Profile: Nannie Doss

The killer that always wore a smile.
  • Full Name – Nancy Hazle
  • Nickname – The Giggling Nanny, The Jolly Black Widow
  • Born – November 4th, 1905
  • Location of Activity – U.S. Mid-west
  • Years of Activity – 1920s (?) - 1954
  • Number of Kills – 11 suspected
  • Date of Death – June 2nd, 1965
  • Cause of Death – Leukemia

Nancy Hazle (later to be known as Nannie Doss), was born in the United States, in Alabama, as one of five children in a family with an abusive father.  She never did very well in school and to make this upbringing even worse her father would discourage her education, preferring that his children help on the farm instead.  An early accident caused Doss a head trauma and further amplified whatever mental problems she may have already had, though whether Doss killed due to mental illness or as a means to an end is up for debate.

Married at the age of 16, Doss would eventually give birth to four daughters.  Her living arrangements were uncomfortable, both her and her husband living with the mother-in-law, a woman who was just as controlling as Doss’s father was.  It was during this time that the first two mysterious deaths occurred, both of them Doss’s daughters.  The truth of this was never discovered, however, and it is still in question whether Doss had a part in her children’s deaths.

Eventually, she would divorce and remarry.  This marriage went much better, until 16 years later.  At this time, Doss poisoned her alcoholic husband’s whisky supply, sending him to his grave.  She then remarried again and again, eventually taking five husbands, all of them aside from the first ending up dead.  Added to the body count were two of Doss’s sisters.

Most of the deaths had to do with collecting insurance, and it was this motivation that would result in Doss’s downfall.  In a rush to collect the money owed her following the death of her fifth husband, Doss raised suspicions.  When a very large amount of arsenic was found in her newly deceased husband, she was arrested.

Eventually, she confessed to most of the killings.  The death toll as it is believed to stand includes four husbands, two children, two sisters, her mother, one grandson and a nephew.  Whether these were all due to Doss is still unknown.  She was convicted of the murders she confessed to, however, and spent life in prison.  She died there in 1965 from leukemia.

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Nannie Doss - murderpedia.org