Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sante Kimes & Son: Serial Killer Team – USA 1998

3 Murder Victims:

1996 - Syed Bilal Ahmed, murdered by the mother & son together
Mar. 1998 - David Kazdin, murdered by son on orders of his mother
2000 - Irene Silverman, 82, murdered by the mother & son together


Wikipedia: Sante Kimes (born July 24, 1934) is an American felon who has been convicted of two murders, along with robbery, violation of anti-slavery laws, forgery and numerous other crimes. Many of these crimes were committed with assistance of her son Kenneth. The two of them were tried and convicted together for the murder of Irene Silverman, along with 117 other charges. The pair were also suspected but never charged in a third murder in the Bahamas, to which Kenneth has confessed.

According to court records, Kimes was born Sandra Louise Walker in Oklahoma City to a mother of partial Dutch descent and an East Indian father. Her estranged son, Kent Walker, in his book Son of a Grifter has reported from an old acquaintance of his mother that Sante Kimes was the daughter of a respectable family who was unable to cope with the young girl’s aberrant, wild antics; Kimes herself has claimed that her father was a laborer and that her mother was a prostitute who migrated from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl to Los Angeles, where the young Kimes ran wild in the streets. But Sante Kimes has given numerous, conflicting stories about her origins and numerous other accounts are difficult to confirm, and thus Kent Walker says that his ancestry could be anything from Latino to East Indian to Indigenous American to simply white. She spent the better part of her life fleecing people of money, expensive merchandise, and real estate, either through elaborate con games, arson, forgery, or outright theft.

According to the book Son of a Grifter, she committed insurance fraud on numerous occasions, frequently by committing arson and then collecting for property damage. She delighted in introducing her husband as an ambassador - a ploy that even gained the couple access to a White House reception during the Ford administration. And she sometimes even impersonated Elizabeth Taylor, whom she resembled slightly. He also alleges that she committed many acts of fraud that were not even financially necessary, such as enslaving maids when she could easily afford to pay them and burning down houses she could have easily sold.

She frequently offered young, homeless illegal immigrants housing and employment, then kept them virtual prisoners by threatening to report them to the authorities if they didn’t follow her orders. As a result, she and her second husband, alcoholic motel tycoon Kenneth Kimes, spent years squandering his fortune on lawyers’ fees, defending themselves against charges of slavery. Kimes was eventually arrested in August 1985 and was sentenced by the U.S. District Court to five years in prison for violating federal anti-slavery laws. Her husband took a plea bargain and agreed to complete an alcohol treatment program; Ken, Sr. and their son, Kenny, lived a somewhat normal life until Sante was released from prison in 1989. Ken, Sr. died in 1994.


~ David Kazdin ~

David Kazdin had allowed Kimes to use his name on the deed of a home in Las Vegas that was actually occupied by Kenneth Sr. and Sante Kimes in the 1970s. Several years later, Sante Kimes convinced a notary to forge Kazdin’s signature on an application for a loan of $280,000, with the house as collateral. When Kazdin discovered the forgery and threatened to expose Kimes she ordered him killed. Kenneth Jr. murdered Kazdin by shooting him in the back of the head. According to another accomplice’s later testimony, all three participated in disposing of the evidence. Kazdin’s body was found in a dumpster near Los Angeles airport in March 1998. The murder weapon was never recovered, having been disassembled and dropped into a storm sewer.

~ Irene Silverman ~

In June 1998, with her son Kenny, Kimes perpetrated a scheme whereby she would assume the identity of their landlady, 82-year-old socialite Irene Silverman, and then appropriate ownership of her $7.7 million Manhattan mansion. Despite the fact Silverman’s body was never found, both mother and son were convicted of murder in 2000, in no small part because of the discovery of Kimes’ notebooks detailing the crime and notes written by Silverman, who was extremely suspicious of the pair. During the trial for the Kadzin murder Kenneth Kimes confessed that after his mother had used a stun gun on Silverman, he strangled her, stuffed her corpse into a bag and deposited it in a dumpster in Hoboken, New Jersey.

