When we hear about a crime that took place in our community, we usually assume it to be a man who had committed it. History, however, has taught us that women are also capable of taking part in and committing heinous crimes; some that are even too gruesome to imagine. Be it man or woman, there are people in this world who are really sick in the head. Since we have already highlighted 10 of the most evil men on the planet, we have decided to focus our attention on 10 serial killer women who are currently locked up in prisons.
1. Francisca Ballesteros
Born in Spain in 1969, Francisca Ballesteros is commonly known as “The Poisoner of Melilla”. Between 1990 and 2004, Ballesteros claimed the life of her two daughters; one of which was only 5 months old, her 12-year-old son and her husband. In 1990, she began suffering from postpartum depression and wanted to end her marriage but desisted. She then decided to kill her 5-month-old daughter and flee to Valencia. However, after poisoning her daughter, Ballesteros had a change of heart and decided to stay with her husband.
She then had two more children with her husband Antonio González Barribino. By 2004, Ballesteros, who was meeting many men online in hopes of a better life, met the man of her dreams. She decided to end the life of her family, move to the city where he lived and start over. Ballesteros first poisoned her husband with Colme, a drug used to treat alcoholism, and with the sedatives Zolpidem and Bromazepam. Then, on June 4, 2004, Ballesteros killed her daughter Sandra with the same medications and used the medications on her 12-year-old son; who fortunately survived. During the autopsy of Sandra, the coroner discovered that she was poisoned. On June 27, 2004, authorities arrested Ballesteros of suspicion and she confessed to the murders. The judge handed her a term of 84 years in prison.
2. Catherine Margaret Birnie
Born in 1951, Catherine Margaret Birnie was an Australian woman who, along with her partner, claimed the lives of four innocent women. Catherine had a rough childhood since her mother died giving birth to her and her father did not want to keep her. He gave her away to her grandparents but after a short while, they sent her back to live with him. At the age of 14, Catherine met David Birnie and started dating him. However, she ran away with another man, whom she got married to and had a child. When her first child died, Catherine decided to leave her husband and go back to her lover, David.
She wanted to show David how strong she was on the inside and how much she loved him. In order to do so, Catherine pulled off some of the most sick and demented crimes, involving women between the ages of 15 and 35. During the 1980’s, Catherine and David lured women to their house, chained them to their bed, tortured, sexually assaulted and then murdered them. They successfully managed to kill four women and planned to kill another before being caught. Catherine was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while David was sentenced to four consecutive sentences of life imprisonment in 1987. David, who could not face the fact that he would never leave prison, decided to take his own life by hanging himself in his cell on October 7, 2005.
3. Renée Acoby
Renée Acoby, a mother and a poet, happens to be the most dangerous woman in Canada. Acoby earned the title while she was incarcerated. Born in Manitoba, Acoby grew up in Winnipeg with two siblings and her grandmother. She was born into a family of violence. When she was six months old, her father beat her mother to death. Acoby’s grandmother raised her until she was a teenager, but once she learned of her mother’s death she became angry and defiant. In 2002, she entered the federal system while pregnant. On October 20, 2000, she gave birth to her daughter Anika inside prison and was transferred to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge on the Nekaneet First Nation reserve in southern Saskatchewan.
The aboriginal prison allowed prisoners to keep their children and was a sort of rehabilitation center. Acoby was doing well and was showing progress, however, in 2001, the 21-year-old serving a 3 ½ year sentence for drug trafficking and use of a dangerous weapon, was caught smoking marijuana and popping some Valium with her fellow inmates. Authorities took away the baby from her and gave Anika to her sister. This was a tipping point for Acoby since she had committed various crimes, including five hostage-takings and numerous assaults on staff and other inmates. She served a total of 11 years for the crimes.
4. Rebecca Butterfield
Rebecca Butterfield became known as New South Wales’ most violent inmate at the age of 21. Butterfield, who suffers from several personality disorders, is the daughter of a police officer. However, she is nothing like her father, as she resorts to violence for everything. Butterfield went to prison at the age of 21 in 1996, for malicious damage, drug offenses and unlawful entry. In 2000, when she tried to harm herself, a neighbor intervened and tried to help her. Butterfield stabbed the neighbor and was charged with grievous bodily harm. While in prison, she stabbed an inmate 37 times and killed Bluce Lim Ward in an unprovoked attack.
