11 April 1947 – Louise Peete

Louise PeeteA Southern belle, who could have given Scarlett O’Hara a run for her money, was planted in the gas chamber today in 1947.

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.

Crude oil

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.

Plastic fantastic

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.

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25 Responses to “11 April 1947 – Louise Peete”

  1. Susan Peete Says:

    I have read much on Louise Peete and have always assumed that she killed Richard Peete. But your reference says no. I went back to my copy of WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF 20TH CENTURY MURDER, Jay Robert Nash, First Paragon House Trade, 1992, pp.446-447. After carefully reading this, I find no mention that Richard Peete was murdered.
    The stories from my family are: We live in Sioux City Iowa and my great uncle was Richard Peete. His brother and wife (my grandparents) royally entertained Richard and Louise Peete when they would come to town. Then, my grandmother Peete was socially shamed when Louise’s picture was in the Des Moines Iowa newspaper, explaining her execution in the San Quenton gas chamber.
    After many years of my married name, I legally changed back to Peete. A few years back, my sister also legally changed her name to Peete. At that time, she did a google search for Peete and found the daughter of Louise and Richard Peete. They emailed and the daughter had legally changed her name FROM Peete because of the shame her mother gave to the name. How ironic.
    Thanks for your article.

    • Autumn Says:

      I call BS on Susan Peete. Louise’s daughter was born in 1916 and email and Google came around in the mid to late 90’s. *IF* the daughter was even alive at that time she would’ve been in her 80’s. Let’s get real here, how many 80 + year olds were googling and emailing at the begining of the PC revolution. Anyone can claim to be anything on the internet and related to anyone, it’s obvious you’re full of “it”.

    • Sandra D. McIntire-Vetter Says:

      Susan, I wonder if it was your sister that called me? about 1999 or 2000. That would account for the discrepancy my brother Bruce found in your account (see below), that it could not possibly have been Betty, the daughter of Louise Peete, she found through Google, but me, the grand-daughter of Louise.

      The name change she spoke of was actually the so-called court-ordered last name change of my mother, Betty, to Elizabeth Webster, due to the notoriety of Louise Peete. According to Betty (we 4 children were taught to call her by her first name, never mama or mother), after her name change and her health improved, she was sent to an orphanage in Massachusetts, where she later met my father, Marshall.

      Is your sister’s name, Linda?

      • tony sperl Says:

        You should put up a marker on the grave of Louise Peete at the Rosedale Cemetery. Additionally, who moved her body to Los Angeles and buried her after her execution?

  2. Bruce Hird Says:

    This matter confuses me a little, but I have no time this moment to sort out the details.

    Elizabeth Peete (Married name, Elizabeth Hird), always called “Betty,” was the daughter of Henry and Louise Peete. She died at the age of 76 in 1990 (?) in Salem Oregon (will confirm the date later). Elizabeth, was my mother. I can’t imagine her receiving any email prior to 1990, or was the email in question addressed to a family relative sometime (maybe years) later? For protection, Elizabeth was assigned the last name of “Webster” when she was about five years old. My birth certificate indicates her full maiden name as Elizabeth Virginia Peete.

    I assume we are discussing the same daughter of Louise Peete and welcome any comment.

    Bruce Hird

    • Joe Yenovkian Says:

      We are not talking about the same woman. I just saw an episode on the criminal, Louise Peete, on t.v. She was executed in 1947, one of only 4 women executed in California.


    • Hi Mr. Hird,
      I am doing some research on Louise Peete and would so much appreciate the chance to talk to you. I’d be happy to work around your schedule. Would you mind emailing me at joni@workrelationships.com if this is possible? Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D.

  3. Pam Johnson Says:

    to Joe- the mother Loiuse was executed in 1947- not her daughter Elizabeth that Bruce was talking about above your post. You are talking about the same person but he’s talking about the executed woman’s daughter- his mother Elizabeth. Her name was changed due to who her mother was but it is on his birth certificate.

  4. Bruce Hird Says:

    In reply to Joe’s message and Pam’s message:
    First, to correct an error in my May 28 comment (actually a couple of years old): Louise Peete’s husband (one of them) was R.C. Peete (Richard Peete), not Henry (I have no idea why “Henry” came to mind). “Betty” (Elizabeth, my mother) was born of this marriage in 1916 in Colorado and died at the age of 76 on June 29, 1991. Therefore, regarding Susan Peete’s posting, Betty could not have been contacted via a Google search because Google didn’t exist until 1996. Moreover, she had no email address prior to 1991.

    Yes, Louise Peete was executed in 1947. I was age seven at the time but remember quite well the trip my mother took to Los Angeles from Oakland CA (with my older sister). This was a big event. I was told they were visiting friends, or something like that, but years later the real the real reason for the trip was made clear. I was both revolted and fascinated by the news, and often wondered (lightly) what dark traits I might have inherited, but life (do the math) has turned out to be pretty normal. I never met Louise personally, nor ‘Grandpa Peete.’ But it seems true he committed suicide upon learning of his ex wife’s notoriety, so in a way he can be added to her list of murders. I don’t mean to discredit Susan Peete as one writer does in these exchanges, but one thing that disturbs me is that Elizabeth (Betty) did not change her name out of shame, as the Peete sisters apparently did. She had nothing to do with it. Her name was changed to “Elizabeth Webster” when she was a child for protection against negative publicity. For years, I knew my mother only by her married name, Elizabeth Webster Hird, but my birth certificate (which I never saw until adulthood) shows her name as Elizabeth Virginia Peete.

