Sunday, February 21, 2016

Female Serial Killers: An Image Collection


This collection contains interesting and little-known historical photos and illustrations of female serial killers are made available for writers and scholars to be made use of in their own work. The most recent case included in this collection dates from 1958.

There are 217 cases, each with an image and a description. We should keep in mind that there are from the same period covered here, still hundreds of cases, many of them important and sensational, for which no image is available, and thus are not included here.

The large majority of the pre-1960 female serial killer case have been completely overlooked by the criminology experts and by psychologists writing on homicide.

33 nations are represented in this selection: Austria, Ashanti Kingdom (Ghana), Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, England, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Yugoslavia (Serbia), South Africa, Kingdom of Sicily, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, USA.

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FALSE MYTHS:

As we look over these cases we out to keep in mind the false myths about the subject of serial killers that are still being perpetuated. Here are a few, but not all, of these myths:

Regarding sex of perpetrator and sex of victim.

Published in: Gavin, Helen (2013) Evil or insane? The female serial killer and her doubly deviant femininity. in: Fifth Global Conference on Evil, Women and the Feminine, 18th-20th May 2013, Prague, Czech Republic.

• False myth: “the majority of female serial killers are in subservient partnerships.” (p.4)

• • Fact: The majority of female serial killers are not in subservient partnerships. Many are dominant predators, controlling seductresses, leaders of male criminals, leaders cults with male followers or political leaders with male followers.

• False myth: “serial killer victims are predominantly female” (p. 3)

• • Fact: Serial killer victims are not predominantly adults, nor among adults are they predominantly women, rather, they are predominantly children of either sex (including a very high proportion of babies). There is no reliable data based on comprehensive study to support the idea that victims of serial killers (of both sexes combined) are predominantly female.

• False myth: why are serial killers predominately male? (p. 3)

• •  Fact: The new research suggests parity between the sexes in incidence of female serial killers, or at least approximate parity. Whatever the situation it is clear that the experts base their calculations on obsolete data. There are 6 times as many female serial killers listed in Index: Female Serial Killers than appear in the longest published list of female serial killer cases, that of Peter Vronsky, which includes only 140.

Regarding race.

Published in Patricia Pearson, When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence, 1997, Viking.

• “The overwhelming majority of serial killers, both male and female are white. … a white woman is more likely to commit murder than a black, Asian or Hispanic man by a factor of a hundred to one …” (p. 163)

• • Fact: The 100: ratio is false (It is based on lack of research combined with naive assumptions on quality of available data). In the US, black female serial killers are well-represented. Internationally all races produce female serial killers. See: Black, Asian, Hispanic cases in the new research.

Regarding history.

Published in Ronald M. Holmes & Stephen T. Holmes, Contemporary Perspectives on Serial Murder, 1998, Sage.

False myth: Serial murder is relatively new in the United States, and the study of the serial killer is even newer.

• • Fact: The serial killers phenomenon has been widely recognized in the US since the 19th century, using different labels than we use today.

Published in: Scott A. Bonn PhD, "Why Some Women Kill Again and Again. Female killers are rarely driven by sexual sadism like men.” Psychology Today, Jan. 12, 2015.

False myth: “Until Wuornos [1974], the mass media almost always depicted a serial perpetrator as a deranged man due to the erroneous and paternalistic societal notion that women could not commit such crimes.”

• • Fact: Serial perpetrators who were women were frequently and prominently discussed in the mass media from the earliest times. The erroneous claim is not based on study of the past but rather is merely a reiteration of a politicized claim based on ideology rather than facts. 

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Each of the 49 cases that are “known” (are on the Vronsky list of known cases) is marked with (*). Thus as you browse the 200, look to see if there is a (*) on the first line and you can see whether the cases is among the three-quarter share that is a “forgotten” (ignored by experts) case.

[Updated: March 14, 2017; First published: Aug. 13, 2015]

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1932 – Anna Allas – Munhall, Pennsylvania, USA

With accomplices Gizella Young, a fortune teller, and Mary Chalfa, Anna Allas murdered relatives to collect insurance money. From a newspaper account:
Gizella Young did a tarot card fortune-telling reading for Anna Allas who had poisoned her stepson, Andrew.
Gizelle Young: “There’s an ill person in your house”
Anna Allas: “Will he die?”
Young: “He won’t live three days.”
Allas: “Thank God!”
“If they take him out of the ground twenty different times, American doctors cannot discover that.” [referring to the poison she used to murder her victim, Andrew Allas, 16-years-old.]
“Why don’t you get a doctor?” George Allas Jr. demanded of his stepmother.
“We don’t need a doctor. The undertaker will take care of things”, was the response.

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1920 – Raya & Sakina Aly Hammam – Alexandria, Egypt

Sisters Raya and Sakina were convicted, along with their mates and two other accomplices, on May 16, 1921 of 17 murders of women in the Labban quarter of the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. The sisters were operators of four underground “houses of depravity.” Their victims were visitors some of whom were prostitutes, others married women using the facilities for trysts.

Their killing career began in November 1919. The public became aware of the serial murders of women only in November of the following year when Al-Ahram newspaper displayed the shocking headline: “Women slaughtered in Labban: 12 corpses unearthed.” The murderers’ confessions revealed that they would drug the victims by offering them a drink, then strangle them, working as a team, each with a specific task: “one of the killers would clamp his hands over the victim’s mouth, another would grab hold of her throat, a third would hold her hands behind her back and the fourth would pin down her feet until she stopped breathing. Abdel-Aal was in charge of holding the feet.”

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1861 – Ane Cathrine Andersdatter – Rødovre Mark, Denmark

On Saturday, December 21, 1861 at 8 in the morning Ane Cathrine Andersdatter was beheaded at Rødovre Mark, north of Damhuskroen, Denmark. She had deliberately and in cold blood murdered three of her four children.” The killings occurred in 1853, 1855 and 1861.

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1916 – Amy Archer-Gilligan – Windsor, Connecticut, USA (*)

This is the case that inspired “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Yet Amy was not a lovable crazy old lady. She was a systematic thief, a coldblooded killer and, according to some commentators, a sex-addict who took men on, used them up, and discarded them “with extreme prejudice” (as they say in the military). Her victims included three husbands and two boarders at her convalescent home, Archer House for Elderly People. There may well have been many more murders at Amy’s place, since, as a boarding house for the elderly, deaths were frequent, numbering 43 over the years.

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1896 – Queen Ashantehemaa Yaa Akyaa – Kumanni, Ashanti Kingdom (Ghana)

Queen Ashantehemaa Yaa Akyaa “had had 50 husbands, all of whom had been put to death by her orders except Prempeh’s father,” it was reported in an 1896 news article.

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1904 – Elizabeth Ashmead – Philadelphia, Pa., Melville, NJ, Wilmington, De., USA

In her long career, Elizabeth Ashmead, who worked under several aliases, murdered hundreds of babies. Witnesses stated they had seen her on multiple occasions throw babies, while still alive, into a furnace. Ashmead served time for minor offenses related to her gruesome business but prosecutors could never nail her on a homicide charge. She became wealthy from the business of killing unwanted infants.

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1958 – Putli Bai – Chati, India

Putli Bai was a woman bandit leader whose gang has terrorized large areas of Central India before she was killed at the age of 32 on Jan. 23, 1958, along with nine of her followers in a running gunfight with police. For three years she operated in an inaccessible jungle and ravine country south of Agra. She was wanted for a number of murders, lootings and kidnappings. Her most notorious crime was a massacre of 11 villagers (along with wounding 5 others and kidnapping 7) in Datia. Putli had suspected them of having informed on her to the police.

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1899 – Henrietta Bamberger – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

From a newspaper report after Mrs. Bamberger was charged: “If the charges against Midwife [Henrietta] Bamberger are true, she is one of the greatest criminals in the history of the world. Sworn statements accuse her of killing no less than 300 women and infants during her career in St. Louis.”

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1911 – Clementine Barnabet (Bernebet) – Lafayette, Louisiana, USA

A cult leader at the age of 17, Clementine was convicted of 17 murders, victims were “horribly mutilated.” It is said 300 persons have been slain by the “sacrifice sect” within the last six years. During the trial she shouted from her prisoner’s stand, “I am the axe woman of the sacrifice sect, I killed them all, men, women and babies, and I hugged the babies to my breast. But I am not guilty of murder.”

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1905 – Rose Barron – Detroit, Michigan, USA

Mrs. Rose Barron was accused of administering “arsenic to the members of ten families in Detroit, many of whom narrowly escaped death” and of “having put arsenic in food used in the dining-room of the Alhambra apartments, where fourteen persons were poisoned.” “Several members of her own family died under suspicious circumstances, and it is believed she murdered them for the insurance they carried.”

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1808 – Mary Bateman – Leeds, England

Mary Bateman, the "Yorkshire Witch," was a hoaxer and murderess who was executed for her crimes. She is thought to have poisoned seven victims, two of whom survived. After execution her corpse was skinned, and pouches were made from the leather. Her skeleton was placed on public display, where it can still be seen in the Thackray Museum in Leeds.

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1610 – Elizabeth Báthory – Catchtice Castle, Hungary (*)

Until Uganda’s Sister Credonia Mwerinde arrived on the scene in the 1990s the Blood Countess was, hands down, the worst serial killer in history. Now it’s a toss-up: Bathory for unparalleled sadism, or, Mwerinde for scale and cultic fanaticism; take your pick.

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1949 – Martha Beck – Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA (*)

Martha Beck and her lover Raymond Fernandez came, after their apprehension, to be known as The Lonely Hearts Killers.” They preyed upon lonely women using personal ads. Although some accounts of the case make reference to suspicion that they murdered 20 or more, this speculation was based on notes found that showed correspondence with targeted women. Investigation did not show that the list contained murder victims, though the women were certainly targets for scamming (and possible murder). Yet the murders that the very-much-in-love-with-Raymond Martha did definitely commit were shocking in their heartless brutality. In a fittingly romantic denouement of the story the predatory lovebirds were, on March 8, 1951, electrocuted on the same day.

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1938 – Marie Becker – Liege, Belgium (*)

“Marie Pettijean Becker, 58, went on trial on charges of poisoning to death 11 persons with whom she struck up acquaintance on park benches. Ten of the victims were wealthy widows, the eleventh her aged sweetheart – murdered for their money.” “Marie Becker was known to attend the funerals of her victims and to gesticulate wildly her grief over their passing. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.”

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1908 – Grete Beier – Brand, Saxony, Germany

News report: “The face of an angel and the heart of a fiend,” they say of Grete Beyer, pretty flaxen haired daughter of the mayor of Brande, soon to be put on trial for the murder of her lover. In addition to this crime, it is alleged she murdered three illegitimate children born to her. Hers is one of the most remarkable cases on record. Although of good family and refined education, she is a virtual demon. …

One day she left home and went to Chemnitz, where [her lover] Pressler lived. She went straight to his apartments and found him there. “I have a great surprise for you,” she said, ‘‘but you must shut your eyes and open your month.” Suspecting nothing more than some girlish prank, Pressler obeyed without hesitation. Then the girl thrust a pistol in Pressler’s open mouth, and blew out his brains at a single shot. He fell dead at her feet. No one heard the shot, and she proceeded with cool determination to complete her plans. Seated at his desk she wrote with deliberation and perfect clearness, a will which left the whole of his property and fortune to herself. She previously had informed herself regarding the necessary legal language for such a document. Then she forged his signature.” – Grete was convicted of murder and executed.

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1892 – Guadalupe Martinez de Bejarano – Mexico City, Mexico

La Bejarano tortured, sexually mutilated three orphaned teenage girls. Wikipedia states:  She attracted her victims, young and poor girls, offering employment as a servant in her household. Only after the victim had been installed in the domicile were the true intentions of the mistress revealed. The girl would be enslaved and subjected to sexual torture with a markedly sexual nature. Guadalupe especially enjoyed forcing the girls to sit naked on a burning brazier (roman chair); she would strip them and hang them from the ceiling by the wrists and flog them with a cattle whip. Finally the victims would be starved to death.

Other tortures mentioned in newspaper accounts: “Among these may be cited the dragging of the child across the floor, the application of burning matches to the exposed parts of her body and her confinement for hours at a time under the flooring of the room, there to fight for her life with mice and vermin and breathe the fetid air of her damp surroundings.”

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1873 – Elvira & Katie Bender – Cherry Vale, Kansas, USA (*)

Katie (or, Kate) Bender was a member of the Kansas crime family known as “The Bloody Benders.” Their crimes were considered some of the more gruesome perpetrated on Kansas soil. John Bender, his wife Elvira, son John Jr., and daughter Katie operated an inn outside of Parsons from 1871 to 1873 where they would lure men and kill them for their money and possessions. “While seated on the bench near the temporary wall their heads made perfect outline in the canvas. From behind they were struck with a sledge hammer. When in 1873 suspicions were aroused the Benders fled. Eleven bodies were found, with crushed skulls, in the Bender garden. Katie was a public figure who performed on stage as Prof. Miss Katie Bender as a spiritualist healer.

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1887 – Elizabeth Berry – Oldham, England

Elizabeth Berry was found guilty of murdering her daughter and executed for the crime. She was also suspected of murdering her mother. Recent scholarship adds three other possible victims to the list: two children and Elizabeth’s father.

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1949 – Marie Besnard – Loudon, France (*)

They called her “Queen of Poisoners,” and she is alleged to have poisoned 13 relatives for their money. Marie Besnard was charged with murder in 1949, but due to an endless series of evidentiary problems, she was not tried until 1952 and that trial was continued over and over again until 1961 when she was finally acquitted.

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1920 Marie-Louise Victorine Bessarabo Paris, France

Marie-Louise Victorine Bessarabo was a novelist, and spiritualist charlatan, who was known by her pen name, Hera Mirtel. Her trial for the murder of her husband whose corpse was found stuffed in a travel trunk was a sensation in its day. Before this one confirmed murder this globe-trotting vamp ended up in the presence of male corpses from time to time. She explained away the shooting deaths of two men in Mexico as suicide in one case and home-invading bandits in another.

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1918 – Taytu Betul – Addis Abbaba, Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

The rise of Dowager Empress Taitu of Abyssinia “from a slave girl to one of the most powerful barbaric queens in the history of the world is a chronicle red with the blood of murdered husbands and thousands of fighting men who have fallen because of her insatiable greed for power and wealth.”

