April 07– Apr. 7–HIGH POINT — You have in all probability heard tales about “the one which acquired away.”
Typically it is a story a couple of large ol’ bass fisherman claims he had on his line, however the lunker someway managed to flee. Different occasions it is a lovelorn man or gal lamenting the lack of “Mr. Proper” or “Miss Good” in a romantic relationship gone awry.
On this case, although, “the one which acquired away” takes on a complete new which means — it refers to a Excessive Level man who, greater than 60 years in the past, very almost discovered himself on the sufferer listing of a black-widow serial killer.
The yr was 1954, and in late November, a most uncommon story made nationwide headlines when a 49-year-old grandmother named Nannie Doss confessed — really, she “cheerfully confessed,” in response to newspaper accounts — to murdering 4 of her 5 husbands by giving them rat poison.
Newspaper images confirmed the harmless-looking lady really smiling and typically laughing — at the same time as she was being interrogated or taken into custody — which led to the press nicknaming her “The Laughing Granny” and “The Jolly Black Widow.” Do not let her candy, grandmotherly countenance idiot you, although — in actuality, Nannie was a cold-blooded murderess who, along with the 4 husbands she admittedly got rid of, was additionally accused of killing seven extra folks, together with two of her personal youngsters, her two sisters, her mom, a grandson and a mother-in-law.
Based on newspaper accounts, solely the primary of her 5 husbands, an Alabama man named Charles Braggs, had managed to free himself from the infamous black widow’s depraved internet. He divorced Nannie, claiming he did not belief her and that the meals she cooked for him “did not style proper.” Actually, two of their 4 daughters had died very younger of suspected meals poisoning — and it was later suspected that Nannie was the one who’d achieved the poisoning.
The 4 husbands Nannie poisoned died in 1945, 1952, 1953 and 1954, and in every case the grieving widow collected insurance coverage cash. And had she not lastly been caught in 1954, she apparently had plans to strike once more. Even because the final of her husbands lay on his deathbed — the sufferer of a dish of arsenic-laced stewed prunes — Nannie was already corresponding with a brand new potential husband she’d met by a lonely-hearts membership.
As you may think about, information of this cold-hearted granny despatched shock waves all through the nation, however her path of useless husbands was of explicit curiosity right here in North Carolina.
For one factor, Nannie’s third husband was Lexington’s personal Arlie Lanning. As with a few of her different males, she’d met Lanning by a lonely-hearts membership, married him solely days after assembly him, and lived with him in Davidson County — proper up till the day she sprinkled arsenic on his meals and killed him. Nannie was additionally accused of killing Lanning’s mom, Sarah Lanning, and her personal mom, Lou E. Hazel, each of whom are buried in Davidson County.
Additionally, Nannie’s subsequent potential husband — the one she’d been corresponding with when she was arrested — lived in Goldsboro.
And right here in Excessive Level, there was one more twist to the unusual story — a neighborhood man who had dated Nannie, however managed to not eat any of her rat-poisoned delicacies.
On Nov. 29, 1954 — as newspapers throughout the nation reported the information of Nannie’s arrest — The Excessive Level Enterprise printed a scoop no different newspaper had: The earlier yr, Nannie had dated a Excessive Level man, and he or she apparently had tried to marry him. The information of her arrest should’ve despatched chilly shivers down his backbone.
“I am the luckiest man on this planet,” 50-year-old Coy Foust informed The Enterprise, taking a look at a few snapshots of Nannie he nonetheless carried in his billfold.
Based on Foust, he met Nannie in 1953 whereas he was working in Lexington, they usually dated on and off for about six months. Throughout that point, Nannie requested Foust to marry her on quite a few events, he mentioned, however he at all times turned her down.
“I had $2,500 price of life insurance coverage,” Foust informed The Enterprise, “and it seems to be like now they may have needed to repay on it if I had married her.”
On the time, although, Foust by no means suspected he was courting a serial killer.
“I by no means thought something dangerous about her,” he mentioned. “She was good to me.”
In fact, she was in all probability good to the opposite males, too … till after that they had tied the knot.
Nannie finally pleaded responsible to killing the final of her husbands and acquired a life sentence, which she served on the state penitentiary in Oklahoma, the place the crime occurred. She would dwell out the remainder of her days there, dying of leukemia in 1965, on the age of 60. She apparently had been a mannequin prisoner, spending her time attending church companies and dealing within the jail laundry — the one place she was permitted to work.
“After they get brief within the kitchen, I at all times provide to assist out,” she informed a newspaper reporter in 1957, “however they’ve by no means let me work there.”
With that, “The Jolly Black Widow” could not assist however grin.
That was so like Nannie. Proper up till the tip, she at all times had a killer humorousness.
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