This is not the kind of Nanny you’d want to watch your kids. Nannie Doss (born Nancy Hazel) was one of the notorious female serial killer, born on November 4, 1905, in an underprivileged family in Blue Mountain, Alabama.

Nannie Doss was given many nicknames by the media, such as Giggling Granny, the Lonely Hearts Killer, the Black Widow, and the Lady Blue Beard. Once a newspaper called her a “self-made-widow”.

Nannie Doss
Nannie Doss. Credit Criminal Minds

Early life on Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss, born into a family with a controlling father and four siblings, loathed her father, James. Instead of attending school, the children were made to work long hours on the family farm.

Nannie was seven years old when she was hit in the head by a metal bar on the seat in front of her when the train abruptly stopped. For years after the accident, she suffered from severe headaches, blackouts, and depression, which she blamed on the accident and her mental instability.

Nannie would look through her mother’s romance magazines and fantasize about her own romantic future. To keep the girls safe from men, their father forbade them from wearing makeup or attractive clothing. He also forbade them from attending dances and other social gatherings.

Nannie Doss married 5 times

Nannie Doss married for the first time at the age of 16, after dating Charlie Braggs for four months and marrying with her father’s approval. Charlie Braggs, her coworker at a linen factory, was the only son of a single mother who insisted on living with her after he married.

Nannie doss first married at the age of 16
Nanni Doss married at the age of 16, for the first time.

Nannie had four daughters from her first marriage; caring for her daughters was exhausting, which led to her drinking, which eventually became an addiction. Her situation worsened when she discovered her husband was cheating on her.

The unhappy couple lost two of their daughters to food poisoning in 1927; a year later, the couple divorced, and Nannie took the remaining daughters with her. Charlie stated that he left her because he was afraid of her. When Nannie received her daughters’ life insurance money, her husband accused her of murdering her own daughters.

Nannie Doss’s Second Marriage

After a failed marriage and the stress of raising two daughters, she turned to romantic novels, from where she met her second husband, Robert Franklin Harrelson. The couple would constantly write romantic poetry to each other and married in 1929.

The new beginning was soon shattered when she discovered that her husband was an alcoholic with a criminal record for assault; despite this, the marriage lasted more than twice as long as the first, 16 years.

From Nannie Doss to Killer Nanny

Nannie’s daughter, Mvlvina, gave birth to Robert Lee Haynes in 1943, and another child the following year. Melvin, exhausted from the exhausting process, thought she saw her visiting mother inserting a hatpin into the baby’s head. When she asked her husband and sister for clarification, they said Nannie had told them the baby had died. The doctors were unable to provide a satisfactory explanation.

Nannie Doss and Melvina Nannie doss picture
Nannie was 43 when her adult daughter Melvina gave birth for the first time.

Melvina and her husband separated, and Melvina began dating a soldier whom Nannie disapproved of. Melvina’s firstborn died in Nannie’s care while visiting her father in July 1945, following a fight with Nannie. Months later, Nannie purchased $500 in life insurance.

Killing the husband

After a night of partying, Robert Franklin arrived late at night and demanded sex, which Nannie refused, and then raped her. The next day, she found his whiskey jar and poured rat poison into it, watching her husband die slowly and painfully.

Nannie Doss’s Third Marriage

Nannie met and married her third husband, Arlie Lanning, in three days. While traveling in Lexington, North Carolina, Nannie met her through another lonely-hearts column. In contrast to the other marriages, Nannie would disappear for days at a time instead of the husband. But when she was at home, she was a devoted wife.

Nannie Doss with her third husband.
Nannie killer with her third husband whom she married only three days after meeting for the first time.

Arlie Lanning died of heart failure after experiencing flu-like symptoms; doctors attributed his death to his heavy drinking problem.

The property was left to Arlie’s sister after his death, but it burned down the next morning. The insurance money was given to Nannie, who promptly deposited it in a bank. Nannie knew Arlie’s sister would one day collect all of the money from the property, so she made sure it never happened again. Nannie went to see her mother-in-law before leaving town, who also died unexpectedly in her sleep that evening.

Nannie Doss’s Fourth Marriage

Nannie joined the Diamond Circle Club dating service in search of another husband and soon met Richard L. Morton of Jamestown. Nannie began plotting the murder after discovering that her husband was yet another womanizer, but she was surprised when her elderly mother decided to move in with her.

This maneuver, however, slowed her down but did not prevent her from murdering her husband. Nannie now had two targets to eliminate. She poisoned her own mother, Louisa, before poisoning Richard. Richard died on March 19, 1953, three months later.

Last Marriage and Last Kill

Nannie met and married Samuel Doss of Tulsa, Oklahoma in June 1953. Samuel Doss was a Nazarene minister who had lost his family in an Arkansas tornado. Samuel was not a fan of Nannie’s romantic novels. He was admitted to the hospital two months later with flu-like symptoms, and the hospital diagnosed him with a severe digestive tract infection.

 Nannie Doss During her capture

Samuel was released from the hospital on October 5, and Nannie murdered him a week later. Samuel Doss’s sudden death tipped off the doctors, who ordered an autopsy. The autopsy revealed that he had a high level of arsenic in his system. Nannie Doss had come to an end.

Trial and Confession

Nannie Doss admitted to killing four of her husbands, her mother, sister, grandson, and mother-in-law with no remorse and was sentenced to life in prison.

The state of Oklahoma, on the other hand, focused solely on Samuel Doss. On May 17, 1955, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison; she went there “giggling.” Because of her gender, the state was unable to pursue the death penalty against her.

nannie doss newspaper

Nannie Doss’s cause of death

She was never charged in another case and died on June 2, 1965, from leukemia. Looks can be deceiving, but nothing was normal for this Russian modern-day serial killer, who killed while staying out of everyone’s sight.