    These points needed attention, so I appreciate your comments.
    B. Hird

    P.S. (for Pam): I did not say Louise’s daughter, Elizabeth (my mother) was executed. She died naturally.

    • tony sperl Says:

      My Grandmother testified against this woman in court. Ms. Peete became suspicious of both my Grandfather and Grandmother. Ms. Peete had even given my Grandfather some Avacados from the tree where the body was buried. He did not eat them, since he thought she was “Creepy”…Lucky for him.

      My family only discussed this story once, but they suspected her of being a murderer from the start.

      • Sandra D. McIntire-Vetter Says:

        This is surely a facinating series of remarks about my Mother,Betty and Grand-mother, Louise Peete. My brother Bruce, is quite correct on all accounts. I, born Sandra D. Hird, daughter of Elizabeth Webster Hird and Marshall E. Hird, March 26, 1938, Cambridge, MA,

        I did in fact, accompany my Mother, ‘Betty’, to LA, where, I was led to believe, she saw Louise, for the last time, April, 1947. I even have a picture of myself then, with the date and my full name in my childish handwriting on the back. As for Susan Peete; I had an hour conversation on the phone, approximately 1999/2000 with a women who claimed her maiden name was Peete, and she seemed to know a lot about Louise.. This could have been Susan, but I don’t remember her first name. I was still in the denial-mode then, sheilding the memory of my Mother’s tortured childhood, and a sense of pain/shame that I bore, on her behalf, even though she had already been dead for about 8 years. Betty fully believed in Louise’s innocence, and I detect the lies Louise told her in the many accounts that I have read.

        My brother refers to his wondering about inherited dark traits. I think all of us (my six children, as well), have wondered the same. Having late in life, become a follower of Jesus Christ, and really pondered these things, I am convinced that my brothers and I, and our children, are of the gentlist of human beings, not even prone to such hideous, selfish acts! Our adult lives testify to this!!

      • Hi Tony,
        Please see comments to Bruce below. I would be very interested in speaking to you about your grandmother’s experience.

      • My grandmother also testified ( relutently) aginst Mrs Peete. My grandmother spoke highly of Louise as a best friend until her death in 2007. She believd in Louise’s innocence. I would love to talk to you about the history there and conpaire notes. My e mail is dford97801@yahoo.com. I want to write a book on their relationship and would love some more insider information.

    • I am thinking of writing a book about Louise Peete and am interested in the perspective of family members who came after her. (I am a forensic psychologist and also have had my own fears about genetics continuing down a family line) and would be honored to interview you and your sister. Please contact me at joni@workrelationships.com if that might be possible or if you have additional questions. Thanks.

      • Hi Sandra,
        I would so much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about your memories and experiences. (see comments above)

  5. I just got through watching Deadly Women on ID…I can’t imagine what y’all, the family members had to endure with the memory of what the grandmother did but it did fascinate me to look up stories such as this and see actual family members bring more light to this tragedy. Y’all should be commended that although your grandmother did this, it does not define who y’all are…..BRAVO & blessings..thanks for sharing a piece of your history more.

    • Dear ‘Simplicity’; Thank you for your graciously kind words. I noticed that while this blog mentions Month dates, it does not include the year. I ‘jumped in’ this year,2012, after ‘Autumn’s’ tart response to Susan Peete’s post. Incidently, ‘Tony Sperl’s post, following me, Jan 7, 2012, is a shame. Why should I put a marker on my grandmother’s grave? Why SHOULD I, indeed? While his grandparents were honorable in testifying, and fortunate to have survived their association with Louise, we; my dear brothers, Father and I, experienced through out our childhood the torturing distress my mother Betty believed, that her mother, Louise, was innocent. It was a very unnatural thing. I don’t know where the truth is in what I was told. And I see no reference to how Betty got to Massachussets to meet and marry my Father. Betty told me that she had been ‘sent’ to MA., as a ward of the court, to a Catholic girl’s school/orphanage-whatever, because of the notoriety of the case. But written facts clearly place her growing up in the LA, area. Another question haunts me: After Louise got out pf prison, a mysterious elderly person/acquiantance died, I would have been about 5 years old. The association to Louise is dismissed. But I want to know what the name is of that person. Was it a women? I think that i KNOW who it was!

  6. chera Says:

    the show im watching right now about this lady claimes she was from Waco Tx. so whats the trueth…

  7. Tina Cain Says:

    Very interesting comments. I watched the show deadly women and found it fasinating. I wish all of the relatives the very best in finding out what your looking for. I hope it is closure.

  8. Bruce Hird Says:


    We worked out the closure problem years ago.
    thanks for your concern,

    Bruce Hird

  9. Jen H Says:

    To the family of Ms. Louise. Never feel shame for what someone else has done. It is not your fault. Let it not haunt your lives or your families lives. I deal with criminals on a daily basis and they come from all walks of life. Normal families who have no mental issues running through them but WHAM…one bad apple just fell out of the tree. More of it was the INDIVIDUALS choice to choose a path of distruction as a way to control others and have power in a time when perhaps that person felt no power due to lack of money, physical strength, or perhaps even something they lacked even as a child….but it was a CHOICE this person made. Not you or your families fault. Society today has become more of a “what’s in it for me” society then an “How do we help eachother” society and we shall have many more Louise Peetes.

  10. Damn woman crazy…

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