Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Spotlight: The Woman on Kentucky’s Death Row

In an ongoing feature, Crime Library will shed a light on the women spending the rest of their lives on death row in prisons across America. 

In the state of Kentucky, there are 37 inmates on death row. The 36 men wait out their days at Kentucky State Penitentiary. The sole woman, Virginia Caudill, resides at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women.

Virginia Caudill. Prison photo.

Virginia Caudill | Age 53 | On Death Row Since March, 2000 | On March 15, 1998, Virginia Caudill, 39 at the time, ran into old friend Jonathon Goforth, who she hadn’t seen in about 15 years, at a crack house. Goforth drove Virginia to the home of 73-year-old Lonetta White, the mother of her ex-boyfriend, and asked for $20 to rent a room. When the elderly woman gave Virginia the money, Virginia spent it on crack and soon returned with Jonathon for more. This time, they bludgeoned Mrs. White  to death with a hammer. They then stole guns, jewelry and a fur coat from her home. White’s body was wrapped in a rug stuffed into the trunk of her own car, which Virginia and Jonathon set on fire. The car was found miles away from the victim’s home. Her body was barely recognizable.

After the killing, Virginia and Jonathon fled the county and spent several days in a cabin. They then went to Ocala, Florida, followed by Gulfport, Mississippi. Virginia moved on to New Orleans, leaving her accomplice behind. She’d been free for over six months when she was arrested in November. Jonathon’s arrest came soon after.

At trial, both defendants blamed the other for masterminding the murder and delivering the fatal blow. The finger-pointing had little effect on judge and jury, and Virginia and her accomplice were both convicted of first degree murder, robbery, burglary, arson and evidence tampering and sentenced to death. Following their sentencing, both argued that they were wrongfully convicted due to having ineffective attorneys. Virginia claimed that if an expert witness for the defense were called in to testify on blood spatter evidence found at the scene, the outcome of her case would have been different. A judge, however, disagreed.

Spotlight: The Women on Louisiana’s Death Row

Spotlight: The Women on Alabama’s Death Row

Spotlight: The Women on Florida’s Death Row

 

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