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Killer Wives: 8 Most Infamous Black Widow Murderers

From working-class mothers to society ladies to elderly brides, these women got rid of their mates in the worst possible ways

Kelly Cochran helped her husband kill her boyfriend – and then she turned around and killed her husband, too. At least that’s what the Michigan prosecutors allege, and Cochran now sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. And while her crimes may sound shocking, they actually fit into a pattern of female killers, who, unlike men, usually murder the people closest to them. These black widows – named after the desert spiders whose deadly female often eats their partner after sex – act out their anger, sociopathic tendencies, or desire for financial gain by killing their husbands and boyfriends, or in Cochran’s case, both. While serial killers are rare – and female serial killers even more so – there are many examples of black widows who have exacted revenge on abusive husbands, made a profit from their brutal crimes, or committed cold-blooded killings for their own sick reasons. Here, the eight most notorious black widow killers. 

Chisako Kakehi

Chisako Kakehi

To this day, Chisako Kakehi, Japan’s most notorious black widow, insists she’s innocent. She claims that she’s not a serial killer but has been "doomed by fate" – though it's also possible that she is a ruthless murderer who systematically killed at least eight men for insurance money. According to Japanese authorities, between 1994 and 2013, at least seven men that Kakehi – a.k.a. "the Black Widow of Kyoto" – either dated or married died, leaving her alone, save for around $7 million in insurance payouts. Some of the deaths in her wake were originally deemed of natural causes (two husbands died of "unknown causes", one had a stroke, and a boyfriend died possibly of cancer), but when traces of cyanide were found in her new groom's dead body, police started to become very suspicious of the repeat widow. "Given their advanced age, we have to proceed carefully to judge whether their deaths were actually the result of foul play or not," an investigator told the AFP new service. So far, Kakehi has been charged with the 2013 murder of her husband, Isao Kakehi, 75, who collapsed in his home with cyanide in his system a month after their marriage, as well as in the death of her common law husband, 71-year-old Masanori Honda, who died in a motorcycle crash after she allegedly poisoned him. Last year, she was also charged in the attempted of a 78-year-old boyfriend, after she allegedly slipped hydrocyanic acid into his drink while they dined at a restaurant in 2007. He collapsed in a parking lot, but didn’t die until two years later. While police found a small bag of cyanide compounds in a plant pot she ditched at a recycling center near her home, Kakehi claims she has no idea how to kill someone. It’s safe to say that the police don’t believe her. 

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