On this date in crime history – April 11, 1947, Louise Peete, the infamous Black Widow was executed at San Quentin Prison. She was born in 1883 in Bienville, Louisiana. Her family was relatively wealthy, and she received an expensive education, but she was expelled from school for inappropriate behavior. In 1903, she married a travelling salesman named Henry Bosley, who committed suicide after discovering his wife in bed with another man in 1906. She then spent time in Boston, apparently working as a prostitute, and stealing from her clients. Peete later returned to Waco, Texas, where she became involved with wealthy oil baron Joe Appel, who was later found murdered, with his diamond jewelry missing. Peete was accused of the crime, but she convinced a grand jury that she had been defending herself from rape. In 1913, she married a hotel clerk, Harry Faurote and he too committed suicide because of Peete's infidelity.
In 1915, in Denver, she married again, this time to a salesman named Richard Peete. She apparently had a daughter with him, but later abandoned him to move to Los Angeles. There, she lived with Jacob C. Denton, another oil magnate. In 1920, Denton disappeared, with Peete presenting various excuses as to why he would not appear in public. By the time Denton's lawyer had police search his house, Peete had returned to her husband in Denver. Denton's body was found, and Peete was charged with his murder. She was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. During her time in prison, she ceased to respond to her husband's letters and he killed himself. She was paroled in 1942 and returned to Los Angeles, where she found employment as a housekeeper for a woman named Jessie Marcy, who died not long afterwards. An elderly co-worker also died under suspicious circumstances. Police spoke to Peete, but were not aware of her past. She then went to work for Emily Dwight Latham, who had helped to secure Peete's parole. Latham also died. The deaths of both Marcy and Latham were attributed to natural causes. Peete then became a housekeeper in Pacific Palisades for Arthur C. Logan and his wife Margaret, and married a man named Lee Borden Judson. Margaret Logan then disappeared, but suspicion was aroused by poor forgeries of her signature that Peete presented on checks and letters to parole authorities. Peete was arrested, and her husband Lee Judson told police of his suspicions about her. Judson was acquitted of any involvement in the crimes, but later committed suicide. Peete was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death. She went to the gas chamber on April 11, 1947.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the authors website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com
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