Nannie Doss seemed like a lovely lady that smiled and laughed all the time. She got married and had four children. And later in life, Nannie also spent time with her grandchildren.
But behind the facade of a happy face hid a monstrous murderer.
Can you believe it? Nannie Doss confessed to killing four of her five husbands. Authorities believed that she might have been responsible for killing many of her blood relatives as well.
The story of Nannie Doss begins with her arrival in 1905. She was born to a family of farmers in Blue Mountain, Alabama.
It was a big family of five children. Instead of going to school, Jim and Louisa Hazel’s children stayed at home, helped with the household chores, and tended the family farm. A lot of work for those small hands.
Nannie suffered a head injury while riding a train. She was only seven years old, and it changed her life forever.
The Wedding Bells
As a teenager, she was a girl with dreamy thoughts about life and love, finding solace in romance magazines. That was Nannie’s escape from reality in which existed her abusive father.
Her first marriage occurred when she was only 16. Although they had been together for only four months, she decided to marry Charley Braggs. They had four beautiful children together, and after 1927 the marriage started falling apart.
It turned out that two perfectly healthy children died under unclear circumstances without any cause that same year.
The happy couple divorced in 1928, and Charley took his daughter Melvina with him. Florine, who was a newborn then, was left with her mother, Nannie.
Second Time Is A Charm
Only a year after her divorce, Nannie married her second husband. It turned out that Frank Harrelson was an abusive alcoholic from Jacksonville, Fla.
Despite the toxic environment, the marriage lasted sixteen years. It is certain that while they were still married, Doss killed their newborn granddaughter only a few days after the birth. She stabbed the baby in its head using a hairpin.
A few months after this, her two-year-old grandson, Robert, died of asphyxiation while in Nannie’s care. It’s funny how the kids were Melvina’s children. The child that Charley took from Nannie when they divorced.
She was in for the next kill, but whose turn was it?
Poison Comes In Small Bottles
Doss stood behind Harrelson’s death too. She mixed a secret ingredient into his hidden jar of moonshine, and he was dead a couple of days later.
While people thought that he died of food poisoning, the lovely Nannie had been enjoying the perks of his life insurance. She collected enough money to buy a plot of land and a house near Jacksonville.
She also poisoned her next husband, Arlie Lanning. Nobody put their finger on Nannie because he was a heavy drinker, so it came naturally to doctors to assume that his heart failed due to his alcohol consumption.
Her next true love was Richard Morton. He cheated on Nannie a lot, but since she was too preoccupied with her mother’s health, she didn’t have the nerve to bother with that.
Doss’ mother broke a hip in 1953, and she needed a caretaker. The woman was doing all well and suddenly died after her daughter agreed to take care of her. Shortly after her mom’s death, one of Nannie’s sisters died.
The last person that had seen her alive was, of course – Nannie.
After she took care of her loving mother and sister, the cheating husband had her full attention. He died under strange circumstances too.
The End Is Near
Her final victim was her last husband, Samuel Doss. And he was nothing close to her ex-husbands. A caring man who wanted to read magazines or watch television shows that were for educational purposes.
She tried to poison him with a prune cake full of poison. Samuel spent a whole month in the hospital and recovered, but she finished him at home with poisonous coffee.
And that was it. Her biggest mistake revealed what kind of monster she was.
The doctor who treated her final husband noticed something weird. He performed an autopsy on Samuel’s body and found out that he had huge amounts of arsenic inside.
The police arrested Nannie Doss in 1954.
Nannie confessed to killing four of her five ex-husbands and blamed her murderous episodes on her brain injury. Authorities found extraordinary amounts of arsenic or rat poison in the bodies of the victims. It turned out that Nannie poisoned all her victims.
Nearly all of her ex-husbands were addicted to alcohol, so nobody ever thought that Doss was the reason for their death.
However, she said that she hadn’t killed any of her family members.
Although she didn’t even have any motive to kill the men, Nannie claimed that all those romance magazines affected her psyche. She was desperately searching for the perfect man and a real romance.
Every time she tried to tell the murder story of one of her husbands, she started giggling, and this is how her nickname was born. Journalists named her The Grinning Granny.