Rhonda Belle Martin was a waitress in
Montgomery, Alabama. She poisoned her
fifth husband, formerly her son-in-law, but
he survived only to be left paraplegic.
His illness led authorities to look into the
strange deaths surrounding Rhonda, and in
March 1956 she confessed to poisoning
her mother, two husbands, and three of
her children. She denied killing two other
The prosecution claimed that collecting
insurance money was her motive, but she
never admitted this was the case.
She was convicted of murdering 51-year-
old Claude Martin in 1951 by
surreptitiously feeding him rat poison and
sentenced to die in Alabama’s electric chair.
Eight days before she was asked in an
interview if she was prepared to die: “Well,
you’ve never seen anybody who was ready
to sit down in the electric chair. But if that’
s what it’s got to be, that’s what it will be”.
Rhonda Belle wanted her sentence
commuted to life. She had made herself a
nice dress, black and white, to go to her
hearing. Despite her effort, on October 11,
1957 she walked toward the death
chamber wearing her new dress and a
Her last meal was hamburger, mashed
potatoes, cinnamon rolls and coffee.
A few minutes after midnight, she was
strapped into the chair and asked if she had
anything to say. She shook her head
silently. The swich was thrown; Rhonda
Belle stiffened while the electricity entered
her body. Then she was pronounced dead.