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1835 – Fanny Billing & Catherine Frary – Burnham Market, Norfolk, England

From a contemporary account: “The town of Burnham Market, in Norfolk, and the vicinity for some miles around have for the last week been in the most dreadful state of excitement caused by the discovery of three diabolical murders, which have already been committed, and a plan laid for taking away the lives of several other people.” Died:  Mrs. Taylor; Robert Frary; a child kept by the Frarys; the sister of Mrs. Frary’s husband. Survived: Mr. Billing; several other persons marked as victims. The pair was executed.

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1788 – Giovanna Bonnano – Palermo, Sicily

Giovanna Bonnano was known as the “La vecchia dell’ aceto (“The Old Vinegar Woman”). “During her trial, she confessed to being a poisoner, and that she sold poison to women who wanted to murder their husbands. The typical client was a woman with a lover; she bought the first dose to give her husband stomach pains, the second to get him to hospital, and the third to kill him. The doctor was, in these cases, unable to ascertain the cause of the deaths.” She was executed by hanging on July 30, 1789.

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1720 – Anne Bonny – Caribbean

Anne Bonny was a pirate, partnered with Mary Read. By 18, Anne Cormac (latter Bonny) was already a fierce-tempered, hard-drinking gal, who had a bad reputation for being rebellious. “she knifed her maid to death . . . on her father’s Charleston, S.C. plantation. She had a reputation for “beating suitors nearly to death, shooting peoples’ ears off, and humiliating her fencing teacher by publicly stripping him naked with her own sword.” In her pirate years Bonny and her lover Mary Read were fierce fighters and during a battle in which the women fought off attackers for two hours they were so disgusted by their fellows’ cowardice they began to slay them too.

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1808 – Catherine Bouhours – Paris, France

Young Parisienne Catherine Bouhours got jilted. She developed a hatred of men and, disguised as a man (“Auguste Manette”), lured and murdered several members of the despised sex, employing a small hammer as her weapon. She also murdered some women, a total of “eighteen or twenty killings” were attributed to her. An elaborate effort was made by the police to trap her, and, following her conviction, she was guillotined at the age of 25.

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1740 – Elizabeth & Mary Branch – Taunton, Somerset, England, England

“Elizabeth, aged 67, and her daughter Mary, 24, were both charged with the cruel murder of their maid, Jane Butterworth. A transcript of their trial, which took place at Taunton, Somerset, in March 1740, reported that: It was obvious, judging by the suspicions of their neighbours, that both the accused had also committed other murders in the past. Mrs Branch’s husband died under circumstances that led others who lived nearby to believe she had poisoned him and they were convinced that she had hanged her mother, after murdering her, to avoid an investigation into the cause of the death. Human bones were also discovered in a well near her [Elizabeth’s] farm, which were believed to be those of one of her servant girls who disappeared and was never heard from again.”

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1945 – Hermine Braunsteiner – Ravensbruck, Germany

Hermine Braunsteiner was a guard at Ravensbruück concentration camp run by National Socialist German government officials. The captured citizens she bossed about and brutalized her called her “The Stomping Mare.” According to witness testimony she whipped several women to death and in other instances killed women by stomping on them with her steel-studded jackboots, earning her the nickname “The Stomping Mare.” Braunsteiner was not “just following orders,” rather she was acting to serve her personal sadistic pleasure.

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1929 – “Brazilian Black Widow” – Fernando Noronha Island, Brazil

Although her name may be lost to posterity (unless some Brazilian researcher can find it in the archives of that country), the history of this “Brazilian Black Widow” is one of the more striking in the long and unpleasant history of the Black Widow husband-killers of the world. The accounts of her excessively sadistic and very creative torture-murders of her mates are amazing.

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1949Inez Brennan – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Mrs. Gertrude Inez Brennan and two of her sons, Raymond, 23, and Robert, 16, killed two men she met through “lonely hearts club” letters. The men were shot in the head buried in a pigpen on the Brennan farm; later the bodies were dug up, burned and scattered on the city dump. Another man, 67-years-old died near the Brennan residence. His death was ruled suicide yet it is likely he was also a victim of the Brennan clan. The family had planned to murder another man, Thomas Stretch, 63, of Canton, New Jersey, a plan that was interrupted when they were arrested.

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1953 – Eunice Brillhart – Eritrea (USA citizen)

Mrs. Brillhart, wife of a US solder stationed overseas, was convicted by a military court of killing three of her children by dropping them on their heads.” Yet she was set free after the US Supreme Court ruled that military courts have no jurisdiction over civilian cases.

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1676  Brinvilliers, Marquise de – Paris, France (*)

Peter Vronsky writes: “In France between 1664 and 1672, the aristocratic Marie de Brinvilliers was reported to have poisoned fifty or more victims. Prior to murdering her father, who opposed her marriage, and then her two brothers to seize an inheritance, Marie experimented with poisons concocted by her lover in hospital charity wards, where she began volunteering to care for patients. She carefully observed the effects of her poison on the patients, adjusting the doses accordingly. Marie was discovered and became a fugitive until she was captured in 1676 and beheaded in Paris.” [Vronsky, Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters, 2007, Berkley Books]

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1886 – Mary Ann Britland – Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England

Excerpt: “Mary Ann Britland was apprehended on suspicion of having caused the death of a young married woman, named Mary Dixon, by poisoning her with vermin-killer. The prisoner's husband died about three weeks ago, after a brief illness, and she then went to live with Mrs. Dixon, who had just died after only seven hours’ illness. It is alleged that the prisoner purchased the poison at a chemist’s shop. She was brought before the magistrates on Wednesday, when the Chief constable stated that she was suspected of having caused the death of two other persons – her husband and her daughter – both of whom died suddenly recently.”

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1913 – Cynthia Buffom – Little Valley, New York, USA

Cynthia Buffom murdered her husband, two children and left another crippled for life. She was motivated, she said, by her love for her paramour whom she accused of having put her up to the murders.

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1926 – Rennette Cure Bussey – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

From a newspaper account of the trial: “Though there is but the one charge against her, police accuse her of causing the deaths of her husband and two other children. Lawrence Bussey, the father and husband, a city fireman, died April 3, 1925. Clarence, 3, died on Dec. 5, 1925, at 3 years of age. Esther, a baby [of] 16 months, died Jan. 1, 1926. Verdia, 5 years old, died Feb. 21, 1926. Physicians attributed the deaths at the time to various maladies – peritonitis, acute indigestion, liver and kidney maladies. The three bodies were exhumed by order of court after Mrs. Bussey’s arrest on the charge of giving poison to Verdia. Chemists declare traces of mercurial poison were found in badly decomposed organs of all three. 

Verdia told court attaches just before her death: ‘Mamma gave me something to eat on a piece of bread and told me to eat it. In a little while I was spitting up blood. She said she’d whip me if I told anybody.’”

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1829 – Martha "Patty" Cannon – Johnson's Corners, Maryland, USA (*)

Martha “Patty” Cannon (circa 1760 – May 11, 1829) was the leader of a gang in the early 19th century that kidnapped slaves and free blacks. Cannon’s homestead was on the southern Maryland/Delaware line served as a base from which her gang kidnapped,  and transported and sold blacks to plantation owners located further south. She never was charged for these kidnappings but instead was arrested in 1829 for the murder of four people, including a slave trader. She died May 11, 1829, in her cell in Georgetown prison.

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1906 – Bridget Carey – Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA

Bridget Carey was acquitted of having committed the murders she had been charged with, yet no plausible alternative explanation was ever offered of how the children and other persons came to ingest arsenic while living with her. She was suspected of eight murders and one poisoning from which the victim survived.

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1939 – Rose Carina – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

“The elusive “kiss of death” woman, Mrs. Rose Carina, known to have had at least five husbands, three of whom died under mysterious circumstances, was arrested [May 18, 1939] today by federal agents in connection with the Philadelphia investigation into a mass murder syndicate.” Mrs. Carina was sometimes known as the “rose of death.”

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1921 – Clara Carl – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Clara Carl Murdered two husbands and a father-in-law. Convicted in 1922 and sentenced to life in prison, she escaped in 1925, but was finally captured and returned. Newspaper headlines reporting her escape described her as the most daring on of women criminals.

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1613 – Donna Catherina – Ceylon

She poisoned her husband, Mahatissa, surnamed The Robber [Cora-Niiga, or Niiga the rebel, or robber], and ascended the throne. In the course of five years she married and killed five husbands and was finally put to death by her step-son. Donna Catherina is not acknowledged as a queen by the Sinhalese chroniclers.

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1931 – Anna Carlson – Los Angeles, California, USA

Under investigation for murdering three men, the most recent to die having been a man that Esther was accused of murdering in tandem with accomplice Anna Erickson. Anna was herself, apparently poisoned by Esther just after the investigation began. Esther Carlson was not long to live and died before she could be prosecuted.

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1900 – Ada Chard-Williams – London, England

Ada Chard Williams was a baby farmer who was convicted of strangling to death 21-month-old girl in London in September 1899. Ada, operating under an alias, had disappeared and the child’s mother made an official complaint. It was only when the victim’s body washed up on the Thames that a homicide case could be made. She was suspected of killing other children although no proceedings were brought. She had her own “signature” way of tying up bodies she wished to dispose of, using a knot called a Fisherman’s knot (or bend). This fact became a crucial piece of evidence at her trial. She was hanged, at the age of 24.

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1847 – Sarah Chesham – Clavering, near Chelmsford, England (*)

“Sally Arsenic” was tried twice. In the first trial, for three murders, there was no evidence proving that the arsenic was administered to her to the three boys including two of her own sons, thus Mrs. Chesham was acquitted. After her husband died and an autopsy showed that rice he had eaten was saturated with arsenic. Chesham was arrested for this new crime, tried, found guilty and executed.

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1941 – Leonarda Cianciulli – Reggio Emilia, Italy

Newspaper account: “Leonarda Cianciulli, who is awaiting trial on charges of murdering three women friends, is reported to have written an account of her life and alleged crimes, entitled ‘Confessions of an Embittered Soul,’ in which she describes how she used an axe to murder one friend. The book is alleged to slate: ‘While my victim was drinking an elixir I had prepared. I got an axe, placed myself behind my victim and, summoning my strength, struck the back of her neck – a rattle, nothing else.” It was a master stroke that almost beheaded her. Cianciulli is alleged to have cut up the bodies of her victims and converted them into soap.”

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1908 – Dowager Empress Cixi (Tsi Si) – China

“She was wont to select her favourites from among the crowds of students who flocked to Pekin from all corners of the vast Empire to pass the four examinations which should throw open to them the portals of fortune and favour, but which for these chosen ones opened only the gates of death. She treated all these temporary husbands as Bluebeard dealt with his wives. As soon as she was tired of one, he passed from the presence of his Imperial mistress into the hands of the executioner, and was at once succeeded by another. Love with her was but ‘a sighing of hearts and filling up of graves.’” “Cixi ordered executions. The decree that all foreign prisoners be decapitated was issued by her. Numerous Chinese and foreigners were killed in this manner.”

“A torturous method of murder was called ‘slicing.’ The victim was slightly cut repeatedly, scores or hundreds of times, until death resulted from shock or loss of blood. Poisoning was another means of murder used by Cixi’s subordinates and associates. It is believed that she poisoned her nephew. Her co-dowager and cousin Ci’an (or Niuhuru) died after an unpleasant encounter with Cixi, with poisoning suspected. … When Cixi and her entourage were fleeing the Imperial Palace during the Boxer Rebellion, she was stopped by her son’s favorite concubine, known as Pearl Concubine. The girl begged Cixi to stay and defend Beijing. Cixi ordered that she be tossed into a well in the Forbidden City.”

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1888 – Louisa Collins – Botany, Australia

Louisa Collins was suspected of poisoning two husbands and a child. She was found guilty of murdering her second husband and executed. The Chief Justice characterised the murder as one of peculiar atrocity, as the prisoner had been day by day giving poison to her husband, and watching his slow torture and painful death apparently without a moment’s remorse.

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1693 – Mary Compton, Mary Compton the Younger, Ann David – Poplar, London, England

Mary Compton, was a “baby farmer,” a child care provider who took advance payments for the care of children then murdered them and took in additional victims. She was tried for murdering four children, found guilty and executed.

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1922 – Martha Cooper – Newlands, New Zealand

Daniel Cooper was an abortion provider.  Together with his wife, he offered an adoption placement service for unwed mothers. This service was a fraud. The couple collected money the from mother and then starved the baby to death. The Coopers were charged with murdering three babies following the discovery of as body of a newborn at Lyall Bay. Daniel Cooper was found guilty of the murders and hanged at the Terrace Gaol on June 16, 1923. Martha Cooper pleaded that she had only taken part in the atrocities because her husband had forced her to, although it was reportedly she who had been the person who had deliberately starved the babies to death. She was acquitted of the charges and left the country soon after.

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1873 – Mary Ann Cotton – West Auckland, England (*)

Mary Ann Cotton  was not Britain’s first serial killer, as some have claimed. Yet she was a particularly nasty one. She is suspected of having murdered 21 persons, including three husbands. Mrs. Cotton was convicted and hanged.

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1894 – Mary Cowan – Dixmont, Maine, USA

“There never was any reasonable doubt that Mary Cowan poisoned her stepson, and many believe that she hastened the departure from this life of at least five other persons, all for the sake of a little money. She was a remarkably clever woman in many ways.”

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1911 – Annie Crawford – Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Annie Crawford was a morphine addict who killed two sisters and her parents by secretly giving them doses of the drug.

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1923 – Mary Frances Creighton – Newark, New Jersey, USA

Frances Mary Creighton was suspected of four persons and the concerted attempt to murder another. She was tried along with her lover for the murder of the man’s wife – who was the murderess’s “best friend” – and both were convicted and executed for that crime.

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1925 – Anna Cunningham – Crown Point, Indiana, USA (*)

Anna Cunningham murdered her husband, three teenage children, and attempted to murder another, who survived but was partially crippled. In her own words: “Something told me to draw in my head and told me I had to get rid of them. I thought that I was going to die and wanted to take them with me. I only poisoned the ones I loved best and I poisoned the ones I like best in turn because I wanted them with me.” She was intending suicide, she claimed.

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1946 – Marguerite D’Andurian – France, Syria

The Countess Marguerite D’Andurian was “held by French national police at Nice for questioning in the poisoned candy death of her cousin in 1945.” “Eight cryptic words, scrawled on the back of a Paris subway ticket by a dying man, led last month to the arrest of one of the most fabulous beauties of the Middle East. The words – “Candy which Marga gave me had a strange taste” – were written in November 1945 by 26-year-old Raymond Clarisse. The beauty, 51-year-old Countess Marga d’Andurain, was arrested for poisoning Raymond, her nephew.” “The countess, whose international career of romance left a trail of poisoned husbands and suitors, once escaped being stoned to death only by intervention of King Ibn Saud of Arabia.”

