Mary Elizabeth Wilson.
Mary Elizabeth Wilson was a serial killer and the last woman to be sentenced to death in England in 1958, though her sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
Known as the merry widow of Windy Nook, Mary came to the attention of the police when her fourth husband in four years died suddenly. In addition to the alarming death rate of her spouses, Mary’s morbid humour regarding the deaths made her the centre of local gossip. At her fourth wedding, Mary was asked by a family member about the leftover sandwiches from the reception. Mary joked that they should be saved for the husband’s funeral. She also joked with the local undertaker, asking him for a trade discount because of all the work she was providing for him. Her two latest husbands were exhumed, and their bodies held high levels of phosphorus, a chemical contained in beetle killer. She was tried and convicted of two murders. Her first two husbands were later exhumed and also showed signs of phosphorus poisoning, though she wasn’t tried for these murders.
Mary Elizabeth Wilson died at Holloway prison in 1963.
On June 11, 1986, Susan Snow took two extra strength Excedrin tablets for a headache. Minutes later, she collapsed on her bathroom floor and died later that day. During Susan’s autopsy, the medical examiner detected the scent of bitter almonds, which indicated cyanide poisoning. A search of Susan’s home revealed the source of the poisoning — the extra strength Excedrin tablets. Of the capsules that remained in the bottle, three contained a lethal dose of cyanide. An immediate recall of all extra strength Excedrin tablets revealed another tainted bottle in the same store Susan Snow had purchased her bottle. The case was sensational news in Washington and soon after the news hit the stations, a woman named Stella Nickell contacted the police. Her husband had died one week before Susan Snow. His death had been ruled as natural causes, but Stella told police he’d taken extra strength Excedrin rights before he’d collapsed. An autopsy revealed Stella’s husband, 52-year-old Bruce Nickell, had also died of cyanide poisoning.
Suspicion first fell upon Stella when it emerged that she’d purchased two bottles of extra strength Excedrin tablets and both were contaminated with cyanide. Given that only five contaminated bottles had been found in the entire country, it seemed highly unlikely that Stella would be unlucky enough to purchase two of them. Mixed in with the cyanide was a green substance that was identified as algaecide, and investigators believed the poisoner had crushed the cyanide and algaecide in the same bowl. Stella Nickell owned a fish tank. Investigating her husband’s death, police found more circumstantial evidence pointing to Stella. She had taken out numerous life insurance policies on Bruce’s life, with an additional $100,000 payable if death was proven accidental. As Bruce’s death had been ruled as natural causes, Stella had been unable to claim the additional hundred thousand dollars. Bruce’s signature on the life insurance policies was proven to be forged. Police believed that Stella planted tainted bottles of extra strength Excedrin to have her husband’s death re-examined.
Stella’s fate was sealed when her own adult daughter went to the police with information, claiming her mother had spoken openly about killing her husband and had tried to poison him once before with foxglove.
Stella Nickell was sentenced to 2 90-year sentences for the death of her husband Bruce, and Susan Snow, and a 310-year sentences for product tampering and other charges. She will be eligible for parole in 2018 when she is 75 years old.
In August 2005, 911 received a call from Stacey Castor. She claimed her husband, David, had locked himself in their bedroom following an argument and refused to respond to her repeated knocks or cell phone calls. When police failed to get a response from David, they kicked in the bedroom door. They discovered David dead on the bed. A bottle of antifreeze lay nearby and a glass containing green liquid was standing on the nightstand. Further investigation of the crime scene revealed only one set of fingerprints on the glass — Stacey’s. A turkey baster was found in the bin containing antifreeze and held David’s DNA on the tip. To police, it appeared that Stacey had forced antifreeze down her husband’s throat with the turkey baster, then staged the scene to look like a suicide.
