Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lois Thacker, Double Black Widow – Indiana, 1984

FULL TEXT: Paoli, Ind. – Authorities charged a woman during the weekend in the ambush killing of her second husband and reopened an investigation of her first husband’s death.

Orange County Prosecutor Darrell Ellis said Sunday that authorities have new information that could lead to a new suspect in the 1983 shotgun-slaying of Phillip Huff, 29.

At the time, Huff’s wife, now Lois A. Thacker, 26, admitted she killed him with a deer slug through the heart but a grand jury declined to charge her, deciding she acted in self-defence.

The new information came out in investigating the slaying of John E. Thacker, 31, who also was killed with deer slugs fired from a 12-guage shotgun.

[“Woman Charged In Husband’s Ambush Death,” Pharos Tribune (Logansport, In.),

FULL TEXT: Jasper, Ind. – A jury returns today to decide whether to recommend the death penalty for a Paoli woman it convicted of arranging the murder of her husband for $134,000 insurance.

The Dubois County jury deliberated less than 1 ½ hours Friday before finding Lois Thacker, 27, guilty of murder.

Six other people were charged with aiding in the plot against John Thacker, 31, killed with two shotgun blasts in an ambush on a rural road near his home last Nov. 3.

The other defendants are Mrs. Thacker’s sister, Connie Busick; her mother, Mary Music; a cousin, Charles Music; and three friends of the family, Rwauna Wilder, Donald R. Buchanan and James L. Hart.

Hart, 34, and Charles Music, 17, are awaiting trial on murder charges. The others were accused of lesser crimes.

Buchanan, 27, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Miss Wilder, 23, was sentenced to two years after pleading guilty to obstructing justice. Ms. Busick, 18, was sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to assisting a criminal.

Mrs. Music, 46, is awaiting trial on charges of assisting a criminal.

Ellis said three women charged along with Mrs. Thacker were accused of helping conceal the crime.

The trial was moved to Dubois County because of publicity in Orange County, where Thacker was killed.

Dubois Circuit Judge Chad Songer ordered stiff security measures for Mrs. Thacker’s trial, including guards for the sequestered jury and metal-detector screening of the courtroom audience.

It was the first murder trial in Dubois County since 1977.

Orange County Prosecutor Darrell Ellis said before the trial he has reopened an investigation into the 1983 death of Mr. Thacker’s first husband, Phillip Huff, whom she cliumed to have shot in self-defense.

[“Thacker Jury to decide whether Paoli woman dies,” Seymour Daily Tribune (In.), May 18, 1985, p. 16]


Jan 27, 1958 – Lois Ann Music born.
Feb. 5, 1983 – Phillip Huff shot to death. In 1985 she claims John Thacker fired shot that killed Huff.
Mar. 29, 1983 – Lois marries John Thacker.
Nov. 3, 1984 – Thacker (31) is murdered; 2 shotgun blasts.
Nov. 5, 1984 – Lois arrested.
May 1, 1985 – Trial begins.
May 17, 1985 – Guilty verdict.
Jun. 27, 1985 – Death sentence; Dubois Circuit Court, Judge Chad Songer.
Oct. 11, 1985 – Execution date; stayed.
Jul. 23, 1990 – Indiana Supreme Court sets aside death sentence (3-2 vote). Resentences Lois to 60 years.







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


Monday, March 30, 2020

Queen Piea Waar, Cannibal Double Black Widow – Hermit Islands, 1896

FULL TEXT: The following is taken from a New York paper:  – Any man who wants to be king of a cannibal island, and to rule over 2,000 dusky subjects, has only to go out to the St. John’s group of islands in the Southern Pacific, and to offer his hand and heart to the Queen. Her name is Piea Waar. The Queen is looking for a husband, and she is not over-particular about his qualifications. The reason she is not married is that there is no man among her subjects, who are all women. These astonishing facts have just been related by the captain and crew of the American ship Bonanza, which arrived recently at San Francisco.

~ Promised a Cargo of Bridegrooms. ~

The Bonanza was blown out of her course, and put into the St. John's group of islands for water. They  are near the Solomon Islands. The ship was invaded by a horde of dusky beauties, who swarmed over the sides and began to select husbands from among the crew. But for the prompt measures of Captain Bergman, in dismissing the women and prohibiting any man from leaving the ship, his entire crew would have deserted, and he would have been unable to navigate his way back to civilisation. As it was, he was only enabled to get away by promising the women of the St. John's Islands that he would ship a load of young men and return to settle down and furnish enough husbands to go around at the rate of 1 to 16.