***

1843 – Sarah Dazley – Bedford, England (*)

Sarah Dazley was suspected of murdering three persons: two husbands and a son. She was tried for the murder of her second husband, convicted and executed.

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1895 – Minnie Dean – Invercargill, New Zealand (*)

In 1895, Dean was observed boarding a train carrying a young baby and a hatbox, but observed leaving the same train without the baby and only the hatbox. The missing baby was never located. Investigators dug up her garden and three bodies (two of babies, and one of a boy estimated to be three years old) were uncovered. An inquest found that one child (Eva) had died of suffocation and one, later identified as one year-old Dorothy Edith Carter, had died from an overdose of laudanum (used on children to sedate them). The cause of death for the third child was not determined. Dean was charged with their murder, convicted and executed.

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1932 – Daisy de Melker – Johannesburg, South Africa (*)

“Charged with murdering her two former husbands and her twenty-year-old son to collect their insurance, Mrs. Daisy Louisa de Melker, wife of a noted South African rugby player, was found guilty of killing her son and was sentenced to death. The evidence of strychnine poisoning inconclusive in the case of her former husbands, William Cowle and Robert Sproat, however. The trial lasted a month.”

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1921 – Mary Demmer – Schiller Park, Illinois, USA

“Mrs. Elizabeth Harwood, of Bensonville, mother of Mrs. Kolze, told the Coroner, it is said, that Mrs. Demmer had intimated, after her daughter’s death, that ‘something was wrong.’ Shortly before Kolze died Mrs. Demmer is alleged to have told Mrs. Harwood that ‘he would not live long unless he mended his ways.’” Mrs. Mary Demmer was held for questioning in connection of three arsenic deaths was released from custody after two weeks in jail. The state had no evidence against her even though arsenic had been found in the exhumed bodies of Mrs. Demmer’s husband and Mrs. Fred Kolze. The two families made their homes together.

***

1679 – Catherine Deshayes – Paris, France (*)

“Catherine Monvoisin, or Montvoisin, née Deshayes, known as "La Voisin" (English: The Neighbor) (c. 1640 – February 22, 1680), was a French fortune teller, poisoner and an alleged sorceress, one of the chief personages in the affaire des poisons, during the reign of Louis XIV. Her cult (Affair of the Poisons) was suspected to have killed anywhere between 1000-2500 people in Black Masses.” [Wikipedia]

La Voisin herself was executed at an early stage of the proceedings, on the 20th of February 1680, after a perfunctory application of torture. The authorities had every reason to avoid further revelations. Thirty-five other prisoners were executed; five were sent to the galleys and twenty-three were banished. Their crimes had furnished one of the most extraordinary trials known to history.” [Encyclopaedia Britannica]

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1891 – Jane Dorsey – Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Jane (or “Hanna”) Dorsey was suspected of poisoning six or eight persons, including four husbands “Her first husband was Dan Sanley, who died of sunstroke two years after his marriage, she says. The second was John Temple, who, after living six years with her, went from bronchitis to consumption and died. Her third, Albert Conklin, died in Illinois of congestion of the brain, she says, after living three years with her. Her fourth was Joseph Stenett, who died in the spring of 1890. Mrs. Dorsey was married to her present husband last February. Coroner Manker says: ‘Clippings from papers at the time show that Conklin worked where he was employed the day before his death, and, instead of dying from congestion of the brain, died of a violent stomach trouble.’”

***

1954 – Daisie “Nanny” Doss – Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA (*)

Nannie Doss, “The Giggling Granny,” as news reporters dubbed her, was not only a champion black widow husband-killer (with four spousal kills to her credit) but also further serial murders dating back to the 1920s – her own children, her sisters, her mother, a nephew, a grandson – giving her a total kill number of eleven.

***

1933 – Florica Duma – Villagos, Arad, Romania

“Florica Duma was arrested on suspicion of selling poison to dozens of  local; villagers to be used for murder. ‘The medicine was only a love potion,’ pleaded the old woman. ‘Then give some to your cat,’ ordered the police chief. The old woman did so and the white cat writhed in agony and died. It was found that the old woman distilled arsenic from fly-papers and concocted a poison draught. The women who assisted her to distribute the medicine to unhappy wives or husbands seeking release received only a few pence for each mission. The old sorceress was content to get a few shillings for accomplishing a murder.”

***

1862 – Marianne Dumollard – Montiuel, Rhone-Alpes, France

Marie and Martin Dumollard were a serial killer couple who “lured young women to their house in Lyon with the promise of work. Once the victims were inside their home they were strangled and their bodies buried around the killers’ cottage. The couple’s murderous campaign came to an end when a victim escaped and went to police. Martin was beheaded and Marie sent to the galleys.”

***

1896 – Amelia Dyer – Caversham, England (*)

Because there was a great deal of press preceding the discovery of the person responsible for murdering babies whose corpses were found with a tell-tale strip of cloth around the neck dumped in the river, and because she was executed for her crimes, who estimated number was enormous, Amelia Dyer is still the most well-known of homicidal “baby farmers,” Yet there have been a great many of these “baby farmers” who were every bit as sadistic, every bit as murderous and just as prolific as she, yet who have been largely –  or completely – ignored by historians of crime and forensic psychologists.

***

1870 – Julia von Ebergenyi – Munich, Germany; Vienna, Austria

This is a case that requires further research. Julia von Ebergenyi, an infamous high-life Vamp, was convicted of one murder and, according to one English language report, confessed to an additional two murders.

***

1928 – Nora Edwards – Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA

Mrs. Nora Edwards was suspected of murdering 15-year-old step-son, her 12-year-old daughter and two husbands. When she was arrested, at the age of 38, for attempting to murder her third husband she was under a two-year prison sentence for burglarizing the home of a neighbor. She was convicted of attempting to kill her third husband, J. W. Edwards, 60, by administering poison to him. Her punishment for that crime was fixed at five years imprisonment.

***

1952 – Roberta Elder – Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Roberta Elder, arrested at the age of 43, was jailed for the poison death of her husband and a step-child. Her suspected victims of include 3 husbands (including “common law husband”), four of her children, three step-children, her mother, her grandchild, a cousin, and the former wife of a husband.

***

1635 – Elizabeth Evans – London, England

Thomas Sherwood and Elizabeth Evans, known as “Country Tom” and “ Canterbury Bess,” were London murderers. They “rolled drunks.” Bess would locate a tipsy man in a public place and then entice him to a remote location where her partner would rob and murder him. At least five men were butchered by Tom and Bess. They were caught, however, and executed on the Newgate gallows on April 17, 1635.

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1851 – Nancy Farrer – Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Nancy Farrer was suspected of murdering over 20 persons; confirmed poisonings include 5 deaths, and 2 persons who recovered from poisoning. Her case was a major landmark in the development of the insanity defense in US law. Her lawyer, the young Rutherford B. Hayes, made his name on this litigation. His successful career culminated in being elected president of the United States.

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1939 – Carina Favato – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Carina Favato was a central figure of the Philadelphia poisoning gang that newspapers dubbed “Arsenic Incorporated.” She murdered her lover with “miracle water,” a product which was actually an arsenic solution, which was so successful at “solving problems,” that Carina go a reputation and a following – of customers who wanted her wares. “Business became so lucrative for Mrs. Favato that she set up Polselli in the undertaking profession. That provided additional income for burial of the murder victims. Now both are serving life terms.”

***

1929 – Julia Fazekas – Nagyrev, Hungary (*)

Fazakas was one of the main ringleaders of a large murder-for-hire syndicate centered located in Hungary’s Tisza Valley. She was a midwife who lived in Nagayrev a village whose population, when combined with the neighboring hamlet of Tiszakurt was about 1,400. Fazakas sold poison, almost exclusively to women, who wished to get rid of a husband, or a relative, or a lover, or a rival. The series of poisonings associated with the syndicate  began in 1914 and continued with great frequency for fifteen years, when the scheme came to a screeching halt. When police raided her cottage she was ready for them, drinking a cup of her own arsenic concoction in their presence and dying just a few hours later. Her victims are estimated to have been over a hundred. 

[1929 Tisza Valley, Hungary cases featured in this post: Fazekas, Foeldvary, Kardos, Lipka, Olah, Palinka]

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1884 – Catherine Flannigan & Margaret Higgins (Flannagan) – Liverpool, England (*)

Serial killer sisters Catherine Flannagan and Margaret Higgins were suspected of a long series of murders including Margaret’s husband Thomas Higgins, an 18-year-old female lodger, Higgins’ 10-year-old, step-daughter, and Catherin’s 22-year-old son, John Flannagan. “Police inquiries that continued after the double execution suggested that the sisters might have poisoned several other family members, friends and lodgers, for the small insurance payouts.”

Mr. Jennings, former lodger testified during the trial that: “During my daughter’s illness Mrs. Flannigan frequently administered medicine to her, which she said she obtained from the “sixpenny doctor’s” in Walton road.” “When she was absent her sister (the wife of the deceased man, Thomas Higgins) gave the medicine. After that I was afraid to live in Mrs Flannigan’s house any longer, and took fresh lodgings.”

***

1929 – Juliana Foeldvary – Nagyrev, Hungary

“Mrs. Foeldvary, widow of a wealthy farmer, was charged with poisoning her husband, mother and her lover Ladislas Toth.” “After partaking of soup which Mme. Foldvari had sent him when he was at work in the fields, Toth died in great agony. His exhumation also revealed the presence of arsenic.” 

[1929 Tisza Valley, Hungary cases featured in this post: Fazekas, Foeldvary, Kardos, Lipka, Olah, Palinka]

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1845 – Sarah Freeman – Bridgewater, England

Sarah was believed to have murdered her mother, husband, brother and son in order to collect insurance money. She was tried and convicted on the strongest case, the murder of Charles Dimond, her brother. Sarah Freeman was hanged on the 23rd of April, 1845.

***

1954 – Winnie Ola Freeman (Winola Green) – Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Winona shot to death her mother-in-law and father-in-law in 1924 and had plotted to kill her husband. After serving time she went on to murder two more men, in 1946 and 1953. Winnie was what you might call a really cheeky type of sociopath. Listen to what she had to say for herself in 1924: “Who ever heard of a woman being electrocuted or hanged in Arkansas?” she demands whenever the death penalty is mentioned to her. Furthermore she is not remorseful. “I’m not sorry for my deeds, she repeats again and again. “I planned both murders, thinking them all out thoroughly in advance. Now that I have admitted everything, I am willing to meet whatever fate awaits me.” Winnie served some time, escaped, was recaptured, got released, and went on to murder: again and again. She was nicknamed “Cat Woman” menagerie of over twenty cats.

***

1935 – Dora Bullock Frost – Houston, Texas, USA

Mrs. Dora Bullock Frost, 46, and husband George Washington Frost, 40, were suspected of murdering Mrs. Frost’s 17-year-old son; the boy’s father, her former husband, her 10-month-old baby boy; her 10-year-old daughter. Mr. Frost was an insurance salesman, recently fired from his job. All the dead family members had been insured, the policies totaling $4,515. Three of the suspected murder victims had traces of poison in their viscera. The Frost’s were never successfully convicted.

***

1904 – Rachel Galtie – Auch, France

“In the trial of Rachel Galtie, accused of poisoning her husband, brother, and grandmother, it was shown by the testimony of physicians that all of the deceased had come to their death by the administration of arsenic in small regular doses. … Testimony of neighbors and relatives showed that the prisoner was apparently very fond of the victims, and that during their life she had seemingly shown them every consideration. Mme. Galtie listened unmoved to all the damaging evidence produced against her.” “Prisoner was eventually adjudged guilty, and sentenced to twenty years’ penal servitude. She took her sentence with the utmost coolness.” (from newspaper reports)

***

1925 – Helen Geisen-Volk – New York, New York, USA

She is New York City’s worst serial killer.

Helen Geisen-Volk was a child care provider and child trafficker who abused, battered and murdered scores of children, mostly babies. In her own words: “Babies and animals should be disciplined all the same. When they become unruly, I hold them under water or push them in closets or bang them. I’ve trained children for 20 years that way.” An exchange at her trial: “Didn’t fifty-three infants die in your place?” asked District Attorney Pecora. “No,” was Mrs. Geisen-Volk’s reply. “There were only twelve or fourteen deaths.”

A neighbor, Mrs. Josephine Kass, of the murderess saw such “harrowing sights” that she suffered a nervous breakdown and moved away to California. Another woman, the mother of one of the baby farmer’s victims, little William Angerer, suffered a nervous breakdown as well.

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1928 – Bertha Gifford – Catawissa, Missouri, USA

From a news report: “The ‘good samaritan,’ Mrs. Bertha Gifford, who was always ready to “sit up” with the sick and who watched eighteen persons die in paroxysms of pain caused, the state believes, by the poison she administered, must spend the rest of her life in an insane asylum. A jury … found the ‘poison woman’ not guilty of the murder of Ed Brinley ‘on the sole ground that she was insane at the time of the commission of the offense and has not recovered from such insanity.’ The verdict was reached after three hours and twenty-five minutes deliberation over the testimony that showed that she had calmly poisoned one man and two small children.”

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1938 – Maria Gomes de Oliveira, “Maria Bonita” – Pernambuco State, Brazil.

Maria Gomes de Oliveira, known as Maria Bonita ( Glória, Bahia, Brazil, 8 of March of 1911 - Poço Redondo, Sergipe, 28 of July of 1938 ) was the first woman to participate in a cangaceiros group and was the companion of the most notorious cangaceiros leader, Lampião. Shejoined Lampião in 1930 and lived with cangaceiro for 8 years, until the day of his death in Angico, Porto da Folha (28 of July of 1938), when the band was caught in a camp and Maria Bonita was beheaded. During those eight years, Maria Bonita’s won the nickname of Reina del Cangaço ("Queen of the Cangaços").  . . . For the cangaceiros murder was not only casual, they took pride in their efficiency in killing. They were excellent shots and were skilled in the use of long, narrow knives (nicknamed peixeiras - “fish-filleters”) which could be used to dispatch a man quickly. [Wikipedia]

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1929 – Okal Gorham & Ethel Lewis – St. Joseph, Michigan, USA

“A confession signed by Mrs. Okal Gorham, 25, said the babies were poisoned or strangled to death by herself and her mother, Mrs. Ethel Lewis, 57. She could give no reason for the acts but said she and her mother frequently quarreled over family matters.” “Mrs. Gorham, in one confession said seven babies had been killed but later changed her story saying only five were murdered. Three of those were her own and the other two her mother’s she said. One of her babies she wheeled 12 miles to Eau Claire, Wis., in a baby carriage to commit the murder, the confession said. “The murders were revealed when the coroner became suspicious over the death of the last infant.”

