True Crime Stories – Women who kill

February 5, 2008

Most True Crime Stories you read involve men.  That’s because 93% of murders are committed by men but women are also capable of horrific acts.  Women are less violent then men due to brain anatomy.   The amygdala is used to assess threats and the Orbital Frontal Region is used to act on them. Men have a smaller Orbital Frontal Regions. 

Mothers and caregivers who are expected to nurture, but they murder instead. 

Jean Harris, a headmistress at a girl’s school, killed her lover in a crime of passion.  The majority of female killers kill loved ones.

MaryBeth Tinning killed her own children, three in the span of two months.  She thrived on the outpouring of sympathy she received.  As a child she received little attention, especially from her father.  He died without ever showing her the affection she craved.  Over the next three years, four more children would die, the cause of death deemed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  By 1981, suspicious grows when an adopted son dies and one more biological child. Nine Tinning Children died in 14 years.  She suffered from Munchausen by Proxy.  

According to KidshealthIn MBPS, an individual – usually a mother – deliberately makes another person (most often his or her own preschool child) sick or convinces others that the person is sick….Typically, the perpetrator feels satisfied when he or she has the attention and sympathy of doctors, nurses, and others who come into contact with him or her and the child. Some experts believe that it isn’t just the attention that’s gained from the “illness” of the child that drives this behavior, but there is satisfaction gained by the perpetrator in being able to deceive individuals that they consider to be more important and powerful than themselves.”

Susan Smith killed her two small boys and claimed they had been taken in a carjacking.  Smith exploited public sympathy but police were suspicious of her story.  Nine days after her sons’ disappearance, she confessed to drowning her sons by strapping them into their car seats and driving her car into a lake.  Susan Smith killed her children to continue an affair. 

Cathy Wood and Gwen Graham played a vicious game. The two work in as nurses in an elderly care center and begin to have an affair.  They planned to murder victims whose initials would spell MURDER.  The game was meant to draw the two together forever; however, Gwen left Cathy for another woman.  Cathy confessed their crimes to her ex husband and he went to the authorities.  Cathy testified for the persecution claiming Gwen was the mastermind behind the game.

Aileen Wuornos is the first female serial killer according to FBI profiles. She is unique for her method of killing and targeting stranger victims.  Many violent women studied had troubled childhoods, anti social behavior disorder and a history of substance abuse.  Wuornos was motivated by revenge against men, perhaps in response to rage from her adolescence, in which she claimed to have been raped.  

Belle Gunness murdered for financial benefit, murdering suitors and burying their dismembered bodies.

Nanny Doss poisoned four husbands. She is also suspected of killing her mother and two children.

Women are rarely sadistic killers. Teresa Knorr was an exception.  She was a controlling wife and mother. She shot her first husband during an argument and claimed self defense.  She married three more times and had five children.  Her children suffered torture at her hands, burned with cigarettes, stabbed, shot or locked in a freezer.  Suesan was shot and the wound became infected. Knorr took Susan to a field and set her on fire, burning her to death. Sheila was locked in a freezer and starved to death.