~ A Remarkable Queen” ~

“The Queen,” said Captain Bergman, “is a very remarkable woman. She is tall, muscular, and of a commanding presence, and she would attract atten tion anywhere. As she is the absolute monarch of all she surveys, including the surrounding reefs and atolls that are unsurveyed, she would be a great prize for the lucky man who might win her dusky heart and not bloodless hand. Since the disappearance of all the men on the islands her nature has become greatly softened, and she now pines, as do her maidens, for the presence of the dear departed. It was whispered that she had made a ragout out of one or two of her husbands who had not lived up to her expectations, but no white man need fear any such fate. One charming characteristic of these women is the absence among them of jealousy.”

~ Only Themselves to Blame. ~

Captain Bergman says that the women, who are now miserable because of their loneliness on the St. John Islands, have only themselves to blame for their plight. Queen Piea Waar ruled with an iron hand and became a sort of amazon, waging war with woman troops upon other islands in the group. The women always outnumbered the men on these islands, and for some reason the female warriors were induced to make a war upon them. Only a few hundred men were left when the natural result of this war became apparent. Then a halt was called in this senseless war fare. The Queen had killed two of her husbands, but every effort was made to pacify the men who were left and to make them comfortable. Among themselves, however, they came to the conclusion that too many women were even worse than too few, and so they took the first opportunity of making their escape. A French barque dropped anchor there a year or two ago, and the men on the island made a deal with the captain to take them  to South America. They stole aboard one night, and in the morning they were gone. Since then no ship has landed at the island until the Bonanza was accidentally blown in there recently. By that time, the women had realised the full horror of their situation, and were willing to make almost any terms for husbands. Many of the women are said to be beautiful.

[“An Island of Amazons – All Clamouring for Husbands.” Hampshire Telegraph and Chronicle (Portsmouth, England), Jan. 16, 1897, p. 11; “Bananza” in text corrected to “Bonanza.”]



FULL TEXT: L. J. Reinhart, a San Francisco carpenter, is tired of leading a hand to mouth existence in America, moreover, he is inspired with a romantic desire to relieve beauty in distress. Therefore he is trying to raise a body of men to undertake a novel colonization scheme. His plan is to buy a vessel, equip it and sail to the St. John or Hermit islands, in the south Pacific ocean, where no inhabitants are left but dusky belles killed by cannibal wars or taken away by conscienceless blackbirders.

Most of the women are without husbands, as only a few old men are left on the islands, and they will welcome a large number of men who wish to leave behind them the cares of the civilized world and take up the indolent life of an ocean isle.

Captain Bergman of the American steamer Bonanza recently sent the news to San Francisco of the peculiar condition of affairs on the Hermit islands. He said that his ship was blown out of its course and anchored one day close to one of the islands. He was astonished to see none but women on the coral reef, for it was hardly more than that.

The women swam like mermaids to the ship. They told of the condition of affairs in the island and wanted the captain to leave some of his sailors. They said they would heap upon them all the honors of dusky royalty if they would but take their residence among them.

The natives of the island have always been known as cannibals, and the sailors mentioned this as a reason why the offer was reluctantly declined. But the visitors assured them that their days of human flesh eating was over. Men were too scarce to be sacrificed in any such vulgar way.

Reinhart declares that it is not the report of the husbandless women that has moved him to project his enterprise. He says it is dissatisfaction with the condition of the labor world and the desire to lead a peaceful existence without having to struggle day and night for bread and butter. He wants to form a republic on co-operative lines. He says as it is in the south seas the islands support the natives with very little work. By combining forces and pooling interests he believes this proposed band can have all the comforts of life with little labor.

Reinhart, like many other carpenters, has been able to get very little work lately, and he is disgusted with the situation. He is uncertain what the future will bring forth, and he thinks happiness and ease can be obtained in the manless Eden in the south Pacific ocean. He was already secured the co-operation of several men like himself, and he expects to gain fully 50 or more to his proposition in a short time.

The scheme is for 50 men to put up $25 each. With this money he expects to buy a schooner and provision her for the voyage and at least a year’s stay on whatever island it may be decided to settle upon. On first landing they will build a fort and then take seeds in a few years they ought to be exporting great quantities of south sea island products.

Notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, it is shrewdly suspected that Carpenter Reinhart aspires to the hand of Queen Piea Waar. Her majesty, according to Captain Bergman, is a very remarkable woman. She is tall, muscular and of a commanding presence, and she would attract attention anywhere. As she is the absolute monarch of all she surveys, including the surrounding reefs and atolls that are unsurveyed, she would be a great prise for a lucky man who might win her dusky heart and not bloodless hand.

