The Truth About Nannie Doss' Childhood

At first glance, Nannie Doss looks like a loving grandmother, with her charming smile and seemingly jolly disposition. The amiable appearance was only a fa├žade, however, as Nannie Doss was a serial killer who murdered 11 people, some of them her own flesh and blood. She was given the nicknames "Giggling Granny," "Jolly Black Widow," and the "Lonely Hearts Killer."

One of the most common similarities among serial killers is a troubled childhood, and Nannie Doss' was no different. Nannie was born Nancy Hazle in 1905 in Blue Mountain, Alabama, to James and Lou Hazle. The family lived on a farm and all five Hazle children were expected to help with farm work, as reported by All That's Interesting. Nannie had a sunny disposition, often smiling and laughing amid hardships.

Although Nannie had a loving mother, her father was controlling and was strict on what the children and her wife would wear or where they could go. Education was not James Hazle's priority for his children, and he would often keep them home from school to work on the family farm or do house chores (via Encyclopedia of Alabama.) Nannie dropped out of school after she finished the sixth grade.

At 7 years old, Nannie got into an accident wherein she hit her head on a pole after the train she was riding abruptly stopped. After her head injury, she experienced bouts of blackouts and migraines. Later on, Nannie would claim that incident contributed to her desire to kill.

Dreaming of Prince Charming

According to Parcast, shady men in their community sexually assaulted Nannie. She turned to her father for help and told him about the incident, but he never believed her. This started Nannie's wariness of men, and she often spent time reading her mother's romance magazines, paying particular attention to the "lonely hearts" column and dreaming of the perfect man who would treat her right.

It was difficult for Nannie to find her Prince Charming, as her father was strict and wouldn't allow Nannie and her sisters to interact with boys. Wearing dresses and makeup was also prohibited, as was attending social gatherings.

When Nannie Doss was 16 years old, she started working at the Linen Thread Company. There, she met Charles Braggs, whom she married and moved in with only a few months after their meeting. Perhaps what pushed Nannie to marry early was to escape the toxic environment in her home. The couple, however, lived with Charles' mother, who was as overbearing as Nannie's father, according to Thought Co.

The couple had four daughters together, and Nannie found herself in an unhappy marriage. Both Charles and Nannie drank and had affairs. The marriage was also affected by the death of their two middle children, who died of what was then reported as food poisoning, as reported by Alabama Heritage. The couple went their separate ways soon after the children's deaths. Later on, it was found out that Nannie poisoned the children.

The black widow

After the divorce, Nannie took to the "lonely hearts" column that she loved reading as a child to find her next husband. This would be Nannie Doss' MO. She would look for men seeking romance in the column, hoping for a good man to care for her. However, she wasn't so lucky in love, and the men she would meet showed their true colors after marrying Nannie. She would then poison them slowly to prevent suspicion.

All in all, Nannie would have five husbands, and most would turn out to be drunks or adulterers. Nannie's fifth husband, Samuel Doss, was not like the others, however. He wasn't a drunk and didn't have affairs, and as a minister, he was dedicated to the church. However, Nannie wasn't satisfied, as Samuel was extremely frugal and didn't give her enough to spend (via All That's Interesting). And so, he would also end up dead.

Nannie Doss was responsible for murdering four of her five husbands and some of her family members, all of whom she killed through arsenic poisoning, as reported by Murderpedia. This made her one of the most notorious female serial killers. She entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to life in prison. Nannie Doss died of leukemia at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1965.