8 August 1962 – Elizabeth Duncan

Elizabeth Duncan

Elizabeth Duncan

A would-be incestuous fantasy fuelled today’s fiendish felon. Of course, she may come across like a cuddly mum, but don’t be deceived – it was decidedly deadly to dice with Elizabeth Ann Duncan as her daughter-in-law found out.

No stranger to ‘Californication’, Duncan experienced love in a variety of guises. During her life, she apparently ran a ‘massage parlour’ for a while, sniffed ‘Time’ magazine, as well as chalking up 11 marriages. However, it was one marriage in particular that was to yield the object of her deep-rooted affections – her son Frank.

Ties that bind

Known affectionately as ‘Ma’, Duncan was driven. Single-mindedly, she had made many sacrifices to ensure her son got the very best of everything. Frank stepped up to the mark and went on to be a successful lawyer and his skills were to come in useful all too soon.

Things took a sinister turn when the boy then tried to cut the apron strings. We say ‘boy’, but actually Frank was 29 when he tried to move out of the family home. To stop him in his tracks, Duncan dosed herself up with drugs in a pseudo-suicide attempt.

Of course her ploy worked at first, but it backfired in a way Duncan could never have imagined.

She was nursed back to health by a nurse called Olga Kupczyk, who was to catch Frank’s roving eye. Indeed according to divasthesite.com ‘they got married although Frank continued to return to his mother’s appartment [sic] every night!

Frank exchange

However, Jim Barrett in his book ‘Ma Duncan’ casts doubt on the illicit nature of the couple’s relationship. Instead he asserts that Duncan shamelessly tried to seduce her son in a last-ditch attempt to sabotage her son’s marriage on the very night they got hitched.

Whichever the story, the beginning of the end came when the newlyweds found out they were having a baby. Duncan was devastated and immersed herself in trying to find ways to get shot of her most hated daughter-n-law.

Hired guns

She hired two inept henchmen by the names of Moya and Baldonado to do the dirty work and boy was it dirty. They pistol-whipped the heavily pregnant Olga then thinking she was dead, buried her alive. Her baby would have been due just one month later.

According to the ‘Ventura Country Star’, ‘dirt would be found in her lungs indicating Olga had suffocated after being buried alive’.

Instead of the $6,000, Duncan had promised they got a paltry $137 a piece, so it’s not surprising that the two blokes thought nothing of shopping themselves and their employer.

Mummy’s boy

During her trial and despite losing his wife and unborn child, mummy’s boy Frank admitted ‘If I had a choice for a mother, much as I have been humiliated and hurt, I would still choose the same mother’.
Duncan and her two sidekicks were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by the jury, but it was a close-run thing between the chamber and an asylum.

But the chamber won and she became the last women to be gassed in California, Duncan protested her innocence even as she was strapped into the chair and her last words were unsurprisingly, ‘I’m innocent, where’s Frank’ and her beloved son wasn’t even there – he was at the law court trying desperately to gain a stay of execution even as the noxious fumes enveloped her.

If you were wondering what happened to the other two, well, both Moya and Baldonado followed that afternoon in a double execution.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Parallels can be drawn between Duncan and yesterday’s anti-heroine Anna Månsdotter who was motivated by the same incestuous feelings.

Also on this day

8 August 1942 – Herbert Hans Haupt
8 August 2006 – Darrell Ferguson

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49 Responses to “8 August 1962 – Elizabeth Duncan”

  1. h kuckhoff Says:

    what happened to all the blackmarket baby’s?

  2. Terry C - NJ Says:

    Frank sounded like a real putz.

    And this woman deserved the death penalty.

  3. Elisabeth Ann Duncan’s case is interesting. Having incestuous feelings for her son seems Oedipal in reverse. Elizabeth earned her death sentence.

  4. h kuckhoff Says:

    there alot more to this story, siblings have surfaced, and reunited !

  5. THE BOOK MA DUNCAN WAS FOR THE MOST PART CORRECT,HOWEVER DURING 1950-1960 CAMARILLO DID NOT HAVE ANY SHERIFFS DEPUTIES WORKING. CONSTABLE IBISON WAS THE ONLY LAWMAN IN THE TOWN.ALSO ONORINDA JONES HAD BEEN A TEACHER,BUT WAS @THAT TIME THE PRINCPLE OF PLEASANT VALLEY GRAMMER SCHOOL.THE BLUE ONION WAS A DRIVE-IN IN OXNARD ,NOT SANTA BARBARA

    • Jackson Says:

      The Blue Onion was in Santa Barbara in the 1950s. I have a menu from that location.

    • The Blue Onion in question was most definitely in Santa Barbara. My late father, then Lt. Leonard E. Peck Sr. was the head of the SBPD detective division at the time of this crime and was intimately involved with the investigation.