***

1907 – Marie Vere Goold – Marseilles, France

Mrs. Goold seems to have been a serial killer. She had been married three times. Crime historian Jay Robert Nash notes that her earlier life had been one of an “adventuress” and that “her first two husbands died mysteriously,” adding that “there may have been more husbands who met the same fate.”

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1831 – Gesche Gottfried – Bremen, Germany (*)

From a contemporary report: Gesche Gottried’s “case presents the most unprecedented riddle on record. Though the offender stands accused with the poisoning of both her parents, three children, one brother, two husbands, one suitor, two pregnant women, friends male and female, helpless children, and domestic companions; though accused of adultery, false-witnessing, perjury, theft, calumny, and swindling, she seems endued with a singular mildness of temper, appears to possess a decided inclination to kind and benevolent acts, and betrays outward susceptibility for what is noble and generous.”

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1953 – Caroline Grills – Gladesville (Sydney), Australia

Caroline Grills, known as “Aunt Thally” (a play on words derived from the murder method: thallium poisoning) murdered four family members, and attempted to kill three others, with thallium placed in tea. She was convicted on October 15, 1953 and sentenced death, but her sentence was later changed to life in prison.

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1865 – Martha Grinder – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

“There was not the slightest motive of gain or animosity in any of [Martha Grinder’s] murders. She killed them, and admitted so at the last, simply for the love of taking life, and of seeing suffering. She was an expert in administering the poison, her skill no doubt being gained by her long practice, and she graduated her doses so as to cause her helpless victims the greatest and most protracted suffering. Their deaths were always, it is said by persons who remember, of a most horrible character, enough to move a heart of stone. …

Her confession was a remarkable revelation of human depravity. She had become obsessed with the liking for scenes of moral agony, and her mania went even farther, making her revel in coming into contact with dead bodies, which she loved to handle and prepare for burial.

In the early stages of this monomania she tried to satisfy her cravings of bereavement, and by assisting in bathing and dressing the remains. These natural deaths came too infrequently to satisfy her, however, so she desperately started out to manufacture funerals by supplying the dead bodies.”

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1908 – Belle Gunness – LaPorte, Indiana, USA (*)

The case of Belle Gunness (The Female Bluebeard,” “Hell’s Belle”) is at the same time one of the most horrible criminal cases in US history as well as one of the nation’s greatest crime mysteries. It is still unresolved whether she died in the fire of April 28,  1908 or made an escape. She had been investigated as a probable murderess by private detectives hired by families of missing men for some time preceding the fire that drew attention to what was soon called her murder farm. She lured prospective husbands with personal ads in newspapers. Her death toll is often estimated to be more than 40. In earlier years been a baby farmer and it is quite likely that she, like so many other baby farmers, committed a large number of murders of children while conducting that enterprise.

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1938 – Anna Marie Hahn – Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (*)

Anna Marie Hahn was a live-in nursing attendant who preyed upon elderly men. She would manipulate five men into allowing her to seize their money and property before murdering them. She was unique among serial killers in that use used a different poison for each of the five murders. Hahn was sentenced to death and was the first woman to die in the electric chair.

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1893 – Lizzie Halliday – Burlingham, New York, USA

Lizzie Halliday, known in New York state in her day as “the worst woman on earth,  murdered at least six persons, attempted to murder two others and is suspected of having murdered others. Among her victims were two husbands – one of whom survived a poisoning attempt – a retarded step-son, two neighbor women and two attendants in the insane asylum where she was sent in lieu of execution for three 1893 murders. One of the female attendants survived a strangling in 1895, the other Lizzie stabbed with scissors more than 200 times.

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1926 – Mae Hamilton – Okmulgee, Oklahoma, USA

Mae Hamilton was formally charged with three murders and an additional three suspicious deaths investigated. Her trial for murder ended with a hung jury – 7 to 5 for conviction – after 43-and-a-half hours’ deliberation, on May 3, 1927. Although a retrial  was intended no newspaper reports of a second trial have been yet located.

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1930 – Mary E. Hartman – Long Beach, California, USA

Mrs. Mary Hartman, whose husband, son and daughter died under circumstances which police described as mysterious, was held in technical custody pending an investigation. Mrs. Hartman’s detention followed discovery by autopsy surgeons yesterday of a poison in vital organs of Ruth Hartman, 14, who died April 14, 1930. Mrs. Hartman, was beneficiary of insurance policies held by all three recently family members. Alienists who have observed the woman expressed the belief she was unbalanced mentally. To all questions she made no reply except: “I love them; how could I have killed them?” No news reports of a trial have yet been located.

***

1938 – Moulay Hassen – Fez, Morocco

Hassen, once a famous dancer became a madame for prostitutes, kidnapped, tortured and serially murdered many young women (as well as boys). She was discovered to be a serial killer following the discovery of dismembered body parts of one of her victims. She fed human flesh to her cats. She was convicted and sentenced to death, but due to her powerful political connections she was freed to continue her criminal career. Convicted of new crimes she was sentenced to only 15 years in prison.

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1924 – Annie Hauptrief – San Marcos, Texas, USA

Annie Hauptrief poisoned four step-children, who died, and husband, who survived. Murdered previous husband. The first murder involved a suicide pact with a husband. The husband drank the poison draught – and died – Annie did not. She committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial.

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1911 – Linda Burfield Hazzard – Olalla, Washington, USA

Dr. Hazzard was suspected of wrongfully causing the deaths of at least 18 persons. “She created a ‘sanitarium’, Wilderness Heights, in Olalla, Washington, where in-patients fasted for days, weeks or months, with a diet of small amounts of tomato and asparagus soup and little else. While some patients survived and publicly sang her praises, more than 40 patients died under her care, most from starvation. Local residents knew the place as ‘Starvation Heights.’ In 1912 she was convicted of manslaughter for the death of Claire Williamson, a wealthy British woman of 33 years, who weighed less than 50 pounds at the time of her death.” [Murderpedia.com]

In 1938 Dr. Hazzard died while attempting a fasting cure on herself.

***

1940 – Emma Heppermann Wentzville, Missouri, USA

Emma Heppermann, whom we might fairly dub “The Potato Soup Killer,” was suspected of murdering up to six husbands, a mother-in-law, possibly a daughter, and to have poisoned a step-daughter, who survived due to diagnosis following her father’s death. At the trial for the murder of Tony Heppermann Alphonse Schneider, brother of husband number six:  “She told me three times she wanted to kill me,” he testified. “One day, in the midst of a quarrel, she said she wanted to cook me some soup.” Schneider leaned close to the jury and said, “I sure am glad I didn’t eat any of that soup.”

In a deposition read at an inquest, Dr. J. L. Neubeiser, who treated Mr. Heppermann at a hospital here, said the farmer made “a ‘dying declaration’ that he believed his wife had poisoned him.” She was convicted of the murder of her last husband, Tony Heppermann. The jury took three ballots before sentencing her to live on account of two jurors who on first ballot held out for the death penalty.

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1890 – Julia Higbee – Meade County, Kentucky, USA

The oddest thing about this case is that despite overwhelming evidence, the father of the four dead children (and the one who survived), still maintained his wife’s innocence of the charges against her, and declared that she was “any thing but an insane woman.”

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1946 – Bertha Gossett Hill – Rome, Georgia, USA

Bertha Gossett Hill murdered her father first and four months later her mother. Her husband was next. She poisoned him on Valentine’s Day 1946. She collected life insurance on all three. She was indicted for all three murders. First she was tried for her husband’s murder and found guilty. She was granted a retrial on appeal. While still in county jail, Bertha, 26, she married her 20-year-old boyfriend. She was again convicted. The pending charges for the murder of her parents were dropped in 1952, allowing her to seek parole, but parole was denied. She was again awarded a retrial in 1957. Because prosecutors could no longer provide the witnesses Bertha was ordered to be released in 1960.

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1895 – Charlotte Howell – Tioga, Pennsylvania, USA

Charlotte Howell was tried for the poison murder of a 19-year-old who had been lodging with her. The evidence presented which placed the blame elsewhere was bizarre to say the least. The jury did not convict her. Mrs. Howell was also suspected of two earlier poison murders – of her husbnand’s first with and daughter.

***

1948 – Miyuki Ishikawa – Tokyo, Japan

With her husband, Takeshi Ishikawa, Mrs. Miyuki Ishikawa operated the Kotobuki Maternity Hospital in Shinjuku. Estimates of the number of children murdered by the couple range from 85 to 169. An early news report of the case: “Police said today they may have uncovered a baby "murder mill" in which 40 or more infants died. They arrested an undertaker and a man and wife who operated a nursery. The undertaker, when seized, had a basket attached to his bicycle and inside was the body of an infant. Police said questioning of the undertaker led them to the nursery, where they found four more infant bodies stuffed into orange crates. Neighbors told police the nursery operators advertised they believed the undertaker had a working agreement with the man and wife to dispose of the bodies.”

Miyuki Isikawa was convicted and sentenced originally to eight years in prison, later commuted to four years. The husband and other accomplices received shorter sentences.

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1925 – Pearl Jackson – Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Pearl and Odell Jackson, a black couple living in Birmingham, Alabama, were convicted of an axe-murder. “The killing was one of Birmingham’s long series of axe crimes which covered a period of three years and claimed 26 lives in addition to the serious wounding of 21 other persons, both white and negroes.” The state’s star witness, testified that the couple had confided in her that they “planned to go out and rob some white man for money. They took an axe, she said, and declared they were going ‘skulling.’”

They had both confessed, yet their statements, and thus their actual guilt, was challenged since they had been given scopolamine (“truth serum”) before the confessions had been made. Yet the the confessions of the five were consistent with one another and with statements made about details that were made when not drugged. They were convicted and sentenced to death. On three occasions, they were given a reprieve for the death sentence just before they were to be hanged.

The guilt of those convicted of the particular murder they were tried for is still an open question.

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1835 – Margarete Jäger (Jaeger, Joyer) – Mentz, Swabia (Germany)

“Margaret Jaeyer, a widow, and servant to S. K. Rentner, also a widow, both about thirty-eight years of age, are accused; the first of having killed by poison eight persons, all of whom, except one, were her near relations: the latter, of having poisoned her husband at the instigation of her servant.” They were tried, found guilty, and executed.

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1897 – Maria Jager – Hodmezovassarhely, Hungary

Maria Jager is unusual in having made a living as a serial killer in two separate enterprises in her village in Hungary. She started off as a midwife and “baby farmer” (archaic term for child care provider) who murdered babies for a fee. Later in life she switched to selling poison to those who wished to murder family members. She formed a small gang to help her in the business. In 1897 she was sentenced to life in prison for having participated in murdering a hundred men and women. A contemporary journalist noted that it “was her chiefest joy – to see the poison gripping at the vitals of the condemned. She watched their fight for life, and a fierce and horrible jubilation possessed her.”

***

1880s – Sultana Pangyan Inchi Jamela – Philippines

Excerpt of an account written originally in 1898 describing Sultana Pangyan Inchi Jamela: “The Sultana was not, perhaps, so commonplace a  woman as some others. We were told that she had become the wife of the previous Sultan, after having killed two husbands; that she was not his first wife, but that the present Sultan was her son; that she had put him in succession to the throne by the simple process of poisoning his elder brother and sister, who were not her children, and their mother;  and that she had then poisoned her husband, which  made her son the Sultan.”

***

1956 – Virginia B. Jaspers – New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Virginia B. Jaspers, a 200 pound pediatric nurse, admitted: causing the death in 1948 of the 7 week old son of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Hubbard of Guilford, Conn.; causing the death of the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Malkin is a concert soprano whose stage name is Joan Bainerd; inflicting a head injury on the 8 week old son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Seidel of New Haven; breaking the leg of the 3 month old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Schaffer of Woodbridge, Conn., in 1955.

“It was all uncontrollable,” Virginia B. Jaspers, 33, told Coroner James J. Corrigan. “I didn’t know why I did it. Children sometimes get on my nerves.” Police said she had “admitted shaking to death three infants because they got on her nerves or refused to take their formulas.”
 
***

1868 – Marie Jeanneret – Geneva, Switzerland (*)

Marie Jeanneret was a nurse who murdered patients, employing atropine, the active ingredient in belladonna. She was convicted of having murdered five persons, but her toll of murders was much higher. “She was a clever woman with a highly nervous and excitable organization, and she seems to have no other motive for her crimes than a morbid love of the excitement of murder and a grim delight in witnessing the sufferings of her victims.”

***

1851 – Hélène Jégado – Rennes, France (*)

Between 1846 and 1850 Helene Jegao, a maid servant murdered 43 persons, poisoning them with arsenic. “The victims were either her masters or mistresses, or fellow-servants, who had incurred her hatred. The prisoner appeared to have been actuated by a thirst for destruction, and to have taken pleasure in witnessing the agonies of her victims.” She was tried for seven murders, found guilty, and executed.

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1875 – Sofie Johannesdotter – Fredrikshald (Halden), Norway

Between 1869 and 1875 Sofie Johannesdotter, a housemaid, murdered at least three persons (and suspected of three others) and poisoned another causing the victim to be partially paralyzed. She also burned down the house of her employer, site of her murders.

***

1899 – Lulu Johnson – Enid, Oklahoma Territory, USA 

“Mrs. Lulu Johnson is … being tried in the Oklahama territory, America, for systematically poisoning her husbands. Of these she had six, and all are suspected of having met their end by means of arsenic, administered by their wife.  … Lulu had run off with an an acting company and the wife of the actor with whom she was having an affair “openly accused Mrs. Johnson of having murdered her former husbands, partly out of deliberate sin and sometimes for gain. The accusation being made in public, someone got the authorities to exhume a few of the deceased husbands, and to have their remains examined. As arsenic was found in every one of them Mrs. Johnson was arrested, and is now being tried for murder.”

***

1895 – Marie Therese Joniaux-Ablay – Antwerp, Belgium

Marie Therese Joniaux, a 52-year-old Antwerp socialite, wife of Belgium’s Chief state engineer of roads and bridges in the province of Antwerp, murdered three persons – her sister, brother and uncle – to obtain insurance money.

***

1929 – Maria Kardos – Nagyrev, Hungary

Maria Kardos was accused of the murder of her own son and husband and the attempted murder of the husband of a friend. She was found guilty and hanged at the Budapest Central Prison on January 13, 1931. 

