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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 prison.

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, Massachusetts

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 York
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, Maine
1869 - Mrs. Wahle - Jacksonville, Illinois

1869 - Mrs. White - Lafayette Township, Sussex County, New Jersey


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Q: Who was the first known female serial killer in the US?
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