Meanwhile, David Castor was laid to rest, right next to the body of Stacey’s first husband, Michael Wallace. Michael had died in early 2000 after feeling unwell for a number of days. His death was listed as a heart attack, but his family were suspicious. Stacey told them she believed the doctors and laid Michael to rest. Deeply suspicious, police exhumed Michael Wallace’s body, searching for signs of antifreeze poisoning. Meanwhile, Stacey invited her eldest daughter Ashley, who was 11 years old when her father Michael died, to have some drinks. Ashley awoke days later in the hospital. Police were there to question her about the deaths of her father and stepfather, referencing the suicide note found beside her unconscious body. Ashley knew nothing about any murders or a suicide note. The last thing she remembered was the nasty tasting alcoholic drink her mother gave her. It emerged that Ashley had deadly amounts of painkillers mixed with alcohol in her system and had her sister, Bree, not found her when she did, Ashley would certainly have died.
After a two-year investigation, Stacey Castor was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for David Castor’s death, and the attempted murder of her daughter, Ashley. She was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of David Castor, and 25 years for the attempted murder of her daughter, Ashley.
Stacey Castor was found dead in her cell on 11 June 2016. She died of a heart attack.
Betty Lou Beets.
On August 6, 1983, Betty Lou Beets reported her fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets, missing. His fishing boats with his heart medication on board was found in a nearby lake days later. Fearing a drowning accident, police dragged the lake for three weeks, searching for his body. They found nothing, and Jimmy Don Beets’ disappearance remained a mystery. Two years later, police received a tip with enough information to arrest Betty Lou for the murder of her husband. With warrant in hand, they searched her property. They found the remains of Jimmy Don Beets in a filled-in well in the front yard of Betty Lou’s house. He’d been shot dead with a 38-calibre pistol. A second set of remains were found and identified as Doyle Wayne Barker, Betty’s other ex-husband.
It emerged that, after shooting Jimmy dead, Betty’s son helped her conceal the body and place the fishing boats in the lake. Betty wasn’t charged with the death of Doyle Wayne Barker, but she was charged with the murder of Jimmy Don Beets. She pled not guilty and claimed two of her children committed the murder. At her trial, two of her former husbands gave evidence against her. One, she had tried to run over with her car. The other had survived being shot twice in the head by her hand.
Betty Lou Beets was found guilty and sentenced to death. She was executed by lethal injection on 24 February 2000.
Blanche Taylor Moore.
On April 28, 1989, Rev Dwight Moore was admitted to Alamance County Hospital. He was in a terrible way and was referred numerous times before a toxicology screen was ordered. Alarmingly, it revealed arsenic, more than 20 times the lethal dose. At that time, he was the only person to survive with such a high dose of arsenic in his system. Suspicion quickly fell on his new bride, Blanche Taylor Moore, who Dwight had married just weeks earlier. As her husband lay suffering in hospital, Blanche had tried to have his pension changed, making her the beneficiary. She also insisted on Dwight having his hair cut in the hospital, perhaps to avoid the hospital testing it to prove how long Dwight had been poisoned for.
Digging into Blanche’s past, investigators found a trail of suspicious deaths. In all, Blanche is suspected of at least four murders including; her father, Parker Kiser, who Blanche claimed abused her as a child; James Taylor, her first husband; Isla Taylor, her mother-in-law, and Raymond Reid, Blanche’s boyfriend. All bodies showed arsenic poisoning when exhumed. In Raymond Reid’s case, investigators proved the last dose of arsenic was fed to him in the hospital by a Blanche.
Blanche Taylor Moore was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Raymond Reid. Prosecutors decided to charge her only with this crime since the evidence they’d gathered was overwhelming. Blanche was found guilty and sentenced to death by lethal injection on January 18, 1991.
Because of the automatic appeals process, Blanche still resides on death row at the North Carolina correctional institution for women. She still maintains her innocence. Though he survived the poisoning, Rev Dwight Moore never fully recovered.
In 2008, 74-year-old Betty Neumar was arrested and charged with hiring a hitman to kill her fourth husband, Thomas Harold Gentry, 22 years earlier. Found shot multiple times, Gentry’s murder had gone unsolved for over two decades until a tip came in pointing to his wife, Betty. Alarmingly, Betty Neumar was married five times, and all of her husbands had died. Three of them had been shot to death.
Her fifth husband, James Neumar, had died just months before her arrest, presumably of natural causes. Investigators seized his ashes and tested them for arsenic, but the results were negative. Betty was charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder and was released in October 2008 on a $300,000 bail.