[1929 Tisza Valley, Hungary cases featured in this post: Fazekas, Foeldvary, Kardos, Lipka, Olah, Palinka]

***

1929 – Lisa Karl – Rhiems, France

The prosecutor described Lisa Karl, 42, as “the most cowardly, cruel and abject woman” he had ever seen, heard or read of.” With her paramour, Albert Clarisse, was convicted of one murder and suspected of two others. She beat an elderly woman, an inn keeper, to death with a wine bottle, later the killer couple burned the body with gasoline. They were both sentenced to death. Lisa was not executed; Albert was.

***

1887 – Kate & Kit Kelly (Kelly Family) – No Man’s Land, Kansas, USA

The Kellys were one of three nineteenth century serial murder clans operating in Kansas (the others being the Benders and the Stafflebacks). They operated in a region called No Man’s Land. The youngest of the serial murderers was daughter “Kit,” only 18 years old. When the family realized they were suspected they tried to high-tail it to Mexico but were run down by a posse. Papa Kelly, just before he was strung up confesses, saying that “he and all the members of his family were equally guilty. He said they had killed and robbed nine men and two women.” All the Kellys met the same fate.

***

1840 – Hanna Hanson Kinney – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Hanna Hanson Kinney was acquitted in 1840 of murdering her third husband and the end of a celebrated trial in Boston, yet she was not only likely to have murdered him but also her second husband in 1835 and that husband’s father earlier thae same year.

***

1922 – Tillie Klimek – Chicago, Illinois, USA (*)

Ottilie “Tillie” Klimek (or Tillie Gburek), a Polish immigrant to Chicago, was a serial killer whose suspected victims numbered, in some estimates, twenty, all of whom were relatives or lovers, including three husbands. She pretended to have precognitive dreams, accurately predicting the dates of death of her victims. The crime for which she was eventually tried was the murder of Frank Kupczyk, her third husband. In June 1923 she was sentenced to life in prison, the harshest sentence that had ever been leveled against a woman in Cook County. Her fourth husband, whom she was in the process of slow-poisoning at the time of her arrest, survived.

***

1893 – Frances Knorr (Minnie Thwaites) – Brunswick, Australia (*)

After a new tenant of Frances Knorr’s former residence dug up the corpse of a baby girl the police were notified. Further digging turned up another infant corpse. The former tenant, who turned out to be a baby farmer (child care provider), was tracked down and arrested. Frances Knorr, alias Minnie Thwaites, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. The hangman, of chivalrous character, said he would rather die than hang a woman. He committed suicide by cutting his throat. Knorr was executed on Jan. 15, 1894. After the hanging mothers came forward to report the deaths of their own children while in Knorr’s case. It was estimated by police, based on calculations of reports and the length of time Knorr had been in business, that the total number of murders may have been around thirteen.

***

1922 – Nellie Sturmer Koulik – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Tillie Klimek’s cousin and accomplice, Nellie Sturmer Koulik, was never prosecuted, although the list of her probable victims was very impressive. : 1 – Wojcik Stermer, Nellie’s first husband, died in 1918. Body, exhumed, disclosed arsenic. 2 and 3 – Sophie and Benjamin Stermer, Nellie’s 7-month-old twins, who died within a month of each other in 1917. 4 – Dorothy Spera, 2 year old granddaughter, who died in 1921, after her grandmother insisted that she be brought to her home for a simple cold. 5 – John Stermer, 22, Nellie’s son, who became ill in 1918 when his father died, but recovered. He declared he thought his mother had poisoned him.

***

1904 – Rae Anderman Krauss – Blackford City, Indiana, USA

Rae Anderman Krauss eventually confessed to the murder of Chrystal, her step-daughter, and was sentenced to life in prison. The other mysterious deaths which she was suspected of causing – of her parents and a former lover – were apparently never fully investigated.

***

1893 – Belinda Laphame – San Francisco, California, USA

Belinda Laphame (alias Mrs. Dr. Godfrey, alias Belinda Rozet, alias Dr. Goodman, alias Dr. Mary Goodwin, alias “Gypsy Queen.”), a midwife, was tried for three separate murders and acquitted each time. Two of the trials followed the deaths of abortion clients. One of them was for the murder of a two-day-old baby. At one of the court hearings: “Lottie Watson, the young woman whose infant daughter Mrs. Belinda Laphame, the Geary street midwife, is accused of murdering, gave sensational evidence at the preliminary examination this afternoon. She said Mrs. Laphame kept in the house three small babies, which had been killed by her. Their little bodies were preserved in alcohol and the jars were kept in her room.”

***

1912 – Olivia Charlotta Larsson – Malmo, Sweden 

The Larssens were foster “parents” who took in babies and neglected them to such a horrible degree it is dificult to comprehend. Two children near death were rescued after another died through wilful neglect. The photograph of one survivor – given the name Carl Eric after the rescue – is a dramatic testament.

***

1937 – Agnes Joan Ledford – St. Helens, Oregon, USA

Ruth Ledford poisoned her two teenage step-daughters and was suspected of murdering her first husband five years earlier. She was prosecuted for the murder of the younger of the girls and convicted. The jury recommended life imprisonment.

***

1906 Emma LeDoux (McVicar) – Jamestown, California, USA

Emma LeDoux, born in 1871, tall and beautiful, was a Vamp – a sexual predator. She married five men during her matrimonial career. Four of them died (according to one source). She was convicted of murdering no. 3 (while being bigamously married to no. 4). Sentenced to hang, she managed to get a commutation. Paroled after 14 years, she married again and, it seems, murdered no. 5.

***

1939 – Victoria Lefebvre – Fitchberg, Massachusetts, USA

Mrs. Victoria Lefebvre, 53, arrested on March 30, 1939 for the alleged poison slaying of her husband as police investigated the deaths of her two former husbands, one in Montreal. She later pleaded guilty to one murder.

***

1954 – Christa Lehmann – Mainz, Germany (*)

From a news report: “Cold-eyed Christa Lehmann today confessed taking a toll of three lives with poison as she added her late husband to a list which included a woman friend and her father-in-law. She has been questioned almost constantly since her friend, Annie Hamann, 30, died eight days ago, minutes after she had bitten into a bon-bon filled with a deadly insecticide.”

The publicity surrounding the case, describing the new insecticide product, named E605, set off a string of suicides in which the poison was used.

***

1912 – Louise Lindloff – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Louise Lindloff was a clairvoyant who serially poisoned her whole family for insurance money and after her arrest claimed their spirits were visiting her to protect her from false charges. She claimed her crystal ball contained a tear of Cleopatra. Despite her seances she was convicted of murder. Her lawyer was a flamboyant character, the man who is thought to have been F. Scott Fitzgerald's model for Gatsby.

***

1929 – Julianne Lipka – Nagyrev, Hungary (*)

“Mrs. Lipka had murdered her entire family – seven persons – to obtain real estate, and, by the time she was one of the richest women in the district. All she thought of was her land, even after she was found guilty and sentenced to death. “When can I go home?” she absentmindedly asked her lawyer. “They will auction off my property while I am here.” 

[1929 Tisza Valley, Hungary cases featured in this post: Fazekas, Foeldvary, Kardos, Lipka, Olah, Palinka]

***


Catalina de los Ríos y Lisperguer was nicknamed La Quintrala for her flaming red hair. She was of noble decent, a great beauty and an incorrigible sadist. Heiress to the most productive farm in the Kingdom of Chile. She was suspected of over 40 murders, her first being the poisoning of her father in 1623 with a meal of chicken. She was suspected of  ordering the assassination of a priest, of attempting to stab another who had visited her to redeem her soul, and the torture-murder of a lover. “One of her favorite pastimes was to slash and whip her inquilinos (serfs). Sometimes the pleasure of inflicting pain went so far that she tortured her victims to death.” After years of cover-ups Catalina’s crimes were finally brought to court and she was charged with multiple murders. La Quintrala died while awaiting trial.

***

1946 – Lottie Lockman – Dupont, Indiana, USA

Mrs. Lockman who was a home-based caretaker for the elderly, was suspected in a total of five deaths, was arrested three times, a body was disinterred, but never convicted.

***

1912 – Mary Lucas – Lansing, Michigan, USA

Suspected of having murdered a husband who died mysteriously and a boarder who disappeared, Mary Lucas was convicted of a single murder, that of a woman, motivated by jealousy.

***

1958 – Anjette Donovan Lyles – Macon, Georgia, USA

From a news report: “At Anjette’s trial, the prosecution was permitted to prove not only that Anjette had killed her daughter by poisoning in 1958, but that she had done the same thing to her first husband in 1952, her second husband in 1955, and her mother-in-law in 1957. The deaths of all four victims were shown to be logically connected in at least ten ways: (1) each of the victims occupied a close relationship to Anjette; (2) each of the victims died of a unique cause--arsenic poisoning; (3) each victim died as a result of multiple doses built up to a lethal level; (4) Anjette was the only person in close personal attendance to all four victims; (5) Anjette showed little or no grief over each death; (6) Anjette collected a substantial amount of money as a result of each death; (7) each of the victims was lavishly buried by Anjette; (8) all the victims were carried to the same hospital, at which they were attended by Anjette; (9) Anjette expressed intense dislike for each of the victims either before or after his or her death; and (10) Anjette predicted the death of each of victims, except her first husband.

Although circumstantial, the evidence that Anjette had killed all four victims was, viewed in its totality, compelling. There was overwhelming evidence that the victims died of arsenic poisoning given in doses over a period of time, and ant poison containing arsenic was found in Anjette’s bedroom.”

***

1911 – Rachel Lynn – Atlanta, Georgia, USA

From news reports: “Suspicion that criminal operations and infant murders had taken place there led to a police raid upon the home of Mrs. “Doctor” Rachel Lynn, spiritualist and midwife, in a fashionable section of Atlanta, and the arrest of Mrs. Lynn and two of her negro servants. Chief of Detectives Lanford said the charges against Mrs. Lynn were based upon information furnished him by the two women held as witnesses, whose names are withheld. One of them told him, he said, of a conversation she had while in the house with a negro maid in which the latter said that ‘every grate in the house had contained the ashes of a dead baby.’” “Chief of Detectives Lanford charges that Mrs. Lynn used fiendish cunning in killing the babes by strangling them to death with cords, by piercing their heads with sharp iron instruments and burning them alive in red hot stoves and grates.”

***

1892 – Sarah Jane Makin – Sydney, Australia (*)

Sarah Makin murdered babies using knitting needles, piercing them in the heart. She and her husband were baby farmers. The estimated number of murders is more than twelve. They were both convicted and sentenced to death. The man was hanged; the woman (Sarah) was spared.

***

1926 – Elsie Bible Malinsky – Flora, Illinois, USA

Elsie Bible Malinsky was a wife in the way killer. She murdered her female fiend so she could marry her husband Mr. Bible. Then she murdered him. Next she targeted another married man for the same routine, murdering the wife and marrying him. Mr. Malinsky had no knowledge of the scheming of the murderess wife number two. In passing sentence of life imprisonment, Circuit Judge Thomas M. Jett unleashed a scathing denunciation of the woman and her crime, telling the murderess: “If you were a man I would hang you. The fact that you are a woman is all that saves you.”

***

1938 – Martha Marek – Vienna, Austria (*)

Martha Lowenstein Marek was guillotined in Vienna on the December 6, 1938, for murdering her husband, their baby daughter, an elderly relative, whose money and house she inherited, and finally a lodger in her house. The lodger’s relatives informed the police who ordered the exhumation of all four bodies resulting in the finding of thallium. Martha was motivated by the desire to live in luxury.

***

1912 – Enriqueta Martí – Barcelona, Spain (*)

Enriqueta Martí was an occult cannibal pedophile child-trafficker and serial killer. She once forced a little girl to eat portions of the body of a child the woman had slain. Enriqueta would rent out the children she had abducted to pedophiles and also supplied these customers with "magic potions" she made from the boiled down remains of the children she murdered.

***

1956 – Rhonda Belle Martin – Montgomery, Alabama, USA (*)

Rhonda Bell Thomley Martin was the only known female serial killer to have donated her body to science – a decision she made in preparation for being executed. She confessed to murdering her mother, two husbands, and three of her children, but denied murdering two other other deceased children.

***

1931 – Alice Mason – Pekin, Illinois, USA

Mrs. Alice and Mason, a 50 years old widow, was arrested November 18, 1931 a charge of murdering her 12 years old daughter, Mildred, with poison. On February 8, 1932 she pleaded guilty to murdering Mildred. She was also suspected of poisoning a 15-year-oldson, who survived and making plans to murder another son, 22. “She was sentenced to spend the remainder of her life in the woman’s reformatory at Dwight. No attempt was made to prosecute her on a charge of killing her husband, who died several years ago.”

***

1944 – Carmen Matamoros de Tejeda – Panzacola, Tehuantepec Dist, Oaxaca, Mexico

Locals called her “Madame Werewolf.” From a newspaper report: “When police of Mexico City swooped on an eerie house and garden in the quiet town of Panzacola to free a nude, half-crazed, 18-years-old girl, whose chained body bore savage imprints of teeth, strange welts, and hideous scars, they uncovered a cesspool seething with the paraphernalia of witchcraft and black magic. But more petrifying was the subsequent discovery of the bones and bodies of two tiny babies …”

***

1903 – Mary McKnight – Kalkaska, Michigan, USA

“Mrs. Mary McKnight, who has been called a modern Borgia because of her confession to the murder of her brother, his wife and baby, and who is suspected of having caused the deaths of eight other persons by the stealthy administration of strychnine during the past fifteen years, has lived in Kalkaska, Mich., all her life, respected and supposedly sane. But for a filing of a mortgage with the figures raised, alleged to have given her by her brother, the crimes might never have been discovered. She first confessed to one murder, then at other times to two others, and it is thought she will tell of the killing of some of the other persons, including two of her former husbands.”

***

1893 – Mary Meyer – South Bend, Indiana, USA

In Chicago Mary Dresser murdered her wealthy father in concert with Dr. Henry Meyer, a seasoned insurance scam serial killer, for his insurance money. She then became Dr. Meyer’s third wife. They traveled about pursuing their racket, murdering an estimated nine other victims following the Dresser murder. They were located by insurance company detectives and the husband was extradited to New York City, the site of their latest murder. The wife was pregnant and allowed to give birth before being extradited. Dr. Meyer was convicted of murdering the pair’s final victim, Ludwig Brandt, but Mary was never prosecuted.

***

1924 – Euphemia Mondich – Detroit, Michigan, USA

Euphemia Mondich married nine times. Her second and fourth husbands once met to congratulate each other on being alive. Mrs. Mondich’s first husband died mysteriously. The skeleton of her lover, John Urdovich, was dug up by police under a house she once owned. She admitted shooting Urdovich. The body of her third husband, Joe Sokolsky, never was found. She said she and Urdovich had buried it where a building now stands.

