A Look at Some of the Women who Have Sat on Death Row

It is rare for a woman to be put to death for punishment of a crime. Even with less than 600 women who have actually been executed, the women who have sat on death row, in most cases, were convicted of committing heinous crimes.

Aileen Wuornos Was a Serial Killer

Aileen Wuornos was put to death by the state of Florida on October 9, 2002. It is known that she murdered seven men. It is not known if there are more undiscovered victims attributed to meeting their fate at the hands of Aileen Wuornos. Wuornos was a prostitute who killed a number of her “johns.” As explained by TruTv in ‘Aileen Wuornos: Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers,’ some of what has been said about Wuornos is not true. For instance, she was not the first female serial killer in the United States. Her own claim of having had sex with 250,000 “johns” has been dismissed as “preposterous.”

Wuornos was married when she was just 20 years old to a wealthy 69-year old man who had picked her up while she was hitchhiking. Lewis Fell realized his mistake just a short time later. After the annulment, Wuornos engaged in a variety of criminal behaviors. After meeting her lesbian lover, Tyria Moore, Wuornos would soon commit her first murder.

Her first known victim was Richard Mallory who was murdered in December 1989. He was shot three times. Within five days of each other, the bodies of two nude men were found shot to death in June 1990. One had been shot 9 times. After the bodies of several other truck drivers were  discovered, people in Florida were on alert for possible suspects.

After Wuornos was arrested and confessed, she stated that Moore had nothing to do with the murders. She was under the impression, based on offers from several media sources interested in her “story,” that she would make a great deal of money. Wuornos seemed to love her fame and what she believed would be her forthcoming fortune. But Florida is one of the states that bars convicted criminals from reaping the profits on any stories, books, television programs or movies related to their criminal acts.

The jury rejected her claims that every one of the men she murdered had raped her and she therefore had killed them in self-defense. She was sentenced to death and executed for her gruesome murders.

Blanche Moore: The Second Black Widow

When Blanche Moore’s second husband became ill, police grew suspicious, especially after it was discovered that her husband had high levels of arsenic in his body. Julia M. Klein, Inquisitor writer, says that the Reverend Dwight W. Moore is the only known person who is “not a corpse” to have had the level of arsenic that was found in his body.

Police became suspicious when they discovered that several other people either related to or involved with Blanche Moore had died. After their bodies were exhumed, arsenic was discovered in the bodies of her first husband and her boyfriend. ABC News also says that the bodies of her father and her mother-in-law contained high levels of arsenic as well. Moore denied killing any of her victims, but was convicted of the murder of her first husband and sentenced to capital punishment in North Carolina.

Dora Buenrosto Murdered Her Three Children

After Dora Buenrosto became enraged at her ex-husband, she killed her three children, Susana, age 9, Vincent, 8, and Deidra, who was 4 years old. As reported by The Los Angeles Times, all the children had been stabbed in the neck. Apparently, the plan was that her ex-husband would be blamed for the murders and charged with the crimes. Dora was charged instead and convicted. Shortly after the jury convicted her and while still in the courtroom, Buenrosto began yelling, still blaming her ex-husband, Alex, for the murders. She also lashed out at police, prosecutors and her own attorneys.

One of the jurors stated that if she would not have lashed out in the courtroom and had shown remorse for her crimes, it would have been easier to decide to sentence her to life imprisonment. Instead, in July 1998, Dora Buenrosto received the death penalty.

Susan Eubanks: Another California Killer

Susan Eubanks shot her four children to death on October 26,1997. The boys were 14, 7, 6 and 4 years old. Earlier in the day, after a vicious fight with her boyfriend, Rene Dodson, she refused to let him leave home. Mr. Dodson was eventually able to escape and called police to assist in the retrieval of his belongings. Eubanks became livid. She called the father of two of the children and left a message for him to “say goodbye,” according to “Moms who kill: The Susan Eubanks case.”

After hearing the message, Eric Eubanks alerted police and asked that they conduct a welfare check. When police arrived, they discovered a gruesome scene. Susan Eubanks was bleeding from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen, but was alive. A nephew was found in a bed, unharmed. But in other beds, police discovered Austin, Matthew and Brigham. Austin and Brigham were already dead, as was 14-year old Brandon, who was discovered in the living room with a gunshot wound to the head, the same as the other boys. Brandon had also been shot a second time in the neck. Matthew was alive, but later died at the hospital.

Investigators on the scene discovered five suicide letters, in which outrage was expressed directly at the fathers of her children. For the murders of her four children, Susan Eubanks was placed on death row.

Francis Newton was executed for murdering her family

Francs Newton was executed for the 1987 murders of her husband, her 7 year-old son, Alton, and her daughter, Farrah, who was just 21-months old. Both Frances, who was then 21, and her 23 year-old husband, Adrian, were seeing other people though the couple were still living together as husband and wife.

At 6:45 pm on the night of April 7, 1987, a girlfriend of Adrian’s spoke to him on the phone. He stated he was going to sleep but not until Frances left. Adrian stated he did not trust her. When a male friend of Adrian’s called just a short time later, Frances answered the telephone and put Alphonse Harrison on hold after he asked to talk to Adrian. She never came back to the phone. She arrived at her cousins’ house a short while later and suggested to Sondra Nelms that they return to her house. Once back at Newton’s home, they “discovered” the bodies of Adrian and both children.

The Texas Execution Information Center explains that Nelms advised a homicide detective that she had seen her cousin place a large blue bag, which she took from her car, inside an abandoned residence next to her home. The detective retrieved the bag in which he found a .25 caliber automatic pistol. On April 21, Newton filed claims for the money on the insurance policies that she had taken out just a month earlier and was subsequently arrested. All her appeals were denied after her sentencing and Frances Newton was executed on September 14, 2005.

While there have been several women sentenced to death for the crimes they were convicted of, relatively few death sentences of women have actually been carried out. The Death Penalty Information Center indicates that as of January 1, 2013, just 63 women are on death row. This represents 2.02% of the death row population, which is 3,125.