Alabama · Executions · Female Killers

Woman who murdered majority of family is executed 

October 11, 1957
Montgomery, Alabama
Rhonda Bell Martin is executed in the electric chair for the murder of her fourth husband; she confessed to have also killed her mother, 2 other husbands, and 3 children as well as poisoned her fifth husband (who was also the son of the fourth husband)

Martin’s children by her second husband were between 3 and 11 when they were murdered by rat poison. Two other children, also by her second husband, died at the ages of 1 and 6, though she claimed she did not kill these children. Her second and fourth husbands and her mother were poisoned to death as well, and her fifth husband (her former step-son) was poisoned but survived as a paraplegic. 

Investigators believed she killed her family for their insurance claims, but the payouts barely covered funeral expenses so this theory is unlikely. Martin herself could not explain her motives and offered her body to science so someone could make sense of her crimes. It was later determined she suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which the affected person revels in the attention associated with a loved one’s illness or death. Sometimes the death itself is enough to satisfy the individual affected by the disorder, though in cases like Martin’s the prolonged illness and caregiver dynamic was the driving force.

Martin made no final statement, silent shaking her head when asked if she wished to leave one.

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