Since the disappearance of all the men on the islands her nature has become greatly softened, and she now pines, as do her maidens, for the presence of the dear departed. It was whispered that she had made a ragout of one or two of her husbands who had not lived up to her expectations, but no white man need fear any such fate. The St. John’s natives acknowledge a liking now and then for a bit of native flesh, but white men’s meat, they say, has such a salty flavor that it is unpalatable.

[“A Queer Expedition. – Colony of Husbands For the Manless Isle of the South Seas,” The Atchcison Daily Globe (Ks.), Dec. 18, 1896, p. 6]



The Hermit Islands are a group of 17 islands within the Western Islands of the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. Their coordinates are 1°30′S 145°4′ECoordinates: 1°30′S 145°4′E. The first sighting by Europeans of Hermit islands was by the Spanish navigator Iñigo Órtiz de Retes on 29 July 1545 when on board of the carrack San Juan tried to return from Tidore to New Spain. He charted them as La Caimana (a female caiman in Spanish). When passing by, Ortiz de Retes reported that some negroes got near the ship who flung arrows by hand without bows, that were made of flint suitable for striking fire. These islands belong to Micronesian outliers. [Wikipedia]


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

For more cases see: Cannibal Murderesses 
[77-1/2/21; 144-9/16/21]

Eugenia “Sweetlove” Moore, Black Widow Serial Killer – Ohio, 1987

FULL TEXT: Cleveland – A 67-year-old woman nicknamed “Sweetlove” who had already served time for killing two of her husbands has admitted to using a 5 ½-pound steel bar to beat to death her male roommate, authorities said.

Eugenia Moore, 67, was arrested last week and is being held in Cuyahoga County Jail in the death of L. C. Wright, 35. He was killed March 8 while lying on his sofa watching television, police said.

Moore told authorities she beat Wright with a steel bar because he assaulted her in an attempt to have sex with her.

Moore was committed to Lima State Hospital from 1966 to 1971 for the butcher-knife slaying of Joseph Woods, her live-in boy friend. In December 1956, police found the body of Moore’s husband of 18 years, Joseph Moore, at his home. He had been stabbed with an ice pick.

[“’Sweetlove’ has 3rd lover in his grave,” Daily News (New York, N.Y.), Mar. 17, 1987, p. C14]


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


Saturday, March 28, 2020

“Grandma Reed,” Suspected Serial Killer – New York, 2014

An unusual – and enlightening – article by Vice writer John Reed (not to be confused with the novelist of the same name), tells of his suspicions that his grandmother, aged 94 in 2014, might have been a serial killer. Her name is not given, so we’ll dub her “Grandma Reed” for our purposes here. She lived in New York City.

The article shows just how slippery the typical female serial killer case usually is. We often are left with just circumstantial evidence, inference and ambiguity . . . and dead bodies.

Here is the article’s first paragraph:

“People were always dying around Grandma – her children, her husbands, her boyfriend – so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed, enshrouded in the darkness of the attic, and surrounded by the skin-and-spit smell of old age, was to know that mothers don't get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don't wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer.”

And another paragraph from the body of the article:

“Sometimes when I tell these stories, I have the feeling that people think I should have done something. Well, it was difficult psychologically to piece all of this together, and as a kid, I didn't understand what was going on. Before Grandma put me to bed she'd sometimes serve me this really rich hot chocolate that looked oily and thin. And when I woke up it would be 24 or even 72 hours later. Three or four times we rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night because I was having trouble breathing. But it wasn't until my 30s that I connected all this and it dawned on me that sleeping for three days is not normal or OK, and that the only times I woke up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, I was at Grandma's.”

[John Reed, “What Do You Do When You Think You Have a Murderer in the Family? I've come to believe that my grandmother literally poisoned those around her.” Vice, Oct. 26, 2014]


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Adelaide Reece, Serial Baby-Killer Child Care Provider – England, 1883

FULL TEXT: The prisoner Charles Reece, who is charged jointly with his wife, Adelaide Reece, with the willful murder of the infant child of Mr. and Mrs.  Hancock, of New-street, Gloucester, surrendered to his bail in answer to the charge before the bench of city magistrates on Friday. A large crowd assembled in the vicinity of the court-house to see Mrs. Reece, but were disappointed, as the female prisoner was not taken to court, it having been arranged that no evidence should be offered that day. A formal remand was taken, and the male prisoner was again admitted to bail, Mrs. Reece being remanded at the prison in the afternoon. The case will come on again next Friday, when the evidence of Police-Constable Howes, who found the bodies in the garden, and Mr. A. P. Carter, the surgeon who held the post-mortem examination on Mr. Hancock’s child, will be taken.

