Murder is as a murderer does, right? But sometimes, the murderer in the spotlight turns out to be a murderess instead. They say a woman scorned is the worst hellfire on earth, but then, the fairer sex is no less devious when it comes to committing crimes. In fact, since the average woman doesn’t have the same physical stamina of an average man, the murders that the fairer sex commit are far more dastardly.
The violence comes through as poisoning, drugging or the hiring of goons and hit men to do the job. These murderesses sometimes get our empathy when they take out their long-time abusive partners. But many a time, horrendous crimes are committed against hapless victims like children or the elderly who have no recourse to fight back. When you see women kill their own children or annihilate their families for nothing more than money or the thrill of an illicit affair, that's when you truly want them to be gone from this realm.
Women are, rightly or wrongly, seen as the fairer sex – the one with more compassion, kindness and overall goodness of heart. So when these hearts go black, they often go so dark that humanity itself laments the loss, deeply. Since gender equality is a rather sore subject, let’s read about the 16 creepy female murderers who have been executed in the US – post-1976 when the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted – to see if there’s gender equality in executions as well!
16 Velma Barfield: The Death Row Granny
Velma Barfield was a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman to be executed following the 1976 lift of the moratorium on capital punishment, and the first women to be executed since 1962, and the first woman to be executed via lethal injection. And yet, she looked least like a woman on death row and more like a cookie-baking affable granny. Despite those rosy cheeks, Velma was a serial killer and arsenic was her weapon. Her motive was money and she claimed she never wanted to kill anyone, just make them sick and malleable. Born in 1932, Margie Velma Bullard was plagued with money problems and later, an addiction to Valium. To support her drug habit, Velma began to kill. She confessed to four murders but was tried for one and convicted when she was 45 years old. Her execution happened when she was 52, on November 2, 1984.
15 Karla Faye Tucker: She Had The Big O As She Murdered
Born in 1959, Karla’s parents had a troubled marriage and she herself was the result of an illicit love affair. By the age of 12, Karla was into drugs and sex and following her mother’s footsteps, soon became a rock band groupie and prostitute, traveling with the Allman Brothers Band and Eagles. A brief marriage and divorce later, she began to travel with bikers and befriended a biker couple, Shawn and Jerry Lynn Dean, who later introduced her to pill doctor Daniel Ryan Garrett, who she hooked up with.
Shawn was her best friend but Jerry Lynn and Karla were always at loggerheads. When Jerry Lynn beat Shawn and dumped her, Karla began to hatch a plan after a drug-and-sex high in 1983. She, along with Daniel, decided to steal Jerry Lynn’s Harley but ended up murdering him and his one-night stand instead – with Karla hitting both with a pickaxe so many times, and later confessing that she had orgasms while she killed them. She was convicted of the murder(s) in 1984, and despite having become a born-again Christian and regretting her crimes, was executed by lethal injection in 1998.
14 Judy Buenoano: The Black Widow of Death Row
Born Judias Welty, Judias “Judy” Buenoano was also known as Judias Goodyear and Judias Morris, before she finally came to be known as the arsenic-happy serial killer of husbands, boyfriends, and her own son. She was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848 (in 1848 a slave named Celia was hanged for killing her master) and was only the third woman to be executed in the United States since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. She was also the first woman in the US to be executed by electric chair since 1957.
Executed the same year as Karla Faye Tucker, Buenoano’s 1998 execution received no stays or pleas for mercy and this Black Widow, who steadfastly maintained her innocence despite the evidence, said she preferred to die rather than rot in prison. The 1971 murder of her husband James Goodyear, the 1980 murder of her arsenic-crippled son Michael Buenoano, who she later pushed into a river, and the 1983 attempted murder of her fiancé John Gentry was enough to put her in Old Sparky and her last words were "Vaya Con Dios" (go with God).
13 Betty Lou Beets: The Trigger-Happy Curly Granny
Betty Lou Dunevant was perhaps born and raised to be a murderer, since she was hearing-impaired from an early age due to measles and then sexually abused by her father as well. All her further relationships seem to be colored with the same cloth, marked with physical violence and further sexual abuse. She was 12 when her mother finally went bonkers and was institutionalized, and so the added responsibility of taking care of her younger siblings fell to her.
Her first marriage happened just three years later, and she married a total of six times, twice to the same man. Probably abused one too many times, Beets shot her second husband, Billy York Lane in the back of the head in 1970. She then tried to run over her third husband Ronnie C. Threlkold with her car in 1978. Surprisingly, both men survived and later on testified at her trial, driving the final nails in her proverbial coffin. She was finally convicted of shooting her fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets, on August 6, 1983, though she had also murdered Doyle Wayne Barker, another former husband. In February 2000, she was executed by lethal injection.
12 Christina Marie Riggs: The Killer Mother & Nurse
The first woman executed in Arkansas since 1845, Christina Marie Riggs was nothing short of horrific when she brutally murdered her children and then tried to commit suicide as well. But before she could die, her mother found her and Christina recovered so she could go to trial.
