Who was the first known female serial killer in the US?
Lavinia Fisher was the first female serial killer who killed a
known 19 people in the late 19th century. She was to be hanged on
18 February 1820, and once the noose was attached she jumped off
the gallows committing suicide instead.
Belle Gunness (1896 - 1908) aka 'Lady Bluebeard' was labeled as
a Black Widow (women who kill men in particular.) On a farm outside
of Chicago she killed 49 people, including multiple husbands, ranch
workers, children she adopted and killed them by poison. She set up
a ranch worker to take the fall for it (he died in prison) and she
was never brought to justice.
Ellen Etheridge (1912 - 1913) was 22 years old. She married a
Texas millionaire and inherited 8 of his children and she killed
off three at a time by arsenic poisoning. She served life in
Martha Wise (1924 - 1925) aka 'the Borgia of America' was a 39
year old widow from Ohio. When her family opposed her marrying a
younger man she used arsenic to kill three of her family members,
but the family became suspicious and reported her to police. She
not only admitted to the three murders, but burning down the church
because the minister had been reluctant to marry her and her lover.
She served life in prison.
Killers who are females are rare or unknown only because they
are more cunning and society prefers to see a serial killer as a
male. Some have even been known as 'contract killers' and are for
hire. Some work with a male partner and, although rare, some will
work with a female partner. Some work in groups such as 'Charles
Manson Group'. Women are generally more successful at being serial
killers (a serial killer is considered one with three or more
victims) and are intelligent, resourceful and more careful than the
male serial killers. Many kill for money (marrying, murdering their
husband and remarrying, thus, 'The Black Widow.'
The best known to the American public was Aileen Wuornos, born
Aileen Carol Pittman, executed in 2002 by lethal injection in
Florida. She was convicted of murdering six men who had picked her
up as a hitchhiker.
Dorothea Puente, a seemingly kindly landlady in California, was
accused of murdering nine of her elderly tenants in order to take
their pension checks that continued to come to her house.
Authorities found six bodies buried in her yard, but she was only
convicted of three of the murders. In 1993, she was sentenced to
life in prison at age of 64.
There are many more female serial killers that could be named,
but the above is to show that these are the female serial killers
that were caught and there were more before them and female serial
killers are on the rise now. They are more crafty and less likely
to be caught.
Lavinia Fisher was not a serial killer. The story of her career
is filled with apocryphal legend.''Here are some early cases (from
"Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America")
1829 - Martha "Patty" Cannon - Maryland/Delaware state line
1840 - Kinney, Hannah Hanson - Boston & Lowell,
1845 - Mrs. Elizabeth Reed - Lawrenceville, Illinois
1851 - Rachel Clark - Carlisle, Pennsylvania
1851 - Nancy Farrer - Cincinnati, Ohio
1852 - Nancy Hufford - Cumberland, Md., Somerset, Pa.
1857 - Polly Frisch (Hoag) - Alabama, Genessee County, New
1857 - Elizabeth Routt - Hazel Green, Tennessee
1858 - Lydia Studley - Valley Falls, Rhode Island
1858 - Phebe Westlake (nee Irwin) - Chester, New York
1860 - Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson - New Orleans, Louisiana
1860 - Elizabeth P. McCraney - Lancaster, Wisconsin; Medford,
Otsego, N. Y.
1865 - Martha Grinder - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1869 - "Gardiner, Maine Black Widow Serial Killer" - Gardiner,
1869 - Mrs. Wahle - Jacksonville, Illinois
1869 - Mrs. White - Lafayette Township, Sussex County, New