What is our fascination with women who kill? They inspire sensational headlines, documentaries, and true-crime series. Women make up just 15% of murderers in the United States, and their motives differ wildly from their male counterparts. While life insurance money was the primary motive, these women showed pure ruthlessness and a complete disregard for life. Here are five of the most sinister black widow murderers ever.
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Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt
These two women developed a get-rich-quick scheme by taking out life insurance policies on homeless men. Golay and Rutterschmidt met the men through a church program for homeless men. They gave them an apartment and groceries while taking out millions of dollars of life insurance policies. Then they ran the men over, framing their deaths to look like a hit-and-run accident. Together they collected over $2 million before their arrest. (x)
Cochran was just following through on a wedding night pact with her husband, Jason Cochran. They promised each other, if either of them were unfaithful, they’d kill the lover together. She told police that as her marriage became more and more abusive; she found love with a co-worker, Christopher Regan. When her husband discovered the affair, she invited Regan to their home, where Jason shot him. Together they dismembered the body, put it in garbage bags, and dumped it in the northern Michigan woods. Kelly then gave her husband a fatal dose of heroin and strangled him to death. She’s now in prison serving sentences for both murders. (x)
Even in the 60s, a media storm surrounded the trial of Evelyn Dick, also called the “Torso Killer”. A group of schoolchildren found the headless and limbless body of Dick’s estranged husband in the woods of Ontario. Police soon keyed into his spouse as the suspect, whose own father helped her to cut up the body, burning the arms, legs, and head of John Dick in his home furnace.
A jury handed Evelyn Dick an acquittal for the murder of John Dick on a technicality. But her father was convicted of being an accessory after the fact for dismembering the body. During the investigation into his crime, authorities discovered the mummified remains Evelyn Dick’s infant son in the basement of his home. Dick spent 11 years in prison for her baby’s murder and disappeared from the public eye after her release. (x)
Mary Elizabeth Wilson
The ‘Merry Widow of Windy Nook’ didn’t put much effort into hiding her schemes from friends and family. Over two years, she married four times, securing inheritance from each husband before murdering them. When police exhumed the bodies of the men, they all contained traces of insecticide. (x)
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Betty Lou Beets
Then-governor George W. Bush paused his presidential campaign to witness the execution of Betty Lou Beets. She was a 62-year-old grandmother at the time the death sentence was carried out, found guilty of murdering both her fourth and fifth husband by shooting them in the back of the head multiple times. She was the second woman executed by the state of Texas. Her son turned her in for the murders, telling police he helped her to bury the bodies on her Texas properties. Both her son and daughter testified against her at trial. (x)