Number of victims: 6+
Date of murders: 1937 - 1951
Method of murder: Poisoning
A prolific poisoner, Rhonda Bell Martin dispensed with her mother, two husbands and three of her children by feeding them rat poison. A fifth husband (who was the son of one of the men she’d murdered) survived her deadly ministrations but was left permanently paralyzed. That attempted murder brought the 49-year-old waitress to the attention of the authorities in Montgomery, Alabama.
Under questioning, Martin confessed to six murders, carried out over a 14 year period. For some reason, she denied killing two more of her children, even though they had died in virtually identical circumstances to the others.
What really baffled the police was the motive for the murders. At trial, the prosecution suggested that Martin had killed for the insurance money, but that hardly made sense since none of the victims was heavily insured. The proceeds of the policies barely covered the cost of the funerals.
Whatever the reason for her murderous spree, Rhonda Bell Martin was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. She died in Alabama's electric chair on October 11, 1957.
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