~ Sayed Bilal Ahmed ~

Kenneth also confessed to murdering a third man, banker Sayed Bilal Ahmed, at his mother’s behest in The Bahamas in 1996, which had been suspected by Bahamian authorities at the time. Kenneth testified that the two acted together to drug Ahmed, drown him in a bathtub, and dump his body offshore, but no charges were ever filed in that case. Sante Kimes denies any involvement or knowledge of the murders, and claims that Kenneth’s confession was solely to avoid the death penalty.

~ Trials ~

Although the Kazdin murder happened first, The Kimes’ were apprehended in New York City and tried first for the Silverman murder. Evidence recovered from their car helped establish the case for trying them on Kazdin’s murder as well.

The Silverman trial was unusual in many aspects, namely the rare combination of a mother/son team and the fact that no body was recovered. Nonetheless, the jury was unanimous in voting to convict them of not only murder but 117 other charges including robbery, burglary, conspiracy, grand larceny, illegal weapons possession, forgery and eavesdropping on their first poll on the subject. The judge also took the unusual step of ordering Kimes not to speak to the media even after the jury had been sequestered as a result of her passing a note to New York Times reporter David Rhode in court. The judge threatened to have Kimes handcuffed during further court appearances if she persisted and restricted her telephone access to calls to her lawyers. The judge contended that Kimes was attempting to influence the jury as they may have seen or heard any such interviews, and that there would be no cross-examination as there would be in court. Kimes had earlier chosen to not take the stand in her own defense after the judge ruled that prosecutors could question her about the previous conviction on slavery charges.

During the sentencing portion of the Silverman trial, Sante Kimes made a prolonged statement to the court blaming the authorities, including their own lawyers, for framing them. She went on to compare their trial to the Salem Witch Trials and claim the prosecutors were guilty of “murdering the Constitution” before the judge told her to be quiet. When the statement was concluded the presiding judge responded that Mrs Kimes was a sociopath and a degenerate and her son was a dupe and “remorseless predator” before imposing the maximum sentence on both of them.

In October 2000, while doing an interview, Kenneth held Court TV reporter Maria Zone hostage by pressing a ballpoint pen into her throat. Zone had interviewed Kimes once before without incident. Kenneth Kimes’ demand was that his mother not be extradited to California, where the two faced the death penalty for the murder of David Kazdin. After four hours of negotiation Kimes removed the pen from Zone’s throat. Negotiators created a distraction which allowed them to quickly remove Zone and wrestle Kimes to the ground.

In March 2001, Kenneth Kimes was extradited to Los Angeles to stand trial for the murder of David Kazdin. Sante Kimes was extradited to Los Angeles in June 2001. During that trial in June 2004, while he was facing the death penalty, Kenneth changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” and implicated his mother in the murder in exchange for a plea deal that his mother not receive the death penalty if convicted. Sante Kimes again made a prolonged statement denying the murders and accusing police and prosecutors of various kinds of misconduct, and was again eventually ordered by the presiding judge to be silent. The sentencing judge in the Kazdin case called Mrs. Kimes “one of the most evil individuals” she had met in her time as a judge.

~ Imprisonment ~

Sante Kimes is currently serving a sentence of 120 years at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in New York. On her prisoner papers, Sante’s projected release date is on March 3, 2119. Additionally, Kimes and her son were each sentenced to life for the death of David Kazdin in California. Kenneth Kimes is currently incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in California.

~ In media ~

A 2001 made-for-TV movie, Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, starred Mary Tyler Moore as Sante Kimes, Gabriel Olds as Kenny, and Jean Stapleton as Silverman. In 2006, another television movie based on a book about the case, A Little Thing Called Murder, starring Judy Davis and Jonathan Jackson, aired on Lifetime. She was also featured in a 2008 episode of the television show Dateline.










For similar cases, see Murder-Coaching Moms


Nancy Staffleback, Serial Killer Family Matriarch – Kansas 1897

FULL TEXT: There may have been more wicked families in Sodom and Gomorrah of old than the Shaffleback family of Galena, Kan., three of whose members have recently been found guilty of murder; but it may be doubted if a more loathsome set of people ever before existed on this continent, either in a state of civilization or savagery, than the moral monsters, the Stafflebacks, who have trafficked in every crime and vice from thievery to butchery, and two of whom, at least, will spend the remainder of their lives in prison. 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.

