Black Widow Betty Lou

Born in North Carolina, Betty Lou Beets had a traumatic childhood with both of her parents being alcoholics. At 3 years old Beets lost her hearing after getting the measles and then at 5 years old Beets’ father started to sexually abuse her. When her mother was institutionalised she had to leave school when she was 12 years old to take care of her brother and sister.

Three years later at 15 years old, she married her first husband Robert Franklin Branson and a year later they welcomed their first child together. After 17 years of marriage, 6 children and a lot of domestic abuse Branson left the family and Beets in financial hardship.

A year later after battling with the emotional toll of her husband walking out and not providing for his children Beets married husband number two Billy York Lane but he too was abusive and the couple divorced. They continued to fight and Lane even broke Beets’ nose and threatened to kill her, this led to Beet shooting Lane and being charged with attempted murder. The charges were eventually dropped after Beets admitted at the trial that Lane had threatened her life. After the trial, the couple fell back in love and got remarried. The marriage lasted a month.

Then six years later in 1978, Beets married her boyfriend of five years Ronnie Threlkold but after one year of marriage and with Beets attempting to run Threlkold down with her car, the couple divorced.

Later on that year it was time for wedding number 5 with Beets marrying Doyle Wayne Barker who she barely knew. Two years after getting married, Barker disappeared and ten months later Beets married Jimmy Don Beets a retired fireman. The couple were married for less than a year when Jimmy also disappeared.

Then two years after Jimmy’s disappearance the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department received information that Jimmy had potentially been murdered. Authorities got a search warrant for Beets’ home and they found two bodies, one was Barkers who had been missing for four years and the other was Jimmy’s. Police also found a gun that matched the weapon used to shoot Barker and Jimmy. Betty Lou Beets was arrested and charged with the murders of Doyle Wayne Barker and Jimmy Don Beets.

During the trial, two of her children testified that they helped cover up the murders and that they knew their mother was planning to shoot both husbands. Beets tried to make out that her children were the actual killers and that she had been framed.

It’s believed that Beets murdered two of her husbands for the insurance money and any pension benefits that may be available. She was never tried for the murder of Barker but she was found guilty of the capital murder of Jimmy and sentenced to death.

After ten years of appeals, Betty Lou Beets was executed on February 24th, 2000 by lethal injection.

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