Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Nannie Doss: Lonely Hearts Lady Loved Her Man to Death

Meeting Sam

"Christian women don't need a television or romance magazines to be happy!" -- Samuel Doss, 5th husband; words that sealed his fate.

Sam Doss was a sturdy man, a solid man, and a God-fearing man. He didn't chase women, never smoked, never drank, refused to play dice and lacked the effort to exhale a single cuss word. He was careful about his appearance, thrifty with his bank account, never riled, loved nature and saw the good in almost everything.

Sam Doss was unbelievably, irrevocably boring.

At least Nannie found him so.

At 59 years old, his clean living emanated across his surface; he looked younger and he looked healthy. His conservative haircut and tidy manner or dress gave him a wealthy appearance, a trusting appearance, and maybe one or both of these suggestions had drawn Nannie to his side when he proposed to her in June, 1953.

Nannie was a widow, that's all he knew, and all he cared to know. Like his pennies, he counted his blessings, and this fine, smiling, good cook of a woman was what he had wanted in his later life. Someone who preferred home and hearth, who would stay by his side until death did them part.

He was exceedingly correct, if not foresighted, on the latter supposition.

Sam had been one of Nannie's pen-pal paramours. After Richard Morton began pushing daisies, she grabbed the first bus out to meet Doss in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At first, he provided his bride with a refreshing detour from all her past mates; he worked a steady job (he was a state highway inspector), spoke softly and succinctly and often wore a necktie. He helped around the house, helped her cook and did not portray the "king of the house" attitude so many of the others had. Certainly he was neither threatening nor violent.

But, he was set in his ways, ways that irritated the less conservative wife. He did not believe in wasteful reading of cheap magazines or romance novels; he saw them as evil idleness. Radio and television were products meant to enrich the mind, which meant that comedies and love stories were taboo. Bedtime came promptly at 9:30 p.m., an agenda he followed like an automaton and to which he expected his wife to adhere. Sex was pre-scheduled.

Spending patterns came hardline: One never used the electric fan until temperatures exceeded the unbearable; lights room to room were frugally used turned on only when entering and turned off immediately upon leaving; when reading, only the reading lamp behind the easy chair would be illumined in an otherwise darkened chamber; furniture was costly so doilies were prevalent to preserve upholstery.

When the pinching of pennies and the die-hard living became overbearing, Nannie took a hiatus home to Alabama. Most likely, it was strategy; and if so, it worked. The moment she escaped he was hot on her trail with letters pleading forgiveness. To show his earnestness, he opened up his pocketbook to let her enjoy the life to which she was more accustomed. And when she continued to balk that he still controlled the finances, he rearranged his banking account to give her equal liberty. And he took out two life insurance policies naming her the beneficiary.

Blunder. Big-time.

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