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Murder becomes her: deadly women

I recently received some great news from Severed Press, the publisher of Return to Dyatlov Pass and Monsters in Our Wake. Return to Dyatlov Pass was selected for German translation! I’m so excited. After the U.S. and Canada, German readers have been the biggest supporters of my GhostWriters series, so it’s long been my dream to have my books translated into their language. Danke, Germany!

Are women really the “softer” sex? Here are five true accounts that prove the female of the species can be just as deadly as the male.

Katherine Knight killed and cooked her lover

Katherine Knight

Many a woman has grown frustrated by a partner’s unwillingness to pop the question. When Katherine’s boyfriend John Price refused to marry her or let her move into his home, she had a most unusual way of expressing her displeasure.

After having sex with Price on February 29, 2000, Katherine waited until he fell asleep. The Australian woman then stabbed him at least 37 times, skinned him, and hung his skin from a meat hook. As if that weren’t enough, she decapitated him and lovingly roasted parts of his body with a variety of vegetables. She invited Price’s children over for dinner, clearly intending to serve them their own father.

Thankfully, Price’s employer became concerned when the man didn’t show up for work, and went to the house to investigate. After seeing blood at the front door, the employer and a co-worker notified police, who discovered Price’s head in a pot on the stove.

Nurses Graham and Wood played a monstrous game with their patients

Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood

Nurses are supposed to heal, right? During the late eighties, Michigan nurse’s aides Gwendolyn and Cathy had a bizarre concept of what “taking care” of their patients meant.

Bored of the same old routine at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home and desperate to prove their love for each other, Gwendolyn and Cathy developed a macabre game. They started murdering their elderly patients, choosing victims whose initials would spell “MURDER.”

When that grew too taxing, the women decided to count each murder as a day, feeling that every killing bonded them for life. After the two women split, Cathy told her ex-husband about the five murders, and he eventually went to the cops. The nurses’ diabolical murder plot came to light after some good ol’ fashioned police interrogation.

Belle Gunness: serial killer who murdered her own children

Belle Gunness

A Norwegian-American serial killer, Belle is suspected to have murdered over forty people in Indiana in the 1800s, including her husbands and children.

Belle used ads for husbands to lure men with money to her farm. Once they were on her property, she served them dinner and then split their heads with a meat chopper while they were eating. Other times she simply poisoned their coffee.

When a hired man and would-be suitor threatened to betray her, a mysterious fire broke out at the Gunness residence. Once the smoke cleared, the bodies of Belle’s three children and a headless woman were found. Originally believed to be Belle, the decapitated corpse was eventually ruled out, as it had belonged to a 5’3” woman, while Belle was at least six feet tall and weighed over two hundred pounds.

So many remains were found on her property after the fire that it was impossible to tell how many victims she had claimed, especially since she had fed several to her hogs. To this day, Belle has never been found, though for years there were reported sightings of her across the United States.

Amelia Dyer, baby killer

Amelia Dyer

Single mothers have never had it easy, but back in England’s Victorian age, they faced ostracism and worse. Some of the most desperate turned to so-called “baby farmers,” women who would temporarily adopt their infants for a fee and care for them until the mothers were able to return for their children.

One of those baby farmers was Amelia Dyer, who had originally trained as a nurse. While there is some indication that Amelia initially intended to care for the children, she quickly realized her profits would be greater if the infants died. And thus began her career as a murderess. She would wind tape around the babies’ necks and watch in delight as they suffocated.

Imagine the horror of the mothers who came to Amelia, distraught and begging for their children, only to be told their babies were no more. The law finally caught up with the baby farmer when the body of an infant girl was fished out of the Thames. The corpse had been wrapped in paper marked with the name of the alias Amelia was currently using.

During her trial, Amelia plead insanity and was executed by hanging in June 1896. It is estimated she could have murdered as many as four-hundred children, making her one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.

The female serial killer who was so strong, Mexican cops insisted she was a man.
Juana Barraza

In the late ’90s and beyond, a serial killer stalked Mexico City’s elderly women, strangling them to death. Because of the strength required to manually strangle someone, police were convinced the killer was a man.

They were wrong.

So persistent was their belief in female fragility that, even when several witnesses reported seeing a woman leave the scene of the murders, the police clung to their theory that the killer was a man. They detained and questioned transvestite prostitutes, putting them through a brutal, humiliating investigation.

