When we think of serial killers often the most notorious names such as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Kemper, and John Wayne Gacy come to mind. Yet the female of the species is just as deadly as the male – even though many of their sinister crimes have been buried in history.
According to the Serial Killer Database, female serial killers are responsible for less than 12% of serial murders. Many female serial killers are often involved in a partnership with a boyfriend or husband. (Take Fred and Rose West, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, or Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo for example). It is therefore very rare you would come across a lone female serial killer which is one of the reasons why this particular type of criminal is able to avoid capture for a long time.
They also have very different motives in contrast with their male counterparts; male serial killers are often driven by sexual lust and the need for power over their victim, whereas female serial killers are more likely to kill for financial gain or revenge. Female serial killers tend to be a lot neater in their crimes too – preferring methods such as poisoning or suffocating their victims rather than using blunt objects or knives. They also operate as serial killers in a location that is familiar to them either at home or in their place of work.
There is another chilling pattern we see in most female serial killers and that is the particular time of year they are born. For those who follow astrology, you will be aware that each individual Zodiac sign has its own set of personality traits. These following serial killers were all born between October 23rd – November 21st so they fall under the sign of Scorpio.
Female Scorpios are often referred to in the world of astrology as ‘Queens of the Underworld’. They have a magnetic personality with the ability to draw people in thanks to their air of mystery, magic, and sensuality. The Scorpio sign rules over the occult sciences, and the true meaning of the word “occult” is “hidden” – hence why they keep a lot of secrets.
These following female serial killers were all born under the Scorpio sign and they hid a lot of dark secrets. Between them, they have a kill count of more than 100 victims as they are some of the most notorious serial killers that ever lived.
Margie Barfield (Born October 29th, 1932)
Margie Barfield was notoriously well-known as the “Death Row Granny,” when she became the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1962, and the first since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Her first two husbands had died (under sudden and mysterious circumstances) and she moved on with tobacco farmer Stuart Taylor in 1977. Barfield had an addiction to prescription drugs and used Taylor’s account to forge checks so she could fuel her habit.
Then Taylor fell very ill and died in hospital. Unfortunately for Barfield, she wasn’t getting away with murder again as an autopsy discovered the cause of death was arsenic poisoning. The real depravity of Barfield’s crimes then began to unfold – she confessed to also murdering her own mother, an elderly couple she had worked for as a housekeeper, and a relative of her third husband.
She was put to death by lethal injection on November 2nd, 1984, her last meal was a bag of Cheeze Doodles and a Coca-Cola.
Bertha Gifford (Born October 30th, 1872)
Bertha Gifford lived a quiet life as a farmwife in rural Catawissa, Missouri, where she was known in the community for being an excellent cook and a kind-hearted carer for neighbors who had fallen sick. Many people did not know that Gifford was a secret poisoner until it was much too late for them.
It is believed she murdered 17 members of the local community in the 1900s. Gifford tried to claim the enormous amounts of arsenic she bought was to deal with a rat infestation in her barn but almost everyone she had cared for during their final days had suffered an agonizing end.
Gifford was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to State Hospital in Farmington, Missouri, where she continued to work as a cook until her death in 1951. She is now considered one of America’s first female serial killers.
Mary Ann Cotton (Born October 31st, 1832)
Known as Britain’s first serial killer, Mary Ann Cotton murdered 21 victims during her 20-year-long poisoning spree. Amongst her victims was her own mother, several of her children and stepchildren, three husbands, a lover, and a friend. Staggeringly, nobody connected the dots and her crimes went undetected for two decades.
She was finally caught after she married her fourth husband and told a Parish Official, “I won’t be troubled long. He’ll go like all the rest of the Cottons.” Police investigated and her long poisoning spree was uncovered.
In 1873, she was hanged at Durham Jail in front of a small crowd. One reporter for Dundee Courier wrote: “Mrs Cotton, who scowled fiercely and with an air of defiance at the crowd, and who muttered constantly but indistinctly, took her place upon the drop with remarkable composure, the wretched woman was launched into eternity.”
Amy Archer-Gilligan (Born October 31st, 1868)
In the early 1900s, Amy Archer-Gilligan ran a private nursing home in Windsor, Connecticut, where she managed to convince nine elderly patients to name her in their will before poisoning them. She also married and murdered five elderly men. Nobody suspected her of any wrongdoing until the last victim’s family became suspicious and demanded an autopsy which revealed clear signs of arsenic poisoning.
