A Dance With Death
Canadian Women on the Gallows, 1754-1954Book - 1996
- In a bizarre case in 1912, Minnie McGee poisoned six of her children by mixing the phosphorus tips off matches into their porridge. Her only explanation was that she was not feeling well.
- Susan Kennedy was an ill-tempered woman. One day in 1879, her husband came home to find the body of Susan's friend Mary Gallagher in a poll of blood on the kitchen floor. Her severed head and one hand were in a pail beside it.
- When Peter Napolitano was found in bed with his head cut off on Easter Sunday in 1911, neighbours remembered seeing his wife, Angelina, carefully sharpening an axe.
- Sentenced to death in 1881, Geneviève Lafleur at age sixty-five was the oldest woman in Canada to face the gallows. She had callously convinced her sixteen-year-old stepson to kill his brother, Dan, so she could get her hands on the man's $300 life savings.
- And in a crime unique in Canada, Marguerite Pitre - Canada's worst mass murderer - was involved in a diabolical plot in 1949 that took the lives of twenty-three people, although there was only one intended victim.
There are forty-nine tales collected here of Canadian women convicted of murder and sentenced to death between colonial times and the mid-twentieth century. From the unfathomable murder of innocent children, to cold-blooded murder provoked by greed or lust, to the perhaps more understandable slaying of an abusive husband, and other unusual cases, these true stories tell of ordinary women who became infamous as a result of their involvement in tragic or heinous events.
By turns sad, startling, gruesome, or strange, A Dance with Death reveals insights into the social mores of the times, the workings of Canada's criminal justice system, and attitudes towards women and capital punishment in their times. It also allows us a glimpse into the lives, the methods, and motives of Canada's female killers.