“Mrs. Mondich, under grilling, confessed she had killed a man named "John" with his own revolver, a week after she had seen him club her eighth husband, John Sokoloski, to death in an automobile.” She was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Her second and fourth husbands one met to congratulate each other for being alive.

***

1935 – Julianna Nagy – Debreczen, Hungary

Julianna Nagy, arrested at the age of 72, was known by villagers as the “magic medicine woman.” The newspapers called her the “poison witch.” And an “angel maker.” The men were poisoned “by slow degrees, by their wives who administered the deadly stuff in food in small regular quantities.” “Julianna was not only a self-made widow but had first made “angels” of her husband’s previous wife and all his five children.” Over a period of decades she supplied poison to women who wished to make themselves widows. It is believed that Nagy’s victims throughout the surrounding region numbered in the hundreds, but she was tried for only twenty-two murders. Nagy was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

***

1894 – Martha Needle – Richmond, Australia

Martha Needle murdered five persons, her husband, three of her own small daughters and that man whom she expected to be her future brother-in-law. Each one died an excruciatingly painful death. It was for the latter man’s murder that she was convicted and hanged on October 22, 1894.

From a newspaper report: “None of those who are thrown into contact with Martha Needle can fathom her character. The condemned woman’s mask of impenetrable reserve has confessedly baffled the governor of the gaol. Dr Shields, the Government medical officer, and both her spiritual advisers … Even to these experienced eyes the extraordinary woman is as inscrutable as the Sphinx.” It is a bizarre fact that Martha Needle spent most of the insurance money she gained from murdering her family on an elaborate grave for her family, which she visited almost every day.

***

1913 – Isabella Newman – Melbourne, Australia

From a news report: “The death of Mrs. Isabella Newman formed the subject of an inquiry by the coroner to-day. The deceased swallowed a quantity of strychnine at her farm at Mordialloc on 5th December while she was under arrest on a charge laid under the Infant Life Protection Act. The cause of the deaths of two infants, whose bodies were found buried at the farm, and of an infant whose body was found on the beach at Carrara, was also inquired into.”

***

1917 – Hilda Nilsson – Helsingborg, Sweden

“Hilda Nilsson was a Swedish serial killer from Helsingborg who became known as “the angel maker on Bruksgatan Street.” In 1917 she was imprisoned for murdering eight children.”

***

1905 – Alva Nordberg – Stockholm, Sweden

In 1905 Alva Nordberg, 29, a child care provider (baby farmer) residing in Rådmansö parish, Stockholm, Sweden, was convicted of killing three babies – through either neglect or assault. She was not prosecuted for the death of a fourth child who perished after being removed from her care. Nordberg was sentenced to only four years in prison.

***

1895 – Queen Mother Nyirauhi V Kanjogera – Tutsi Tribe, Rwanda

Mother of Tutsi King Msinga, whose chief claim to fame is the fact that she poisoned six of her relatives in order to insure the safe reign of her son Msinga.

***

1929 – Suzi Olah – Nagyrev, Hungary (*)

“Aunt Susi” was a midwife, abortionist and – along with Julia Fazekas and Julianne Lipka – was one of the leading poison sellers in Hungary’s Tisza valley. She murdered her husband and when her son figured out what was going on she killed him off too. “Under Susi's guidance, an unwanted husband was easily dispatched via her ever faithful arsenic. The stout women of the village, once stuck with unloving husbands, took on lovers. If hubby objected, a little meeting with Susi usually straightened him out – permanently.”

“For years Susi serviced the women of the area. Men died, women took on new husbands and lovers. A sort of secret sisterhood existed, with Susi acting as high priestess. She expanded her operations, dispensing her "medicine" to women who wanted to rid themselves of the elderly.”

[1929 Tisza Valley, Hungary cases featured in this post: Fazekas, Foeldvary, Kardos, Lipka, Olah, Palinka]

***

1865 – Maria Oliviero – Cattanzaro, Italy

“At the age of twenty, Maria Oliviero murdered her sister, hacking her 48 times with an axe for slander and joined her husband’s gang. She was arrested in 1864 and went on trial in February, was charged with 32 crimes: kidnapping, violent robberies and thefts, fires, and murders. She confessed to the murder of his sister, but for the rest she claimed she was coerced into participating.”

***

1911 – Agnes Orner – El Paso, Texas, USA

Agnes Orner was arrested in 1908 for poisoning children, but as there was no prosecutable evidence she was released. The following year her husband died and she was arrested on a charge of “lunacy,” since there was insufficient evidence for a homicide charge. She was acquitted. At the funeral of her 11-year-old daughter in 1911 she was arrested on suspicion of murdering the child. It took six trials (due to either mistrial on a technicality after conviction, or hung juries) to finally successfully convict her and for the verdict to be upheld on appeal.

***

1920 – Dagmar Overbye – Copenhagen, Denmark

Madame Overby, child care provider, murdered babies for profit – having paid in advance for their care she could kill them soon after taking them in and pocket the difference. One scholar states that “Dagmar Overbye committed the first murder of a child for adoption in 1916.” She kept the scam going until she was caught in 1920. The corpses were stored in her attic, burned in a stove or hidden elsewhere. One she tossed into a garbage heap. One news report states that “complaints were filed with the authorities covering her operations during eleven years, in which the records show the mysterious disappearance of 180 infants entrusted to them.”

***

1929 – Frau Palinka – Nagyrev, Hungary

“The widow Palinka only murdered one husband but it worked so nicely that she could not resist getting more of the stuff [arsenic] and in two years slipped six more members of her family, her parents, two brothers, sister-in-law and aunt, into the graveyard. By so doing she inherited a nice house and two and a half acres.” [newspaper report]

[1929 Tisza Valley, Hungary cases featured in this post: Fazekas, Foeldvary, Kardos, Lipka, Olah, Palinka]

***



1936 – Velma Patterson – Commerce, Texas, USA

Velma Patterson’s third husband and two daughters, aged 11 and 13, from her first marriage died between September 1935 and February 1936. The children’s bodies were disinterred and their remains contained identical signs of poisoning. Mrs. Patterson was scheduled for separate trials for the children’s murders. In the first trial the prosecutor asked for the death penalty. The just which on first ballot was 5 for guilty, 7 for acquittal, ended up rendering a acquittal verdict. The second trial was postponed the deay it was to begin due to the illness of the central witness and, apparently, the prosecution later decided to withdraw. The husband’s body was, it seems, never exhumed.

***


1944 – Louise Peete – Pacific Palisades, California, USA

Louise Peete was a coast-to-coast (Boston, Texas, California) predator upon wealthy men and an incorrigible recidivist female serial killer. In 1921 she was sentenced to life in prison for murdereing a man and paroled after eighteen years. She was back to her murderous ways until finally in 1945 she was conviocted of murder once again and sentenced to death. She expired in the San Quentin, California gas chamber on April 11, 1947.

***

1911 – Maria Persson – Malmo, Sweden

The Perssons were a couple who murdered babies. Mrs. Persson was a midwife, her husband was a factory foreman with access to a furnace in which he burned corpses of infants. 73 children in their charge were found to have gone “missing.”

***

1906 – Martha Petromany – Knees (Satchinez), Temesvar, Romania ("Hungary")

Martha Petromany of Kneez (Satchinez), Romania, was a wholesale poisoner who provided arsenic to be used by her customers who wished to commit a murder – or several murders. “Within a year, it is estimated, one hundred persons have died of poison in this village of 1,000 inhabitants. … Husbands poisoned their wives, wives poisoned their husband, parents poisoned their children, children poisoned their parents. No relation, not even that of lovers, was a bar to murderous designs.”

***

1896 – Alice Platt – Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Alice Platt, 28, was charged with poisoning three members of the household where she was employed with strychnine. Three died, a woman of 60 and two children, aged 10 and 4. She was tried and, much to the consternation of some, but to the delight of others, was acquitted.

***

1928 – Anuja de Poshtonja (Anna Pistova) – Valadimirovac, Yugoslavia (Serbia)

Anujka de Poshtonja was called “The Witch of Vladimirovac.” Born into a prosperous family, Anujka became rich from selling poison (which she told police was love potion”) the wives of wealthy farmers poison. She was over 90 when she was finally prosecuted and sentenced to prison. When Anujka was arrested she tried at first to frighten the young police sergeant who came to her, he reported. “I work with the devil, young man,” she said. “If you imprison me you’ll remember it to your dying day. Don’t play with the forces of evil.”

***

1923 – Eliza Potegian – Fresno, California, USA

Elizabeth Potegian, an Armenian immigrant living in central California, was accused of murdering her husband, two stepchildren. Mrs. Potegian under arrest, accused her mother, Mrs. Maria Torosian. When the police went to arrest the woman they found her body dangling from a rafter in her home. She had hanged herself. On the same day Mrs. Potegian tried to kill herself in her jail cell, slashing her wrists. During the investigation it was learned that while living in Armenia, Mrs. Torosian had been married six times, each husband meeting his death under mysterious circumstances. Mrs. Potegian was tried for the murder of her step-daughter, with her surviving son, Gordon, as the principal prosecution witness, and was found guilty

***

1911 – Jane Taylor Quinn – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Jane Taylor Quinn's first husband died of alcoholism it was claimed. Her second husband was shot dead and she accused a burglar. Charles E. Thorpe, her step-son, testified that she was alone with Thorpe when he was killed, a few hours before he was to have transferred his property to his son. Her third husband was shot in his Chicago home Nov. 2. She accused a burglar of the deed on this occasion as well. Later, a revolver was found in her bathroom. Two of the deceased husbands had been insured in her favor.” She was tried for murder of husband number three but not convicted.

***

1952 – Marie Emilie Raymond – Galan, Hautes-Pyrénées, France

Marie Emilie Raymond was a nurse who murdered patients. “I love looking at dying people. The last smile on a dying face gives me a great thrill,” she said. Police say that when Marie was arrested she had £100 in Francs pinned inside her bodice and bottles of mole and moose poison in her room. She also had a rake because, ‘I love raking freshly filled graves.’” “Witnesses from the old folks’ home have testified that Marie would stop passing nurses and murmur: ‘The dying, they’re so inspiring.’ Sister Therese, head of the home, first reported Marie to the police, after noting that the old spinster was uncannily accurate in forecasting death.”

***

1720 – Mary Read – Caribbean

Pirate, partnered with Anne Bonny.

***

1909 – Martha Rendell – Perth, Australia (*)

“Rendell brutally abused Morris’ children, once beating Annie so brutally that she could not walk. Arresting officer Inspector Harry Mann said ‘she delighted in seeing her victims writhe in agony, and from it derived sexual satisfaction.’” [Wikipedia]

***

1897 – Marie Ret – Paris, France

“Queen of Stranglers” Marie Ret led a gang of brutal stranglers who preyed upon primarily working class men and women. The modus operandi was for Marie to decoy the intended victim into the thick bushes surrounding the fortifications. Once inside he was seized from behind by two accomplices and garroted. To make assurance doubly sure the woman leader herself plunged a dagger into the victim’s heart. After the body had been stripped and the clothing rifled the corpse was cast into the stagnant water of the moat.

***

1912 – Maria Reyes – Mexico City, Mexico

Serial killer Maria Reyes was arrested in Mexico City in 1912. For many years she had been kidnapping children – babies and toddlers – whom she would torture and/or murder by strangling. Newspapers dubbed the murderess “The Pescuecera” (definition: knot used to tie the neck to livestock. It has the quality of not move, thus preventing the hanging which could cause accidental animal struggle to free itself). The woman was unkempt, always seen dressed in rags, with matted hair, no teeth, and a growth of fuzz on her upper lip. Her feet were dirty, deformed and overgrown nails. She had previously been jailed on several occasions.

***

1933 – Viktoria Foedi Rieger – Szeged, Hungary

Victoria Foedi Rieger, known to many as "Smoking Peter," passed as a man and hated the male sex. She devised a clever murder method, in which she would instruct the wife to set up the husband in a faked suicide-by-hanging scenario. Rieger charged only a token payment for the services she offered to women with an eye on instant widowhood.

***

1886 – Sarah Jane Robinson – Summerville, Massachusetts, USA

In the early part of 1888, Mrs. Sarah Robinson was convicted of murder in the first degree in Boston, Mass. The particular crime for which she was convicted was the poisoning of her son. This woman was a regular borgia, and there were no less than seven counts in the indictment under which she was tried. She was also accused of poisoning Wm. J. Robinson and six other parties at different times. The chief incentive, as far as known, was securing various sums of money with which the lives of her victims were insured.

***

1847 – Mary Runkle – Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York, USA

Mary Runkle was suspected of five murders, including three of her own children and her husband. One child was, however spared. “She obliged her daughter, (a girl of but 11 years of age.), to become either the unwilling accessory or the affrighted witness of the affray. It is generally supposed that the girl was told by her mother to hold him on the floor, and that the girl held his legs down, while the wife’s hand was grasped on her husband’s throat with a violence that deprived him of life.” Mrs. Runkle was executed by hanging.

***

1902 – Amelia Sach & Annie Walters – Finchley, England

“The Finchley Baby Farmers,” Amelia Sach & Annie Walters, for a handsome fee, would collect the baby after it was born, and then dispose of it with poison — chlorodyne (a medicine containing morphine) and dispose of the tiny in the Thames or buried or in a garbage dump. Police had been alerted to their operation and started shadowing the women. On November 18, 1902, “Walters was followed to Kensington Station where she was discovered in the ladies’ lavatory with a dead infant boy in her arms, his hands clenched, his tongue swollen and lips purple and black. The victim was the four-day-old son of Ada Charlotte Galley, a servant who had recently given birth at Claymore House. The cause of death was said to be asphyxia and Sach and Walters were arrested for murder.”

“Two weeks later, nine starving children were found in a house not far away in Wood Green, including two babies lying in the lid of an old rush basket.” Their execution on February 3, 1903 was the only double hanging of women to be carried out in modern times. One newspaper reported that, following the arrest of Sach and Walters there had been a precipitous decrease in the number of dead babies found around London.

***

1762 – Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova – Moscow, Russia

Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova was an aristocrat in Moscow who was arrested in 1762, following years of complaints to the Royal Court of Castherine II which could no longer be conveniently ignored. Saltykova was held for six years (until 1768), while the authorities conducted a painstaking investigation. “The investigating official counted as many as 138 suspicious deaths, of which the vast majority were attributed to Saltykova. She was found guilty of having killed 38 female serfs by beating and torturing them to death. 