She was sentenced to 12 years in prison. While incarcerated, she has attacked prison guards, inmates, thrown a cup of pee and hot water at officers, cut herself, tried to commit suicide, smashed her head on a wall, assaulted an officer who was searching her and kicked a pregnant nurse while she was performing a regular checkup. At the end of the 12 year sentence, Butterfield was not sent free, as the judge deemed her unfit to rejoin society. Instead, the judge sentenced her to an additional 5 years in prison. Butterfield is moved back and forth between two jails so police officers can take shifts and not feel overworked.
5. Beverley Gail Allitt
Born on October 4, 1968, Beverley Allitt is dubbed the “Angel of Death”. Allitt, who was working as a nurse at Grantham Hospital, Lincolnshire, UK, suffered from a mental illness Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. Over a period of 59 days, between February and April 1991, Allitt, who worked as a nurse at the children’s ward, administered large doses of insulin to at least two victims and a large air bubble was found in the body of another. Authorities, however, were unable to determine how the attacks were carried out on the infants.
Allitt allegedly tampered with patients’ ventilators and pumps while delivering intravenous medication. She claimed the life of 4 innocent human beings while injuring 9 others during attempted murders. The medical staff became suspicious of the number of cardiac arrests on the children’s ward and noticed that the children died immediately after Allitt visited them. The police were called and Allitt was confronted where she confessed to the murders. She was sentenced to 13 concurrent terms of life imprisonment on May 28, 1993.
6. Rosemary West
Born on November 29, 1953, in Devon, England, Rosemary West was a sex abuser at 13, a murderer at 17 and a prolific serial killer while still in her teens. In 1972, she married Fred West and the couple became two of the most horrific serial killers known to the U.K. The couple’s first victim was 17-year-old Caroline Owens who was kidnapped, stripped and sexually assaulted. Despite the attack, Owens managed to escape the killer couple and reported them to authorities. Despite his previous criminal records, Fred West was able to convince the judge that Owens had consented to the activities. They escaped with just a small fine.
The couple then went on to claim the lives of 8 innocent women, including two teenagers. They were brutally attacked, murdered, dismembered and buried in a cellar. Rosemary West, who was also working as a prostitute, had 5 children with West and three with other men. Her husband enjoyed watching her with other men, as well as assaulting his own daughters. The couple were arrested in 1994 and were charged with twelve counts of murder. West hung himself in the cell while awaiting trial and Rosemary later faced trial and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
7. Kristen Gilbert
Kristen Gilbert, a former Veterans Administration (VA) nurse, is a serial killer who is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Texas. Troubled from a young age, Kristen was a habitual liar and often faked suicide attempts for attention. She was known to manipulate people and underwent psychiatric treatment. In 1988, Kristen earned her degree as a registered nurse from Greenfield Community College. In March 1989, she landed a job at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Northampton, Mass.
Kristen was the kind of nurse who was described by fellow workers and her patients as a social butterfly. She remembered her patients birthdays and even organized gift exchanges during holidays. However, when patients started dying under her care, her co-workers jokingly named her “The Angel of Death”. Kristen, who was married with kids, started having an affair after her second child, with a security guard who worked at the hospital. After returning from her maternity leave, Kristen took the late night shift and that’s when patients started dying. In late 1995 and early 1996, four patients under Kristen’s care died, all of cardiac arrest. After three of Kristen’s coworkers voiced their concerns that Gilbert may have been involved, authorities were called.
When authorities confronted Kristen, she denied any involvement. Soon after that, she left her job at the VA hospital, citing injuries she sustained while at work. She then called the hospital and made a bomb threat, in order to shift the attention away from the investigation. Her plan backfired though, since authorities were able to track the call back to Kristen. She was arrested and convicted in January 1998 for making the threats. While serving 15 months in prison for the bomb threats, authorities compiled the murder cases and in November of 1998, she went to trial for the murders. On March 14, 2001, jurors found Gilbert guilty of the first-degree murders and attempted murder. She received four life sentences.
