Who Was Martha Grinder? How Did She Die?

During the 1860s, a young Martha Grinder was seen as a kindly neighbor who often hosted people at her place. But as time progressed, people around her mysteriously fell ill, some even dying. The second half of Investigation Discovery’s ‘Deadly Women: Fatal Instincts: Sex, Drugs and Gunshots’ focuses on the story of Martha and how she was alleged to have cruelly poisoned multiple people. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?

Who Was Martha Grinder?

Martha married a river captain when she was just a girl, but that was an unhappy union. They separated after a while, with Martha eventually marrying George Grinder. The couple then moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1859. At the time, George worked as a coal miner, and the Grinders didn’t have much money going around. However, their financial state suddenly changed, and they moved to a better house with money and better clothes.

Soon, Martha became known in the neighborhood as a great conversationalist who loved having people over for a meal. At the time, the Grinders’ neighbors were James and Mary Caruthers. But soon after they came in contact with Martha, Mary began to deal with several bouts of illness. By February 1864, Martha had a maid, Jane Buchanan, working for her. But within days of Jane’s employment, she fell ill with convulsions, vomiting, and stomach ache.

Jane died on February 28, 1864, and at the time, it was considered from natural causes. Curiously, loved ones couldn’t find any of her belongings at her place later. According to the show, Martha had taken them. Then, even Mary and James began feeling similar symptoms before Mary died in August 1865. As per the show, James started to suspect Martha and then went to the authorities.

The investigation then focused on Martha and the people around her falling ill. The authorities learned that Mary had been poisoned by arsenic and antimony. Then, when Jane’s body was exhumed, it was confirmed that she had ingested the same poison. The police also paid attention to some of the neighbors who fell ill while in her care. Furthermore, there was a servant who talked about buying poison for Martha.

How Did Martha Grinder Die?

Martha was arrested in August 1865 and later admitted to poisoning Mary and Jane. However, she denied poisoning anyone else. The authorities, though, speculated that she killed others. For instance, George’s two brothers had died under mysterious circumstances, in addition to Mary’s sister and another neighbor. She was convicted of first-degree murder in October 1865 and was sentenced to death by hanging the following month. Then, in January 1866, Martha was executed at the age of around 35 years.

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