Before she could face a trial, Betty Neumar died of natural causes on June 13, 2011.
Tillie Klimek was rumoured to be a psychic, as she would accurately predict the date of a person’s death. In reality, she was killing them. It was the death of her fourth husband, Joseph Klimek, that brought Tillie to the attention of police. He fell ill, as had her previous three husbands and one boyfriend who’d jilted her. Police suspected arsenic poisoning, and tests confirmed it. When Tillie was arrested, she told the arresting officer that “the next one I want to cook dinner for is you”. Whether this was meant as a threat or a flirtation is unclear.
Police exhumed the bodies of Tillie’s other three husbands and found all bodies loaded with arsenic.
At trial, witnesses testified that before her third husband, Frank, died, Tillie would mock him, telling him “you’ll be dying soon”, and “it won’t be long now”. She reportedly told neighbours that Frank had “2 inches to live”.
Her motive was believed to be monetary since she’d taken out life insurance on all of her husbands. It also emerged that several relatives and neighbours fell ill after eating baked goods from Tillie, though she wasn’t tried these alleged poisonings.
Tillie was sentenced to life in prison and died while incarcerated on November 20, 1936.
Audrey Marie Hilley.
In May 1975, a man named Frank Hilley went to his doctor complaining of stomach pains and nausea. His doctor diagnosed him with a viral stomach ache. A few weeks later, Frank Hilley died. After an autopsy, cause of death was listed as infectious hepatitis. He was survived by his wife Audrey, a son who was in college, and a daughter, Carol.
Not long before Frank’s illness, their son had also suffered similar symptoms to his father. When he left home for college, his mysterious illness vanished. One thing father and son had in common was a life insurance policy that listed Audrey as the beneficiary. Three years after Frank’s death, and after all of his life insurance policy was spent, Audrey insured her daughter Carol’s life for $25,000. Soon after, Carol fell ill.
For months she was in and out of hospitals before one alert doctor noticed Aldrich-Mees’ lines in Carol’s fingernails — an indicator of arsenic poisoning. Tests carried out on Carol’s hair indicated she’d been poisoned with arsenic over many months. Meanwhile, Audrey had been arrested and held for writing bad checks. Frank Hilley’s body was exhumed and tested for arsenic. The tests were positive. Audrey Marie Hilley was arrested for the attempted murder of her daughter in October 1979, and released on bail one month later. She fled and evaded police for three years before her capture in late 1982.
Audrey Marie Hilley was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her husband and 20 years for attempted murder of her daughter, Carol. Audrey was a model prisoner which earned her day releases from prison. On one of these trips, she once again fled. She was found four days later near death having roamed the woods for four days. While being treated for hypothermia, she suffered a heart attack and died.
At the time of her release, Linda Calvey was England’s longest serving female prisoner, sent down in 1990 for the murder of her lover, Ronnie Cook. She was dubbed the Black widow because every man she became involved with either ended up dead or in prison.
Linda originally hired a hitman to kill Ronnie, but when he got cold feet, she committed the murder herself, executing Ronnie as he knelt before her. Linda’s criminal career began as a lookout, then getaway driver. All told, Calvey served 18 years and six months for murdering her lover.
On January 22, 2001, 32-year-old firefighter Randy Thompson was found dead in his apartment. He’d been under the care of a doctor for a number of days before his death, complaining of flu-like symptoms, stomach ache, and vomiting. His cause of death was listed as an irregular heartbeat. He was survived by his common-law wife, Lynn Turner, and two children.
Not long after the funeral, Randy’s mother received a sympathy card from a woman who claimed her son, Glenn Turner, had also died suddenly and suspiciously. What did the two men have in common? Lynn Turner; she was Glenn Turner’s widow.
Police re-examined Randy’s death and found ethylene glycol in his system, a result of poisoning by antifreeze. Glenn Turner’s body was exhumed and also contained ethylene glycol.
Lynn Turner was tried and convicted of Glenn Turner’s murder in 2004, and tried and convicted of Randy’s murder in 2007. She faced the death penalty, but was sentenced to life in prison. Lynn Turner was found dead in her cell on August 30, 2010 of an intentional overdose.
The True Horror Collection.