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You have to wonder what Lieut. Paul Southard thought when the woman he had married just a few months earlier was arrested for killing her fourth husband. And that she was suspected of killing her first three husbands as well. Oh, yes, and her first husband's brother and maybe her baby. My guess is his first reaction was: "She never said anything about being married before!"

And indeed, she hadn't.

Serial killer Lyda Anna Mae Trueblood was born October 16, 1892 in Keytesville, Missouri. Her family moved in 1906 to Twin Falls, Idaho. Seven years later, she entered her first marriage. Apparently, her idea of foreplay was to whisper, "Honey, you need to take out a life insurance policy." Which he did in a joint venture with his unfortunate brother.

Thus began a series of well-planned murders that went undetected until 1921. (You will notice that in some reports, her first name is listed as Lydia. It took awhile for newspapers to get it straight.)

Syracuse Journal

Woman Accused of Slaying
Five Men to Get Insurance
LOS ANGELES, Calif., May 13 – Mrs. Lydia Southard, a vivacious brunette of 28, is under arrest in Honolulu on a charge of having killed her former husband and a brother-in-law by poisoning them with arsenic, the sheriff’s office announced here Thursday.

The arrest of the alleged “woman Bluebeard” followed a chase of severall months in the United States. She was traced to Honolulu, where she was with her fifth husband, Lieut. Paul Southard of the USS Chicago.

She will be returned to this country for triall in Idaho as soon as possible, the authorities declared.

Mrs. Southard poisoned her four husbands, it is alleged, for the purpose of getting their life insurance. The brother of her first husband, who held an insurance police jointly with the husband, also died under mysterious circumstances.

In each case it has been discovered arsenic was the cause of death, though the woman has gone unchallenged until her arrest in Honolulu.

The chronologicall story of the alleged murders starts in 1913, when the woman married Robert C. Dooley, a prosperous rancher of Twin Falls, Idaho, within a few days after the marriage Dooley, with his brother, Edward, took out a $10,000 life insurance policy, two years later Edward died after a short illness. The husband died under the same circumstances a few weeks later. The insurance was paid to Mrs. Dooley, the present Mrs. Southard.

A year later William McGaffney, also of Twin Falls, married the widow. In 1917 he obtained a $5,000 insurance policy. He died in 1918 in Billings, Mont.

After another interval of a year she married Harlan C. Lewis in Billings. He died four months later.

Edward F. Meyer was the next man. He married her in 1920 in Pocatello, Idaho. Coming to Twin Falls, the newly married couple spent one night together at a ranch near there. Meyer died within three days in a local hospital.

Though he was insured for $10,000, she did not attempt to collect the money. Operatives working for the life insurance companied then started to compared notes and after careful investigation a complaint was issued by the district attorney in Twin Falls, charging Mrs. Meyer with the murder of her husband.

Detective Ormsby of the Twin Falls sheriff’s office traced her to this city where it was discovered that she had married Lieutenant Southard on Nov. 28, 1920.

The next month Southard was transferred to the Hawaiian Islands and his wife left for Honolulu from San Francisco Dec. 29.

Investigation has revealed, according to authorities, that in each case Mrs. Southard waited until her husband was sick. Then, it is alleged, she administered the poison and the doctor, knowing the man to be sick, would assume that he died of natural causes. A death certificate, showing that some disease was the cause of death, was signed in each case. Exhumation of the bodies of two of the dead men has revealed the presence of arsenic in their stomachs.

You have to wonder what Lieut. Paul Southard thought when the woman he had married just a few months earlier was arrested for killing her fourth husband. And that she was suspected of killing her first three husbands as well. Oh, yes, and her first husband's brother and maybe her baby. My guess is his first reaction was: "She never said anything about being married before!"

And indeed, she hadn't.