  6. John Adams Says:

    Probably most (if not all) of you who proclaim that she got what she desrved, weren’t even alive in 1960. You’re mindless dittobots.

    • I was in San Quentin when she was executed and the next day the two men were executed. I am against the death penalty but I was glad that that these three were gassed.

      A-66438

      • trainmaster Says:

        Mr. Peterson:

        I lived in California for over 60 years, and followed the Ma Duncan case from trial to execution.

        In August 1962, Ma Duncan and the two men she hired to do the dirty work were executed the same day in California’s only 2nd triple execution, The first 3-person execution, as well as the last woman to die in the gas chamber was Barbara Graham and her two co-murders in California’s gas chamber on June 3, 1955.

    • And I guess that the people who agree with you aren’t “mindless dittobots?” Only people who agree with you can have a valid opinion on this, huh?

    • angela powell Says:

      It doesn’t matter whether someone was alive in 1960, you have to be a blind idiot to not know right from wrong!

    • Emily smith Says:

      What’s your point? She got what she deserved regardless of when I was born. Really, what are you saying?

  7. Tom L bradely Says:

    WELL I HAVE ONLY RECENTLY DISCOVERED THE TRUE IDENTITY OF MY MOTHER [BARBARA GRHAM] I CANT HELP BUT WONDER HOW MY LIFE MAY HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT HAD SHE LIVED BUT I GUESS I WILL NEVER KNOW

    • I am guessing that you are the youngest of the children? What about your father? I would love to correspond with you, I am a curious person. I have always wondered what became of the innocence that was left behind by infamous people. I have always wondered what kind of life is lead and how people feel about ‘finding out the truth’. My e-mail is karenpjyair@yahoo.com
      Thank you and take care friend.

    • Hi Tom – I have never thought that your Mother, Barbara Graham, was guilty of the Monohan murder. I don’t think she was there. Santo and Perkins were guilty but they couldn’t execute them unless they executed Barbara. Would love to talk
      with you sometime! Sincerely, Hal Westcott

    • Michelle Says:

      Mr. Bradely, I don’t know much about your mother, Barabara Graham, except for the movie “I Want To Live”. And, I have to say that, as a mother myself, my heart broke for her and for you. I am so sorry for your situation. I truly am.

    • WHICH SON ARE YOU? DO YOU HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF HER OTHER CHILDREN? HOW HAS YOUR PATH IN LIFE
      EVOLVED? PERSONALLY, I DO BELIEVE HER INNOCENCE AS I DO NOT SEE HOW A WOMAN HER SIZE COULD PHYSICALLY DO THAT CRIME! WITH RESPECT, DIANNE

    • i want to write about your mom and send me your email so i can get permission my email is livezeye8@aol.com

  8. irene Says:

    i got a book called decathlon of death by melvin beli,some of the names were change,but barbara graham,emmett perlinks,al matthews carl palmberg,and warden teetes but the judge da and otherserle stanley gardner found out the barbara wasnt the killer but emmett perkins he wrote a ltter to the warden and he told wont he clear he said no way,this has about the chester murder and the monahan murder,mr gardner knew on june 13,1957 2 years after exucution

  9. I saw TV program about Elizabeth ‘Ma’ Duncan and apparently she was married 20 times and actually annulled her son’s marriage.

  10. Plenty of information but a very poorly written piece. Grammatical , punctuation and spelling errors abound to a point where it becomes difficult to understand exactly what the writer is trying to say. Shame, too, it’s a fascinating story.

  11. So what ever happened to Frank? What’s his “where are they now” status?

  12. Jackson Says:

    ID Investigation Discovery is airing DEADLY POSSESSION (November 2011). Frank Duncan became an attorney in Los Angeles. He’s still living in Los Angeles I believe. Frank did not claim the body of his wife, Olga. Her family flew down from Canada for the trial and her body was cremated and her remains were taken back to Canada. Her mother suffered a heart attack upon hearing that her daughter’s body was found. Ma Duncan, Louis Moya and Augustine Baldonado were exectued all on the same day. Moya and Baldonado died first in the gas chamber side by side and Duncan was executed later that same day. I have an eyewitness account of her execution. The City of Ventura gives lectures and offers a crime scene investigation bus tour on this crime. The movie TOO CLOSE TO HOME is a highly fictionalized account of this crime. Duncan was the last woman executed by the State of California and all three were the last trio ever executed on the same day by the state of California. She was only the 4th woman to have ever been executived. I know – I’ve been lecturing on this crime / trial for the past 14 years. G. Jackson

  13. Glenda has got it right as it relates to Frank Duncan. His license to practice law was suspended twice over the years. Last I heard, he was still alive and living in the Los Angeles Area.

