THE CASE OF VELMA BARFIELD THE ARSENIC POISONER

By Tim Lambert

Velma Barfield was an arsenic poisoner. She is infamous not only for her crimes but because she was the first woman to be executed by lethal injection. Velma Barfield was born in South Carolina on 23 October 1932. In she married a man named Thomas Burke in 1949. She had a son in 1951 and a daughter in 1953. In the 1960s Velma became addicted to prescription drugs.

Then in 1969 her house caught fire while she and the children were out. However her husband Thomas was inside and died of smoke inhalation. Then in 1970 Velma married a man named Jennings Barfield but he died less than a year later. Velma's mother, Lillian died in 1974. (Barfield poisoned her). In 1975 Barfield served a short jail sentence for forging checks. However in 1976 Velma Barfield got a job caring for an elderly couple, Montgomery and Dollie Edwards. Montgomery died in January and he was followed by Dollie in March. Velma Barfield then cared for another elderly couple, John Henry and Record Lee. John Henry died in June 1977. Velma moved in with her boyfriend Stuart Taylor but he died in February 1978.

Barfield's sister called the police and told them that Velma was responsible for the death of Stuart Taylor and others. An autopsy found arsenic in his body. Velma Barfield confessed to murdering mother, Lillian, Montgomery and Dollie Edwards and John Henry Lee. However she was only convicted of the murder of Stuart Taylor. Velma Barfield was executed by lethal injection on 2 November 1984.

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