Long before it was settled by the French in 1702, the area now known as Alabama was home to a wide range of indigenous people for hundreds of years, providing this southern state with a long and unique history. However, Alabama has also been home to some of the country’s most horrifying serial killers, including Daniel Lee Siebert, who murdered two students while working as a teacher at a school for the deaf and blind in Talladega, and Rhonda Belle Martin, one of the state’s few known female serial murderers who killed several of her family members with poison.
Thomas Whisenhant was convicted of killing three convenience store workers in the Mobile area, while Gerald Patrick Lewis confessed to murdering women in Alabama, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Hugh Bion Morse attacked women all over the United States, including in Dayton and Birmingham, Alabama, as did Bruce Mendenhall, a long haul trucker who was linked to the brutal murder of a woman who was found dead in a trash bin in Jefferson County. Jack Trawick — who was executed by lethal injection — admitted to killing three women in Alabama, while Jeremy Bryan Jones — who has confessed to murdering three additional victims in Mobile — was given the death penalty for raping and murdering a victim in Turnerville, making them two of the worst serial murderers Alabama has ever seen.
Daniel Lee Siebert
On February 24, 1986, the manager of the apartment building where Sherri Weathers, a student at the Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega, entered the 24-year-old’s mother home after he was asked to check on her well-being. Weathers had not been seen at the school for more than a week, and the welfare check revealed she and her two sons — Chad, 5, and Joseph, 4 — had been strangled to death. After making the gruesome discovery, the apartment manager was asked to visit the home of another student at the school, 33-year-old Linda Jarman, because the young woman had also recently missed several of her classes. Like Weathers and her two children, Jarman had been murdered.
Investigators quickly focused on an art teacher at the school who had been romantically interested in Weathers: when they checked the instructor’s fingerprints, they discovered he had been using an alias and was actually Daniel Lee Siebert, a fugitive who had been convicted of manslaughter nearly a decade earlier. Officers learned Siebert had been dating Linda Odum, a 32-year-old woman who had been murdered in February 1985. After he became a suspect in the murders, Siebert fled the state, but he was arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 5, 1986. After he was apprehended, he allegedly confessed to killing a total of 12 people, and he was eventually charged with murders in New Jersey, California, and Alabama. In 1987, this Alabama serial killer — who was born on June 17, 1954, in Mattoon, Illinois — was convicted of killing Jarman and the Weathers, and he was given the death penalty for his crimes. However, while he was in prison awaiting execution, he died from pancreatic cancer on April 22, 2008, at the age of 53.
Rhonda Belle Martin
In March 1956, law enforcement questioned Rhonda Belle Martin after tests revealed her stepson turned fifth husband, Roland — who had been hospitalized due to a mysterious illness that had left him paralyzed — had high levels of arsenic in his body. While she denied harming her husband, investigators learned several people close to Martin had passed away from strange maladies between 1934 and 1951, including two of her husbands, her mother, and three of her children. Officials exhumed Martin’s fourth husband, Claude, who died in 1951, and they discovered high levels of arsenic in his remains. When Martin was confronted with this evidence, she confessed to the killings, admitting that she added poison to their drinks in order to end their lives.
Martin’s youngest victim, her daughter Emogene, was just 3 years old when her mother served her a glass of milk laced with poison, ending the child’s life in 1937. Martin — one of the few known female Alabama serial killers — told the authorities she murdered her victims in order to get sympathy, while prosecutors argued that she killed her family members to collect insurance money. This Alabama serial killer from Montgomery — who was born in 1907 — was convicted of killing her fourth husband, Claude, and sentenced to death. On October 11, 1957, Martin was executed in the electric chair in Kilby Prison; she was approximately 50 years old.
In 1966, Thomas Whisenhant — who was serving in the United States Air Force at the time — was given 20 years in prison for assault with intent to murder, but his sentence was reduced and he was released in November 1973. Less than three years later on October 16, 1976, Whisenhant abducted 23-year-old Cheryl Lee Payton from the convenience store in Mobile County, Alabama, where the married mother of two worked as a clerk. After kidnapping Payton, Whisenhant took her to a wooded area where he raped the young woman before shooting her in the head. The following day, he returned to the crime scene and mutilated her body and stole the dead woman’s watch off of her wrist, a gift Whisenhant later gave to his wife.