Reports stated that the noblewoman had beat her victims with rods and rolling pins and mutilated their genitals. In 1768, Saltykova was pilloried, displayed for a duration of one hour in chains in Moscow’s public square with a sign around her neck reading: “This woman has tortured and murdered.” Following this display, Darya Saltykova was imprisoned for life in the basement of Moscow’s Ivanovsky Convent.

***

1941 – Felícitas Sánchez Aguillón (or Sánchez Neyra) – Mexico City, Mexico

Felícitas Sánchez Aguillón or Sánchez Neyra (1890 - June 16, 1941) was a Mexican nurse, midwife, baby farmer and serial killer, active during the 1930s in Mexico City, who killed babies in her care. It is estimated that Felícitas murdered children in numbers ranging from between 40 and neatly a hundred. Her victims were aged from newborn to three years old. Typically she would poison or strangle the children, according to some reports sometimes she would dismember a child while still living. Felícitas was given various sobriquets by the Mexican press, such as “The Ogress of Colonia Roma,” “The Female Ripper of Colonia Roma,” and “The Human Crusher of little angels.”

***

1893 – Mattie C. Shann – Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Mattie Shann was believed to have murdered her husband and son and to have poisoned her daughter-in-law, who imbibed only a small quantity of poison before noticing the substance at the bottom of a glass of lemonade. She was also suspected of being a serial arsonist, burning three houses in Princeton. She was tried for the murder of her son, but the jury found her “not guilty.”

***

1925 – Julia Shepherd – Chicago, Illinois, USA

From a 1925 news report : Chicago police, on the recommendation of a coroner’s jury, arrested Mrs. Julia Shepherd, who was characterized by Mr. Justice Olsen as the Lady Macbeth of a series of alleged murders designed to secure for herself and her husband a fortune of £500,000.

***

1871 – Lydia Sherman – New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA (*)

Lydia Sherman murdered three husbands and three children, poisoning them with arsenic. Though she was the most prolific female serial killer of the period she was not – as were Martha Grinder and Sarah Whiteling – executed for her crimes.

***

1807 – Ching Shih – China

The Cantonese bandit Ching Shih was one of the most powerful pirates in history. She commanded 1800 ships and more than 80,000 pirates — men, women, and children.

***

1925 – Antoinette Sierri ("Scierri") – Nimes, France (*)

The only motive which the French police now hold in the mysterious poisoning of six persons by Antoinette Scierri, a nurse, is that she liked to see her victims’ death struggles. Although small sums of money were taken in several instances, it is believed that this was not the basic death motive. The nurse made wreaths for the graves of her victims and showed tender care during their last moments.

***

1930s – Grace Sims Brickel Ridge, Tennessee, USA

“In the early 20th century, Grace Sims was known for her exploits. She had several children by married men, sent for mail-order husbands who mysteriously disappeared once she had their money and hired vagabonds who were never seen again after working on her hog farm, according to legend. She never served time for her suspected serial killings, but she was imprisoned for mail fraud over the mail-order husbands.” [Ron Clayton, “Meigs gets Grace Sims’ prison quilt,” Chatanooga Times Free Press (Tn.), Mar. 12, 2009]

***

1890 – Marianne Skoublinska – Warsaw, Poland

A professional baby-murderer who charged to get rid of unwanted children who fed scores of children to her pigs and bragged about having the fattest pigs in the region. She was apprehended after she torched her own home – with five children inside – to collect insurance money.

***

1938 – Mary Eleanor Smith – Pocatello, Idaho, USA

Nicknamed “Shoe Box Annie,” for her bootlegging activites, Mary Eleanor Smith was a single mom who raised a son to be a murderer – just like her. The mom-son murder pair was suspected of murdering four people. They were known for using sophisticated methods for disposing of all taces of their victims: dismembering (it was thought) corpses in a bathtub and dissolving the body parts with acid. They were also known for their use of one of the rarest weapons in the annals of crime: the shortlived product called the “gas gun.” After a protracted legal process, Mary’s son, DeCastro Earl Mayer, became despondent at the thought of being convicted and executed and so he committed suicide. This prompted the grieving mother to finally issue a confession of her crime.

***

1849 – Rebecca Smith – Westbury, Wiltshire, England

Rebecca Smith was executed for killing one of her children and after conviction confessed to having murdered others. “She was about forty-four years of age—had been married eighteen years, and had eleven children—the eldest only, a daughter, is now alive. The second, a boy, died of a bowel complaint, at the age of fourteen weeks. All the rest, with the exception of the last but one, the unhappy woman acknowledged that she poisoned a day or two after their birth.”

***

1925 – Della Sorenson – Dannenborg, Nebraska, USA (*)

Della Sorenson murdered eight relatives and neighbors, including three of her own children. In her own words:

“They bothered me, so I decided to kill them.”
“Every time I gave poison to one of Mrs. Cooper’s children, I said to myself, “Now I’m going to get even with you (Mrs. Cooper) for what you have said about me,” the confession said.
“After the death of my little daughter, Minnie, I had a feeling of elation and happiness. Then, after I got to thinking about what I had done, I was afraid and tried to hide it. I had the same feeling after the death of every one of those I poisoned.”
“I had feelings which would steal over me at times forcing me to destroy and kill. I felt funny and happy. I like to attend funerals.”

***

1950 – Miriam Soulakiotis – Keratera, Greece (*)

From a news report: “The Calendarists first hit the news columns back in 1950 when their convent’s mother superior, Miriam Soulakiotis (a former factory worker), was arrested on 23 charges that included murder, fraud, embezzlement, abduction and assault. As a result of the shocking revelations made by Prosecting Attorney Andreas Papakaris during the three trials needed to cover all the charges, Miss Soulakiotis became known as “The Woman Rasputin.” Sentenced to 16 years, she died in prison in 1954 at the age of 71.”

***

1921 – Lyda Trueblood Southard – Twin Falls, Idaho, USA (*)

Between 1915 and 1920 Lyda Trueblood Southard committed, it is suspected, a total of six murders (4 husbands, a brother-in-law, and her own child). In each case she pretended that the deceased had contracted either typhoid, influenza or had died of ptomaine poisoning. In reality they all died from arsenic poisoning.

On November 4, 1921, in Twin Falls, Idaho, Lyda was convicted of the murder of her fourth husband on and was sentenced to 10 years in prison (Boise, Idaho). On May 4, 1931, she escaped and was not captured until July 31, 1932 and by then she had tied the knot with husband No. 5; later they divorced. Lyda was pardoned in 1942 and quickly married again. She died Feb. 5, 1948. It is not known what became of her 1942 catch.

***

1911 – Carrie Bodie Sparling – Ubly, Michigan, USA

There were three suspects in the serial murder for insurance of five of Carrie Bodie Sparling’s family members. At first only the physician and the nurse were arrested. In the end, Mrs. Sparling went free. But Dr. Robert A. McGregor was convicted of murdering Cyril Sparling. Mrs. Sparling had received insurance payments after the deaths of her husband and two older sons.

One theory is that, since the trusted doctor was the one who convinced Carrie to take out insurance policies on her family members the real motive for murder was explainable as a design in which the poisonings were Dr. McGregor’s roundabout way of putting money into his customer’s hand so that his continuing feed could be paid to him. In 1914, after charges were dropped against her for playing a role in the murder of Cyril, Carrie Sparling submitted a claim for an insurance payment on a policy she had taken out on is life. The case is still talked about in the locale where it took place and still remains a mystery.

***

1949 – Clarice Spurlock – Evansville, Indiana; Memphis, Tenn., USA

Clarice Spurlock was arrested on suspicion of murdering her mother. Investigation turned up additional suspicions, the murder of her father, the attempted murder of her husband who, at the time of her arrest had been ill for months and a bit of arson. There was not sufficient evidence to convict her of murder. The husband, at least, survived.

***

1897 – Nancy Staffleback – Galena, Kansas, USA

Nancy Staffleback was matriarch of a large family that engaged in many crimes, murder among them. The list of suspected murder victims includes at least six persons. A newspaper description of her: “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 convicted of murder in 1897 at the age of 65 and sentenced to 25 years in prison, where she died on March 10, 1909.

***

1929 – Hattie Stone – Belair, Maryland, USA

Hattie Stone was convicted of murdering her 15-year-old son and suspected of murdering four others as well: another son, her husband and her parents-in-law. Hattie took the insurance proceeds and spent them on her boyfriends who she took to Atlantic City for amusement.

***

1925 – Birdie Strome – Springfield, Ohio, USA

Esta Strome, Birdie’s 14-year-old step-daughter, “died under mysterious circumstances after predicting that she would succumb at a certain date and on a specific hour.” An autopsy showed evidence of strychnine poisoning. Birdie was arrested and tried for murder. At the trial witnesses testified that Esta was in perfect health a few hours before her death. Mrs. Strome gave her tea, which, the prosecutor, contained strychnine. The prosecutor asserted that Mrs. Strome poisoned Esta, because, of an intense hatred for the girl and because the child lavished a wealth of affection upon her father. Other testimony revealed that Mrs. Strome’s first husband, George Frock, died under similar of strichnine poisoning 1922, and a sister in law of his died the same manner. Birdie was convicted of murdering Esta and sentenced to life in prison.

***

1939 – Anna Louise Sullivan – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

She murdered her second husband, attempted to murder her third husband and his two sons and daughter, leaving one son dead, the husband crippled and the daughter very ill.

Mrs. Sullivan explained: “I didn’t like them, so I put paris green [poison] in their soup.” Departing for the women's state prison, Mrs. Sullivan, remarked that she thought the life term imposed for the paris green murder of her stepson, James Sullivan, 18, was “too long.”

***

1931 – Margaret Summers – Chicago, Illinois, USA

Five persons died in the home of Margaret Summers in the three years leading up to he arrest on suspicion of murdering her orphaned 17-year-old nephew, Thomas Meyer. Investigators discovered a list of nineteen deaths in Margaret’s “family Bible” which they set out to investrigate. The list reportedly included five dead husbands. Eleven on the list seem to have been likely to have been murdered. Five other victims were to come, based on the fact that Mrs. Summers had taken out insurance on their lives. Mrs. Summers was convicted of the mrder of Thomas Meyer and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

***

1883 – Maria Swanenburg (Van der Linden) – Leiden, Netherlands

“Maria Catherina Swanenburg was affectionately given the nickname of “Goeie Mie” ( Dutch for “Good Me”), which she got for taking care of children and ill people in the poor neighborhood of Leiden in which she lived. After “Goeie Mie” was caught poisoning a family by the name of Groothuizen the murderess was arrested December 15, 1883. The investigation of her crimes looked into more than 90 suspicious deaths and lasted more than eighteen years. Maria’s first victims were her own parents whom she murdered in 1883. The majority of her poisoning victims survived. Twenty-seven died; forty-five survived. But many of them were crippled for life. For decades Goeie Mie’s poisoning victims could be seen navigating about Leiden on crutches.” [Wikipedia]

***

1948 – Irmgard Swinka (aka: Kuschinsky) – Hamm (Berlin), Germany

“Former Berlin waitress Irmgard Swinka (37), was sentenced to death for poisoning 5 women. She offered poisoned cigarettes and drugs to elderly spinsters and robbed them. She was said to have been twice divorced and to have a third bieamous husband.” [A brief English-language news report]

***

1950 – Georgia Tann – Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Georgia Tann may well be the most prolific serial killer in US history. During Tann’s tenure as head of the organization she founded, Tennessee Children’s Home Society, in Memphis, the region had the highest infant mortality rate in the nation. Her practice was to rid herself of those babies put in her charge she deemed unsaleable by leaving them unattended out in the sun until they broiled to death. She and her lover and male sexual deviants she employed would beat and torture children for the perverse sexual thrill of it.

According to one surviving victim, Georgia and her companion would hit the children “on the scalp so no one could see the bruises.” Favored forms of child torture at the Home included tying a rope around a child’s wrists and hang it up on a coat rack and dangling a child from a rope down the laundry chute.

***

1927 – Alma (McClavey) Theede – Memphis, Tennessee, USA

“Vance Avenue Alma” was a prostitute. She had seven husbands. Some she divorced, one died in a car wreck and she murdered the others, three of them. In 1919 she murdered No. 2, No. 4 in 1927, and no. 6 in 1946. Even numbers were obviously unlucky.

***

1925 – Alsa Thompson – Hollywood, California, USA

Alsa Thompson was 7-years-old at time she was apprehended. She had been caught poisoning family members, and wielding a razor blade against the children (including her toddler sister), at the Hollywood, California home in which her separated parents had temporarily placed her. Alsa confessed and added that she murdered her 2-year old twin sisters when her family lived in Canada.

There are other cases of very young girls who were serial killers, yet this is the only case for which there is a photograph. These serial killer girls (with the exception of Mary Bell, England, 1968), which date from the 19th to just a few years ago (Brazil, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Nigeria, Russia) are completely ignored (with the exception of Mary Bell) in the professional literature (criminology, sociology, psychology).

***

1877 – Sophia Martha Todd – Liverpool, England

Sophia Martha Todd was a baby farmer who would accept fees for the care of babies and then murder her tiny charges, pocketing the food-and-necessities money for herself. She is known to have killed six and the corpse of the child whose death led to her prosecution was found with a crushed skull.

***

1920 – Anna Tomaskiewicz – Northhampton, Massachusetts, USA

“Mrs. Anna Tomaskiewiez, the strange woman ‘Bluebeard’ of South Hartley, was preparing for her sixth husband when her fifth spouse died. Mike Djurizzko, a boarder, was to be her next husband, according to testimony in the case. Mrs. Tomaskiewiez had already tried to obtain insurance made out in her name for Mike. The Polish insurance agent refused to accept the application and it was this fact that led to the unearthing of her tangled career.”

The press said she she was running a “murder factory.” The prosecutor charged “that the woman caused the death of two husbands, one in Connecticut and one in New York, and that suspicious circumstances attended the deaths of the other two.” The jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity. “Mrs. Tomaskiewicz, was seen to smile when the verdict was given by the jury foreman. Mrs. Tomaskiewicz was committed to the Northampton State Hospital for the Insane for life.”

***

1901 – Jane Toppan – Boston, Massachusetts, USA (*)

Nurse Jane Toppan loved to murder. Her toll was at least 31.

“No one could have guessed that during her tenure at a Massachusetts hospital the amiable ‘Jolly Jane; was morbidly obsessed with autopsies, or that she conducted her own after-hours experiments on patients, deriving sexual satisfaction in their slow, agonizing deaths from poison.” (Harold Schechter, Fatal)

***

1912 – Frieda Trost – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Frieda Trost was convicted of murdering her second husband and sentenced to life in prison. After the arrest Christian Hartmann, the brother of her first husband, Frederick Hartmann, came forward stating that there was strong circumstantial evidence that she had murdered husband number one and his three children.