Nancy Staffleback has led a most remarkable career of crime and has trained her progeny to follow in her footsteps. Of her thirteen children not one has led an upright life, and not one has a trait of character to redeem, even in part, the general coarseness and criminality of their natures. She was born in Allegan County, New York. Her maiden name was Chase and her early years were spent in Wisconsin. Through her mother she inherited a strain of Wyandotte Indian blood, and perhaps this may have had something to do with the natural of her character. When a young girl she met a Swiss, Michael Shaffleback, in Dubuque, Iowa. After some changes they moved to Lawrence County, Missouri, where they settled on a farm. Here they quarreled. The husband was charged by his wife and some of his children with unmentionable crimes, and the husband accused the wife of crimes equally revolting to both moral and natural laws. The result was that the husband left the neighborhood and has not since been heard from. The airing of their family differences in court had the effect of making Lawrence County too hot for Nancy and her brood, and they moved to a place known as Swindle Hill, in the town of Joplin, Jasper County. It was a fit abode for such characters.

Here congregated the degraded of both sexes, women who had forgotten the meaning of decency and men who were practiced in every crime. A man’s life was not safe in the place after dark and policemen never ventured into it singly. Here the Stafflebacks lived several years, the sons practicing thievery and other crimes, for which some of them received sentences In jail, and the girls consorting with the degraded of both sexes.

They committed one murder, at least, here, but the story of this will come later. Ultimately the vile den of the Stafflebacks was raided and two of the sons were sent to the penitentiary.

~ In a Hotbed of Crime. ~

Three years ago the family moved to “Picker’s Point,” an unsavory place on the outskirts of Galena. They took up their abode in a long desert shanty, within a few rods of which were a number of deserted shafts, where some time or other men had prospected for lead or zinc. The place is a hotbed of crime. Scattered around are miserable hovels, the homes of depraved women and men. Here vice reaches a depth that decency dare not attempt to describe. Rough miners, many of them foreigners, frequent the hovels and gamble and drink and swear. Ribald revelry is often interrupted by a fight that ends in murder. Then the shafts, the silent, yawning pits of the ground, are charged with another victim, which they receive into their dark depths never to yield again. If these shafts were to-day made to give up their ghastly tenants fully fifty undiscovered murders would be revealed.

Amid such congenial surroundings the Staffleback family resumed their career of crime. At this time the family consisted of Mother Nance, Ed. George, Mike, Cora, Louisa and Emma. All these were children of the old woman except Cora, who was married to George.

The latter and Ed had a short time before been released from the penitentiary and had joined the family at Picker’s Point.”

And now another man, Charles Wilson, who passed as a husband of Nancy, drifted into the gang. Two girls, Rosa Bayne and Anna McComb, also took up their abode with the Staffleback family. In their different ways these people led their criminal lives, with Mother Nance acting as the evil genius of the gang. Time and again the den in which they lived was raided and one or more was arrested for some petty offense. But the gang took this as a matter of course.

Last June, however, occurred an event that brought the Stafflebacks to grief. This was the murder of a miner, Frank Galbraith. He had gone to the Staffleback house on invitation from Emma, but the old woman had refused him admittance. He returned and then a row began. This is the story of it as given by Anna McComb, who witnessed the affair:

“I heard the row begin and stepped outside and around the corner of the log hut. The old woman grabbed her corn knife and ran Galbraith out of the house. Then Wilson and Ed got their guns and began shooting at Galbraith, who started to run down the road. Wilson fired first, but missed. Then Ed fired, and I could tell that he hit him, for Frank put his hand to his hip and fell. But he got right up again and ran on. He couldn’t run very fast, and Ed ran alongside of him, put his gun to his head and fired. Frank threw his hand up to his head and fell by the side of the road. Ed took the knife the old woman and started to finish Frank by cutting his throat. All this time me and Cora had been running along after them. I grabbed Ed by the arm and begged him not to do it. “Let me alone, or I’ll slit your throat,” he said. Then he turned and cut Galbraith’s throat. The blood spurted out.  The old woman took the knife and wiped it on her apron.

“I felt sick and me and Cora lay down in the weeds so that we could see them and they couldn’t see us. They thought we had gone to the house. I was afraid to look until Cora whispered “They’re pulling his clothes off.” Then I looked. I saw Ed take him by the shoulders, and George took one leg and Wilson the other. They carried him to the old shaft and threw him in.

