Linda Burfield Hazzard
Linda Burfield Hazzard was the first doctor in the United States to earn a medical degree as a “fasting specialist.” Fasting had heretofore been considered a quack medical cure, popular with “health faddists” of the time. In 1908 she published a book, Fasting For The Cure Of Disease, promoting fasting as a cure for virtually every ailment, including cancer.
She created a “sanitarium”, Wilderness Heights, in Olalla, Washington, where in-patients fasted for days, weeks or months, with a diet of small amounts of tomato and asparagus soup and little else. While some patients survived and publicly sang her praises, more than 40 patients died under her care, most from starvation. Local residents knew the place as “Starvation Heights”.
In 1912 she was convicted of manslaughter for the death of Claire Williamson, a wealthy British woman of 33 years, who weighed less than 50 pounds at the time of her death. At the trial it was proved that Hazzard had forged Williamson’s will and stole most of her valuables. Claire’s sister, Dora, also took the treatment, and only survived because a family friend showed up in time to remove her from the compound. She was too weak to leave on her own, weighing less than 60 pounds. She later testified against Hazzard at trial.
After only 2 years in prison, she reopened her sanitarium in 1920. Though it burned to the ground shortly thereafter and was never rebuilt, its legend is still powerful in Olalla, and visitors to the grounds as recently as a decade ago have still found remnants of her presence in trash and debris in the underbrush. Her book continues to influence a small fasting movement to this day, with proponents claiming it as a true cure-all.
Marie Delphine LaLaurie, more commonly known as Madame LaLaurie, was a Louisiana-born socialite, and serial killer known for her involvement in the torture and murder of black slaves.
Born in New Orleans, LaLaurie married three times over the course of her life. She maintained a prominent position in the social circles of New Orleans until April 10, 1834, when rescuers responding to a fire at her Royal Street mansion discovered bound slaves within the house who showed evidence of torture over a long period. LaLaurie’s house was subsequently sacked by an outraged mob of New Orleans citizens, and it is thought that she fled to Paris, where she died due to a boar attack during a hunting accident.
As of 2012, the Royal Street mansion where LaLaurie lived is still standing and is a prominent New Orleans landmark.
Although Vera Renczi was a stunningly beautiful woman, she was also one of the most prolific female serial killers in history, driven by a pathological need for devotion from men. Born in 1903 in Bucharest, Romania into wealth and privilege, by the age of 15 she had engaged in numerous affairs, many of which involved men who were significantly older than she. She became increasingly unmanageable by her parents and ran away from home with numerous boyfriends. Early childhood friends described Renczi as having a pathological desire for constant male companionship and possessing a highly jealous and suspicious nature.
Vera’s first marriage was to a wealthy business man. She was pregnant with her son, Lorenzo, at the time. Spending time alone with her son led to conjuring up scenarios which involved her husband cheating. She put an end to his imagined infidelity by spiking his wine with arsenic. After observing the socially correct period of mourning she remarried. In a matter of months Vera claimed her husband abandoned her. After two failed marriages, Vera made the decision not to remarry. However it did not stop her from taking lovers from all social classes: rich or poor, married or not, it did not matter to Vera. If Vera had even the slightest hint of infidelity the men disappeared days after becoming involved with her. If the missing men were connected to her she would simply say that they had either been unfaithful or had abandoned her.
Vera’s downfall came at the hands of the wife of one of her lovers. The woman became suspicious about her husband. She followed him one evening to Vera’s residence. When her husband failed to return home the woman returned to Vera’s residence, who denied she knew the woman’s husband.
The woman went to the police. During a search of Vera’s house the police entered her wine cellar and stepped into a scene from the macabre. The cellar contained thirty-two zinc lined coffins which held male corpses in various stages of decomposition. Vera was arrested and taken to police headquarters at which time she confessed to killing each of the men. If she suspected that they were being unfaithful or if their attraction to her was waning, the men were quickly dispatched with a dose of arsenic.
Vera confessed to killing her two husbands and her son, Lorenzo. There was no love loss between mother and son. One day while visiting his mother Lorenzo happened upon her secret in the basement and attempted to blackmail her, sealing his fate. Vera Renczi was convicted on thirty-five counts of murder and spent the rest of her life in prison.
Belle Sorenson Gunness was a Norwegian-American serial killer.
Standing six feet tall (183 cm) tall and weighing over 200 pounds (91 kg), she was a physically strong woman. She killed most of her suitors and boyfriends, and her two daughters, Myrtle and Lucy. She may also have killed both of her husbands and all of her children, on different occasions. Her apparent motives involved collecting life insurance, cash and other valuables, and eliminating witnesses. Reports estimate that she killed between 25 and 40 people over several decades.
Jane Toppan (1880-1901) was a 26-year old nurse from Boston, Massachusetts who gave lethal injections of morphine to 31 hospital patients, and was suspected of having killed an additional 70 patients over the course of a two-decade career. When apprehended, she said she wanted to kill more people than anyone who has ever lived before, but could only provide details to solve 31 crimes. Her history of suicide attempts helped her win an insanity plea, and she was eventually confined to a state mental hospital for 40 years until she died in custody.