Serial killer Lyda Anna Mae Trueblood was born October 16, 1892 in Keytesville, Missouri. Her family moved in 1906 to Twin Falls, Idaho. Seven years later, she entered her first marriage. Apparently, her idea of foreplay was to whisper, "Honey, you need to take out a life insurance policy." Which he did in a joint venture with his unfortunate brother.

Thus began a series of well-planned murders that went undetected until 1921. (You will notice that in some reports, her first name is listed as Lydia. It took awhile for newspapers to get it straight.)

The previous story was one of four that appeared in the May 13, 1921 edition of the Syracuse Daily Journal. All said pretty much the same thing. However, I enjoyed the headlines and the opening paragraphs of the next story.

Syracuse Journal

Farmer Lass Now Classed As Bluebeard
Dark-eyed, Vivacious Girl Called Cold, Calculating Siren
Twin Falls, Idaho, May 13 – From the role of “Maud Muller” to that of an alleged feminine “bluebeard” is what career officers today said they will try to prove was followed by Lydia Trueblood Dooley McGaffey Lewis Meyer Southard, 28.

A few months ago the farmer lass was a waitress in a Los Angeles cafeteria. She was pretty, dark-eyed and vivacious. She presided over the salad counter where she advised business men as to whether the egg or the combination salad was the better.

Today she was under arrest in Honolulu suspected of the murder of four husbands and a brother-in-law all in the space of eight years.

Long before the Twinkie Defense, there was this unusual explanation offered by an accused murderer. Also mentioned is the death of an infant daughter, which never became a full-blown murder charge though many involved in the investigations of Lyda Southard's crimes believe she also killed her own child.

[NOTE: If you track down this article you will notice I made one significant change. The writer located Twin Falls in Utah and the mistake was not corrected by any editor.]

New York Evening Telegram

With Four Husbands Dead, Navy Officer’s Wife Says She’s a Typhoid Carrier
May 24 – “I am a natural typhoid fever carrier." is the unique defense which young Mrs. Paul Vincent Southard, of Honolulu, H. T., widow of four husbands, is making to charges in connection with the death of these four men, as well as of a brother-in-law and an infant daughter.

While only twenty-eight years old, Mrs. Southard has been married five times. The four husbands who died had insurance politices made out for her benefit. That she poisoned them to collect the insurance is the charge of the authorities at Twin Falls, Idaho, where her fourth husband died.

Mrs. Southard is languishing in the Oahu jail, Honolulu, having started a hunger strike as soon as she was incarcerated a week ago. Sheriff Ormsby of Twins Falls is seeking extradition papers to bring her back to Idaho.

Her Husband’s Problems
Meanwhile, the fifth husband, Paul Vincent Southard, USN, chief petty officer on the monitor Monterey, is walking the streets of Honolulu in a dazed fashion, pondering on the significance of the fact that his beautiful wife had just tried to induce him to take out a $10,000 insurance policy in her favor. He is also puzzling over the fact that she never mentioned to him the four husbands who preceded him or the child.

Refusing to eat in the jail, in spite of tempting meals placed before her, Mrs. Southard is passing her days gazing moodily out of a window in her cell and reiterating. "I am innocent of any wrong doing." She has been In jail a week.

She says the fact that she is, or was, a typhoid carrier can be proved by medical certificates which she had. She refuses to discuss the assertion that arsenic was found in the stomachs of all of the dead men when the bodies were exhumed and examined.

Mrs. Southard's defense will be watched with interest by scientific and criminal authorities throughout the world.

The facts on which the Idaho authorities base their charges are wound about the successive marriages of the woman.

Mrs. Southard's Record.
Lydia Southard was Lydia Trueblood, born in Keatsvtlle. Mo., twenty-eight years ago, the daughter of William Trueblood. Moving to Twin Falls, she was followed by Robert Dooley, a childhood playmate. In 1912 they were married.

Dooley took out a joint insurance policy of $2,000. with his brother Edward. Under its terms, half of the money was to go to the wife and the other half to the surviving brother in the event of the other's death. Edward, on August 9. 1915, was taken suddenly ill and died in a few days. "Typhoid fever" was written on the medical certificate as the cause ofdeath. Mr. and Mrs. Dooley collected the insurance money.

