Black Widows generally do not have a criminal record before their active burst. Many of them, up to the time before they commit their first murder, have spotless civic reputations and are often caryatids of faith, family and community. There is little forewarning of trouble. In a layman's vernacular, they simply snap. But... is that word misleading? Experts on serial killers would argue that Black Widows are not insane. They would agree that Janie Lou Gibbs, although a recognized church pillar and devoted mother, was of sound mind and deliberate strategy when she murdered her husband, three children and a grandson in Cordele, Georgia, for their life insurance policies. Her first victim was husband Marvin Gibbs, who died after eating one of his wife's family meals in 1965. Collapsing at home, he was rushed to the hospital where doctors blamed his death on the effects of a previously undiagnosed liver disease. There followed a general outpouring of sympathy from the Gibbs' fellow church members, other Christian Fundamentalists, who came forth to offer the widow and her children consolation and support. In appreciation, Janie donated part of the money she received from Marvin's life insurance policy to the church. One year later, 13-year-old Marvin, Jr., died of what was diagnosed as a similar ailment. Again the community assembled and again bowed its heads in prayer for the reassurance of the unfortunate Gibbses. Again, Janie proudly gave her congregation a percentage of the insurance payout. Within months of his brother's funeral, Lester Gibbs, who had just turned sixteen, developed a series of dizzy spells and headaches. When he was found dead in January, 1967, the hospital pronounced it hepatitis. At his wake, out of earshot from the weeping mother prostrate over the coffin, general dialogue ruminated about the plague that seemed to have struck the Gibbs family. What the hell is going on? they asked in a more pedantic manner. When her tears subsided, Janie announced she wanted to give the church another sum of money left to her. Throughout much of 1967, peace seemed to have come to the household. Janie's oldest son, Roger, and his wife were expecting their first child. Janie's attention seemed to have turned from dark days to the upcoming baby. In August, she beamed for all to see when she became a grandmother. By September, both baby Raymond and his dad were dead. Medical men could not understand what happened to the newborn. He had been healthy, strong, with organs in perfect working order. Even an autopsy failed to detect anything anatomically wrong. As for Roger, his kidneys had seemed to just quit working without any apparent cause, and again an autopsy resulted in a non-conclusion. The hospital grew suspicious, especially since his son had died only weeks earlier, also of undetectable origin. The family physician called in the state crime lab to consult. Results strongly evidenced arsenic poisoning. Armed with this information, authorities disinterred the remains of the other Gibbs children and the grandson for like examination. When results came in affirmative, Janie Gibbs was arrested. Her lawyers pleaded her insanity, but the State of Georgia was not swayed. The Georgian Black Widow, no peach of a woman, is still in prison where she is serving a life sentence for each of her victims.
Janie Lou Gibbs vergiftete in nur zwei Jahren ihren Ehemann und vier Kinder mit Arsen in Cordele, Georgia.
Kurioserweise spendete sie alle Lebensversicherungen unverzüglich der Kirche.