Female Killers · Nevada

First (and currently only) woman legally executed in Nevada

June 20, 1890
Elko, Nevada
Elizabeth Potts becomes the first (and currently the only) woman legally executed in Nevada

Elizabeth and her husband Josiah were convicted of the murder of Miles Faucett, a man they owed money. He visited the couple on January 1, 1888 and was never seen alive again. The Potts produced a bill of sale (in Elizabeth’s handwriting with a signature that could not be confirmed as Faucett’s handwriting or a forgery) which read “In consideration of board and lodging at Mr. and Mrs. Potts’, I give them my horses and wagon and my interest in the Hot Springs Ranch. (Signed:) Miles Faucett. I am suddenly called away East to attend some property left to me.”

The Potts moved in the summer of 1888. The new owner of the house found human remains in the cellar in January of 1889. The Reno Evening Gazette (June 20, 1890) reported “By means of a rod a soft place was found where the ground had evidently been disturbed, and digging down about three feet human remains were uncovered, but in horribly mutilated condition. The head was gone, or at least only pieces of it could be found, one arm was gone, both legs were off and the body had been cut in two above the hips.”

The Potts were arrested immediately following the discovery, and both convicted of murder. A double gallows scaffold was brought in to hang the pair simultaneously. At the execution, according to the Fort Worth Daily Gazette (June 21, 1890), the couple professed their innocence and “shook their hands from their wrists, and leaning forward kissed affectionately.” The newspaper also stated Josiah’s neck did not break from the fall and was pronounced dead 10 minutes after the trapdoor fell away. Elizabeth “never struggled or turned around. Her neck was broken and blood streamed down the front of her white dress. Her head was almost severed from her body.”

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