Thankfully, an eyewitness saw Whisenhant near where Payton’s corpse was later discovered, and he was arrested for her murder on October 17, 1976. Shortly after he was apprehended, Whisenhant admitted to killing Payton, and he also confessed to raping and murdering two other convenience store clerks, Patricia Hitt in November 1975, and Venora Hyatt in April 1976. This Alabama serial killer — who was born on January 29, 1947, in Prichard, Alabama — was convicted of murdering all three women, and he was given the death penalty for his horrific crimes. On March 27, 2010, Whisenhant was executed by lethal injection in Alabama’s Holman Correctional Facility; he was 63 years old.
Gerald Patrick Lewis
On April 14, 1998, officers went to the home of Gerald Patrick Lewis to question him about Kathleen Bracken, a 32-year-old woman who had been raped and murdered three days earlier. Investigators were led to Lewis — who was born on August 10, 1965, in Jacksonville, Florida — by an eyewitness who had seen him with Bracken at a hotel in Mobile, Alabama, shortly before the young woman was stabbed to death and her dead body was dumped in a wooded area nearby. Incredibly, Lewis readily admitted to killing Bracken, and he also confessed to murdering another woman, 22-year-old Misty McGugin, in January 1998. The confessed killer led law enforcement to McGugin’s remains, which he had buried off of a county road near Daphne.
In addition to the two women he killed in Alabama, Lewis confessed to murdering four victims in Georgia, including Peggy Lynn Grimes, 22, who was eight months pregnant when she was killed in 1992. This Alabama serial killer also admitted to murdering a woman in Brockton, Massachusetts, in December 1986, but her body has never been found. Lewis was convicted of two counts of murder in Alabama, and he was given the death penalty for his crimes. In 2004, he was found guilty of one murder in Georgia, and he received an additional death sentence. However, while he was behind bars awaiting execution, Lewis died of natural causes on July 25, 2009, at the age of 43.
Hugh Bion Morse
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in January 1930, Hugh Bion Morse committed his first known murder on November 7, 1959, while living in Spokane, Washington, when he raped Glorie Brie before beating the 28-year-old housewife to death with a wrench. Less than a year later, Morse raped and murdered Blanche Boggs, bludgeoning the 69-year-old widow to death in her Spokane home. The following month, he ended up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List after he nearly killed his estranged wife in her home in Reseda, California, on October 28, 1960, stabbing and strangling the woman until he was interrupted and fled the scene.
A fugitive from the law, Morse eventually made his way to Birmingham, Alabama — raping multiple women along the way — where he strangled and bludgeoned Bobbi Ann Landini, 27, to death in her home on July 11, 1961. After nearly killing Mildred Chasteen on August 2, 1961, in Dayton, Alabama, this serial murderer traveled north to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he raped Carol Ronan, a 34-year-old social worker, and strangled her to death in her home on September 19, 1961. However, law enforcement finally caught up with Morse when multiple people contacted the authorities after seeing his photo on wanted posters, and he was arrested in his home in St. Paul, Minnesota, on October 13, 1961. This serial killer confessed to Ronan’s murder, and on December 15, 1961, he was given two life sentences for his brutal crimes. Morse died in April 2004 while serving his time in the Minnesota Correctional Facility; he was 74.
On October 9, 1992, Jack Trawick kidnapped Stephanie Gach, from the parking lot of her apartment complex in Birmingham, Alabama, and took her to a remote area where he killed the 21-year-old by strangling her, bludgeoning her with a hammer, and stabbing her through the heart. After murdering the young college student, Trawick threw Gach’s body off of an embankment and her corpse was discovered on a creek bank the following day. Three weeks later, Trawick — who was born on February 18, 1947 — was questioned multiple times as part of an investigation into numerous attempted abductions in Jefferson County, Alabama, and he eventually confessed to killing Gach.