    I wrote the book Ma Duncan and co-wrote a screen play by the same name. The screen play has been optioned by Don Murphy of AngryFilms (Transformer Movies, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc) and he is out shopping for a major actress to play Ma.

  14. As Don Murphy said, “this movie has the possibility to win the Academy Awards. And since Murphy is a “heavy hitter” in tinsel town, I believe him!

  15. Gloria Taylor Says:

    wow, i saw this story on tv a couple of days ago. i wasn’t born when this happen. but what i found interesting was i lived in fillmore, ca 15 miles west of ojai, ca. at the time this occurred this story was really making headlines in ventura, ca. what an evil woman elizabeth duncan was to everyone especially her son, frank

  16. clarencebev Says:

    The prison cemetary is full of this stinking thinking. More are on the way.

  17. nancy carter Says:

    Mr frank duncan I’m so what happen 2 u with your wife& the baby

  18. I can understand a mother’s love for her child but it wasn’t even all that serious. When a child is of age its time to move on mama just has to learn to let go.

  19. Does anyone else share my thinking that Frank Duncan should have been whipped for leaving his pregnant wife to move back in with his sick mother? He has to be the most spineless, pathetic mama’s boy to ever live!

  20. SHARONNOVAK Says:

    I HAVE ONE SON WHO I LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL, THAT WOMEN IS AN EVIL BITCH SHE DESTROYED THAT MAN, WIFE, AND PRECIOUS BABY . IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILD YOU DON,T KILL ANYONE THAT HE LOVES I’M GLAD THE BITCH IS DEAD JUST WISH I WAS THERE TO SEE IT!!!!!!! SOOOO SORRY TO SON, WIFE, AND CHILD GOD BLESS THEM FOREVER FOR ETERNITY!!!!

  21. The death penalty is a barbaric relic from the distant past. I’m no bleeding-heart apologist for criminals, but in a society that calls itself civilised there has to be a better way to deal with the worst offenders. To those who believe the death penalty to be morally appropriate, I say: Two wrongs don’t make a right. To those who believe the death penalty to have a uniquely deterrent effect, I say: Read the books and essays on the subject of deterrence by Jeffrey Fagan.

  22. I believe in the death penalty whole heartedly.. I think more and more of these sick sick ppl need to b executed so we the tax payers dnt have to pay to keep scum like them alive on death row of in a maximum security prison. If they r sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole, then by all means, do away with the sick and twisted and get it over with.. these prisons r becoming way to crowded.. ppl like sick ‘ma’ here and all the other serial killers, rapist, child molesters, mass murders and cold blooded killers should b shown no mercy by getting to live at all weather it zb a prison or naught.. death penalty is the only thing these sickos need… They dnt deserve to live at all.. hang’m, shoot’m, gas’m or fry’m dnt matter to me much.. they ddnt show mercy for their victims y should we show mercy to them???

  23. Melissa Says:

    Frank had a sister who passed away from a “spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage”. They say she was the youngest of 6. So, if there is Patsy and Frank, where are the other siblings? Are they in contact with each other? I understand Frank was put into a very bad position, but I don’t think I could claim my mother, after she had my spouse killed.

    • louis Says:

      All of the children have passed. My Grandfather was the last to pass in florida about 5 years ago.

  24. louis Says:

    This lady is my great grandmother, really weird to see what she did. She had a previous marraige with my great grand father Dewey Tessier.

  25. ADella Martinez Says:

    I to am a in true storys I had an aunt back then who was in chino state prison with barbra.as I was growing up id hear alot n heard that .they were cell mates . Sad but I to felt ur mother was inocent.as far as the duncun case.i am a decendent of augustine bolonado.n have bn doing alot of research on it.i was only 8 years old when that happend.if its ok with you.i would very much like to correspond with you.thank you so much….

    • Hi Adella – how are you related to Roland? Have you read the true crime account – Ma Duncan?

      • ADella Martinez Says:

        Hello.thank you for the email….his son agustine boldonado is my fathers cusion.i was only 8 years old when that happened.we were liveing on the camarillo ranch at the time.my father is going on 86 this feb.recalla some but not all.i do not know rolon persoinaly.just found out.augustine is his son.so I am tryn to find out who augustines mother was.as thats how he is related on my fathers side n yes I have read one of the books.iv have not cn the movie .my understanding from a family member is that .the color version was from timelife.but that the black n white is much better.i need to call

      • ADella Martinez Says:

        Oops sorry jim.trying to find out who agustines father n mother were.roland is a decedent .but dnt know how far bk we go.

    • irene Says:

      i believe that babs was set up,the men thought they would get off and have babs executed,they also killed gudard young and 5 children

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