What comes to your mind when you hear the words, “Death Row“?
My mind immediately conjures up an image of a rugged-looking bloke, muscled and tattooed, unrepentant for his crimes. But there are also women who await their final verdict on the death row.
These are deceptively ordinary ladies who committed extraordinary crimes, atrocious enough to warrant a certain death for punishment. These are the women on death row.
1. Lisa Montgomery
Probably, one of the most horrifying and tragic of murders is the act of killing a pregnant woman. This is precisely what Lisa M. Montgomery did, and as if that was not effed up enough, she tore the baby from her victim’s belly. Lisa was 36 years old and was convicted of strangling Bobbie Stinnett, who was 8 months pregnant, and taking her unborn child from her womb. Thankfully, the authorities caught up with Lisa and the baby, who ultimately survived the attack.
Update: Lisa Montgomery is no longer on death row. She was put to death via lethal injection on the 13th January 2021.
2. Patricia Blackmon
On May 29, 1999, 28-month-old Dominiqua was found by authorities wearing only nappies and bloodied socks, lying on the floor with blood on her stomach and a bump on her head. Patricia Blackmon, 29 years old and Dominiqua’s adoptive mother, called 911 because her baby was no longer breathing. Upon autopsy, it was found that little Dominiqua suffered 30 separate injuries including bruises, a fractured leg, and two broken bones. There was also a clear imprint of a shoe sole on her chest.
Currently, she is still sitting on death row in Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka, Alabama.
3. Tierra Capri Gobble
Tierra Gobble was convicted of killing her four-month-old son, Phoenix Cody Parrish. Gobble admitted to hitting Parrish’s head on the side of his crib because Parrish would not stop crying. Phoenix died from trauma consistent with child abuse, including a skull fracture, broken ribs, two broken wrists, and many bruises. His little-battered body was not collected from the morgue; no one in his family wanted him even in death. The local community raised enough funds to clothe him and give him a proper burial. Strangers stood at his grave site to say farewell.
Currently, she is still sitting on death row.
4. Shonda Johnson
Shonda Johnson was married to Randy McCullar and then went on to marry two other men, William McIntyre and Tim Richards, while still legally married. Randy filed for divorce and custody of their children. Three weeks later, he would be murdered by his ex-wife.
Johnson was so upset that she tried to get a former boyfriend she lived with to kill McCullar, but he wouldn’t. She managed to persuade Richards to cut McCullar’s tire while he was in a BC Lounge. Supposedly, Richards and Johnson followed McCullar to a parking lot, where Johnson handed Richards a loaded gun to kill McCullar. Richards cut a deal and testified against Johnson.
5. Christie Michelle Scott
In July, a jury found Christie Scott guilty of three counts of capital murder when she set her home on fire, which killed her six-year-old son, Mason. Seven of the jurors in the case recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole.
However, Judge Terry Dempsey said in his ruling that the child’s death was more heinous, atrocious and cruel than many other capital cases and ordered Scott to die. Currently, she is still sitting on death row.
6. Wendi Andriano
On October 8, 2000, Joseph “Joe” Andriano was bludgeoned with a bar stool in his apartment, which he shared with his wife, Wendi. He was also stabbed in the neck with a 13-inch knife. Postmortem reports showed that he sustained 23 traumatic blows to the skull, and there were also traces of sodium azide found in his system.
Interestingly, about one hour before Joe was murdered, Wendi had called 911 and claimed that her terminally ill husband was dying. When the paramedics arrived though, Wendi didn’t let them enter the apartment and said that Joe had a “do-not-resuscitate” order and wished to die. An hour later, she called 911 again and said that she beat and stabbed her husband in self-defence. But because Joe was already weak from chemotherapy, these accusations were deemed improbable. Wendi was charged with murder.
Currently, she is still sitting on death row.