One day later Robert, the. husband, took out an additional $2,000 policy. He died on October 1 of "typhoid fever."

Sheriff Ormsby says Mrs. Dooley (now Mrs. Southard) told him at the time that Dooley had contracted typhoid from drinking from a well into which surface water had run. The infant daughter also drank the water. She died on November 15.

The young widow stayed in mourning more than a year. Then in 1917, casting aside her sorrow, she was married to W. G. McHaffie. He took out a $5,000 insurance policy made out to his wife. They moved to Hardin. Mont., and in less than a year he died of influenza, according to the death certificate. No insurance was paid to the widow, however, as the second premium on the policy had not been paid by the husband.

In May 1919 after she had moved to Denver. Mrs. McHaffie became the wire of Harlan Lewis. In June1919 he took out insurance for $5,000. The following month he became violently ill and died. "Ptomaine poisoning' was the cause of death. Taking her $5,000 Mrs. Lewis returned to Twin Falls.

One month later "Anna May McHaffie,” forgetting her latest marriage, became the wife of Edward Meyer, at Pocatello. This was on August 10. On August 11, it is said, Mrs. Meyer applied for $10,000 insurance on her husland. It was never delivered, however.Meyer took his wife to live on a ranch in the Snake River section. On August 21 he became violently ill after eating his evening meal. He was taken to a hospital and on September 7 he died.

It was at this time that the western autorities became suspicious. The hasty marriage and death had peculiar circumstances attached to it, and a chemical examination of the viscera of the dead man revealed arsenic, police officials say.

Mrs. Meyer was questioned and at the time denied she had ever been married to Lewis. When the investigation was just warming up, she disappeared. She was traced to Los Angeles and kept under surveillance. Meantime, the bodies of the other husbands, the brother in law and the child were exhumed. Arsenic is said to have been found in every case.

Mrs. Meyer by that time had disappeared from Los Angeles. Her trail was taken up, and she was eventually found in Honoluu where in the interim she had become the wife of Paul Vincent Southard, who was not informed of her previous adventures on matrimonial seas. A search of her baggage after her arrest revealed a blank insurance policy.

Since her incarceration, the young husband has refused steadfastly to visit his wife in jail. He declines to talk, and spends most of his time brooding over the eventful life which police officials say she has had for the past nine years.

On enterting the jail, Mrs. Southard began a hunger strike. Efforts of Arthur McDuffie, chief of detectives there, to induce her to eat by placing especially tempting food inn front of her have failed.

Matrons in the jail say Mrs. Southard seems perfectly rational. She is quiet, calm and speaks collectedly.

“I believe I am a natural typhoid fever carrier,” she tells them. “All of my husbands died of it. My friends have died of it. I have medical certificates to prove it. I have done nothing wrong.”

Mrs. Southard's appetite soon returned and she found herself back in Twin Falls, this time center stage in a croweded courtroom.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Alleged Poisoner of Fourth Husband
Unmoved at Trial

Twin Falls, Idaho, June 17—Mrs. Lyda Southard, charged with murdering her fourth husband, Edward P. Meyer, sat apparently emotionless throughout the day at a preliminary examination before Probate Judge Duvall yesterday. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Trueblood, were constantly at her side. She seemed oblivious of the gaze of 100 or more spectators, mostly women, who had crowded into the court.

No testimony in behalf of Mrs. Southard will be introduced at the examination, counsel for the defense announced.

Witnesses today included Dr. J. F. Coughlin, who attended Meyer in his fatal illness; Dr. Hal Bleler, who made the post mortem examinations of the body of Meyer; Ben E. Busmann, attorney, who identified a copy of Meyer's will, drawn soon aften his
marriage to Mrs. Southard, naming her as sole legatee, and C. D. Thomas and his son, Rex Thomas, who testified as to Meyer obtaining life insurance for $10,000 and of his
widow's repeated efforts lo collect on the policy.