A month later the body of Galbraith was seen floating at the bottom of the shaft, and an investigation into the crime was Ed, George and Staffleback were arrested, tried and convicted of the murder, and an effort was made to apprehend Wilson, who was also implicated in the killing. Wilson, however, had fled and the authorities are now searching for him.

The arrest of the Stafflebacks led to other horrible disclosures. Released from the fear in which they had of the Stafflebacks, Cora Staffleback (George’s wife) and Rosa Bayne tell stories of murders committed by this family. Two years ago two girls took up their abode in the Staffleback house. One night in a fit of passion Mike Staffleback beat one of them into insensibility and finally death, and lest the other girl should tell of the affair she was beaten to death by Ed Staffleback. The brothers then wrapped the bodies in sheets and threw them down an abandoned shaft.

A short time afterward the brothers, Mike, Ed and George, attacked and killed a peddler who was stopping over night at the house divided his money.

Another murder of which member of the Staffleback family are guilty was that of an old soldier named Rodabaugh. Ed, Mike and a man named Billy Martin, a brother of Mike’s wife made away with him while the Stafflebacks were living in Joplin. He was killed for $35 in pension money which he was known to have on his person.

Still murder the Stafflebacks are believed to have committed while In Joplin is that of a man named Moorhouse. Moorhouse mysteriously disappeared while there, and from conversations held between the Stafflebacks. Cora Staffleback is of the opinion that the man was murdered.

Mike Staffleback is now serving a term in the penitentiary. When he is free he will be arrested for some of the murders in which he took part.

[“Crime Their Trade. - From Petty Thievery To Horrible Murders. - The Infamous Staffleback Family Ran the Gamut - Two of Them Are Under a Life Sentence, While the Mother Is Given Twenty Years. - Moral Monsters.” The Argus (Holbrook, Az.), Nov. 13, 1897, p. 2]


FULL TEXT: Galena (Kan.), September 27. – The names of Nancy Staffleback and her sons and daughters will be long remembered in the annals of crime. She is sixty-six years of age, and is now under sentence of twenty-one years’ imprisonment in the State penitentiary of Kansas for complicity in many murders committed by her sons. She weeps hypocritically over her position, protests she is a good Christian, and professes that she will feel acutely the shame and sorrow when her sons, who committed these murders, shall be hanged.

Mother Nance’s whole life has been one of crime. She has Indian blood in her veins, and it is claimed it is this dash, of red blood, which makes her so cruel and so cold-blooded. She married a native of Switzerland, but the married life was a series of broils, and after fearful charges on each side and countercharges the ill-assorted pair were divorced.

When the father left, Mother Nance and her brood of six, three boys and three girls, gave themselves up to a life of uncontrolled vice. There was no sin which they did not commit, and they reveled in an atmosphere of the grossest sensuality. Their conduct was so notorious that no one would have anything to do with them; so they sought new fields. Mother Nance and her criminal children moved into Jasper County, Missouri, and settled in a place called Joplin. Their home was an old board shanty situated in the lowest part of the town. It is a mining district, and the girls had to earn the family food.  The miners frequented the house and it is well known that at least two murders were here committed by the Stafflebacks.

Two of the boys were finally arrested and sent to the penitentiary, for a short term. The police raided the shanty, and much stolen property was recovered. Mother Nance did not wait to receive further attentions from the hands of the police, but slipped off quietly to Galena.

Here began an unparalleled course of crime. This miserable woman made her home in a wretched hovel at Picker’s point. It Is in the center of a mining district. The place is perfectly barren, Nothing, saves it from the chill blasts of winter, nor from the sun’s fierce rays in summer. The house is on the top of a hill, and so vile are the people which gather around it that no policeman ever ventures there singly.

Mother Nance was soon joined by her two boys, who had served out their terms. The police frequently raided her den and arrested its inmates on some charge of petty crime. But these were trifling occurrences. Mother Nance was used to arrest.

This vile brood now received an addition in the person of Charles Wilson, who passed as the husband of Mother Nance, and on whose trail are the officers of the law for the murder of Frank Galbraith, a miner, killed on Saturday, June 19, 1897.

