Wednesday, February 4, 1998

Lydia Sherman

Serial Murderess

Born in Burlington in 1824, Lydia Sherman (her final married name) was orphaned at the age of nine and raised by an uncle. She left town in 1840, and moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she met her first husband, Edward Struck, a widower with six children. They moved to Manhattan, where Struck joined the police force, and had seven more children together. After eighteen years of marriage, Struck was discharged and became depressed. Lydia poisoned him with arsenic "to put him out of the way."

Finding herself unable to single-handedly support at least a half-dozen young children, she poisoned baby William, four-year-old Edward and six-year-old Martha Ann, in a single day. When fourteen-year-old George became chronically ill, she laced his tea with arsenic, and when twelve-year-old Ann Eliza had recurrent chills and fevers one winter, Lydia poisoned her as well. Lydia's oldest daughter, eighteen-year-old Lydia, died of natural causes two months after the last of her siblings was poisoned.

Hired by a storekeeper to care for his invalid mother in Stratford, Connecticut, Lydia was recommended as a housekeeper to a wealthy farmer, Dennis Hurlburt. He hired her, married her within days, and was dead of poisoning within months, leaving her with $10,000.

Finally, widower Horatio Sherman came calling, wanting to hire Lydia as a housekeeper and nurse for his baby. When he upped the ante to marriage, she accepted, but after they were married, Horatio drank heavily, abused her and wasted her ill-found inheritance. In an effort to gain his attention and affection, Lydia poisoned baby Frankie, then sixteen-year-old Ada. When Horatio remained unchanged, she put arsenic in his brandy bottle.

Having poisoned three husbands and seven children, Lydia Sherman went on trial in 1872 and was convicted of second-degree murder. Dubbed the "Modern Lucretia Borgia," "Poison Fiend," "Borgia of Connecticut" and the "Queen Poisoner," She spent the rest of her life in prison, and though her remarrying habits were later surpassed by Marguerite Burton, no Burlingtonian since has equaled her body count.

Related reading:
Women Who Kill
ISBN 080706775X - AmazonBarnes & NobleBorders.
Bad Girls Do It! an Encyclopedia of Female Murderers
ISBN 1559501049 - AmazonBarnes & NobleBorders.

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