Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nannie Doss: Lonely Hearts Lady Loved Her Man to Death

Not Mama Too?

By Christmas, two months after she tied the knot, Nannie was again answering other gentlemen's ads from the lovelorn columns in the Kansas papers. She'd be sure to fetch the mail every day from the mailbox, then, if a letter from one of her admirers had arrived, she would sneak off with it to the bathroom. In silence, she would swoon over their remonstrations of amour. The writers, thinking she was a widow, offered to sweep her away from her troubles to promises of marital bliss.

Each sentimental "Till We At Last Meet, Nannie" or "Hoping To See You Soon, Nannie" whisked Nannie a step closer to ridding herself of the thing beyond the bathroom door who, to her, had grown ugly and repulsive.

Husband number four was destined for the ground. But, he might have been spared a couple of months when Papa James Hazle died in Blue Mountain and Mama Lou suddenly announced she was coming to board with the couple. With mama there, the daughter's murderous designs were delayed -- well, at least on Morton.

By all accounts, Nannie performed the unthinkable. She murdered her mother.

Whether Lou's money was the object, or whether she got in the way of Nannie's plot against Morton -- perhaps mama may have gotten a glimpse of one of Nannie's intimate letters -- the motive here is unclear. Nannie would always vehemently deny poisoning Lou, but, considering the hasty manner in which all others had died after crossing Nannie's path, as well as the preceding symptoms of death, it seems very likely that her mother did not die naturally.

Terry Manners in Deadlier Than the Male believes that it was simply Mrs. Hazle's inopportune arrival that sealed her fate: "In January, 1953, (Lou) came to stay. She had obviously picked a bad time. After a couple of days with her daughter, she fell ill with chronic stomach pains and died."

In retrospect, Nannie had grown totally devoid of heart. Had she one at the outset, this latest act shows a total lack of sympathy, loyalty and conscience.

"Although Nannie's education is believed to not have reached the past sixth grade, and she doubtlessly read The Purloined Letter, she unerringly executed the bold psychology exhibited in that famous story," Sherby Greene points out. "Three months after Louisa was buried in the earth, her latest son-in-law, Richard Morton, joined her. He died of similar symptoms."

And still no one family, friends, neighbors, and doctors asked questions.

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