As of October 2014 there were 57 women languishing on death row in America. They account for less than 2% of the death row population. Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, 15 females have been executed, two by electrocution, the rest by lethal injection. So who are these women? And what terrible crimes landed them a spot on America's notorious death row?


Linda Carty – the baby snatcher

death row

British grandmother, Linda Carty, was found guilty of abducting and murdering her neighbour, Joana Rodriguez, 25, to steal her newborn son.

The prosecution’s case was that in May 2001, Carty hired a gang to storm her neighbour’s flat, steal $1,000, and abduct Joana and her 4-day-old baby at gunpoint.

Hours later Joana was found dead in the boot of a car Carty had been using. She’d been hog-tied with a bag over her head causing her to suffocate. The baby was found unharmed on the backseat and returned to his father. 

It was said Carty, who had suffered miscarriages, wanted the baby to win back her boyfriend.

But even now, after 13 years on death row, Carty, 56, claims she was framed by a gang for her work as a drug informant. In February 2015 she was granted a hearing by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

On death row since: February 2002.


Aileen Wuornos – America’s first female serial killer

death row

In the 1980s Aileen Wuornos was working as a sex worker on Florida’s highways.

In December 1989 she shot and killed one of the men who’d picked her up. Over the next year she killed six more, robbing them and stealing their cars. Wuornos then pawned the stolen goods, leaving a trail of evidence that eventaully led back to her.

Wuornos was arrested at a biker bar in January 1991. She claimed she’d killed the men in self-defence when they tried to rape her, but was convicted of murder and given six life sentences.

The 2003 hit film Monster, starring Charlize Theron, is based on Wuornos’s murder spree.

Sentenced to death: January 1992.

Executed: October 9 2002 by lethal injection.


Janeen Snyder – the female rapist

death row

Janeen Snyder was 21 when, along with her much older lover Michael Thornton, she kidnapped, tortured, sexually abused and killed 16-year-old Michelle Curran.

In April 2001 they held Michelle Curran captive for 14 days, drugging her, threatening her with guns and sexually assaulting her. During the trial two other teenage girls testified that Snyder lured them to a hotel where Thornton raped them.

Snyder has also confessed that they killed 14-year-old Jesse Peters, who had been missing for over five years – although they have never been charged with her murder.

Thornton used Snyder to lure Jesse out of her house, into their car. The sadistic due took her to Thornton’s house where he handcuffed Jesse to his bed and raped her while Snyder watched.

Jesse was then drowned in the bath, dismembered and dumped in the Pacific Ocean.

On death row since: September 7 2006.


Christa Pike – the youngest woman sentenced to death

death row

Christa Pike was just 18 when she committed murder, 20 when she was sentenced to death.

She’d tortured and killed fellow student Colleen Slemmer, 19, believing she was trying to steal her boyfriend, Tadaryl Shipp.

On January 12 1995, Pike and Shipp lured Colleen to isolated woods on the University of Tennessee Campus, promising to make peace. But they attacked Colleen, and for 30 minutes she was taunted, beaten and slashed – a pentagram carved in her chest as part of a satantic ritual.

Then Pike smashed Colleen’s skull with a large chunk of asphalt paving, killing her. Pike kept a piece of her victim’s skull, which was found in her pocket when she was arrested.

On death row since: March 29 1996.


Judy Buenoano – Florida’s black widow

death row

In 1983, Buenoano’s fiance, John Gentry, was severely injured when his car exploded. While he was recovering, detectives discovered Buenoano had told friends Gentry was suffering a terminal illness. Vitamin pills she’d been giving him were found to contain arsenic and formaldehyde.

This led to the exhumations of her husband James Goodyear, who’d died in 1971, former partner Bobby Joe Morris, who’d died in 1978, and her disabled son, Michael Buenoano, who’d drowned in 1980. Each man had been the victim of arsenic poisoning. It was said she’d killed the men for their life insurance.

Sentenced to death: November 1985.

Executed: March 30 1998, by electric chair.


Lisa Jo Chamberlin – Bodies in the freezer

death row

In 2004, Lisa Chamberlin, along with Roger Gillett, was wanted on drugs charges and planned to escape to Mexico.

They attempted to rob Gillett’s cousin, Vernon Hulett, and his girlfriend Linda Heintzelman by forcing them to reveal the code to a safe. When Vernon refused they beat him to death with a hammer, caving in his skull.

Linda Heintzelman, who had special needs, was attacked, beaten, stabbed, sexually assaulted with objects, but they couldn’t get the code out of her. It is thought she didn’t know it. In the end they slit her throat and put a plastic bag over her head. The next day, when they noticed she was still breathing, the pair suffocated her with a pillow.

They then chopped up the bodies and stuffed them into a chest freezer at an abandoned farm.

On death row since: August 4 2006.


Angelina Rodriguez – husband poisoner

death row

Angelina Rodriguez murdered her husband, Frank, to cash in on a life insurance policy she’d taken out several months after they wed.

She’d tried three times to murder her hubby. First she poisoned Frank’s tea with toxic oleander leaves, second she loosened the gas cap on their clothes dryer. She was finally successful on her third attempt in September 2000 when she laced his Gatorade with antifreeze.

Rodriguez is also suspected of killing her 13-month-old daughter Alicia in 1993 by jamming part of a dummy down her throat. She’d then successfully sued the manufacturer and claimed on Alicia’s life insurance.

On death row since: January 12 2004.


Emilia Carr – murderous love triangle

death row

In November 2008 Emilia Carr got engaged to Joshua Fulgham. Yet one month later he married Heather Strong instead.

But by January 2009 the couple were estranged and Carr was back with Fulgham. That month, Fulgham was arrested for threatening Strong with a shotgun, only to be released when the charges were dropped. Detectives later discovered Carr had threated Heather with a knife to force her to withdraw the criminal complaint.

On February 9 2009, Heather, 26, was reported missing, and was found five weeks later buried in a shallow grave.

Carr and Fulgham were convicted of luring Heather to Carr’s home, dragging her into a storage shed, duct-taping her to a chair, putting a plastic bag over her head. Carr had then tried to break love rival Heather’s neck, before leaving her to suffocate to death.

On death row since: February 22 2011.