The female Black Widow spider is known to sometimes eat her mate after intercourse. While many creatures (even bacteria) participate in cannibalism, the Black Widow has moved beyond biology books and into our murder vocabulary. We use the term “Black Widow” to describe calculating women that seduce and murder men (Evelyn Dick, Mary Elizabeth Wilson, Audrey Marie Hilley, to name a few). But how many of them, like the Black Widows of the arachnid world, actually ate their lovers? The following are women who not only murdered their lovers but cut them into pieces and prepared them for consumption.
Katherine Knight of Aberdeen (Hunter Region of New South Wales), Australia had a history of violence. As is typical with most female abusers her family received the brunt of the abuse. According to author Libby-Jane Charleston, Knight was known locally for her violent outbursts in public, stays in psychiatric hospitals, and a general love of knives. Knight even worked at a slaughterhouse, which allowed her to develop her knife skills. This didn’t stop John Charles Thomas Price (known to his friends as Pricey) from falling in love with her. Their relationship was volatile, mostly due to Price’s hesitation to make a commitment to Knight.
In October of 2001, Katherine Knight was convicted of the murder of her boyfriend Price. She stabbed him 37 times and most of the stab wounds occurred post-mortem. She then took his ATM card and went on an errand to withdraw $1,000. As Charleston explains, this sealed her fate: this time away from the body proved she was in control of her actions.
When she returned home, she skinned him with the precision of a butcher and hung him from a meat hook. In the book Fatal Females, Libby-Jane Charleston describes the horrific next step:
“[…] Knight continued to degrade the body by chopping off Price’s head and cooking it in a large pot on the stove with some vegetables, like a sickening stew. Parts of his buttocks were also sliced off and baked in the oven, together with a selection of peeled vegetables.
Knight took the steaks and left them out as meals for her children, even creating place cards with their names on them. Charleston writes that she also took what was left of his body and placed him in an armchair, crossed his legs, and put an empty drink bottle in his hands.
Psychiatrists during the trial said her borderline personality disorder helped form the decision to kill, “but it did not explain the full circumstances of the killing, which included factors that had nothing to do with her disorder. In other words, she was not insane” (Charleston). Knight was the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life without parole.
Jane Lynn Woodry (Carolyn Gloria Blanton)
In late 1993, Peter Green of Alamosa, Colorado was reported missing. A tip led police to the apartment of Jane Lynn Woodry, his ex-girlfriend (in 1999 she changed her name to Carolyn Gloria Blanton). Leg bones were found in trash cans outside the apartment with the meat completely cut away. In the apartment, police found body parts in cookware, his torso in the closet, pickled body parts, and a bowl and spoon containing bite-sized pieces of human flesh. His head was found in a remote area outside the apartment.
Jane Lynn Woodry was found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing, dismembering, and eating her ex-boyfriend. She was placed in the Colorado Mental Health Institute and in 2005 was allowed to live in an apartment. Woodry’s psychiatrist said she had not shown signs of schizophrenia and knows the difference between right and wrong. Woodry lamented, “I’m deeply ashamed. The person who killed Peter Green is not me” (The Denver Post).
On Thanksgiving weekend in 1991, 23-year-old Omaima Nelson (a native of Egypt) stabbed her husband William (age 56) with a pair of scissors in their California apartment. She then proceeded to cut off his head and genitals, cook his hands in oil (to remove finger prints), and boil and freeze his head. She tried to dispose of the remaining severed parts down the garbage disposal and by mixing it with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. Upon investigation, police could not find 130 pounds of William despite Nelson’s claims that he was all there.
During the trial, Dr. David J. Sheffner diagnosed her as psychotic and also said she admitted to eating his ribs covered in barbecue sauce. According to the Los Angeles Times:
“‘I did his ribs just like in a restaurant,'” Sheffner quoted Nelson as saying. She said she sat at the kitchen table with Bill Nelson’s cooked remains and said out loud: “It’s so sweet, it’s so delicious… I like mine tender,”‘ the doctor recalled.
She also told Dr. Sheffner that she dressed in a red dress, red hat, and red lipstick for the dismemberment of his body as a sort of ritual. And, according to Nelson’s attorney Terrence Scott, she cut his body into pieces so she would not meet him in the afterlife as Egyptian myth claims (ABC News).
Nelson would later deny eating her husband.
Nelson said she suffered a long life of abuse, including sexual and physical abuse from her husband. Prosecutors argued, on the other hand, she murdered him for his money and car, and planned on fleeing the area. She was convicted of second-degree murder and 27 years to life in prison.
These women committed unimaginable acts, not only murdering their loved ones, but also mutilating their bodies beyond recognition. During a parole hearing for Omaima Nelson, William’s daughter said to the courtroom, “I don’t know the adequate punishment for a murderer who doesn’t even leave a family a body to mourn over” (Los Angeles Times). This was more than a hunger, but a mysterious force that drives women to take away the identity of these men. These Black Widows are a rarity and their motives will continue to remain a mystery.
Associated Press, “Colo. Woman Accused Of Cannibalism ‘Deeply Ashamed.’” The Denver Post, 5 Jan 2009.
Berry-Dee, Christopher. Cannibal Serial Killers: Profiles of Depraved Flesh-Eating Murderers. Ulysses Press, 2011.
Charleston, Libby-Jane. Fatal Females: 13 Cases That Gripped A Nation. Hardie Grant Books, 2013.
“Freedom Sought For Woman Accused Of Eating Boyfriend.” The Denver Channel: ABC, 16 Dec 2008.
Lynch, Rene. “Second-Degree Verdict for Wife in Grisly Murder.” Los Angeles Times, 13 January 1993.
Marcum, Diana. “Parole Denied for Woman Who Cooked, Ate Husband.” Los Angeles Times, 6 October 2011.
Nikias, Maria. “Woman Who Killed Husband and Cooked Body Denied Parole.” ABC News, 5 October 2011.