[“The Horrible Discovery in Gloucester.” Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Jun. 16, 1883, p. 3]


FULL TEXT: Adelaide Reece, midwife was charged at the Gloucester Assizes yesterday, with the willful murder of the infant child of Mrs. Hancock. Eight bodies of infants were found buried in the prisoner’s garden, but the judge, after hearing evidence of murder or manslaughter. – The jury convicted prisoner of concealment of birth. Sentence was deferred.

[“Alleged Wholesale Murderess.” Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (England), Aug. 9, 1883, p. 3]


To learn more details about murderous child care providers in history, including baby farmers, adoption agents and baby sitters, see “Death on the Baby Farm,” by Robert St. Estephe, Female Serial Killer Index.


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


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hazel Dulcie Bodsworth, Serial Killer – Australia, 1965

Hazel Baron & Janet Fife-Yeomans, My Mother, a Serial Killer, HarperCollins / Australia Pty Ltd.
March 19, 2018

A gripping and shocking story of a serial killer mother, and the brave daughter who brought her to justice. Dulcie Bodsworth was the unlikeliest serial killer. She was loved everywhere she went, and the townsfolk of Wilcannia, which she called home in the late 1950s, thought of her as kind and caring. The officers at the local police station found Dulcie witty and charming, and looked forward to the scones and cakes she generously baked and delivered for their morning tea.

That was one side of her. Only her daughter Hazel saw the real Dulcie. And what she saw terrified her.

Dulcie was in fact a cold, calculating killer who, by 1958, had put three men in their graves - one of them the father of her four children, Ted Baron - in one of the most infamous periods of the state's history. She would have got away with it all had it not been for Hazel.

Written by award-winning journalist Janet Fife-Yeomans together with Hazel Baron, My Mother, A Serial Killer is both an evocative insight into the harshness of life on the fringes of Australian society in the 1950s, and a chilling story of a murderous mother and the courageous daughter who testified against her and put her in jail.


FULL TEXT: Sydney – Mrs. Hazel Dulcie Bodsworth, 51, of Hopetown, Victoria, was committed for trial in Central Court today on a charge of having murdered Milton Samuel Overton.

She appeared today before Mr. F. J. Hale, S.M., on two murder charges.

The Crown alleged she murdered Milton Samuel Overton, 44, at Wilcannian on April 19, 1956, and Thomas Tregenza, 70, at Wilcannia on January 17, 1958.

The hearing on the charge that Mrs. Bodsworth murdered Tregenza was adjourned on Tuesday.
She was charged also on two counts of arson.

She pleaded not guilty to the charge of having murdered Overton and reserved her defence.

Mrs. Bodsworth and her husband, Henry William Bodsworth, 36, were committed for trial on Wednesday, on a charge of having murdered Edwin James Grey Baron, 40, on August 30, 1950.

Baron was drowned in the Murray River near Mildura.

Allan Roy Baron, station hand, of Kangaroo Island, told the court that in 1955 he lived with his family at Metallic station, Wilcannia.

~ 'Shoot Sam' ~

He said that on one particular occasion he, Dr. Potts, of Wilcannia, and Bodsworth were going shooting.

His mother had said to him: "Allan, while you are out shooting could you accidentally shoot Sam on the
other side of the swamp?"

Baron said he replied to his mother: "Don't be silly" and walked out.

After returning, his mother said: "You could have at least done it." Then an argument broke out.

He said that on a number of occasions he had heard his mother say to Bodsworth: "If Sam goes, you'll be right here."

She had added "He will be going."

~ Strychnine bottle ~

Baron said that on another occasion his mother had produced a little bottle which contained what appeared to him to be strychnine.

She said she was going to give it to the sergeant at Wilcannia as Overton had indicated he was going to take it.

Baron said he had seen his mother with some of Overton's medicine and capsules spread out on paper in the kitchen.

His mother was putting into the capsules what appeared to him to be powdered milk, he said.

He said he had heard his mother and Mrs. Overton arguing but did not know what about.

He told Mr. F. W. Vizzard, Q.C. (for Mrs. Bods- worth) the incident of the capsules occurred about two or three days before Overton died.

Edwin James Baron, labourer, also of Kangaroo Island, said he was present when there was an argument between his mother and cook, Tom, at the station.