The murder plan was executed at home, with her children – 5-year-old Justin Dalton Thomas and 3-year-old Shelby Alexis Riggs – in bed, sedated with amitriptyline. She decided to inject them with potassium chloride to stop their heart but didn’t dilute it properly when she injected it into Justin; it burned the little tyke’s veins and caused him terrible pain but not death. So she smothered him and then smothered Shelby too. She then attempted suicide by taking twenty-eight amitriptyline pills and injecting herself with undiluted potassium chloride. Judged competent to stand trial, she was executed by lethal injection in May 2000 and last said: "There is no way words can express how sorry I am for taking the lives of my babies. Now I can be with my babies, as I always intended."
11 Wanda Jean: Loved To Kill Her Girlfriends
Wanda Jean was simply born on the wrong side of luck to an alcoholic mother and a father who vanished after a total of eight children. At 12, she was knocked down by a truck and in her early teens, stabbed in the left temple. Her IQ was merely 69, and all her life was a struggle through poverty and gangs. When Wanda was 22, she was living with her friend-turned-girlfriend Dedra Pettus who she shot and killed. She pleaded down to manslaughter and served two of her four years. Seven years later, she again shot her live-in girlfriend Gloria Leathers but this time was convicted of murder.
In January 2001, Wanda Jean, then 41, was executed by lethal injection with some twenty-four relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Detra Pettus witnessing the event. Her last words were, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." She also stuck her tongue out for good measure.
10 Marilyn Kay Plantz: Insurance Money Collection
Jim Plantz was a 33-year-old man who worked at The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. When he returned from work in August 1988, William Clifford Bryson and Clinton McKimble ambushed him with his 6-year-old son's baseball bats. Beaten and near death, Plantz was taken to a remote location where he and his pickup were set on fire, to make it look accidental.
Both the murderers were arrested and then finally, McKimble turned and Jim’s wife Marilyn Plantz was convicted of having her lover, William Clifford Bryson, and his friend, McKimble, kill her husband – all for insurance money. Bryson was also executed while McKimble received a life sentence in exchange for his testimony. In May 2001, it was Plantz's turn to meet her maker where she thanked her family and said, “I want to tell all of my family that I love them very much, especially Trina and Chris (her children). What God has given me is love and I have overcome the world.”
9 Lois Nadean Smith: They Called Her Mean Nadean
In July of 1982, Lois Smith heard that 21-year-old Cindy Baillie was planning to have Lois’ son, Greg Smith, killed. Cindy was Greg’s ex-girlfriend – and so they picked her up from her motel in a car where Lois confronted Cindy about this. Cindy denied any plans of wanting Greg dead, but Lois stabbed her in the throat and choked her too before taking Cindy to her home.
There, they made Cindy sit on a couch and taunted her with a gun as she probably begged for her life – but mean Nadean shot her and then shot her again when Greg reloaded the gun for his mother. Cindy was shot a total of nine times. Nadean was convicted of this vicious crime when she was 41 but executed when she was 61 in 2002 – after being on death row for many years. Mean Nadean begged for forgiveness and Brandy Fields, Cindy’s daughter said that if she really did mean it, she would have to forgive.
8 Lynda Lyon Block: A Woman Of Social Standing Who Shot A Cop
On a fateful day in October of 1993, Linda and her common law husband George Sibley were on the run from the law, evading assault charges from Linda's first husband. They had sought refuge in Alabama and stopped for Lynda to make a phone call – George and Lynda’s 9-year-old son were in the car. A passerby saw the little boy in the car and thought that the family looked rather derelict, so they told the police thinking that they might be in need of help. When police sergeant Roger Motley approached the car and asked for Sibley’s license, Sibley said he didn’t need one for they were part of an anti-government movement. Motley supposedly put his hand on his gun, upon which Sibley started firing. While the men were exchanging fire, Lynda silently approached Motley and shot at him multiple times, and he died later that day. For their crime, both Lynda and Sibley were convicted and executed, with Lynda breathing her last breath in May 2002.
7 Aileen Wournos: The Woman Behind Theron’s Monster
When you watch Charlize Theron’s movie Monster, and see what the protagonist does to her “johns” and all that has been done to her, you are conflicted as a viewer. When Aileen is executed, it’s a torn feeling – she had paid for her crimes, but who pays for the life she led?
The real Aileen was dubbed a serial killer who murdered seven men between 1989 and 1990 by luring them as a prostitute and then shooting them point blank, robbing them of money and valuables. She later confessed to six murders and was sentenced to death for all six, finally being executed by lethal injection in October 2002. Before this, in 2001, she appealed to dismiss all her previous appeals saying “I killed those men and robbed them as cold as ice. And I'd do it again, too. There's no chance in keeping me alive or anything because I'd kill again. I have hate crawling through my system. I'm competent, sane, and I'm trying to tell the truth. I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again”.
6 Frances Elaine Newton: A Murderous Wife & Mom
Frances Newton was executed by lethal injection in September 2005 for the 1987 murders of her husband, 23-year-old Adrian, her 7-year-old son Alton, and 21-month-old daughter, Farrah. All three murder victims had been shot with a .25 caliber pistol, belonging to a man that Newton had, at the time, been seeing on the sly. While Newton claimed that an illegal drug trade/drug dealer killed the three, the two life insurance policies that she had taken out on her husband and her daughter, each worth $50,000 with her named as beneficiary, waved a red flag. Also, evidence pointed to the fact that she had placed a paper bag containing the gun in a relative's home after the murder. In 1988, Newton was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death, though she maintained her innocence. Though there was some talk about her not having done the deed, the execution went ahead as planned.
