‘Black Widow’ Judy Buenoano Convicted Of Murdering Her Son, Husband With Arsenic
Police began investigating the former nurse after she attempted to kill her boyfriend with a car bomb.
A former nurse and manicurist known as the “black widow” served time on death row in Florida after she poisoned her husband with arsenic, drowned her paralyzed son, and attempted to murder a boyfriend by blowing him up.
In 1983, a car bomb exploded and nearly killed John Gentry outside a restaurant in Pensacola. Investigators learned that before the incident, Gentry fell ill and his girlfriend, Judias “Judy” Buenoano, had been giving him what she claimed was vitamin C but what chemists determined were actually pills laced with the toxin paraformaldehyde, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
The detectives identified Buenoano as the main suspect in Gentry’s violent attempted murder. Her motive: a $510,000 life insurance policy she had taken out in his name.
Following her conviction for murder, prosecutors began looking deeper into the deaths of Buenoano’s child and husband years earlier.
In 1980, Buenoano’s paralyzed 19-year-old son, Michael Goodyear, lost his life after he drowned in the East River in Milton. Prosecutors claimed at trial that Buenoano pushed the teenager from a canoe, and she was convicted of his murder, The New York Times reported.
Investigators then exhumed the body of Buenoano’s late spouse, Air Force Sgt. James E. Goodyear. He died in 1971 after he became ill shortly after returning from serving in Vietnam. Tests determined Goodyear’s cause of death was arsenic poisoning.
Buenoano was again tried for murder. She was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985.
According to The New York Times, the so-called black widow collected around $200,000 in life insurance money in connection with her husband and son’s murders.
The convicted killer may have committed even more crimes than she stood trial for, the Pensacola News Journal reported. Evidence showed Bobby Joe Morris, who once dated Buenoano, also may have died from chronic arsenic exposure.
In 1998, Buenoano was executed in the electric chair at age 54. She was the first woman to be executed in Florida in 150 years.
For more on this case, stream Very Scary People: “The Black Widow” on discovery+.