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Female Serial Killers and Their Impact on the Criminal Justice System

Female serial killers are something of a rarity in the criminal justice system, but there have been a number of cases that have had a significant impact on our criminal justice system.

Marie Noe (1928-Present)

Marie Noe is an American woman and female serial killer who was convicted in 1999 for the murder of eight of her children. Between the years of 1949 and 1968, eight of the ten Noe children died of mysterious causes; at the time, they had been attributed to sudden infant death syndrome. All of the children had been born healthy and had normal development, but died between the ages of two weeks and 14 months. After giving birth to her last child Arthur Joseph in 1968, Noe had an emergency hysterectomy. 30 years later, a reporter from Philadelphia magazine brought her story back to the public, urging to investigate the case. Noe admitted to smothering four of her children, but said she wasn’t sure what happened to the other four. Two had died of actual natural causes. A plea agreement was reached, charging her with eight counts of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 20 years probation with the first five years under house arrest. A September 2001 study was filed with the court, stating that Noe suffered from mixed-personality disorder.

Delphine LaLaurie (1775?-1842?- exact dates unknown)

Female serial killer Delphine LaLaurie was alleged to have helped torture, mutilate, and kill nearly 100 black slaves in the early 1800s. The wife of a wealthy New Orleans physician, she threw extravagant parties in their mansion in the French Quarter, but was also known to physically abuse her slaves, an incident where she brutally beat one in her garden after the slave allegedly pulled her hair while brushing it. Another slave jumped to her death from a second floor window to escape LaLaurie’s attacks. After responding to a fire in the LaLaurie mansion in 1834, firemen discovered several dead slaves chained to the walls in the attic. LaLaurie and her husband fled New Orleans shortly thereafter. It is rumored that they escaped to Paris, where it is believed that she died.

Aileen Wuornos (1956-2002)

Aileen Wuornos began working as a prostitute while she was attending high school in Michigan. She later moved to Florida and began a relationship with a 24-year-old motel maid named Tyria Moore. Wuornos supported herself and Moore by hooking. In 1989, Wuornos shot electronics storeowner Richard Malloy three times with a .22 caliber after he allegedly tried to rape her. Over the course of the next year, she killed seven more men – she would later claim that these killings were done in self-defense. The State of Florida sentenced her to six death sentences, and she was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. The story of this female serial killer was later revived in 2003’s Academy Award winning film Monster,starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci.