11 April 1947 – Louise Peete
Brought up in the heart of Louisiana, Louise Peete was executed for murder following a life devoted to the lusty pursuit of sex and money, which was to take her all over America.
Alarm bells should have rung when she was expelled for being the school bike. But it was the veneer of her well-educated ways that got her out of many a scrape.
Just three years into the new century, she married a salesman called Henry Bosley, but the marriage ended abruptly when he committed suicide after finding his wife in bed with someone else. Peete then headed for Boston, where she became a top-end prostitute, stealing from her well-to-do punters.
But it wasn’t long before the crude lure of money enticed her to Waco in Texas, where she hooked up with a wealthy oil man. However the love didn’t last long as Joe Appel was found killed and stripped of his jewellery. Of course, Peete was prime suspect, but she blagged that he had tried to rape her, and amazingly the jury bought it.
Her life from that point was littered with death. Her next husband committed suicide and she dumped the consequent husband Richard Peete and her daughter to shack up with another oil man – Jacob C Denton, who needless to say, soon turned up dead – he’d been shot in the back and buried in the basement. She was finally flung in jail and served 18 to 19 years of her sentence, during which time her husband also committed suicide
For Peete’s sake
But her trail of deathly destruction wasn’t over yet. After leaving prison, Peete needed to make a living. She was no longer as young as she once was, so could no longer turn tricks. As a result, she took up as a housekeeper to 60-year-old Jessie Marcy, followed by the 70-year-old parole officer who’d helped her get parole. Both wound up dead. Miraculously, despite her previous string of crimes, no foul play was suspected.
So she was free to go and play housekeeper to dementia-ridden Arthur and his wife Margaret Logan. Under their wing, she even took another husband, Lee Judson.
Soon enough though, Margaret suspiciously disappeared. When Judson asked, she came out with the most audacious excuse of the century, ‘Well, if you must know, Mr Logan bit Mrs Logan’s nose. She’s at a hospital for some plastic surgery.’ Judson didn’t think anything of it and no more was said after Arthur was shipped off to a mental hospital where he ended his days.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Not for Peete, because she got greedy. The bank became suspicious when one of Margaret’s cheques turned up with a dodgy signature. The lawmen were called and Peete questioned. Of course they went back to Denton’s house where they finally unearthed Margaret’s body, which had been buried under an avocado tree. Like Denton, she’d been shot in the back.
Judson’s name was cleared, but nevertheless he was driven to suicide too, leaving Peete to face her fate. She was one of only four women to be sent to the gas chamber in California and, despite her guilty verdict, she still maintained her innocence, saying ‘I have never killed or even harmed a human being. . . . But truth is elusive…’. Ain’t that the truth.