7. Shawna Forde
Shawna was sentenced to death in 2009 for the murder of a young girl and her father. Shawna Forde, 43, was found guilty of the murder and invasion of the home of Raul Flores, 29, and his daughter, nine-year old, Brisenia. It happened in May 2009 in Arivaca, a desert community, 10 miles north of Mexico. Apparently, Forde and her accomplices thought Flores was a drug smuggler. They wanted to use the proceeds of his drug smuggling for a paramilitary organisation formed to guard the border.
She was then found guilty of two counts of murder. Currently, she is still sitting on death row.
8. Rosie Alfaro
Then 18-years old, Rosie Alfaro was convicted of the murder of nine-year old Autumn Wallace. Autumn allowed Alfaro inside the home since she remembered her as an acquaintance of her older sister. Autumn was at home by herself, waiting for her sister and mum to return from work when Alfaro arrived and asked if she could come inside to use the bathroom. Alfaro, who was pregnant and high on drugs, needed another cocaine and heroin fix and decided to rob the Wallaces’ home to get some cash.
However, she expected the home to be vacant, so when she found Autumn, she decided she needed to kill her to dispose of the witness. She admitted to stabbing the child 57 times before she raided their home. But she later changed her confession, saying that a male accomplice forced her to kill Autumn, although no male has ever been identified.
After being found guilty of capital murder, she is now sitting on death row.
9. Belinda Magana
Two-year-old Malachi Magana spent the last days of his young life in the spring of 2009 sustaining vicious injuries from the abuse he experienced at the hands of his mother, Belinda Magana and her boyfriend, Naresh “Michael” Narine. Reports show that a hot liquid was poured on Malachi, and while it is not clear who actually did the pouring, neither Belinda nor her boyfriend sought proper medical care for the toddler or even reported the incident to authorities.
Testimony showed that they used nappy rash ointment on Malachi’s exposed skin, and they hit him with their hands or a belt when he cried or moaned from the pain. It is still unclear whether the toddler died from blunt-force trauma or sepsis from infected injuries.
10. Dora Buenrostro
Dora Buenrostro, a San Jacinto, California resident, was found guilty of the capital murder of her three children. On October 27, 1994, the police received a call from Dora, who then led them to her apartment. There, they discovered the dead bodies of Susana, 9, and Vicente, 8. Her youngest child was found inside her abandoned car and was still in the car seat. All three children were found fatally stabbed in the neck.
While she tried to blame the attacks on her estranged husband, she was later on found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.
11. Socorro Caro
Socorro Caro, or Cora to her friends, was a model suburban mother. A devoted mum to her four kids, Cora was active in the community, church, and at school. Cora and her husband, a physician, and their family were relatively well-off, calling a million-dollar hilltop house their home.
Things went downhill when usually demure Cora shot three of her four young sons to death on their beds. Apparently, this was to punish his husband and their father for not tolerating her extravagant spending and for threatening to file a divorce. Deputy Dist. Atty. Cheryl Temple called her “a calculating, very selfish woman who wanted to hurt her husband in the most horrible way imaginable.” She now sits on death row.
12. Celeste Carrington
It was in 1992 when 30-year old Celeste Carrington murdered Victor Esparanza, a janitor at a shoe factory, and two months later, Caroline Gleason, a property manager at a real estate office. Five days later, she shot, though not fatally, Allan Marks, a paediatrician. He survived and then testified against Carrington.
Carrington was born in Philadelphia to a poor family. Both of her parents abused her, while her father often sexually abusing her. After years of sexual abuse, she got pregnant with her father’s child at 14 years old.
13. Cynthia Coffman
Cynthia Coffman was raised by her parents to be a devout Catholic, so when she got pregnant at 17, abortion was not an option. Instead, she got forced into a loveless marriage which she endured for five years. She finally decided to run away and then waited tables for a living. She then got herself into a life of drugs and various relationships, robbery and violent crimes and, later on, murder.