Rosemary Pauline “Rose” West (née Letts) (born 29 November 1953) is a British serial killer, now an inmate at HMP Low Newton, Brasside, Durham, after being convicted of 10 murders in 1995. Her husband Fred, who committed suicide in prison while awaiting trial, is believed to have collaborated with her in the torture and murder of at least 10 young women, many at the couple’s home in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England.
Fred West is known to have carried out 12 murders. Rosemary West had no involvement in the first two.
Between December 1989 and September 1990, the bodies of several men were found murdered along the highways of northern and central Florida, including Richard Mallory, Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress, David Spears, Walter Gino Antonio, Peter Siems, and Charles Carskaddon.
Items belonging to Mallory and Antonio were pawned near Daytona Beach and the alias names used were traced to Wuornos through thumbprints left on the pawn shop cards.
Wuornos confessed to the murder of all six men, claiming that she was picked up by the men when she was working as a highway prostitute, and shot them in self defense after they attempted to sexually assault her.
Wuornos was convicted of the murder of Richard Mallory after a jury trial in Volusia County and was sentenced to death. At trial, the State was allowed to introduce similar crimes evidence about Wuornos’ commission of several other murders.
While on death row, it was discovered that Mallory had previously served time for Attempted Rape. Wuornos pleaded no contest to the murders of the other 5 men and was sentenced to death in each case.
Within two weeks of her arrest, Wuornos and her attorney had sold movie rights to her story. Investigators in her case did likewise. The case resulted in several books and movies, and even one opera on the life of “America’s first female serial killer.”
Wuornos’s father, Leo Dale Pittman, was a child molester and a sociopath who was strangled in prison in 1969. Wuornos was pregnant at age fourteen. Shortly thereafter, she dropped out of school, left home and took up hitchhiking and prostitution. Wuornos had a prior conviction for armed robbery in 1982.
Andrea Yates (born Andrea Pia Kennedy on July 2, 1964) is a former Houston, Texas resident who killed her five children on June 20, 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub in her house.
She had been suffering for some time with very severe postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Her case placed the M’Naghten Rules with the Irresistible Impulse Test, a legal test for sanity, under close public scrutiny in the United States. Yates’s 2002 conviction of capital murder and sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years was later overturned on appeal.
On July 26, 2006, a Texas jury found that Yates was not guilty by reason of insanity. She was consequently committed by the court to the North Texas State Hospital, Vernon Campus, a high-security mental health facility in Vernon, Texas, where she received medical treatment and was a roommate of Dena Schlosser, another woman who committed filicide by killing her infant daughter. In January 2007, Yates was moved to a low security state mental hospital in Kerrville, Texas.
Beverley Allitt, dubbed the “Angel of Death”, was a nurse who was convicted of killing four children and injuring nine others on the ward she worked at Grantham Hospital, Lincolnshire.
She received 13 life sentences in 1993. She is presently at the top-security Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire. The minimum term she was required to serve before becoming eligible for parole was thirty years, though she would only be released at that point if no longer considered a threat to the public.
Allitt’s motives have never been fully explained. According to one theory, she suffers from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a controversial personality disorder which supposedly prompts its sufferers to falsify illnesses in others, in order to attract attention.
In 2006 the BBC made a dramatisation of the story, titled ‘Angel of Death: The Beverly Allitt Story’ and starring Charlie Brooks.
Karla Leanne Homolka, also known as Karla Leanne Teale and Leanne Bordelais (born 4 May 1970 in Port Credit, Ontario, Canada), is a convicted Canadian serial killer. She attracted worldwide media attention when she was convicted of manslaughter following a plea bargain in the 1991 and 1992 rape-murders of two Ontario teenage girls, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, as well as the rape and death of her sister Tammy.
Homolka and Paul Bernardo, her husband and partner in crime, were arrested in 1993. In 1995, Bernardo was convicted of the two teenagers’ murders and received life in prison and a dangerous offender designation, the full maximum sentence allowed in Canada. During the 1993 investigation, Homolka stated to investigators that Bernardo had abused her, and that she had been an unwilling accomplice to the murders. As a result, she struck a deal with prosecutors for a reduced prison sentence of 12 years in exchange for a guilty plea for manslaughter.
However, videotapes of the crimes were later found that demonstrated that she was a more active participant than she had claimed. As a result, the deal that she had struck with prosecutors was dubbed in the Canadian press the “Deal with the Devil”. Public outrage about Homolka’s plea deal continued until her high-profile release from prison in 2005. Following her release from prison, she settled in the province of Quebec, where she married and gave birth to a boy. In 2007, the Canadian press reported that she had left Canada for the Antilles with her husband and their baby, and had changed her name to Leanne Teale. In 2012, journalist Paula Todd found Homolka living in Guadeloupe, under the name Leanne Bordelais, with her husband and their three children.