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Bertha Gifford

Bertha Gifford

American serial killer
Bertha Gifford
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American serial killer
Was Murderer Serial killer Criminal
From United States of America
Type Crime
Gender female
Birth 17 December 1872, Morse Mill, USA
Death 20 August 1951 (aged 78 years)
Star sign SagittariusSagittarius
The details

Biography

Bertha Alice Williams Graham Gifford (30 October 1871 – August 20, 1951) was a farmwife in rural Catawissa, Missouri during the early 1900s who was accused of murdering three members of the local community and suspected in 15 additional deaths. Some consider her to be America's third female serial killer, behind Lydia Sherman and Jane Toppan.

Personal life

Bertha Alice Williams was born in Morse Mill, Missouri, the daughter of William Poindexter Williams and his wife Matilda, née Lee. She was one of 10 children. She was married to Henry Graham and this union produced one daughter, Lila. Following Graham's death, she married Eugene Gifford and they had one child, James.

Crimes

Gifford was renowned in her community for her cooking skills and caring for sick neighbors and relatives, and five people died in her care, prompting a grand jury investigation. In 1928, Gifford was arrested at Eureka, Missouri and charged with three murders. Following the exhumation and post-mortem exams of Edward Brinley and Elmer and Lloyd Schamel, the bodies were found to contain large amounts of arsenic. Gifford was put on trial for their murders in Union, Missouri. Following the three-day trial, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the Missouri State Hospital #4 (a psychiatric institution) where she remained until her death in 1951.

Gifford acted the role of nurse for her sick neighbors, and a total of 17 people died in her care. It wasn't until after the grand jury investigation of the five deaths that suspicions were raised about an additional 12 deaths. Given the high mortality rates and the amateur use of arsenic for medical reasons at the time, no one can be certain that she purposefully killed everyone that had been in her care.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 12 Feb 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
http://www.sos.mo.gov/images/archives/deathcerts/1951/1951_00031245.PDF
https://books.google.com/books/about/Wicked_Women_of_Missouri.html?id=TUtIDQAAQBAJ
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kscomanc/williams_mc.html
https://web.archive.org/web/20090426141835/http://jeffersoncountylibrary.org/genealogy/democrat_1907.shtml
http://jeffersoncountylibrary.org/genealogy/democrat_1907.shtml
https://web.archive.org/web/20090426141830/http://www.jeffersoncountylibrary.org/genealogy/democrat_1906.shtml
http://www.jeffersoncountylibrary.org/genealogy/democrat_1906.shtml
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mostfran/hospitals/state_hospital_reflections.htm
http://www.berthagifford.com
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