Lady Killers: Ellen Etheridge

During the first year after her 1912 marriage to a millionaire farmer, 47-year-old Ellen Etheridge poisoned four of his eight children. She attempted to kill a fifth child by forcing him to drink lye, but the 13-year-old boy escaped and ran for help.

A minister’s daughter, Etheridge confessed to the killings and the attempted murder, laying the blame on what she saw as her husband’s betrayal: He had married her not for love, but to provide an unpaid servant for his offspring, upon whom he lavished both his affection and his money.

In 1913, a Bosque County, Texas, jury sentenced her to life in prison. She died in her sixties at the Goree State Farm for Women in Huntsville, Texas, where by all accounts she was a model prisoner.

(Image: Bosque County Courthouse in Meridian, Texas, as it looks today. Erected in 1886, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.)

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