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Twelve Female Poisoners Who Killed With Arsenic

Image: Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons

Neatorama's own Miss Cellania presents us with this historical look at arsenic as a murder weapon; specifically, how women used the substance to do away with their enemies. And what a way for a "lady" to kill and not even get her white gloves dirty! Not until 1832 was there a scientific test for the presence of the poison in a corpse, and even then, only those deaths suspected to be poisonings were subject to it. So who used arsenic to get rid of their human problems?

"8. NANNIE DOSS

Serial killer Nancy Hazle later became known as Nannie Doss and was also referred to in the press as "the Giggling Granny" because of her bizarre behavior. In 1921, when she was only 16 years old, she married Charlie Braggs. They produced four daughters. The two middle daughters died under mysterious circumstances in 1927, and Braggs left Doss. She met Frank Harrelson through a lonely hearts column and married him in either 1929, 1937, or 1945 (accounts vary). He died from ingesting rat poison in 1945. Meanwhile, two of Doss' grandchildren died under mysterious circumstances. Doss married her third husband, Arlie Lanning, in 1947. He died in 1952 of heart failure, although he had no history of heart problems. Soon after, their home burned. The house had been willed to Lanning's sister, but the insurance beneficiary was Doss. Soon after, Lanning's mother and Doss' sister died.

Husband number four was Richard Morton, whom Doss married in 1952. During that marriage, Doss' father died and her mother came to live with her. The arrangement did not last long, as Louisa Hazle died within a few days of her arrival in 1953. Richard Morton died three months later. Nannie Doss immediately began looking for another husband, and married her fifth, Sam Doss, in 1953. Within a couple of months, he was hospitalized with a mysterious illness, but survived and was sent home on October 5th, only to die later that night. Sam Doss' suspicious doctor ordered an autopsy and found (you guessed it) arsenic. Nannie was finally arrested, and she confessed to murdering all four deceased husbands, a mother-in-law, her own mother, her sister, and a grandson. She pleaded guilty to the murder of Sam Doss and was sentenced to life. She died in prison in 1965."

Read about more black widows who used arsenic as a murder weapon at mental_floss.


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