Black Widow Killer: Pastor’s Wife On Death Row For Poisoning Boyfriend With Arsenic

Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore was convicted of murder after detectives connected her to a string of suspicious deaths.

In this 1990 file photo, Blanche Taylor Moore, left, reacts with her attorney David Tamer as she is sentenced to death in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore was convicted of murder after detectives connected her to a string of suspicious deaths.

Photo by: Chuck Burton via Associated Press

Chuck Burton via Associated Press

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A North Carolina woman was suspected of the murders of her first husband and a boyfriend after she was caught trying to poison her new reverend spouse with arsenic.

“We're talking about an average, ordinary neighborhood lady,” former Alamance County Sheriff Richard Frye once told The Associated Press of Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore.

On Easter Sunday in 1985, Blanche, a widowed preacher’s daughter, met divorced pastor Dwight Moore at Carolina United Church of Christ in Alamance County.

Just over four years later, on April 19, 1989, the two tied the knot, but their lives were anything but happily ever after. Upon returning home from their honeymoon, Dwight became sick after he ate food his new wife prepared for him.

Within weeks, Dwight was hospitalized and so ill that doctors didn’t expect him to live. Experts ran a battery of tests on the pastor and discovered he had huge amounts of the deadly poison arsenic in his system.

Police launched an investigation and questioned Dwight, who somehow managed to pull through and survive the poisoning.

Detectives then exhumed the bodies of several people close to Blanche who died under suspicious circumstances and tests found several had astronomically high levels of arsenic in their remains.

In 1973, Blanche claimed she found her husband of 21 years, James Napoleon Taylor, dead at age 45 from what appeared to be a heart attack. Tests on his remains 16 years later showed he had 60 times the level of arsenic in his body considered usual.

In 1986, Blanche was dating her future husband, Dwight, but she was also still seeing another man, Raymond Carlton Reid Sr., the manager of a Kroger supermarket in Burlington where they both worked, according to The Los Angeles Times.

That same year, Reid was hospitalized after falling sick and suffering numbness in his limbs. He died on Oct. 7, 1986, from what his doctors attributed at the time to the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Tests in 1989 showed the 50-year-old’s exhumed body contained 30 times the normal rate of arsenic.

The body of Moore’s father, who died at age 62 in 1966, also had elevated arsenic levels, but his cause of death was determined to be heart disease.

On July 18, 1989, police arrested and charged Blanche with the first-degree murders of her husbands, Taylor and Reid, as well as assault with a deadly weapon in connection with Dwight’s near-fatal poisoning.

“Dwight defended [Blanche] and wouldn’t believe it until the authorities gave him the evidence on Reid,” Nola Halbrook told The Los Angeles Times of her brother. “It was emotionally devastating to him.”

In November 1990, Blanche was convicted of her former boyfriend Reid’s murder and sentenced to death. Prosecutors dropped the other charges against her and she never went to trial on the cases, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

As of 2022, Blanche, now 89, is incarcerated at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh. She is the oldest woman on North Carolina's death row.

She continues to maintain she’s innocent.

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