Ellen Boehm's Failed Attempt To Murder Her Daughter Using A Hairdryer

Ellen Booker was only 18 years old when she met Paul Boehm, a married alcoholic many years her senior. Regardless, Ellen and Paul began an affair, marrying and purchasing a home together on Wyoming Street in Saint Louis, Missouri by 1980, according to Soapboxie. However, by the end of 1986, she had become a single mother to three young children.

Ellen had given birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Stacy, in September 1981, and their first son, Steven Michael, in September of 1985. Just one month later, she had become pregnant again with their third child, only to find out that Paul had been having an affair. When she was eight months pregnant, Paul, who was a Vietnam War veteran, told Ellen he had to seek treatment for Agent Orange exposure from a facility in Texas, only to run off with another woman. In July 1986, Ellen gave birth to her third child, David Brian Boehm, but that was not enough to make her husband stick around. Paul moved to Kansas and remarried, leaving Ellen to raise their children alone.

Ellen was a big fan of pro wrestling

However, Ellen did have one love left in her life: professional wrestling. The single mother had been an avid fan of the National Wrestling Association since she was young, and continued to indulge in her interest, purchasing season passes to local matches, according to Sleep, My Child, Forever. She shared her passion for wrestling with a close friend, Deanne, who had also recently divorced her husband. The pair would regularly attend live wrestling matches, sometimes even traveling for hours to attend the events. Ellen would even write letters and fan mail to her favorite professional wrestlers, perhaps even hoping to entice some of them into a romantic relationship. 

Yet Ellen remained single, and to make matters worse, she was struggling with finances. After her husband left, he failed to make consistent child support payments, and Ellen was left in dire financial straits. Ellen began working two jobs, but despite her best efforts, the family was still struggling to make ends meet. The bank foreclosed on her home, and she was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Ellen's youngest son tragically died on Thanksgiving Day

On Thanksgiving Day 1988, Ellen was not exactly in a thankful mood. She and her children had been forced to move into smaller affordable housing at Riverbend Apartments, and she was still facing financial difficulties, despite continuing to spend time and money on her one remaining passion, pro wrestling.

Following the Thanksgiving celebrations, Ellen sent her two oldest children to bed and remained downstairs with David, her youngest. The eldest children were then awakened a few hours later to the sound of ambulance sirens. Ellen had been on the phone with a friend when she suddenly announced that David was turning blue. A call to the ambulance soon followed. When the paramedics arrived, Ellen told them her child had recently been ill with a cold, although a mere cold would not be enough to explain the state of his health. He was put on life support, where he remained for three days, but doctors determined that lack of oxygen had left him brain dead. On November 26, 1988, little David Boehm was taken off of life support and declared dead, with doctors attributing his mysterious death to crib death, per Sleep, My Child, Forever.

Stacy suffered an electic shock in the bathtub

Ellen told her ex-husband that the cause of their youngest son's death was SIDS, although some people had their doubts about David's untimely demise. Ellen's friend, Deanne, found it odd that Ellen had called her almost immediately after her son's death to discuss the possibility of attending yet another upcoming wrestling match, this one at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. Furthermore, Ellen received a $5,000 life insurance payout after David's death; however, the bill for his funeral expenses was never paid (via Soapboxie). Even more strangely, over the next year, Ellen took out six different life insurance policies on her surviving children, totaling $100,000 per child.

Suspicions would be raised even further, when, less than one year later, Ellen's daughter Stacy would also suffer a brutal incident. On September 13, 1989, Stacy was alone in the bath while her mother was working in the kitchen. She was happily playing with her Barbie dolls when, all of a sudden, a painful electric shock coursed through her entire body. This is where stories diverge. Per Soapoxie, when Stacy screamed for help, her younger brother was the first person to arrive in the bathroom. Sadly, little Steven was unable to help his sister, who continued to writhe in pain until her mother finally arrived and unplugged the hair dryer. The Lineup reports that Stacy was able to toss the hairdryer out of the tub herself. Regardless, the real issue was how it got into the tub in the first place. 

Ellen told her children to lie to hospital staff

At first, Ellen planned to take Stacy to see a neighbor paramedic who lived down the hall, according to The Lineup. When he didn't answer his door, she decided to quickly dress her children and take them to the hospital. All the commotion also attracted the attention of another neighbor, who called the police. However, when the patrolman arrived on the scene, he simply directed the family toward the nearby Alexian Brothers Hospital and went on his way.

Rather than consoling her injured daughter, Ellen spent the trip to the hospital feeding her children a cover story to tell the doctor. "She had her Barbie dolls in the tub. And she was playing with them. And as I was putting groceries in the refrigerator, putting some meat away, then I heard a scream. And I ran to them, toward the bathroom, down the hallway, and I saw a cord that was plugged into the outlet ... I yanked the cord up. And, oh, my God, it was a hair dryer. I got Stacy out of the tub. And Steve says, 'I got it just to rinse the Barbie dolls' hair, Mom. And I went in your dresser and got the hair dryer. And I plugged it in. I thought it was to dry their hair. And uh, I accidentally dropped it in the tub,'" she told the doctors and nurses, via The Lineup.

Ellen was convicted for the murder of her two sons

However, poor Stacy knew that wasn't the truth. She knew her brother had not come into the bathroom until after she had felt the pain and screamed for help. But wanting to obey her mother, she repeated the story at the hospital, per The Lineup. Less than two weeks later, Ellen's son Steven would also be tragically murdered by his own mother.

Just 12 days after rushing her daughter to the hospital with electric shock, Ellen took a pillow and covered Steven's mouth with it until he grew unconscious and stopped breathing. Initially, she blamed the little boy's sudden demise on his recent vaccinations, but Deanne, who had been growing increasingly suspicious over the past year, was especially unsettled by Ellen's reaction to Steven's death. She finally called the police to report the strange deaths of two of the three Boehm children. 

In 1991, when confronted by the authorities, Ellen confessed to murdering her two sons and attempting to do the same by throwing a hairdryer into her daughter's bathtub. Although she never gave a reason, most suspect her reasons were financial, motivated by the life insurance policies she had taken out on her children, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Per Sleep, My Child, Forever, in 1993, Ellen Boehm pled guilty to first and second-degree murder. According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, she is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.