The men are paid in the Galena mines on Saturday and Emma, one of the daughters, sent to Frank Galbraith a note telling him to come and see her. Galbraith went about 10 p. m., and was much under the influence of liquor, Mother Nance opened the door, and was told by Galbraith he wanted to see Emma. She refused him admittance. Galbraith appeared again about 2 a. m. and asked for Emma, saying she had sent for him, and he seemed determined to get inside the room.

Mother Nance again refused Galbraith admittance, and to enforce her commands snatched up her corn knife and ran Galbraith out of the house. Then Wilson and Ed got their guns and began shooting at Galbraith, who was trying to get away. Wilson fired first, but missed. The next shot was from Edward’s gun and hit Galbraith on the hip, for he fell, but rose and still fled. The brutal Edward caught up with his victim and, putting his gun to Galbraith’s head, shot him. The poor-fellow fell dead by the roadside, and Edward, not content with shooting, took his mother’s knife and cut the dead man’s throat. He handed the knife back to his mother, who calmly wiped off the blood on her apron.

The murder was seen by a woman called Anna McComb and Cora Staffleback, the wife of George. It was on the testimony of these two women that the Stafflebacks were convicted. According to the women’s story they each caught Ed’s arm and begged him not to kill Galbraith, but his reply was: “Let me alone or I’ll slit your throats.”

Anna McComb, in speaking of this awful tragedy, said:

“When I saw Ed murder poor Frank grew sick and faint all over, and when he spoke to us so roughly I and Cora went and hid among the weeds. They thought we had gone to the house. I was afraid even to look up; but did so when Cora said to me:

“They are pulling his clothes off I saw Ed take him by the shoulders, while George took one leg and Wilson the other. They carried him to the old shaft and threw him in. I heard the splash of the water.

When, asked why she had not informed the police she replied, she did not dare to do so through fear of the Stafflebacks, who would have killed her. Ed was a tamale man, and after the murder he came into the house, asked for clean clothes, and, producing some tamales, he, with Rosie, Emma, Louisa and the old woman, gathered around the table and ate.

A month later a stranger passing along the Point looked down the shaft and, seeing the body of Galbraith, notified the police. By some tax receipts the body was identified as being that of Frank Galbraith. By working with the utmost secrecy the officers were enabled in ten days to secure enough evidence to convict the Stafflebacks. At 10 o’clock at night the old woman, Ed and George were arrested. They all protested  innocence, and found in jail their brother Mike, who was under sentence for burglary. The slip in the execution was the arrest of Charles Wilson. Wilson was trying to defraud a farmer in a hay deal and the farmer, finding there was no chance to get his money, had applied for a warrant. This had come to Wilson’s ears and he disappeared.

The day after her mother’s death Louisa Staffleback died in the house known as the Staffleback house. Her mother said the cause of her death was tuberculosis, but it is well known this was not the cause. This has left two of the Staffleback to go to jail for life and two to the gallows. They were brought to trial shortly after their arrest and pleaded poverty and the Judge appointed lawyers to defend them.

The old woman denied all knowledge of the crime, wept and declared she was a good Christian. The men were, however, badly frightened and several, times contradicted themselves. The jury was out a short while and returned the verdict of murder in the first degree for George and murder in the second degree for Mrs. Staffleback. Ed Staffleback was tried separately and the Jury also returned a verdict of murder in the first degree.

Realizing that there was no hope from the State, Cora Staffleback determined to give complete evidence against her mother and brothers. She was aided by a woman called Bayne, who was much with these women. Cora told of three murders to which she was an eye-witness and another about which her circumstantial knowledge was convincing. Her grewsome tale has won for her much notoriety and she, Anna McComb and Rosa Bayne rented a shanty together to meet their admirers.

Cora is nineteen years old. She has a turned-up nose, large gray eyes and regular teeth, much stained from her habit jot chewing tobacco. Her only weaknesses, she says, are tobacco and whisky. Since twelve years of age she has led a disreputable life, but1 that in her eyes seems but natural. When asked about the various crimes she was not loth to speak, but’ conversation could only be procured by liberal allowances of whisky and tobacco. She commenced her story of these crimes, by telling of the murder of two girls.