Her nursing home was labeled the “Murder Factory” in the news as it is believed that the real victim count is 48 in total but these deaths could not be linked directly to her. She spent the rest of her life at Connecticut Hospital for the Insane in Middletown until her own death in 1962.
It is believed her crimes were the inspiration for the play and later film ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’
Kimberly Clark Saenz (Born November 3rd, 1974)
Serial killer Kimberly Clark Saenz was a wife and mother of two young children but she hid her addiction to prescription medication from her family. She had been fired from four previous jobs for providing the wrong information on personal documents and for stealing medical supplies. Eventually, she secured a job at a dialysis clinic in Lufkin, Texas, after lying on her application.
Saenz then murdered five patients in cold blood – she drew sodium hypochlorite (commonly known as bleach) into syringes and injected the substance into their dialysis lines. Prosecutors believed there were even more victims but there was inadequate evidence to raise further indictments against Saenz.
During the trial, the daughter of one victim told the serial killer, “You are nothing more than a psychopathic serial killer. I hope you burn in hell.”
Nannie Doss (Born November 4th, 1905)
Born in 1905, Nannie Doss, known also as the ‘Giggling Granny’, murdered 11 victims in Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas and Oklahoma between the 1920s and 1950s. She was married four times; using lonely hearts ads to trap a new husband before poisoning them with arsenic and collecting the insurance money.
Her murderous rampage only came to an end when a doctor became suspicious of such sudden deaths. Then the bodies of her previous husbands, two of her sisters, and even two of her own infant children were all exhumed and it was confirmed they had also been killed by arsenic poisoning.
Despite the insurance pay outs, Doss claimed that she killed off each husband because she was searching for true love. In 1965, she died of leukemia in Oklahoma State Penitentiary age 60-years-old.
Belle Gunness (Born November 11th, 1859)
Belle Gunness stood 6-feet tall and weighed 200 lbs; she used her physical strength to carry out a series of murders, killing at least 40 people before disappearing mysteriously. Gunness supported herself by advertising as a “comely widow” in lonely hearts columns. Rich suitors would come to visit and disappear mysteriously after they deposited their money into her bank account.
One night, the farm burned to the ground, with the bodies of Gunness’ three children and a decapitated woman found among the debris. A farmhand was arrested and charged with murder and arson. However, the fact that the decapitated woman found in the rubble was quite clearly too short and thin to be Gunness herself raised further questions.
Although officially declared dead in 1908, it seems obvious that Gunness did not die in the fire but instead succeeded in skipping town and making a new life for herself. To this day, the whereabouts of the rest of her life – and death – are unknown. Clearly, she did not want to be found.
Debra Brown (Born November 11th, 1962)
In 1984, Debra Brown – alongside her partner Alton Coleman – went on a two-year killing spree, between six different states, that left eight people dead. Their relationship was a master and slave scenario, with Coleman ruling over Brown.
The first three victims were aged between 7 and 9 years old before they moved on to an older couple who they attacked with a lead pipe. All of their victims were African-American who they befriended before killing them in cold blood.
They were finally caught when one victim managed to survive a brutal attack. As their sinister crimes had been carried out in so many different states, the prosecution decided to leave their trial in Ohio where the worst punishment possible was the death penalty. Coleman was executed in 2002 and Brown’s sentence was reduced to life in prison.
Kristen Gilbert (Born November 13th, 1967)
Kristen Gilbert was known as a caring nurse and soccer mom but secretly she led a double life as a twisted serial killer. Whilst working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Northampton, Massachusetts, it was a joke amongst the other staff members that Gilbert was always on duty when many distressing deaths took place. They even dubbed her “The Angel of Death.”
Yet, for others, this became a real concern when it was estimated the odds of her being on duty for half of the ward’s 350 deaths over a 7-year duration were one in 100 million and an investigation was launched. It was discovered Gilbert would decrease the patient’s supply of epinephrine so they would suffer a cardiac arrest; she even telephoned in a bomb threat in an attempt to derail the investigation.
Convicted on four counts of murder, it’s very likely that Gilbert’s victim count amounts to a much higher number as many VA hospital staff members speculate that she may have been responsible for eighty or more deaths.