Nannie Doss was an American serial killer who killed 11 individuals between the 1920s and 1954. She was found guilty and given a life sentence in prison. She also went by the names Madame Blue Beard, the Black Widow, the Lonely Hearts Killer, and the Giggling Granny. She was even referred to as a “self-made widow” by one publication. She was an Alabama native who grew up disliking her strong, domineering father. She had a major accident when she was seven years old, which led to years of excruciating headaches. Later, Doss attributed her emotional instability to the collision. She had five marriages. To put it mildly, her first marriage to a coworker called Charley Braggs was troubled. Braggs would later say that he split from Doss because he was afraid of her. In 1929, she tied the knot again, this time with Robert Franklin Harrelson, who would go on to become her first known victim. She then murdered Arlie Lanning, Richard L. Morton, and Samuel Doss, her three subsequent spouses. She also murdered Lou Hazel, her own mother, Dovie Frances Hazel Weaver, her sister, Lanning’s mother, her mother-in-law, and Robert Lee Haynes, her grandchild. Additionally, two of her four children with Braggs and her grandchild were thought to have died at her hands. She was detained in October 1954 for the murder of Doss, and after a protracted interrogation in which she originally denied any involvement in the crime, she confessed to killing him. She was later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Doss passed away from leukemia in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s hospital section in 1965.
Early Youth & Life
On November 4, 1905, in Blue Mountain, Alabama, in the United States, Nancy Hazel was given the name Doss. James F. Hazel and Louisa “Lou” (née Holder) were her parents. She had four siblings, including a sister named Dovie Frances Hazel Weaver and a brother called William Roscoe Hazel. James’ domineering attitude toward every member of the family made Nannie and her mother dislike him. He forbade his kids from going to school and instead made them work as field laborers.
Nannie’s education suffered as a consequence. She traveled to Alabama when she was seven years old to visit some of her kinfolk. She struck her head on the metal bar on the bench across from her when the train abruptly stopped moving while they were traveling. In the years after, she had episodes of depression, headaches, and blackouts. Later on, she would attribute her mental illness to the mishap.
Doss hoped for a fairytale future as a child while reading her mother’s romance magazines. Later on, she would grow to appreciate the lonely hearts column especially. James forbade Doss and her sisters from donning attractive clothing and makeup, but the abuse still took place on a number of occasions. Additionally, he forbade them from going to any concerts or other social gatherings.
A union with Charley Braggs
Doss married Charley Braggs when she was 16 years old and had only known him for four months. At the neighboring Anniston Linen Thread Company, she collaborated with Braggs. Braggs’ mother persisted in moving in with them after their wedding. Doss had to tolerate it because he was her only child and she wasn’t married at the time. The agreement, though, quickly became problematic because Braggs’ mother occupied the majority of his time.
Doss gave birth to four children over the following years. Braggs was a good parent, but his marriage to his wife did not get any better. She was constantly worried, and she quickly began drinking. Her sporadic smoking behavior developed into a serious problem. Both were unhappy and rightly suspected the other of being unfaithful. Braggs often would not be home for days on end.
Their two middle daughters passed away in mysterious conditions in 1927, a couple of months apart from one another. The girls appeared to be in good health when Braggs left for work, but according to his later statement, they were crying as he was leaving and allegedly passed away in convulsions shortly after eating breakfast. Doss was unable to offer a plausible justification. She might have poisoned those girls, to be sure.
The Braggs left their home after receiving an anonymous warning not to consume any food that his wife had prepared. They took their oldest daughter Melvina with them but left Florine behind. As the sole husband that Doss did not assassinate, he had the unfortunate but lucky distinction of being that. Braggs returned in the summer of 1928 with Melvina, a new love interest, and her own kid. Doss and her two girls moved in with her mother after their divorce from Doss.
Franklin Robert Harrelson
A newspaper column about lonely hearts led Doss to her second spouse, Jacksonville resident Robert Franklin Harrelson, a year later. He used poetry to court her; she responded with passionate messages, a cake, and a picture of herself. That year, they were wed. He and she were one year apart in age. However, there were a number of problems in the partnership from the start, mostly as a result of Harrelson’s alcoholism and aggressive nature.
The marriage nevertheless endured for 16 years. By that time, Melvina had matured and married. In 1943, she gave birth to Robert Lee Haynes. She gave birth to a daughter two years later, her second child with her spouse. Melvina, who was worn out from the labor and was still dazed from the ether, believed she had seen her mother sever her daughter’s head with a hairpin.