“Mike and Ed,” she said. “found two girls living in a tent over to the north of our town. I can’t remember their names. One, however, was called Alice. We also had another girl staying with us whose name was Lily Langston. On the night of the murder some men came in and we were talking with them. When Mike and Ed came in they started to create a row, and the men left. Alice was lying on the bed. Mike told her to get up, but as she did not move fast enough to please him, he beat her about the head with the butt of his pistol. The other girl commenced to scream and Mike told Ed to choke her, so that there should be no row. Ed choked her to death. They then wrapped the girls in sheets and carried them outside. Mike laid down the one he was carrying and helped Ed to throw the body down the shaft. Both were thus thrown in. Next day Ed told his mother the bodies had better be fished out, as they might be seen. My brother George and I watched this performance and I was particularly warned not to say anything about it.

“A little while after this a peddler came to the shanty. He bad a pack with him, and came to see Trixie, a girl who was living with us. He gave the girl some pieces of Jewelry, and while opening his pocket-book my brother noticed that he had some money.

“’You have a heap of money,’ said Mike.

“’Oh, about $15,’ replied the man.

“We all slept in one room, and as we went to bed we saw the peddler put his pocket-book and coat under his head. Mike kept watching me to see if I was awake, so I pretended sleep. Mike tried to pull the coat from under the man’s head, but he jumped up and drew a pistol. Mike knocked it from him, and the peddler ran out of the house. Mike, Ed and George gave chase. There was a shot and then my brothers came back, stood around the table and divided the money.

“There was another murder I won’t forget,” said Cora, which took place at Joplin. Old Dad Rodabaugh used to visit mother,’ and one day he told her he had $35. She tried to get lit from him, but he was too cunning. Mike and Ed and Billy, that was the brother of Mike’s wife, followed old Dad when he left the house, and next morning they divided $31.50 between them. I pretended to be asleep when they got back; but I heard Mike tell Billy that they would kill him if he poached.

“Mother asked Mike, “Have you seen Dad?”

“‘No,’ was the answer, “I’ll not see him unless I look down a shaft.”

Rosie Bayne tells of a one-eyed soldier who came to see Wilson and who had considerable money. Ed invited him to go strawberry picking, and he was never heard of afterward. Mother Nance confessed to the tact that he had been killed at Sarcoxie.

Mother Nance is the only interesting personage in this family. She is crafty and keen. She simulates a kind, soft voice, and pretends to be very religious. It was with great difficulty she could be persuaded to have her picture taken, but when in the gallery she grew very particular, insisted upon the pose, and saw that her dress was properly placed.

When asked how she felt over the position of her boys who would die on the scaffold and she go to jail tor the rest of her life, she answered:

“If it is God’s will I am resigned,” and the tears began to trickle down her cheeks. “I have always been a Christian, and thank God I have been true to my raising. I used to teach Sunday-school in the Spring River church. If the boys have turned out badly it is against my teaching. If they have done wrong let them suffer for their crimes, but before God I am innocent of course if they are hanged I will be sorry for them but I will pray for the salvation of their souls. God’s will be done.” And Mrs. Staffleback wiped away tears of motherly grief.

On the way from the photographer’s she purchased soma tins, for the purpose, she said, of crimping her hair, but the Jailer, took them from her with the remark:

“They will make excellent saws,” and the vicious gleam in Mother Nance’s eyes showed that she too had appreciated the use to which they could be put.

Mike alone of the brothers seems to be possessed of bis mother’s courage. The other brothers, George and Ed, have been goaded into crime. The whole family was completely under the dominating influence of the mother. It may be said justly that it is owing to her teachings and her orders that these boys will have to suffer the penalty of death; and these crimes have not brought them $100 all told.

[“Mother Nance and Her Murderous Brood: Bad As the Bender Family,” San Francisco Examiner, Weekly Humorist Section, Oct. 3, 1897, p. 7]



Unnamed Italian Peddlar
Edward’s girlfriend, about 18-years-old, living with the family
Unnamed girl, about 18-years-old, living with the family
Mr. Moorehouse
Mr. Rodabaugh, retired soldier
Frank Galbraith, miner



FULL TEXT: Mrs. Nancy Wilson, known as Mrs. Staffleback, and one of the famous female prisoners of the Kansas penitentiary, died of pneumonia at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. She was taken ill with pneumonia Monday morning and she was in such condition yesterday morning that the prison physician declared that she would not last throughout the day. Mrs. Staffleback was 79 years old and was in feeble health the last two years.

