I’ve been doing a series of stories on Alabama’s “Black Widows,” women who kill their husbands, including Nannie Doss and Audrey Marie Hilley. Today, I’m writing about Betty Jo Green of Athens. Betty Jo Green will be 88 years old this year and remains incarcerated at Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka. Following is an excerpt from my book “Forgotten Tales of Alabama.”
On October 1, 1986, newspapers across the state carried the headline: “Jury convicts woman in arsenic poisonings.”
The news stunned the 20,000 residents of the city of Athens in northern Alabama. Betty Jo Green, born June 14, 1931, was charged with the arsenic poisoning deaths of her ex-husband and sister-in-law. She also was charged with the attempted murder of her fiance Arthur Self. It was Self’s stay in Huntsville Hospital in 1984 that raised suspicions of Limestone County Sheriff’s deputies. After exhibiting strange symptoms, he was diagnosed with arsenic poisoning.
The bodies of Green’s ex-husband Glenn Orman Green, who died in 1978, and his sister Grace Blankenship, were exhumed in 1984. Forensics experts determined they, too, had been poisoned.
A psychiatrist for the defense stated Betty Jo claimed she had another woman living in the left side of her body but experts for the prosecution found Betty Jo competent to stand trial.
She was convicted and is serving a life term in Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.