Executions · Famous Last Words · Female Killers · Serial Killers · South Carolina

FLW: delivering messages to the devil

Famous Last Words
Lavinia Fisher
Charleston, South Carolina
February 18, 1820

“If any of you have a message to give the devil, give it to me quick — I’m about to meet him!”

Lavinia Fisher is often credited as the first female serial killer in the US. She was part of a group of highway men and would invite lone travelers to her wayfarers house where she and her husband allegedly killed them.

According to one legend, she would give her victims poisoned tea to kill them so she could steal their possessions. Another legend stated the tea was simply drugged; the victims would later reach a deep slumber and either her husband stabbed them to death in their sleep or pulled a lever of a contraption which dumped the victims in a pit, possibly filled with spikes. Yet another legend claims she crushed her victims’ heads between her legs.

These legends are likely embellishments added as the years progressed to make Fisher’s story more entertaining. In fact, she and her husband John were convicted and executed for highway robbery (a capital offense at the time), not murder. Because of the Fishers’ conviction and the lack of concrete evidence of any murders, modern historians question the validity of the murder allegations against them.

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