These women have been charged with murdering their children, partners and parents. Learn about these women who kill, how they killed and the punishments for their crimes.
1: Beverley Allitt
Name: Beverley Allitt
Crime: A trusted nurse preys upon the young children in her ward, attacking nine and taking the lives of four. She is diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, a disorder which causes an individual to seek attention by causing illness or physical harm to others.
Method: Insulin and Potassium Injections.
Interesting Fact: Allitt murdered 13 children in 15 days.
Punishment: 13 life sentences in a top-security mental facility in England.
2: Velma Barfield
Name: Velma Barfield
Crime: A churchgoing, middle-aged mother and grandmother keeps losing the people she loves – including her mother and boyfriend – until authorities discover she is the one behind their deaths.
Method: Arsenic Poisoning.
Interesting Fact: Barfield is quoted as saying, "I only meant to make him sick."
Punishment: Received the death penalty by lethal injection on November 2, 1984 after many failed appeals.
3: Lizzie Borden
Name: Lizzie Borden
Crime: A 19th century spinster is charged with murdering her father and stepmother, but she is acquitted when not enough evidence can be found.
Interesting Fact: The house where the murders took place is now the home of a bed and breakfast.
4: Mary Ann Cotton
Name: Mary Ann Cotton
Crime: A 19th century serial killer responsible for the deaths of four husbands and 12 children.
Method: Arsenic Poisoning.
Interesting Fact: Cotton's victims all suffered from stomach problems, and were believed to have intestinal disorders before an autopsy was carried out on her final victim, one of her deceased husband’s children.
5: Diane Downs
Name: Diane Downs
Crime: A mother shoots her three children, paralyzing two and murdering one, allegedly in an attempt to get closer to her Arizona boyfriend.
Interesting Fact: Downs’ two surviving children went to live with one of the prosecutors of her case.
Punishment: Life in prison plus 50 years.
6: Antoinette Frank
Name: Antoinette Frank
Crime: A New Orleans police officer robs a restaurant and murders three people, including her police force partner.
Interesting Fact: Frank was set to receive the death penalty on July 15, 2008, but the date has been pushed back for 90 days due to appeals.
Punishment: Death Penalty.
7: Belle Gunness
Name: Belle Gunness
Crime: A 19th century serial killer originally from Norway takes the lives of her daughters and is believed to have killed more than 20 people in her lifetime, with the motive of collecting life insurance policies.
Method: Numerous, including arson and poison, never proved.
Interesting Fact: Gunness is believed to have been found dead, headless, in her own home during a house fire. Authorities could never officially determine the body’s identity, though DNA tests will begin shortly on the exhumed body.
Punishment: Never convicted.
8: Katherine Knight
Name: Katherine Knight
Crime: An Australian woman murders her husband in cold blood and tries to feed his body to their children (the police arrived before the meal took place).
Method: Stabbing by knife and decapitation.
Interesting Fact: Knight had a history of violence and killed her husband’s puppy prior to her spouse’s murder.
Punishment: Life in prison without parole.
9: Judith Ann Neelley
Name: Judith Ann Neelley
Crime: An 18-year-old woman convinces her husband that they should go on a killing spree together.
Method: Gun and Injections of Liquid Drain Cleaner.
Interesting Fact: The Neelleys called themselves “Boney and Claude.”
Punishment: Sentenced to death, commuted to life in prison.
10: Carolyn Warmus
Name: Carolyn Warmus
Crime: An heiress takes the life of her lover’s wife in a jealous rage.
Interesting Fact: Warmus had a history of stalking boyfriends and hiring private detectives to determine their whereabouts.
Punishment: 25 years to life in prison.