After he was arrested for murdering the 21-year-old college student, Trawick admitted to killing several other women, including Frances Aileen Pruitt, a 26-year-old wife and mother who was stabbed to death in Birmingham in June 1992, and 17-year-old Betty Jo Richards, who was killed two decades earlier in nearby Quinton, Alabama, in July 1972. On March 23, 1994, the confessed Alabama serial killer was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Stephanie Gach, and — at his request — he was sentenced to death. The following year, Trawick was found guilty of killing Frances Aileen Pruitt, and he was given an additional death sentence for her murder. On June 11, 2009, Trawick was executed by lethal injection at Alabama’s Holman Correctional Facility; he was 62 years old.
On July 12, 2007, law enforcement stopped Bruce Mendenhall, a long haul trucker, at a truck stop in Nashville, Tennessee, after an officer recognized his vehicle as one seen in the area weeks earlier around the time 25-year-old Sara Hulbert was found dead on June 26, 2007. Investigators searched Mendenhall’s semi, and they discovered sex toys, latex gloves, handcuffs, knives, a rifle, tape, and a nightstick, as well as identification and blood-stained clothing which belonged to Carma Purpura, a 31-year-old mother of two who went missing from an Indianapolis truck stop on July 11, 2007, and was later found dead.
Mendenhall was arrested, and he eventually confessed to murdering six women, including Lucille Carter, a 44-year-old woman who had been shot to death in Birmingham, Alabama. Shortly after she was murdered, her nude corpse was discovered in a trash bin, a plastic bag still taped around her head. While awaiting his trial for killing Sara Hulbert, Mendenhall — who was born on April 14, 1951, in Albion, Illinois — offered to pay two of his fellow inmates $15,000 if they would kill witnesses who were going to testify against him. This confessed serial killer was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 2010, Mendenhall was convicted of murdering Sara Hulbert and given a life sentence. He has been charged with the murders of three other women, and he is currently behind bars in Nashville’s Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.
Jeremy Bryan Jones
While Jeremy Bryan Jones has confessed to murdering several women in Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and his home state of Oklahoma between 1992 and 2004, he has only been convicted of killing one victim. When he was in Alabama on September 17, 2004, Jones raped and murdered his former boss’s neighbor, 45-year-old Lisa Nichols, shooting her in the head three times before setting her corpse on fire in her Turnerville home. However, shortly before killing Nichols, he used her phone to call his former boss about possible work, which allowed investigators to connect Jones to the 45-year-old’s rape and murder.
On September 19, 2004, Jones — who was born in Miami, Oklahoma, on April 12, 1973 — was arrested for Nichols’ murder, and he eventually confessed to killing 20 other victims, including three women in Mobile, Alabama. The following year, this confessed serial killer was convicted of killing Lisa Nichols, and he was sentenced to death on November 29, 2005. Jones has been charged with the murders of several other victims, including Amanda Greenwell, 16, and Katherine Collins, 45. He is currently on death row in the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.
Test Your Knowledge About Appalling Alabama Serial Killers!
Which Alabama serial killer wasn't executed for their crimes?
While Daniel Lee Siebert was in prison awaiting execution, he died from pancreatic cancer on April 22, 2008, at the age of 53.
Which group of people did Thomas Whisenhant prey upon?
Thomas Whisenhant was convicted of abducting and murdering three convenience store workers in Alabama.
What led to Bruce Mendenhall's arrest?
Bruce Mendenhall, a long haul trucker, was stopped by police because his vehicle was seen in the area around the time Sara Hulbert, 25, was found dead in Nashville, Tennessee. A search of his truck turned up evidence which caused police to arrest him.
Which serial killer was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List?
Hugh Bion Morse ended up on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List after he nearly killed his estranged wife in her home in Reseda, California, on October 28, 1960, stabbing and strangling the woman until he was interrupted and fled the scene.
Which serial killer wasn't known to shoot their victims?
While Hugh Bion bludgeoned, strangled, and stabbed his victims, he wasn't known to shoot any of the women he murdered.
Test Your Knowledge About Appalling Alabama Serial Killers!
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