Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nannie Doss: Lonely Hearts Lady Loved Her Man to Death


"He had been making me mad, shining up to other women."
-- Nannie Doss, about 4th husband Richard Morton

The Diamond Circle Club was a correspondence association for those looking for life partners; membership was $15 per annum. Suitors and ladies received a monthly newsletter regaling the newest members and their heart's desires. Nannie was enthralled.

"Nannie's despicable plans never waned," adds case student Sherby Green. "By 1952 she was at it again."

Nannie's hips had fattened by now, she wore glasses and the once-pretty profile had taken on a double chin. She found that she didn't turn heads the way she used to and decided that maybe the time had come to seek admiration in the eyes of a more mature type of male. Curly-headed boys were passe. Maybe what she had needed all along was a real man anyway, she surmised. And she thought she had found him in recently retired businessman Richard L. Morton of Emporia, Kansas.

While her girth had widened and her temples had slightly grayed, Nannie still carried a girlish giggle, and she knew how to use it to entice. She had learned how and when to turn on the flash in her eyes and at age 47 she proved more capable than ever of shaping, at a whim, the two beams into bedposts.

Morton, a former salesman of routine coolness, bought for a change. The old boy was transfixed. She was the gal for him, and to prove it he wrote Diamond Circle, asking them to delete his and Nannie's names from the availability list and thanking them for introducing him to "the sweetest and most wonderful woman I have ever met." They wed in October, 1952, and she moved into his little home in Emporia.

Kansas' eternal plains were vastly different than the mountain greenery Nannie had known her whole life. For a while the sight of surrounding horizon thrilled her; she was happy in the arms of her man under that endless sky. Half American Indian, he was tall, dark and handsome with eyes that pierced like arrows straight to her romantic daydreams. As well, he bought her things clothes, jewelry and knick-knacks --never seemingly worried about the price of adornments he thrust upon her.

Reality, however, waited 'round the next corn stalk. Within months of their marriage, Morton manifested as flat as the countryside. He was, despite his flair, broke, deep in debt to everyone. And when he did buy her a bauble on whatever credit he managed to effect through charming circumlocution, he also bought a double for another girl he had stashed away in town.

Morton's occasional trips to the stores in his Chevy pickup truck to buy this and that for the house and farm struck Nannie as being rather lengthy for casual jaunts; they became more prolonged each time. If prodded why so long, the husband would reply with an air of apathy, "Ohhh, just dawdled, I guess." She investigated and discovered that he was seeing someone he had known before he married and seemed to have no intention of dropping.

Nannie had made a mistake, but Morton had made a bigger one. She picked a phony, he chose a killer.

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