Justice caught up with Juana when a tenant discovered his freshly murdered landlord and called police, who were able to nab the serial killer before she could escape.

Instead of the man they had been searching for, their murderer was a forty-eight-year-old single mother of four who could bench press over two hundred pounds. Juana was well known as The Silent Lady, a professional wrestler in the sport of luche libra – Mexican masked wrestling. Wearing a butterfly mask and hot-pink spandex, she was a stunning sight in more ways than one.

This post was originally published on The Warrior Muse.

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  1. L. Diane Wolfe

    Some truly horrible women.

    Congrats on the German translation of your book.

  2. Dave Burnham

    Many congratulations on the book translation. Those women were some real pieces of work. I have seen the two nurses and Belle Gunness on various TV documentaries but the other cases were new to me. A very interesting and disturbing read.

  3. Randee

    Well, you can’t say they weren’t creative!
    But yeah, eww on the head in the pot.

  4. Denise Hammond

    Congrats on the translation. I certainly enjoy reading books that have been translated into English. I recently finished a bio of Belle Gunness. These women are truly scary.

  5. Random Musings

    Women are equally as capable as men when it comes to doing unspeakable things, yet somehow society finds it more shocking when a woman kills (even the police judging by the Barraza investigation!).
    Congratulations on the book translation 🙂

  6. Patricia V. Davis

    First of all, thrilled for you about the translation. Great news, and well-deserved. Second of all, Kathy Knight was mentioned in COOKING FOR GHOSTS. Subliminally, you might say. She was Sarita Taylor’s classmate — the one who we were told tried to set her teacher on fire. I smiled when I saw her in your article.

  7. Ryan Carty

    Huge props on the German translation. That book needs to be read by as many as possible as it is genuinely creepy and awesome. Also, I need to remember not to read your books before bed. Nightmares galore!

  8. Tea

    Oh, that Katherine Knight!

    I hate it when people steal my ideas.

    • JH


  9. Lee Lowery

    Congrats on the German translation! It’s so great to find lovers of great horror stories are everywhere. And yes, women can, and have, been capable of heinous crimes. We, as a society, want to believe that women as mothers, teachers, nurses, child care providers, etc. want the best for everyone. It is hard to take the blinders off, even when the evidence is overwhelming. Great post!

    • JH

      So true, Lee. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      And yes, after English-speaking countries, Germans are my most ardent supporters. They love horror.

  10. Mary Aalgaard

    Yikes! Never make assumptions about the “fairer” sex.

    • JH

      Exactly. We take no prisoners.

  11. Susan

    What dear G.d goes on in their heads? Just beyond – anything –

    • JH

      Good question.

  12. Liesbet

    This is some really creepy and disturbing stuff! Let’s focus on your German translation prospect… Congratulations! That’s awesome news and a fantastic reward for all your hard work. You’re really going international now. Dutch next? 🙂

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Liesbet! It’s so exciting.

      As for where next, it’s hard to say. Whoever buys a lot of my books, I guess.

  13. Misha

    Congrats on the translation!

    I always laugh when people say women can’t be serial killers or sociopaths. I think it’s more the case that women tend to be more subtle, so people don’t even realize that a woman is killing person after person.

    • JH

      Welcome back, Misha! I love your point…that’s even more scary, isn’t it?

  14. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor

    Yay for the German translation! How exciting 🙂

    People do underestimate women. I find myself staring at the photos of the women you’ve featured, trying to see if I can detect the evil in their eyes. Some of them look a little creepy.

    • JH

      Thanks for the kind words, Ellen. I’m so pumped!

      The baby farmer was definitely not a pleasant-looking character.

  15. C. Lee McKenzie

    So much for the fairer sex. These stories creeped me out! I may never trust another nurse.

    Congrats on the German translation. That is great news!

    • JH

      Thanks, Lee!

      There are a surprising number of killer nurses. Someday I’ll write a post about it.

  16. Chrys Fey

    Congratulations on you German translation! That is awesome.

    Women are definitely capable of it all. Yikes.

    • JH

      Yes, they definitely are.

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m super excited about the translation!

  17. Birgit

    Wow, that First Lady should have just said bye and left him but she obviously had major mental issues. Women can be just as dangerous and lethal as men…and stupid when you think of those 2 nurses in the senior’s home. Too bad not all were executed. On a much nicer note, congrats on your book being translated into German

    • JH

      Thanks, Birgit! You have to admit, Katherine chose an original method of ending a relationship…


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