~ Saucepan thrown ~

He said his mother had grabbed a saucepan and a kettle of hot water and hurled them at the cook. Edwin Baron said that Overton was vomiting considerably when he was taken to hospital.

Mrs. Hazel Agnes Gaiter, of Myers Street, Wilcannia, said she was Mrs. Bodsworth's daughter.

She recalled her mother telling her that Overton would not be long at the station and that her future husband could have his job.

She told police prosecutor Sgt. C. Bush, that after Overton's death her mother had told her of a conversation with Mrs. Overton.

Her mother had said Mrs. Overton was very upset and was thinking about having her husband's body exhumed.

Dr. John Laing, director of the division of Forensic Medicine, Sydney, told the court that on November 26 last he took part in the exhumation of Overton's body at Adelaide.

Examination of the body later revealed no evidence of injury or disease.

Dr. Laing said specimens were taken and analysed. To Sgt. Bush, he said there was a significant amount of arsenic in the specimens analysed — between five and six grains — which was consistent with being a poisonous dose of arsenic.

In his opinion, this was the cause of Overton's death.

[“Second Committal - Woman faces 3 murder charges,” The Canberra Times (Australia), Feb. 20, 1965, p. 8]


SYDNEY, Friday. — A 52-year-old mother of nine children sentenced to life imprisonment for murder was granted a re-trial today by the Full Bench of the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The woman, Mrs Hazel Dulcie Bodsworth, was found guilty in Central Criminal Court on August 19 of having murdered Thomas Treganza, 70, at Wilcannia on January 17, 1958.

She sought a new trial on the grounds that the trial judge, Mr Justice Allen, had misdirected the jury on her husband's failure to give evidence.

The Court of Appeal comprised the Chief Justice, Sir Leslie Herron, Mr Justice Sugerman and Mr Justice Nagle.

Sir Leslie Herron, presiding, said the Crown had alleged that Mrs Bodsworth had poured methylated spirits over Treganza and set him alight.

In a statement from the dock at the trial Mrs Bodsworth said she was in bed with her husband at the time of Treganza's death.

~ No evidence by husband ~

The Chief Justice said the foreman of the jury at the trial had asked whether there was any reasonable explanation why no evidence was given by the husband.

Mr Justice Allen had dealt with the situation in his summing up by saying the inference was open to the jury that, if such evidence was not called, the testimony could not assist the accused.

Mr Justice Allen had also told the jury there was no rule of law which prevented an accused person from calling her own husband as a witness.

The Chief Justice said it was apparent that Mr Justice Allen had overlooked a direction of Parliament that the failure of an accused to call either husband or wife as a witness should not be the subject of any comment by the judge or counsel at the trial.

"It was an unfortunate error by the judge, who with his customary fairness, offered to discharge the jury", the Chief Justice said.

~ River drowning trial ~

"Counsel for Mrs Bodsworth, Mr M. J. Atwill, did not accept this, but preferred to stand on his rights", Sir Leslie Herron said.

He said a new trial of criminal proceedings was to be avoided where possible, but in this case the verdict of the jury should be set aside.

On March 24 this year Mrs Bodsworth and her husband, Henry William Bodsworth, were each sentenced to five years' goal after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of her first husband, Edward James Baron, 40, on August 30, 1950.

They had pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering Baron.

The Crown alleged at the time that Mrs Bodsworth agreed to Bodsworth drowning Baron in the Murray River so that they could get married.

[“Re-Trial Granted - Bodsworth case judge erred,” The Canberra Times (Australia), Nov. 19, 1966, p. 3]



Aug. 30, 1950 – Edward James Grey Baron (40), Hazel’s first husband, dies. Drowned, Murray river, Buronga.
1955 – set fire to house in NSW (charged Dec. 4, 1964).
Arr. 19, 1956 – Milton Samuel Overton (44). Arsenic, lamb chop. At Netallie Station.
Jan. 17, 1958 – Thomas Tregenza, at Wilcannia (70), dies. Burned to death in bed. Methylated spirits. £2,000 bank account.
1964 – Overton corpse exhumed; arsenic found.
Jun. 10, 1965 – trial begins. Baron murder.
Jun. 11, 1965 – couple sentenced.
Mar. 24, 1966 – couple sentenced to 5 years for the murder of Baron.
Nov. 19, 1966 – retrial granted to Hazel.
Feb. 22, 1967 – 2nd trial for Tregenza murder. Acquitted.
Aug. 23, 1967 – hazel sentenced to life for Overton murder.







[1187-1/4/21; 2547-2/21/22]