|Nannie at the time of her arrest|
Born into to a family of farmers in 1905 in Blue Mountain, Alabama where instead of going to school, all five children stayed at home to work on household chores and tend to the family farm.
At age seven, Doss suffered a head injury while riding a train that changed her life forever. By the time she was a teenager, she dreamed of living an idyllic life with her future husband and she spent much of her time reading romance magazines, especially the “lonely hearts” columns.
At the age of 16, she wed a man named Charley Braggs whom she had only known for four months. The had had four children together from 1921 to 1927 when the marriage fell apart at that point. The couple lived with Braggs’ mother, but she had the same abusive type of behavior as Doss’ father.
In 1927, two of the children died under mysterious circumstances. One moment they were healthy and then suddenly they died without an apparent cause.
Charley and Nannie divorced in 1928 and he left, taking and older daughter and leaving his mother and Nannie with a newborn. A year after her divorce, Nannie married her second husband, Frank Harrelson, whom she met through a lonely hearts column; he turned out to be an abusive alcoholic.
The marriage lasted 16 years until 1945. During this period, Nannie likely killed her own newborn granddaughter a few days after the birth by using a hairpin to stab her in the brain. A few months after the granddaughter’s death, her two-year-old grandson died of asphyxiation while in Nannie's care. These two kids belonged to her oldest daughter whom she had with her first husband.
Husband number two died on September 15, 1945 after a drunken party celbrating the end of World War II. Nannie mixed poison in his hidden jar of moonshine. People assumed he died of food poisoning.
Husband number three, Arlie Lanning, died in 1952 several years after he responded to a lonely hearts classified ad placed by Nannie. She added poison to one of his meals and he died shortly thereafter. A heavy drinker, doctors attributed the heart attack to alcohol.
Richard Morton was next on the list. Initially unknown to Nannie, he was canoodling with other women. Doss’ mother broke her hip in 1953 and needed a caretaker. She died suddenly and without warning a few months after Doss agreed to take care of her. Shortly after her mother’s death, one of Doss’s sisters died suddenly after having contact with the Doss. After the death of her mother and sister, she turned her attention to Morton and he died under mysterious circumstances.
Nannie's final victim was Samuel Doss who was neither a drunk nor abusive. He simply made the mistake of telling his wife that she could only read magazines or watch television shows that were for educational purposes, so she laced a prune cake with poison.
Samuel Doss got sick and spent a month recovering in the hospital. A few days after he got home, poison-laced coffee finished him off. The doctor who treated Samuel had suspected poisoning during Samuel's month-long hospitalization, but he had no proof. So after Samuel died, the doctor convinced Nannie, who was to receive two life insurance benefits, to let him perform an autopsy. The doctor' pretext was that an autopsy would save lives. The autopsy found huge amounts of arsenic in Samuel Doss’s body and the police were alerted.
Nannie Doss was arrested in 1954. After her arrest she confessed to killing four of her five ex-husbands, but not her family members. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment. She died in prison at the age of 60 on June 2, 1965
|Nannie in later years|