What is a black widow killer? Is it any female murderer who kills multiple people? If so, why do they need a special classification? They represent a specific breed of criminal who ruthlessly pursues their victim until they achieve their ultimate goal!
After you’ve read the entire article from top to bottom, you’ll see exactly why the nickname they’ve been given couldn’t be more perfect! (By the way, if you accidentally stumbled upon this post and are looking for insecticide to get rid of those spiders, you won’t find the answers here.)
If you want to see what they are, why they do what they do, how they’re different from other serial killers, as well as a few of the most infamous examples – you don’t want to turn back now! Light a candle, dim the lights, sip on your coffee, and prepare to enter the darker side of humanity!
What Is A Black Widow Killer? – Vicious and Cold-Hearted!
When an unhappy marriage turns deadly (again and again), it’s hard to believe that some people “just have bad luck”. Anyone who’s been married 9 or more times in a short span of time probably isn’t very mentally stable. As judgmental as they may sound, it’s especially unusual when each of those 9 husbands turn up dead.
Even if it takes a year or longer, this criminal sub-type often has extreme patience, is an excellent planner, and will coldly-calculate until they get what they want. From the outside, it may seem like they’ve had a string of bad luck. They might seem like a hopeless romantic.
Just like the spider they were nicknamed after, these women do a full 180 after sex, marriage, or a romantic relationship. They quickly turn on their spouse or significant other and kill without a second thought.
Once they’re caught and found out, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re anything but romantic (hopeless or not). Why do they do what they do?
When a black widow sees an opportunity, they start spinning a web of lies and deception. Often times, they target single men who have money in the bank and a promising future. Why? If they can persuade that man to become romantically involved, they have a chance to line their pockets with his cold, hard cash.
This is one of the main differences that set them apart from lust killers. Lust does not drive them to commit multiple murders. What’s their main motivation? Money. Real estate. Power. Most of the time, a combination of all three.
Why Do They Turn On Their Love Interest?
When you take away a sexual motive for crimes like serial murder, unraveling the motivation for their behavior can be more difficult. (Unless they’re a known gun-for-hire or hitman like Richard “Iceman” Kuklisnski.)
Here are a few of the most common motivations behind their vicious crimes:
- Life insurance payout
- Inherit a victims life savings
- Acquire real estate properties
- Receive a hefty inheritance
Do any of those reasons make it seem like taking multiple lives is a good idea? (Probably not, unless you’re an active murderer.) Unfortunately, greed and money often become the light at the end of the tunnel for these people. They care less about pursuing a goal like starting a business, mothering children, pursuing a career of their choice, or finding a fulfilling hobby that doesn’t involve murder.
It makes you wonder, what if they took their positive qualities like patience, the ability to strategize and execute (no pun intended), and instead put their effort towards launching a legitimate enterprise?
Good and Bad Apples (On Both Sides)
It doesn’t matter who they decide to target. Once they’ve spun their web and snagged a victim, they wait as long as they need to before lashing out and bringing the marriage to a screeching halt. In society, women are often viewed as being more caring, nurturing, loving, and kinder than men.
From that point of view – it can seem pretty unbelievable that a seemingly harmless woman could ever manage to physically impose their will on a grown man. Even though it seems unbelievable, it happens more than you might imagine.
Domestic abuse can go both ways. Man on woman or vise versa. The same goes for greed, murder, and a completely unempathetic disposition. That being said, the antisocial tendencies that would drive someone to take multiple lives, exists in both males and females.
Although it is much more common among the male population (according to statistics), the human mind can’t be simplified into 2 exclusive categories. We have different tastes in food, musical preference, movies, and behavioral motivations. (Some people even prefer Coke over Pepsi.) Regardless of sex, good and bad apples will always exist.
8 Of The Most Infamous Examples
One of the most common misconception about this type of murderer, is that any female who has multiple victims fits into this classification. Many people assume that Aileen Wuornos was a black widow. She had very different motivations for her crimes. Aileen Wuronos is considered to be more closely related to a typical serial murderer (except she just happened to be a woman).
Here are a few of the most infamous female serial killers who fit into this sub-type:
- Amy Archer-Gilligan
- Katherine Knight
- Evelyn Dick
- Mary Elizabeth Wilson
- Betty Lou Beets
- Betty Neumar
- Stacey Castor
- Chisako Kakehi
All 8 of these women killed for revenge, monetary gain, or an otherwise sick and deranged motive. Without a doubt, it takes a certain type of person to commit such heinous acts. Killers like Amy Archer-Gilligan were suspected of taking up to 20 lives!
Mary Elizabeth Wilson became so brazen in her actions that she would make jokes at each new wedding about the funeral of her newly-wed husband. Once the authorities grew suspicious and began investigations, she was convicted of poisoning at least two of her husbands with insecticide.
Betty Lou Beets took a more conspicuous approach and fatally shot at least one of her 5 husbands. She even went as far as to recruit her son and daughter to help dispose of the bodies!
Real Life “Femme Fatales”
There’s no doubt that evil comes in every shape and size you can imagine. When it comes to depicting this type of evil in popular fiction, writers often use the femme fatale archetype. The classic femme fatale is somewhat interchangeable with women like Betty Lou Beets, although one exists largely in fiction and the other is a deadly reality. They’re usually depicted as a beautiful woman who is irresistibly seductive and alluring. The reality isn’t always so pretty.
There have been quite a few movies centered around what’s known as a “femme fatale”. It’s French for “fatal woman”. The term has been used both figuratively and literally in popular culture. Movies like Kill Bill: Vol. 1 depict a female lead who is a ruthless assassin – killing out of vengeance.
Other movies like Basic Instinct starring Sharon Stone as the lead, depict a female lead who gets off on spinning a web to lure in her next victim, murdering her sexual interest, then toying with police. Although both movies are obviously fictional spins on a real life phenomenon, they offer a pretty entertaining look at such a rare type of crime.
Other examples of a femme fatale, don’t always end in cold-blooded murder. They could wreak havoc in other ways. At first, they present themselves as an extremely charming romantic partner until it quickly becomes apparent that they have ulterior motives.
Watch the short video below to see 5 more real life examples:
How Common Are They? – 1 Out Of 1,000?
The Black Widow killer is still extremely uncommon (especially compared to other sub-types). According to the FBI, there are around 25-50 active serial murderers in the U.S. Out of those 25-50, the majority are not real life femme fatales.
Your chance of encountering one at the local McDonald’s, grocery store, or your job is extremely low. You have a better chance at being eaten by a shark, even if you don’t live near a beach. That being said, there’s no denying that they exist.
As terrifying as their existence is, it brings new perspective to quotes that reference the old advice warning “be careful who you sleep with”. If you want to learn more about this murderous criminal sub-type, we recommend reading Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer or And Then She Killed Him by Robert Scott.
What do you think? Were you expecting a different answer to your question? Have you seen any of the movies we mentioned? Do you think they accurately represent a real life (and absolutely deadly) femme fatale?