mrs. Clara Carl, (Above), Robert Gibson, Her First Husband, Waldo C. Ging, Hancock County Prosecutor, (right.)

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): Greenfield, Ind., March 22.— This whole region is eagerly awaiting the trial of Mrs. Clara Carl on a charge of slaying here early in May.

Prosecutor Waldo C. Ging hopes to prove at that trial that Mrs. Carl is a modern woman bluebeard.

Ging will charge that Mrs. Carl killed her husband and father-in-law with slow poison with the sordid aim of gaining for herself their petty fortunes.

But Mrs. Carl will maintain her innocence. Her attorneys say they will show her as a loving wife and devoted daughter-in-law, the innocent victim of an unusual train of circumstances.

Meanwhile Mrs. Carl, 38, attractive and well-educated, peers from behind the bars of the Hancock County jail here, following a formal charge of slaying against her by a Hancock county grand jury.

And Prosecutor Ging has caused the body of Robert Gibson, a former husband of Mrs. Carl, to be exhumed from a cemetery in Nelsonville. O., and the internal organs examined for traces of poison.

Here is the story of Mrs. Carl's life, as unearthed by the authorities here:

Mrs. Carl, whose maiden name was Clara Green, was the daughter of a New Straitsville, O., farmer. Robert Gibson was the son of a New Straitsville florist and was a teacher in the village school.

Clara and Gibson were childhood sweethearts. On March 14, 1908, the two eloped and were wed. They moved to Cleveland, where Gibson continued teaching and Clara became a newspaper writer.

Soon Clara and Gibson began traveling about from town to town, writing histories of the towns and selling the books by subscription.

Gibson went, unaccompanied by his wife, to Huntsville, Mo., on business. His wife, Clara, came to visit him.

Shortly after her arrival, the prosecutor charges, Gibson was seized with an unusual illness and died.

In September of the same year, and Clara, now a widow, met Frank Carl at Seneca, Kan. They were married soon after.

Clara and Carl went to New Philadelphia, Ind., and made their home there. They invited Carl's father, Alonzo Carl, 85, to live with them. He accepted.

Shortly after his arrival at New Philadelphia, the elder Carl became violently ill and died July 3, 1921.

Carl took his father's body to Hiawatha, Kan., where the father formerly had lived, for burial. Clara did not go.

[“State Seeks In Murder Trial To Prove Indiana Woman 'Bluebeard'.” Syndicated, The Star Journal (Sandusky, Oh.), Mar. 22, 1922, p. 2]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): Shelbyville, Ind. June 3. – The jury found Mrs. Clara Gibson Carl, the alleged feminine blue beard, guilty of second degree murder in connection with the death of her husband, by arsenic poisoning. She is alleged to have poisoned two husbands and a father-in-law in order to benefit from insurance. The verdict carried the penalty of life imprisonment.

[“Jury Gives Woman Life Imprisonment,” The Victoria Advocate (Tx.),  Jun. 4, 1922, p. 1]

FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 5): Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 12.— Another chapter in a story of crime rivaling the famous “Bluebeard” murders in France has been written with the escape of a woman “lifer” from the Indianapolis women’s prison.

Displaying the same clever criminal skill which police alleged caused her to murder two husbands and a father-in-law by slowly poisoning them to death, Mrs. Clara Carl escaped from the prison. So far no trace of her has been found. She is considered one of the most daring woman criminals in the country.

There is cool, calm and deliberate manner about Mrs. Carl. It was manifest when she was charged with the crimes three years ago, and again was shown when prison authorities after her escape found that for weeks she had been planning her break for liberty.

~ Feeding Chickens ~

So cleverly did she outwit the prison authorities that she took all belongings with her. Mrs. Carl had deceived the warden into believing she could be trusted and she was assigned to feeding the chickens in the prison yard.

Just at dusk one evening, she climbed up on the chicken house, then on to the prison wall and dropped over on the outside. Since murder charges were first preferred against her she has been known as “the feminine Bluebeard.”

Her life story is a curious mixture of crime, love, happiness and tragedy.

She was the beautiful daughter of a farmer living near New Straitville, Ohio.

When a young girl she eloped with Robert Gibson, young son of a New Straitsville florist. They had been childhood sweethearts.

Robert and Clara appeared deeply in love. They went to Cleveland, where Gibson was a teacher. His wife was employed on a newspaper. They conceived the idea of getting rich by going from town to town, writing and selling illustrated histories of various localities.

They went to Huntsville, Mo., where Gibson became suddenly ill. Doctors seemed unable to help him and he died within a short time. A few months later Clara married Frank Carl at Seneca, Kas.

The couple went to New Philadelphia, Ind., and inviting the husband’s father, Alonzo Carl, 85, to live with them.

Again a mysterious malady afflicted Clara’s husband. The father-in-law also became suddenly ill. Frank Carl was a picture of health, and was noted for his powerful physique.

But within a month his strength left him so fast that he became a living skeleton.

~ Bodies Exhumed ~

When both the husband and father-in-law died terrible deaths, the county prosecutor was deluged with letters demanding an investigation. Exhumation of their bodies revealed enough arsenic to “kill a dozen men,” according to the prosecutor.

The trial in 1922 resulted in a second degree murder conviction and a life sentence.

Apparently the motive of the “feminine Bluebeard” was to obtain the petty fortunes of her two husbands.

She secured only $3000 after the death of her first husband and $2000 from Carl’s insurance, making her crimes all the more amazing.

[“‘Feminine Bluebeard’” Most Daring of Women Criminals,” The Mexia Daily News (Tx.), Oct. 12, 1925, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Indianapolis, Oct. 6.— With prison and police officials in the entire state searching for Mrs. Clara Carl, life term prisoner who escaped Saturday [Oct. 3] from the Indiana women's prison here. Miss Margaret at Elliott, superintendent of the institution today said she believed the fugitive would be under arrest forty-eight hours.

[“See Carl Capture Within Two Days,” syndicated (AP), Logansport Morning Press (In.), October 7, 1925, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): Indianapolis. Oct. 12—Mrs. Clara Carl, 50, who escaped from the Indiana Womans’ prison last week while serving a life sentence for the murders of her husband and father-in-law was back in her cell today. She was caught in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday night and reentered the prison last night.

[“Clara Carl Back In Prison Cell,” Logansport Pharos-Tribune (In.), Oct. 12, 1925, p. 1]


Clara Carl was granted parole on May 26, 1937.

[“Clara Carl Is Given Parole,” The Greenfield Daily Reporter (In.), May 26, 1937, p. 1]











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


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