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Female Serial Killer of Ten Older People Released from Prison

Caroline Wood and Gwen Graham were charged with murdering five women, but only is serving life for it.

By Sam H ArnoldPublished about a year ago 4 min read
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There have been many female killers throughout history, with Victorian England claiming the most female serial killers. The preferred method of murder for many a female is poison, which is quick and easy to administer. Arsenic became such a popular murder weapon that the British government introduced legislation to control its sale.

Not all women though kill with poison, although statistics show that most women who use other methods of murder typically work with a partner. The name for this is Folie à deux, two individuals acting together. Names such as Myra Hindley and Rose West killed with partners. Would they have killed on their own is a matter of debate.

Both males in the partnership would likely have killed at some point. This case is another of Folie à deux; this couple was named the lethal lovers.

Although one would have you believe she would not have killed without her accomplice. Many think she was the main perpetrator.

Caroline Cathy May Wood and Gwendolyn Gail Graham were in their twenties when they became lovers; together, they became serial killers with a victim count which could hit double figures.

Their method of murder was burking, which involves simultaneous smothering by placing a hand or towel over the mouth, squeezing the nostrils shut and mechanically compressing the torso, thus limiting the expansion of the lungs and breathing.

Early Life

Both Wood and Graham came from backgrounds that could be considered problematic. Not that this should be a reason for murder, many people come from similar backgrounds and do not turn to crime.

Wood's father returned from Vietnam a changed man. Like many veterans, he turned to alcohol to deal with his ordeal. Despite this, her life was relatively good compared to that of Graham.

Graham suffered abuse at home regularly. She dealt with this through self-injuring. She was described as a very dependent woman on anyone who showed her any attention. She was eager to please; this would lead us to assume that she would have helped Wood with anything she suggested.

She's a very dependent individual a person eager to please the partner she is with - Crime author Lowell Fauffiel on Gwen Graham

At a young age, Graham was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, another factor that calls into question whether she would have been capable of the attacks alone. However, Wood would have you believe she was.

Murders

In 1986, Graham moved to the quiet neighbourhood of Grand Rapids; she started work at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home, where she met Wood, and the pair quickly became lovers.

The pair were both heavy drinkers, a year after they started working together, they started killing. Wood claims that Graham was responsible for these murders; she stood as lookout whilst Graham killed. However, many believe that she has downplayed her part and she was the main perpetrator.

Burking is a method that needs considerable strength and weight; Wood had the physical strength to have carried this out, much more than the smaller Graham. However, the method is hard to detect, leading to the early deaths being initially considered natural causes.

Victims

All five victims lived at the nursing home; they were all in the later stages of their life and suffering from Alzheimer's. All required a lot of care and were incapable of fighting off their attackers.

The women were charged with the death of Marguerite Chambers, Myrtle Luce, Mae 'Maisy' Mason, Belle Burkhard and Edith Cook. It is believed that the victim count could have been as high as twelve.

The first murder the pair committed was in January 1987; this was initially put down to natural causes. However, this did not stop Wood from joking with her colleagues that she had killed the woman; her colleagues thought it was nothing more than a sick joke.

The couple chose their victims because they thought it would be amusing to use their initials to spell out 'murder,' after a while, the victim choice became more random.

A year after the killings started, the couple split up, and the murders stopped.

Trial

Wood stated that she was riddled with guilt when she told her ex-husband about the murders. This may have been true, or it could have been that she wanted to boast about her exploits.

Whichever is the truth, in 1988, her ex-husband went to the police and told them everything. As a result, the police exhumed the bodies and ordered new autopsies to be performed. When they got the results, both women were charged with multiple murders.

Whilst being interviewed, Wood claimed that she was the lookout for the pair whilst Graham killed the women. However, as she was the first to speak, she struck a plea bargain with the prosecutors for a minimal sentence if she gave evidence.

Graham has since claimed that she was not even in the room for the murders and that no murder occurred.

When the pair went to trial, Graham was convicted of first-degree murder and received five life sentences with no chance of parole. Wood pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder with a sentence of twenty to forty years.

Wood confessed to another woman there that she committed the murders, saying she set Graham up to seek the ultimate revenge for leaving her for another woman.

The killer next door

With the sentence she received, Wood was eligible for parole in 2005; her request was denied eight times but finally granted in September 2018. Following this, the victims' families appealed in 2019, where paperwork was released claiming the death toll was ten older people.

Fifty-seven-year-old Wood has recently been released from Tallahassee, Florida prison in 2020. However, many professionals consider that she will kill again as she was the true mastermind of the murders.

Wood was the dominant force - Forever and Five Days Lowell Fauffiel

So if you have a new neighbour and live in the South Carolina area, it could be that a serial killer has just moved in next to you to live with her sister.

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About the Creator

Sam H Arnold

A writer obsessed with true crime, history and books. Find all my dedicated newsletters whether you are a true crime fan, bookworm or aspiring writer on Substack - https://substack.com/@samharnold

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