“We lived in Philadelphia,” Christian Hartmann explained, “up to a few years ago Mrs. Trost used to come and talk about spirits to us. One day she came to me and said that she could do nothing with Fred’s physical self. ‘I want his soul,' she said.”

***

1909 – Maud Turner – Toronto, Canada

From a news report: “The discovery of a baby lying dead beside the railway yesterday near Niagara halls with the word “Authors” on a ticket pasted on its back, led to the arrest of Mrs. Maud Turner, to whom had been given $100 to adopt the child a few days ago. This arrest and the publicity attached to it brought a score of letters to the detective department from people [whose] children she adopted but who fear theirs may also have been killed. When Mrs. Turner was arrested she had another child with her. The police obtained information pointing to the belief that this woman has adopted scores of babies for a consideration and, having strangled them, thrown their bodies into Lake Ontario or some other obscure place.”

***

1931 – Rose Veres – Detroit, Michigan, USA

She was known to children in a Michigan Hungarian immigrant community as the “Witch of Delray.” Delray was a village near Detroit which became incorportated into the city as it grew. A little girl witnessed the death of a tenant of Rose Veres’ who she observed was pushed from inside an attic window as he was perched on the ladder from which he fell. Mr. Mack’s death netted the landlady a tidy $4,000 life insurance award. Rose and her son were convicted of his murder and sentenced to life in prison. The investigation turned up eleven other suspicious deaths of men in the Veres “house of death,” as neighbors called it, which had occurred between 1924 and 1931. Each had produced insurance awards for the landlady following the death. Police found 75 insurance policies in her home.

In 1945 Rose Veres and her son were awarded a retrial on a technicality: the presiding judge was absent from the courtroom when the verdict was returned. They were set free after serving 13 years in prison. For story of the has been kept alive – “the Witch of Delray is going to get you” – told by mothers to keep their children in line.

***

1911 – Louise Vermilya ("Vermilyea") – Chicago, Illinois, USA (*) 

Louise Vermilya was arrested on suspicion on murdering a tenant, police officer Arthur F. Bisonette. Investigation reveled eight other suspicious deaths. Police held Mrs. Vermilya under home arrest where she tricked an attendant to provide her with arsenic contained in a box marked as “pepper.” She survived but was seriously impaired. The murder charge was dropped over evidence problems. In the courtroom Louise was, at the announcement of the verdict that formally released her, was immediately arrested on suspicion of murdering yet another boarder, Richard T. Smith, whose suspicious death was the most recent apart from that of the policeman.


At her trial for that murder Mr. Vermilya was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. The jury verdict was mixed resulting in mistrial. Vermilya remained seriously ill from the self-administering of arsenic and was never convicted.

***

1852 – Margaret Waldgrave – Buffalo, New York, USA & Havana, Cuba

(Veracity of case in question)

From the advertisement for a book telling her life story: “Her first step in the center of crime was the murder of a little child; and then to bide that she murdered the witness of the deed, by administering strychnine in liquor to him. She then flew to Canada, where she joined fortunes with a notorious gambler and swindler, who took her to Philadelphia, where she left him and flew to New Orleans with that notorious villain, LeHocq, perpetrating many dark and memorable deeds. From New Orleans she flew to Havana, where she finally murdered the members of ‘The Alumni.’”

***

1902 – Amelia Sach & Annie Walters – Finchley, England

“The Finchley Baby Farmers,” Amelia Sach & Annie Walters, for a handsome fee, would collect the baby after it was born, and then dispose of it with poison — chlorodyne (a medicine containing morphine) and dispose of the tiny in the Thames or buried or in a garbage dump. Police had been alerted to their operation and started shadowing the women. On November 18, 1902, “Walters was followed to Kensington Station where she was discovered in the ladies’ lavatory with a dead infant boy in her arms, his hands clenched, his tongue swollen and lips purple and black. The victim was the four-day-old son of Ada Charlotte Galley, a servant who had recently given birth at Claymore House. The cause of death was said to be asphyxia and Sach and Walters were arrested for murder.” “Two weeks later, nine starving children were found in a house not far away in Wood Green, including two babies lying in the lid of an old rush basket.” Their execution on February 3, 1903 was the only double hanging of women to be carried out in modern times. One newspaper reported that, following the arrest of Sach and Walters there had been a precipitous decrease in the number of dead babies found around London.

***

1934 – Amelia Rivers Webb Wardrop – Coshocton, Ohio, USA

“Crippled from the hips down and hobbling into Prosecutor Russell B. Lyons’ office on crutches, Charles Hughes told the story of his cousins’ deaths, poisoned by their mother and of his own narrow escape from death at the hand of his aunt. This “led to a painstaking investigation, a secret night-time exhumation of the bodies of his cousins, and discovery by a chemist that each contained poison enough to have caused death.” Mrs. Wardrop spent time in an insane asylum and was released when “sane” two years following her arrest. She was never tried for the murders or the attempted murder of her nephew.

***

1870 – Margaret Waters – London, England (*)

“Waters drugged and starved the infants in her care and is believed to have killed at least 19 children. Charged with five counts of wilful murder as well as neglect and conspiracy, Waters was convicted of murdering an infant named John Walter Cowen.” [Wikipedia] From a news report: “The child Cowen, such a fine, healthy child three weeks before, had scarcely a bit of flesh on its bones, could not cry, could hardly be wakened when it was asleep, and looked more like a shriveled-up monkey than a human being.” She was executed Oct. 11, 1870.

***

1908 – Jeanne Weber – Paris, France (*)

Jeanne Weber got her kicks from strangling children, including her own. She was defended by France's greatest “experts” and acquitted of murder twice, allowing her to continue her passion for strangling children to death. She murdered ten children and two were rescued from her attempts.

***

1871 – Elizabeth Wharton – Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Elizabeth Wharton was a member of “first circles of society” in Baltimore. Following the poisoning of a house guest, who survived the deaths of family members and another house guest, an Army General, were investigated. In all, there were four murders suspected and another attempted murder. The case was a sensation. Mrs. Wharton was tried for the murder of General Ketchum but to the circumstantial nature of the evidence she was acquitted. The trial involved an acrimonious battle of expert witnesses. A second trial was held for the attempted murder of Van Ness.

Here is how it ended, as reported by one newspaper: “The prosecution of Mrs. Wharton is at length abandoned and the mystery of General Ketchum’s death and Mr. Van Ness’s illness will probably remain forever unsolved. Public opinion in the State of Maryland from the beginning held Mrs. Wharton guilty, and the blunders of those entrusted by the law with enquiring into her guilt were so manifest that the issue of the trial has not materially shaken the general conclusion arrived at by the public.”

***

1888 – Sarah Whiteling – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Sarah Jane Whiteling murdered her husband and two children – a daughter of 9 and a son under the age of 3 – spacing the murders one month apart. She also poisoned several other children, not members the family, all of whom survived, was suspected of other attempts. She was hanged for the crimes.

***

1902 – Hattie Whitten – Dexter, Maine, USA

Hattie Whitten was arrested for murdering her 9-year-old daughter. She was apprehended as she returned from the girl’s funeral. She was also suspected of murdering her 11-year-old daughter a month earlier and her husband several years before that. While in custody of the sheriff she committed suicide by hanging.

***

1903 – Elisabeth Wiese – St. Pauli (Hamburg), Germany

Elisabeth Wiese was a “baby farmer” and abortionist. Deeply superstitious, she performed magic rites and believed she was in communication with spirits. She murdered babies, and was accused of burning them alive. Some of the females she allowed to live and she raised them to become prostitutes who would bring her additional revenue.

***

1957 – Mary Elizabeth Wilson – Jarrow-on-Tyne, England (*)

Mary Elizabeth Wilson was “arrested after police exhumed the bodies of four men who died in her home within 26 months. The woman had been married to three of them in succession: the fourth was a lodger. The woman’s first husband lived with her 41 years before he expired in August, 1955, but the other two survived the ceremony only two weeks. The fourth man was a lodger who came between husbands No. 1 and No. 2.” Her sardonic humor was her doom.

“One of her gruesome jests which led ultimately to police inquiries was voiced at a reception following her marriage last October to 76-year-old Ernest Wilson. A friend asked what she was going to do with a large number of cakes and sandwiches left over. ‘Keep them for the funeral,’ she replied. Wilson laughed with the rest – and lived just 15 days more. Then it was recalled the widow of Windy Nook made another of her jokes at the registrar’s office, where she had been married and had then returned to record her husbands’ deaths. ‘There should be a discount for me,’ she quipped.”

***

1865 – Charlotte Winsor – Torquay, England

The newspapers called it “a complete system of child murder.” Charlotte Winsor ran an illicit business providing what she termed a “service”: murdering babies. She charged a fee of £3 to £5 to ‘put away’ a child. After leaving the corpse of a naked boy wrapped in sewn-up newspaper at the side of a road where it was found, she was tracked down and arrested.She even explained her method of murder — by placing her finger on the jugular vein of the victim.” She was convicted of one murder and sentenced to death, but the sentence was later commuted.

***

1946 – Lillie Winter – Fairfield, Illinois, USA

In 1946, at the age of 76, Lillie Winter was charged with the murder of her 3-year-old grandson. Other suspicious deaths dating back to 1921 were investigated. Three bodies were exhumed: her husband, brother and sister. The siblings’ corpses contained arsenic. She was tried for murdering the child but was acquitted. 7 months later she was again arrested after her 46-year-old daughter and 16-year old step-daughter became ill. Arsenic was found in the container of the milk they had consumed. She was tried and acquitted, once again.

***

1925 – Martha Wise – Valley City, Ohio, USA (*)

From a 1926 newspaper: “Mrs. Martha Wise, whose “funeral complex” resulted in the poisoning of seventeen persons, three of whom died, made a supplemental confession today. Under the questioning of Joseph Seymour, county prosecutor, the Hardscrabble widow, admitted setting fire to ten houses and barns in the neighborhood of her home in the last few months. The confession clears up a series of arson plots on which authorities have been working. Mrs. Wise also said that she had stolen numerous pieces of jewelry from neighbors and relatives.

In each case she wept bitterly and gave the same explanation offered for the poisonings: “The devil made me do it – he told me so.” Mrs. Wise will probably be sent to the Lima hospital for the criminally insane. She said the lure of funerals and suffering caused her to poison her relatives.” … “I liked their funerals. I could get dressed up and see folks and talk to them. I didn’t miss a funeral in twenty years. The only fun I ever had was after I kilt people.”

***

1901 – Belle Witwer – Dayton, Ohio, USA

Mrs. Witwer was arrested for the murder of her sister, Mrs. Pugh, but the grand jury, because of lack of evidence, did not indict her. Her list of suspected victims included eighteen persons. A number of husbands were included in the list: “Mrs. Witwer’s marital history certainly is unique. Frank D. Witwer was the last of her husbands who died suddenly. She was married to him last March, and on July 4 he died. Like all her husbands, he had stomach trouble a short time before his death. He was taken violently ill some time after eating a luncheon which, according to the sleuths, his wife sent to him.

Mrs. Witwer’s first husband was Frederick Sweinger, who died near Nashville, Tenn., in 1877, supposedly from smallpox. The second husband was Frank Brown, of Middletown, O., with whom she lived for several years. Soon after his death she married William Stowe, in Middletown, and his death was strange and startling. Mrs. Witwer admits that he died from morphine poisoning, but says a clergyman administered the fatal dose.”

***

1939 – Bertie Wrather – Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Mrs. Bertie Wrather, was arrested for murdering with her son, a brother-in-law and a father-in-law. Several other suspicious deaths in the family were also investigated. She was tried for the murder of her son. The were two hung juries and a conviction in June 1941 at the third trial, getting her a 99-year sentence. In June 1943 an appeal reversed the guilty charge and set her free. The appellate court ruled that it was improper for the prosecution to have allowed mention the two earlier deaths in testimony during the trial.

***

1932 – Gizella Young – Munhall, Pennsylvania, USA

Gizella Young was a fortune teller who solicited her clients to join her in murderous insurance scams. She murdered numerous children for insurance money, attempted to murder child relative using a blackjack who survived the attack, leading to the investigation which uncovered serial killings involving accomplices Anna Allas and Mary Chalfa. She served no time for her many crimes because she turned state’s evidence and testified against Allas and Chalfa.

***

1936 – Lila Gladys Young – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (*)

With her husband, Lila Young operated a large and highly profitable maternity home. The sold illegitimate babies for substantial fees while also profiting from the mother. Unsalable children were murdered. They buried a large number of children in wooden butter boxes in a graveyard on the institution grounds. Some were thrown into the furnace or discarded in the sea. Today the adults who survived the Youngs are called “Butter Box Babies.” One estimate of the number of murdered babies is “between four hundred and six hundred.”

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1921 – Rosalia Zemliachka (Rozalia Samuilovna Zalkind) – Soviet Russia

Rosalia Zemliachka, or Rozalia Samuilovna Zalkind (Russian: Залкинд Розалия Самуиловна), (20 March 1876 – 21 January 1947) was nicknamed “The Demon” and “Fury of the Communist Terror” for her personal participation in mass murders of prisoners following the Civil War.

“After Rosalia Zemlyachka’s arrival in the Crimea the Black Sea coast was red with blood. The first night in Simferopol shot 1800 people. In Feodosia; 420, in Kerch; 1300 and so on,” wrote the historian Sergei Mel’gunov, a superior. Rosalia not only gave the ordered for the massacres, but she eagerly participated in them. She was commissar, in leather jacket, revolver at her side, going from town to town, from village to village, killing and killing.” (loosely translated excerpt from Аргументы и Факты, Nov. 21, 2012)

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NOTE:

49 of the above 197 are are included in Peter Vronsky’s list of 140: Archer-Gilligan, Bathory, Beck, Becker, Bender, Besnard, Brinvilliers, Cannon, Chesham, Cotton, Cunningham, Dazely, Dean, Deshayes, Doss, Dyer, Fazakas, Flannagan, Freeman, Gottfried, Grills, Gunness, Hahn, Higgins, Jeanneret, Jegado, Klimek (Gburek), Lehmann, Lipka, Makin, Marek, Marti, Martin, De Melker, Olah, Rendell, Robinson, Sherman, Sierri, Sorenson, Soulakiotis, Toppan, Southard (Trueblood), Vermilyea, Waters, Wilson, Wise, L. Young, Zwanziger.

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