5 Teresa Lewis: More Murders For Insurance Moolah
The only woman on Virginia’s death row, Teresa Wilson Bean Lewis, was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the murders of her husband and stepson in October 2002. She had influenced two young men to carry out the murders by having sex with them and promising a cut of the insurance money. Her stepson, Charles J. Lewis, had taken out a $250,000 life insurance policy as a U.S. Army reservist in anticipation of his deployment to Iraq.
Eager for the money, in 2002, Teresa Lewis began a sexual relationship with 21-year-old Matthew Jessee Shallenberger and 19-year-old Rodney Lamont Fuller and convinced them to kill her stepson and husband. The murders happened and the story came tumbling out. While Mathew and Rodney were sentenced to life, Teresa was executed in 2010.
4 Kimberley LaGayle McCarthy: When Crack Cocaine Makes Your Head Shatter
Kimberley could have had a good life; she worked as an occupational therapist in a nursing home but later, she developed an addiction to crack cocaine. To get her daily fix, Kimberley resorted to crimes like forgery and was convicted for the same as well as for prostitution and theft. She was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of her neighbor, 71-year-old retired college professor Dorothy Booth. The murder took place with an aim to rob, though Kimberley proclaimed her innocence.
McCarthy arrived at Booth's home on the pretext of borrowing sugar and stabbed Booth five times with a butcher knife. She then beat her with a candelabrum and cut off her finger to steal her diamond wedding ring. Furthermore, she stole Booth's purse and car as well. She used Booth’s credit cards at a liquor store and also had her driver's license, plus the butcher knife that was found in McCarthy’s home had Booth’s DNA on it. She holds the dubious distinction of being the 500th person to be executed in Texas.
3 Suzanne Margaret Basso: Murderous Genes Or A Sadistic Streak?
Perhaps there’s a murder gene after all. Suzanne Basso was the niece of spree killer Robert Garrow, and finally, she proved it, by becoming ring leader of a group of people who viciously tortured and killed a mentally-deficit man – to be able to collect on his insurance policy. Suzanne Basso was first married to a marine named James Peek, and had a daughter and a son with him. James Peek was later arrested for molesting his own daughter, and after his release, Suzanne went right back to him and the whole family changed their last name to O’Malley.
While still being married to James, Suzanne got into a relationship with Carmine Basso and moved in with him, referring to herself as Suzanne Basso from then on. After Basso died in 1997, Louis “Buddy” Musso had the misfortune of meeting Suzanne Basso, and she offered to marry him if he moved in with her. In 1998 he did, and sixteen days later, his body was discovered in a ditch. He had been brutally tortured – cut, stomped on, beaten and scrubbed with a wire brush – before he finally died. The body was put in the bathtub with bleach and kitchen cleaner, clothed and dumped. Suzanne Basso orchestrated it all and was put to death by lethal injection in February 2014.
2 Lisa Ann Coleman: The One Who Starved A Child To Death
When the EMS was called to the home of 9-year-old Davontae Williams, they never expected what they found. Devontae was dead, having died a few hours before, and weighed just 35 pounds. His little body looked as broken as it was lifeless, with some 250 wounds. Clad in only a diaper and bandages, Devontae’s injuries included a disfigured ear, swollen hands, a split lip and ligature marks around his wrists and ankles where he had repeatedly been restrained. The cause of death was later concluded to be malnutrition, aggravated with pneumonia.
But basically, the force behind his sad death and tragic life was none other than Lisa Ann Coleman who, at the time, was romantically involved with Marcella Williams, Davontae’s mother, and lived with them. Lisa tortured Davontae – starving him, beating him, tying him up and this poor 9-year-old finally broke one day and died. Ten years after she was instrumental in the little boy’s death, she was put to death by lethal injection in September 2014.
1 Kelly Renee Gissendaner: Wanted The House But Not The Husband
As of August 2017, Kelly has been the last of the women to be executed and she was also the first woman to be executed in Georgia after 1945. It took 70 years for a crime ghastly enough for a woman to be sentenced to death in September 2015. In her last moments, Gissendaner cried, prayed, sang "Amazing Grace" and is said to have uttered, "Bless you all. Tell the Gissendaners I am so, so sorry that an amazing man lost his life because of me. If I could take it all back, I would…”
After having a childhood in which she was molested by her stepfather, and date raped by another man, Kelly gave birth to her rape baby. She then married a man at 19 but split after six months. Then she met Douglas Gissendaner and married him, and had a daughter with him. Kelly meanwhile had an affair with another man who later died, but gave birth to his son. Douglas and Kelly divorced in 1993 but in 1995, reconciled and remarried. But in 1997, Kelly got Douglas killed by 26-year-old Gregory Owens, and while Owens pled out, Kelly was handed the death sentence. Game over.