8 August 1962 – Elizabeth Duncan
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!
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.
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.
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.