Sofie Johannesdotter was arrested following the burning down of the Stang house where Sofie was employed as a house servant, though the master, a prosperous lumber merchant and his wife had in the recent past already been placed in their graves. She had, apparently, been terminated by the remaining members of the depleted Stang household. Sofie was the obvious prime suspect. It was known that Sofie had said on more than one occasion.to another servant that her mistress deserved to be killed before the had in fact passed away. Sofie was arrested on suspicion.
On March 23, 1875 the bodies the Stang couple were disinterred and sent to Ebenezer Hospital in Halden for autopsy. The following day Sofie brought to the hospital and shown the bodies. Confronted with the prospect of evidence being disclosed by the coroner confessed to having murdered them.
The autopsy revealed copious quantities of arsenic in each body. She made additional confessions. On March 31, 1875 she confessed to the murder Maren Johannesdotter and the attempt on the life of Mathilde Wiel. Likewise she confessed to arson and to numerous petty thefts from the household. She was also suspected of having murdered a gardener, her own father, as well as for an assassination attempt on an older woman, but denied these until her death. On May 12, 1875, yet another corpse was disinterred that of housemaid Maren Johannesdotter (no relation). Despite having been buried for 6 years, there was a significant quantity of arsenic discovered by tests.
Sophia was also suspected of having murdered a gardener, his father and an older woman yet denied doing so and never recanted up to the day of her execution.
Sophia’s killing career began, according to her own accounts, about six years before her arrest, on October 16, 1869 when she placed arsenic in the tea of fellow servant Maren in the Stang household. The girl was engaged and had announced she was leaving the household in just a few days to join her fiance in marriage.
It was three years before she struck again. Some sort of argument between mistress and servant about a hat had taken place. So Sofie murdered the woman, giving her arsenic beginning on the 12th of October, 1872 and finishing her off with a dose on the 16th.
Sofie had been stealing from her employers and when Niels Anker Stang learned of it there was only one thing to do: murder him. She put the arsenic in his barley soup. He died quickly, on October 10, 1874.
Her final poisoning effort was only partially successful. A niece of her employers, 16-year-old Mathilde Wiel, survived the arsenic attack, yet remained seriously impaired for life. Sofie’s motive this time was to avoid the bother of tending to Mathilde after she had become bedridden with the flu.
Sofie Johannesdotter was tried for murder (it is not from the sources available at the moment whether there were multiple charges), found guilty and, on July 19, 1875, sentenced to death. She appealed the sentence and her plea was rejected by the Suprteme Court on 6 November 1875. The final buffer to execution fell when, on November 27, 1875 King Oskar II refused to commute the sentence. At the Borgermesterløkken in the city of Halden the serial murderess was beheaded by skarpretter (blade executioner) Theodor Larsen.
1875 King Oskar II refused to commute the sentence. At the Borgermesterløkken in the city of Halden the serial murderess was beheaded by skarpretter (blade executioner) Theodor Larsen.
Sofie has been quoted as saying, to the priest who attended her in her final hours, “Some are ungraceful on the outside, yet beautiful within. Others have a lovely appearance, but a hideous inside. I’m ugly both on the outside and the inside.”
More than 3,000 people attended her public execution, February 18, 1876. Her last words were “Now I am going home to Jesus!”
Sofie Johannesdotter was the last woman ever officially executed in Norway.
[Robert St. Estephe; based on Wikipedia; “Ancestors and Family Barry, Fletcher, Ojerholm, Smith From 1592-1991”; Frank Kiel Jacobsen, Dagbok fra en dødscelle, Pub. Lunde, 1980.]
Oct. 16, 1869 – Maren Johanesdotter (not related), (born 1836), maid, poisoned, died.
Oct. 16, 1872 – Cathrine Elisabeth Foyn Wiel (Sang), (born, 1809), poisoned, died.
Oct. 10, 1874 – Niels Anker Stang (born 1894), poisoned, died.
Jan. 18, 1875 – Mathilde Wiel, 16, neice of Stang, poisoned, survived, partially paralyzed
Feb. 10, 1875 – arson, Stang family house.
She was also suspected of having murdered a gardener, his father and an older woman but denied this to her death.
Book: Frank Kiel Jacobsen, Dagbok fra en dødscelle : om den siste kvinne som ble henrettet i Norge, Pub. Lunde, 1980.