8. Juana Barraza
Born in 1958, Juana Barraza is a Mexican professional wrestler and serial killer. Barraza, who was born to an alcoholic mother, was reportedly exchanged for three beers to a man who repeatedly sexually assaulted her in his care. Barraza became pregnant with her first child and went on to have three more. She later became a professional wrestler under the ring name La Dama del Silencio (The Silent Lady). However, Barraza had another side to her fame from wrestling. She enjoyed strangling or bludgeoning women over 60 to death, and then robbing them.
Although investigators were suspicious about Barraza, the breakthrough in the case didn’t occur until January 25, 2006. Surveillance officers monitoring Barraza’s movements, spotted her running from one of the victim’s houses. The 48-year-old female wrestler was immediately arrested and faced trial. In the spring of 2008, jurors found her responsible for as many as 40 deaths and sentenced her to 759 years in prison.
9. Marybeth Tinning
Born on September 11, 1942, Mary Beth Tinning is suspected of killing 9 of her children. Why you would ask? She wanted sympathy from others, and in order to do so, she smothered her own children with pillows and took their lives. Originally from New York, Beth gave birth to a son, Timothy, on Thanksgiving Day in 1973. Three weeks after his birth, Timothy was brought back to the same hospital; where he was pronounced dead. She informed the doctors that he was discovered in his crib motionless. The doctors didn’t suspect any wrongdoing and officially attributed his death to SIDS. On March 30, 1975, Tinning gave birth again, and just like with her previous child, she returned to the hospital with her deceased newborn. This time, she informed them that the child stopped breathing while she was driving and never woke up. Again, doctors called it a natural death.
In 1978, Beth became pregnant and also decided to adopt another. She adopted Michael from an adoption agency and two months later, she gave birth once again. In January 1979, Tinning rushed Mary Frances to the emergency room saying that she had a seizure. The doctors were able to revive her but two weeks later, Beth returned to the hospital once again with Mary, who was brain dead. Mary’s death was also attributed to SIDS. After Mary’s burial, Beth became pregnant again. On August 22, 1985, Tami Lynne was born but she too died under mysterious circumstances. Beth continued her game and claimed the lives of her 8 children, as well as her adopted child. Authorities noticed that the children only died when they were alone with Beth. During interrogation, Tinning confessed to smothering all her children with pillows. Authorities, however, were unable to find evidence to convict her of all the murders and so, she was only convicted in Tami Lynne’s case and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. She applied for parole in 2007 but was denied. She went before the parole board again 2009 and was also denied.
10. Kathleen Folbigg
Born on June 14, 1967, Kathleen Folbigg, a New South Wales woman, is an Australian child killer. On January 8, 1969, Folbigg’s natural father, Thomas John Britton, murdered her mother. She then moved between foster homes and children’s homes until she was old enough to find work. She then met Craig Gibson Folbigg in 1985 and the pair had sparks flying between them. In 1987, they got married and bought a home in the north-western Newcastle in New South Wales.
On February 1, 1989, Folbigg gave birth to Caleb Gibson Folbigg, a healthy baby boy. On February 20, 1989, when Caleb woke the new parents up in the middle of the night, Folbigg attended to her baby’s cries and subsequently smothered him to death. The death, however, was attributed to SIDS. On June 3, 1990, Patrick Allen Folbigg was born but on October 18, 1990, he suddenly passed away. Although Patrick was taken to the hospital, he was later pronounced dead. On October 14, 1992, Sarah Kathleen Folbigg was born but she too died on August 29, 1993. On August 7, 1997, Laura Elizabeth Folbigg was born and she too died under mysterious circumstances on February 27, 1999.
The mystery unraveled when Kathleen’s husband, Craig, found her journal. He then took it to the police who arrested her and charged her with the murders. Her journal described,
“Craig was pretty drunk Friday night. In his drunken stupor he admitted that he’s not really happy. There’s a problem with his security level with me and he has a morbid fear about Laura – he, well I know there’s nothing wrong with her. Nothing out of ordinary anyway. Because it was me not them.
Think I handle her fits of crying better than I did with Sarah – I’ve learnt to, once getting to me, to walk away and breathe in for a while myself. It helps me cope and figure out how to help her.
With Sarah all I wanted was her to shut up. And one day she did.”
She was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 30 years on October 24, 2003.