Dr. Coughlin testified that Meyer had suffered a relapse almost immediately after a special nurse had. been discharged as a matter of economy and Mrs. Southard was left alone in care of the patient. The physician said that poison administered to Meyer prior to removal to the hospital could not have had fatal results. Dr. Bieler, in reply to a question, testified that a blood examination made prior to Meyer's death indicated the presence of typhoid bacilli.

It is believed Lyda Southard extracted arsenic from flypaper by boiling it. She then put the arsenic into food she prepared for victims, usually soup, though she reportedly also made it the special ingredient in her apple pies.

Interestingly, her fifth husband (aka Mr. Lucky) attended her murder trial and sat with her when the verdict was read.

The following account also dubs a new nickname on the woman, though it is so horribly corny the writer should have had his wrist slapped.

Syracuse Journal

Mrs. Southard Guilty of Murder
Twin Falls, Idaho, Nov. 5 – Mrs. Lyda Southard, alleged “Blue Beardess,” was found guilty of the murder of her fourth husband, Edward F. Meyer here.

She was found guilty of second degree murder and will be sentenced Nov. 7. She sat in court with her fifth husband, Paul V. Southard, a naval petty officer, when the verdict was read and seemed totally unmoved by the decision.

In the case just ended she was charged only with the murder of her fourth husband, but it was contended by the state during the trial that she killed her three preceding mates, also, by administering arsenic obtained from flypaper poison.

She was arrested in Honolulu early in the summer and brought back to Idaho for trial. The trial has lasted for five weeks and has been one of the most sensational in the history of the Northwest.

What happened to Paul V. Southard after his wife was carted off to prison remains unknown. Apparently there's no record of a divorce. Not that it would matter to the convicted murderer who'd marry two more men – one of them while she was on the run for escaping from prison.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1932

Woman’s Death May Be Laid
To Escaped Female Bluebeard
Topeka, Kan., August 1 (AP) – Lyda Southard, four of whose six husbands have met death under mysterious circumstances, today faced return to Idaho, where she escaped from the State Penitentiary while serving a 10-year sentence for the fly-paper poisoning of Ed F. Meyer.

The “Feminine Bluebeard,” booked as a 39-year-old housewife following her arrest here Saturday, declined to see callers, but was quoted by Perry Brush, chief of police, as having admitted her identity. She also was identified by fingerprints.

Meanwhile from Denver, where the woman’s sixth husband, Harry Whitlock lives, came word that District Attorney Earl Wettengel planned to investigate the death of Theodosia Whitlock, Whitlock’s mother.

Mrs. Southard married the Denver man last March, almost a year after her escape from the Idaho institution by scaling a 16-foot wall.

She was arrested here when she called for mail from Whitlock, whom she left hurriedly after explaining her “mother was ill in Akron, Ohio.” She was identifried in Denver following her flight after the arrest of David Minjton, 45, who confessed he aided in her prison escape.

As prisons go, the one in Idaho was comfortable, at least for Southard (shown in her mugshot right) because there were few inmates in the women’s ward and she pretty much treated the place like her own home. She worked for the warden’s wife and, incredibly, her duties included cooking.

The warden, in turn, allowed her to leave the prison on day trips that included going to movies in Boise. This continued even after she was returned to prison following her escape. She was granted parole in October 1941 and reportedly went to Nyssa, Oregon, to live with her sister. Eventually she returned to Twin Falls and – you guessed it – got married again, to Hal Shaw, husband number seven. A couple of years later she was alone again. No one seems to know what happened to Shaw.

Lyda Trueblood Dooley McHaffle Lewis Meyer Southard Whitlock Shaw then moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she died of a heart attack on February 5, 1958. Her body was buried in Twin Falls where the headstone identifies her as Anna E. Shaw.

For a bit more on this serial killer and the Idaho State Penitentiary.

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