Later, she spoke with her husband and Florine, who revealed that Doss had told them previously that the baby had passed away and that they had seen her holding a hairpin. The grieving couple gradually drifted apart and finally split up after the tragic event. Doss did not especially like the soldier Melvina began dating at that point. Doss, meanwhile, purchased $500 worth of insurance for Robert.
Melvina visited her father’s home for a while after having an especially unpleasant argument with her mother one day. She gave her mother custody of Robert. He suffocated to death on July 7, 1945, and Doss collected his insurance proceeds two months later.
After World War II ended in 1945, the United States of America was in a jubilant state. This also applied to Harrelson. He consumed alcohol without restraint and one night, after arriving home fully wasted, raped Doss. The next day, while tending to her roses in the yard, she discovered his corn whiskey jar buried. She poisoned the liquor with rat poison. Harrelson passed away painfully that evening.
Nannie Doss: Ingrid Lanning
Doss later met Arlie Lanning thanks to an article in the neighborhood lonely hearts column. Three days later, they got hitched. But she quickly realized that Lanning was a womanizer and alcoholic like Harrelson. This time, it was Doss who frequently disappeared for extended stretches of time. Every time she returned, she did a wonderful job of being a devoted wife.
In 1950, Lanning passed away from what was believed to be heart failure, and the community rallied around his widow. The house they had resided in, which Lanning’s sister had inherited, burned down after the funeral, and Doss received the insurance money. She was caring for Lanning’s mother at the time because she had a fractured hip. She passed away while sleeping.
She then shared a home with her disabled sister, Dovie Frances Hazel Weaver. Soon after Doss moved in, she too met her end.
Nannie Doss: Stephen L. Morton
Doss was considering getting hitched a fourth time. In the Diamond Circle Club matchmaking service, she met Richard L. Morton of Jamestown, North Carolina. Even though he wasn’t an alcoholic, this guy was a womanizer. In Kansas’ Emporia, where they got married in 1952, Morton soon began spending every night with other local women.
After the passing of her spouse in January 1953, Doss’ mother Lou moved in with them. She began to experience intense stomach pains a few days later and passed away. Only three days later, Morton died after consuming coffee that Doss had tainted with arsenic from a thermos.
Nannie Doss: John Doss
Nannie had her sights set on a new spouse a few months after the passing of her fourth. To meet Samuel Doss, a Nazarene pastor who had lost his family in a tornado in Madison County, Arkansas, she boarded a bus for Tulsa, Oklahoma. They shortly got married.
Samuel wasn’t an abuser, a drinker, or a womanizer. She was still critical of him. He disapproved of the romance novels and stories that his wife adored and prohibited non-educational, non-enlightening TV programs, magazines, and books from being brought into the home.
After consuming a prune pudding that contained arsenic, he was hospitalized in September. He displayed flu-like symptoms, but an acute digestive system infection was the official diagnosis. He received a good course of treatment, and the hospital released him. That very evening, Nannie used her tried-and-true technique of putting arsenic in coffee to murder him.
Arraignment, Prosecution, and Sentence
The last crime ultimately exposed her for what she was. She murdered Samuel on the day he returned home because she was so desperate to get her hands on the two insurance policies she had taken out in his name. Samuel’s abrupt demise informed Samuel’s doctor, who had been treating him. He ordered an autopsy, and it revealed that he had a significant quantity of arsenic in his body. Nannie was detained without delay.
Nannie admitted to killing eight people—Robert, Harrelson, Lanning, Lanning’s mother, Dovie, Lou, Morton, and Samuel—during questioning and after being informed that she could keep a romance magazine, but she denied any participation in the deaths of her two daughters and granddaughter. Because of her gender, she did not receive the execution penalty. Instead, she was given a life term after admitting guilt on May 17, 1955. Doss was known as “Giggling Granny” because she would laugh and smile while confessing her offenses to the police.
Later Life and Mortality
Only charges against Nannie Doss were related to Samuel Doss’s passing. Prior to her arrest, she allegedly located dairy farmer John H. Keel in North Carolina to be her sixth potential husband and even sent him a cake.
She said she would have chosen the death penalty after spending two years in prison. Despite this, she remained upbeat throughout her life and frequently cracked quips about her situation. She admitted to a reporter that the only task she was permitted to perform while incarcerated was washing. She respectfully declined when she requested a job in the kitchen.
Doss was buried in Oak Hill Memorial Park in McAlester, Oklahoma after passing away from leukemia on June 2, 1965, in the hospital section of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Nannie Doss’s Net Worth
Nannie is one of the wealthiest and most well-known criminals. Nannie Doss’s net worth is $5 Million, per our study of information from sources like Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.