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Notorious or Famous Female Woman Serial Killers, Nannie Doss


Famous Female Serial Killers, Nannie Doss

With an annual average of 12 serial killers at large in the USA at any one time, it may be a scary place to be. But a minimum of at least one of these serial killers, will be a female. Women who kill are becoming more common as modern society begins to breed resentment and cultural differences escalate.

For women serial killers, or murderesses, the motive for murder is usually financial gain or towards a cheating partner. Few say that a mightier being has forced them to do their bidding, whilst some do it for plain sexual gratification. Whatever the reason for female serial killers to murder multiple people, it is becoming a deadly and unforgiving world.

People in general will trust a naïve or innocent appearing women, more than they would trust a man, but his could leave to their downfall and untimely death. Many innocent victims of such macabre females lay in graves across the globe, many of these impromptu grave sites will never be discovered.

Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss was born in Blue Mountain, Alabama, November 4th 1905, and was originally named as Nancy Hazle. Nancy was destined to become a cold hearted female serial killer with no remorse. Her own family were the victims of many deaths as no one was spared from Nannie Doss's poisoning rampage.

Women serial killers like Nannie Doss who ravaged her family tree killing four husbands, sisters, nephews, her mother and even her own sisters, show no discrimination in the age or sex of their victims. The innocent lady in the photograph on the right, hides a sinister and macabre, yet twisted and possibly demented person underneath.

The Life of Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss had a strict upbringing with a controlling father whose phyiscal and emotional torture towards his wife and children was extensive. Nannie worked on the family farm at all hours so her educational standards were very poor, she could barely read or write. Whilst visiting relatives, the train she was travelling on slammed on its brakes causing Nannie to hit her head severely. This caused headaches and blackouts for several years and was the main instance that she later blamed for her mental instability.

Her childhood was miserable and her father forbade her older sisters from wearing make up and attending social events to prevent them from being sexual active, which had already happened on several occasions.


Doss married for the first time at the age of 16 after dating the man for only a few months. They met at a linen factory where Doss worked with her fathers permission.

This is what Doss wrote about her marriage:

I married, as my father wished, in 1921 to a boy I only knowed about four or five months who had no family, only a mother who was unwed and who had taken over my life completely when we were married. She never seen anything wrong with what he done, but she would take spells. She would not let my own mother stay all night...

This marriage produced four daughters over four years, and Doss's addiction to alcohol had become heavy.

They both cheated on each other and in 1927 they lost two daughters to suspected food poisoning. Her mother in-law also died soon afterwards and suspecting that Doss had killed them all, her husband took the eldest daughter and fled, leaving Doss with one child.

Nannie Doss moved to Anniston, where she met 23 year old Robert Harrelson from Jacksonville through a lonely hearts advertisement. Despite Harrelson being an alcoholic, they moved in together with her two daughters ( the eldest had returned to her ) and the marriage lasted sixteen years.

Doss's eldest daughter Melvina, gave birth to a girl which died only several hours after birth. Melvina later claimed that she saw her mother stick a hat pin into the babies head. Melvina began to date a soldier who had a young boy.

But whilst away, she left the boy called Robert in the care of her mother, Nannie Doss. The boy died of asphyxiation of unknown causes within days. Two months later, Doss collected the $500 life insurance she had secretly taken out on the boy.

Whiskey Poisoning

Frank came home after celebrating the end of world war two and allegedly raped his wife Nannie Doss. The next day she found his corm whiskey jar and added rat poison to the contents. Frank died very slowly and painfully that very same evening.

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Doss met and married her third husband Arlie Lanning in Lexinton, North Carolina. They married after only three days of knowing each other through another lonely hearts advert. Arlie died of a suspected heart failure several months later and their house mysteriously burned to the ground. It had been left to Arlies sister in his will, but the insurance money went to Nannie Doss, which she quickly banked. Arlies Lanning's elderly mother suspiciously died in her sleep about the same time.

Nannie Doss ended up living with her bedridden sister for a short while, who died in her sleep soon after Doss's arrival.

After marrying her fourth husband, she poisoned her own mother in 1953 after she had come to live with Doss and her new husband. Her husband died three months later. The serial killers method of poisoning was becoming her trademark.

Nannie Doss's Downfall

Her fifth husband was to be her last serial killing. He was Samuel Doss of Tulsa Oklahoma. He was admitted to hospital with flue like symptoms and was treated for a tract infection. He was released on October 5th and died that same night. Doss had overdosed him in a hurry to collect the two life insurance polices she had taken out on him.

His sudden death alerted his doctor and he ordered an autopsy which showed a high dosage of arsenic in his blood system. Nannie Doss was arrested immediately.


Nannie Doss confessed to killing four husbands, her mother, her sister and a mother-in-law as well as her grandson. She denied any other murders, although she had the motive of the insurance payouts and was at hand every time someone died in her family. Maybe she was just unlucky.

Nannie Doss pleaeded guilty on17th May 1955, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. She died of leukemia in the State Penitentiary in 1965.

Female serial killers allegedly find their first killing traumatic, but apparently, it gets easier the more killings they do.

Other Female Serial Killers

Eileen Wuornos

Sexual predator and prostitute

Amelia Dyers

Known as the baby butcher for killing over 400 children

Dorothea Puente

Poisonous killer of residents at her boarding house

Jane Toppan

Nurse who murdered many to fulfill her depraved sexual gratification


Georgie Lowery from North Florida on October 10, 2012:

I've been reading your Hubs about serial killers all afternoon. It's almost frightening how "normal" some of these women appeared to be. Thank you for the interesting, yet chilling, information.

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on July 30, 2012:

Very interesting hub. Serial killers are so strange and different, and its interesting to read about them.

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on August 13, 2011:

Well articulated and useful. I am reading more. See you. Thanks

jacqui2011 from Norfolk, UK on August 13, 2011:

Fascinating hub. So well written and very informative. Well done, what an interesting article.

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