The death of Mrs. Staffleback was intensely pathetic and caused much commotion in the female ward of the penitentiary. It is seldom that a woman dies in the female ward and when it was announced this morning that she could not live, the other thirty-three female prisoners acted as though they were about to sustain the Ioss of a near relative. The younger women had kindly waited on her of late, years and they were attached to her.

Mrs. Staffleback recognized this morning, that her condition was serious and she asked that her son, George Staffleback, serving a life sentence, and Charles Wilson, her second husband, serving a twenty-Jive year term, be brought to her. The son was overcome when he noticed his mother's critical condition and he asked if arrangements could be made so that she might die outside the penitentiary. Mrs. Staffleback begged that something be done so that she could die outside for the sake of her children. The officers told them that they had no power to do anything and the doctor advised them that it would not be safe to move her, but told the two men they could remain in the cell at her bedside until she died.

Chaplain McBrain spent the last hours with her. She told the chaplain an hour before her death that the state had punished an innocent woman, and her last words before dropping into unconsciousness was that she had never murdered or aided in killing anyone.

Mrs. Staffleback has a daughter living at Joplin, Mo., who was notified Tuesday morning that her mother was sinking and to come on if she "wanted to see her alive. The daughter telephoned back that she could not come and asked that messages of love be delivered to her mother. When the messages from the daughter were told her Mrs. Staffleback brightened up and expressed a wish that she could die outside with her.

When she died the son, George, was beside himself with grief. The officers will keep a watch on him to see that he does not attempt to kill himself.

The body of Mrs. Staffleback will be turned over to relatives for burial if they want it. The body will be sent to Joplin, where it will be taken in charge by Mrs. Mary Kenyon, Mrs. Staffleback's daughter.

Mrs. Staffleback was brought to the Kansas penitentiary in May, 1897, when she was 67 years old. She was under a sentence of twenty-one years for conviction for an accessory to murder. Two of her sons were brought in at the same time under sentence of life, and a third son, under a sentence of seven years. Charles Wilson, the second husband, was brought in under a sentence of twenty-five years.

Wilson was only married to Mrs. Staffleback three months before the conviction and he frequently appeared before the parole board and stated that he was innocent and was convicted on prejudice because he was Mrs. Staffleback's husband. The old man was before the February, meeting of the prison board and told a pitiful story of how he was y traveling through Kansas when he stopped at the Staffleback's and married the. old lady after a brief courtship, and that he did nothing wrong. First and second degree murder prisoners are not eligible for parole and the board could do nothing for him.

One of Mrs. Staffleback's sons, serving a life sentence, died four years ago. The one brought in under a seven-year sentence was released six years ago, and it is said that he is now serving another penitentiary term at Jefferson City, Mo. LJeorge Staffleback is now the only one left in this penitentiary. The Stafflebacks lived near Galena, Kan., and kept hotel, or rather a boarding house. It was reported that they murdered travelers and when an-investigation was made the bodies of several people were found in an old abandoned well. The Stafflebacks had a criminal reputation second only to that of the Bender family and were accused of operating much on the same line. When the bodies were found on the Staffleback premises there was talk of mobbing the whole family. This was prevented and r they were brought to trial and convicted.

Mrs. Staffleback was a woman of strong will power. She had a penetrating eye and was not a person to be trifled with. Her sons -possessed physi cal courage, which they inherited from her. The sons were always kept under close watch by the prison officials.

[“Mrs. Staffleback Dies In Prison – The Mistress of the Famous Murder Farm At Galena Succumbs To Pneumonia – In Agony At Her Disgrace – Her Husband And Son, Both In Convict Garb, At Bedside When Death Came – She Was Convicted of a Series of Murders Reminiscent of the Benders and Mrs. Gunness – Abandoned Well Was Full of Corpses.” The Leavenworth Times (Ks.), Mar 11, 1909, p. 1]


3 Serial Killer Clans in 19th Century Kansas:
1873 – Kate Bender (“Bloody Benders”) – Cherry Vale, Kansas, USA
1887 – Kate & Kit Kelly (Kelly Family) – No Man’s Land, Kansas, USA
1897 – Nancy Staffleback & 2 sons, Ed, George – Galena, Kansas, USA















For similar cases, see Murder-Coaching Moms


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America