She was accused of attacking, stealing from, and murdering four women: Sandra Neary, 32, Pamela Simmons, 35, Corinna Dell Novis, 20, Lynel Murrays, 19.
14. Kerry Lyn Dalton
On June 26, 1988, Kerry Lyn Dalton thought Irene Louise May had stolen her jewellery, which provoked her to a certain point of anger that apparently only torture and murder can satisfy. She, along with three other accomplices, Mark Lee Tompkins, Sheryl Ann Baker, and a man known by the name of “George,” allegedly used various weapons to torture and kill May.
Using a cast-iron frying pan, a knife, and a syringe filled with battery acid, the group allegedly tortured and killed May by beating, stabbing, and giving her electric shocks. Dalton was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to death penalty using lethal injection.
15. Susan Eubanks
Susan Eubanks had a lot of problems from debts to marital issues, which finally set her over the edge. On the evening of October 26, 1997, she shot and killed all of her four sons — Brandon, 17, Austin, 7. Brigham, 6, and Matthew 4 — in order to get back at her ex-husband.
When found guilty of four counts of capital murder and given a death sentence, she insisted she loved her children and killed them for their own good in an “attempted murder-suicide.” She cited many problems as factors including alcoholic parents, depression, and a poor mental health. However, the judge decided that Eubanks’ real motivation in killing her children was her hatred over her ex-husband.
16. Veronica Gonzales
The death penalty was given to then 29-year old Veronica Gonzales who was found guilty for the torture and murder of her four-year-old niece. Little Genny Rojas died after four months of beating, burned with a blow drier, being hung inside the closet using handcuffs, and starvation, and ultimately, being scalded in a bathtub. She was submerged in scalding hot water and had burns so bad her skin peeled off from her body.
Gonzales was sentenced together with her then 31-year-old husband, Ivan. They were the first married couple in California sent to death row for the same crime. The torture and murder of little Genny were called the worst case of child abuse in the history of San Diego County. It is said that some of those who served in the trial’s jury vowed to never serve in capital murder trial again after the experience.
17. Maureen McDermott
Then 42-year-old Maureen McDermott was a former nurse at County-USC Medical Center who allegedly hired a co-worker to kill her male roommate. The motive is to collect her roommate’s $100,000 mortgage insurance policy. McDermott is the second woman in California sentenced to death penalty after the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978.
Her superiors and co-workers praised her performance as a worker in the health industry and called her a “compassionate nurse.” However, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Alan B. Haber said that the circumstances of the crime showed that McDermott had total disregard for the human life. She was sentenced to die in the gas chamber.
18. Valerie Dee Martin
Then 35-year-old Valerie Martin was found guilty of robbing, kidnapping, and ultimately killing her boyfriend, 61-year old William Whiteside, on March 28, 2003. Together with her 16-year-old son, Ronald Kupsch, a 14-year-old boy, Brad Zoda, and 27-year-old ex-convict Christopher Kennedy, Martin is said to have knocked Whiteside out, put him inside the trunk of his car, which they set on fire.
Whiteside’s neighbours insisted that he was a pleasant and well-liked man and couldn’t understand the motive behind such heinous crime.
19. Ana Maria Cardona
On November 2, 1990, the body of a three-year-old boy was found in Miami Beach but remained unidentified. Without any identification, the press dubbed the boy “baby lollipops” from the shirt he was wearing. He was found to have been severely undernourished and savagely beaten. He finally died after sustaining blows to the head from a baseball bat.
When the little boy was finally identified as Lazaro Figueroa, then 30-year-old Ana Maria Cardona, an immigrant from Cuba was tried for the case. She put the blame on her lesbian lover, Olivia Gonzalez, but Gonzalez ultimately testified against her, sealing the court’s sentence. According to the trial judge, “the long period of time over which this baby was subjected to torture, abuse, pain suffering separates this crime from all other crimes seen in the Dade County Courthouse within the memory of anyone working in this building.”