There are 16 times more men than women serving life sentences in West Virginia’s prisons.
But that doesn’t mean women aren’t capable of some seriously violent crimes of their own.
Thirty-one women are serving life sentences at the all-female Lakin Correctional Center outside of Point Pleasant.
An upcoming addition to the prison will be Michelle Michael, a former Morgantown nurse. A Kanawha County jury last month convicted Michael of fatally drugging her husband and then burning the couple’s house to cover the crime.
Michael will be formally sentenced next month in Morgantown.
Here’s a look at the ranks that Michael is destined to join:
• A Logan jury last year convicted Alice Adams, 32, along with accomplice Brian Johnson, 21, of killing 48-year-old William Joseph Vinson at his home.
The pair was there to steal Vinson’s Klonopin, an anti-anxiety medication, news reports said. After Vinson was killed, the two wrapped his body in a green sheet and hid it under a pile of tires across from Adams’ home.
Johnson is serving his sentence at Mount Olive Correctional Center.
• Kathy Agent, 51, admitted she hitchhiked a ride from a Pennsylvania man passing through the state to her Oak Hill home on the promise they would have sex.
Scott Phelps, who was hiding at her home because he was charged with two felonies, assigned Agent to bring a man home with her so he could steal his car and flee. Agent and Phelps, 45, attacked and stabbed John Moran as he and Agent were climbing into her bed, news reports said.
Phelps is currently lodged at Mount Olive.
• Patricia Aldridge, 46, was convicted for her part in the death of her husband, veteran WSAZ-TV cameraman Millard Aldridge, whose body was found beaten with a hammer in 1998 in a rural section of Wayne County.
News reports said Patricia and Mitchell Vickers, a former lover, had rekindled their relationship prior to Millard’s murder. Vickers confessed to the crime and said he acted alone and killed Millard because he abused Patricia, an allegation denied by others.
• Rebecca Cline was 26 in 1993 when she and her boyfriend, Jessie Norman, came upon a broken-down car on Corridor G in Boone County. Cline said she and Norman initially stopped to help out Jerry Marcum and Richard Davis. But she said Marcum swore at her.
According to news reports, Cline told deputies that Marcum “called me a stupid bitch because I didn’t know what oil looked like. I said I wasn’t stupid, and he called me a bitch again.”
Cline then pulled out a pink handgun and shot Marcum in the head while he was looking for motor oil in the trunk of his car. Davis also was shot, but survived.
Norman, 33, is serving his sentence at Huttonsville Correctional Center. He’s due for a parole hearing in September.
• Terri Castle, 38, said it was an accident when she was driving a car that ran over and killed Lana Hanson in 2005 in Cabell County.
Castle said Hanson tried to rob her, and she was following Hanson, but didn’t see her step in front of her car, news reports said. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said Castle killed Hanson over a drug debt.
The jury sided with the prosecutors.
• The 1996 case of Marybeth Davis gained national attention. Davis, 54, a former nurse from Lewisburg was convicted of poisoning her two small children -- one fatally with diet pills — to gain sympathy and attention from other people, a condition called Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.
The poisonings occurred in 1981, but a grand jury sitting in Greenbrier County didn’t return indictments until 15 years later.
A&E; Network’s “Investigative Reports with Bill Kurtis” profiled Davis in 1999 while she was the federal women’s prison at Alderson.
• In 1989, Janice Diers told a television station she stabbed to death Parkersburg Sentinel newspaper reporter Betty Samuels, 66, because she was angry Samuels had interfered in a relationship Diers had with Samuels’ son, Hunter.
“I am very sorry for what I did,” Diers said. “I’m the eyes of God, I’m sorry.”
Police said Diers had a key to Samuels’ house and confronted her in an upstairs bedroom, according to news reports. Diers, 61, stabbed Samuels three times.
Her trial was moved to Fairmont because of pre-trial publicity.
• Gianna Hunter-Mathis, 38, said she shot to death Taurus Roberts, a 19-year-old champion high school wrestler from Bristol, Va., in a Princeton parking lot because Roberts accosted her. Hunter-Mathis said Roberts demanded either drugs or money he accused her of taking from him.
Prosecutors said Hunter-Mathis went looking for Roberts with ill intent because he had insulted her, news reports said. She was convicted in 2000.
• Trinity Jewell’s 3-month-old daughter wouldn’t stop crying, so Jewell stuffed the child’s face into a pillow, smothering her.
Jewell, 24, of Ripley pleaded innocent to the charge in 2005. But she admitted that she had previously used the pillow to silence the baby on two occasions. The third proved fatal. A jury sentenced Jewell to life in prison without mercy.
• Shannon Johnson was 17 when she shot to death Ernest Edward Shabdue at a construction site in east Charleston in 1996.
The state charged Johnson as an adult for killing Shabdue with a blast from a sawed-off 16-gauge shotgun. The killing was the climax of the robbery and kidnapping of the Peytona man. Two others were charged for the crime.
Johnson, now 28, said in news reports, “It was stupid. I wasn’t using my head.” She’s due for a parole hearing in 2011.
• Mingo County Circuit Judge Spike Maynard, who now sits on the state Supreme Court, in 1992 sentenced Sharon Justice, 49, to life in prison for her part in the beating death of Leonard Cline, of Mohawk.
Two other men were convicted in connection with Cline’s death, which was the result of a robbery.
• Morgan Linville was just 16 when she and her 20-year-old boyfriend, Paul Greenlief, killed her mother at her Uneeda home in 2001.
Linville, now 23, was sentenced to life with mercy. She’s due for a parole hearing in 2017. Greenlief is due for a parole hearing that same year. He’s in Mount Olive.
Linville and Greenlief beat her mother, Brenda, to death, then put her body in a car and pushed it over an embankment off W.Va. 85, according to news reports.
• Benjamin Murray died in 2004 after he passed out in a hot tub after a night of drug use at a Spencer home, according to news reports.
His girlfriend, Tiffany Keeney, 26, got a life sentence last year for supplying the drugs. She also fell asleep in the hot tub and woke up to find Murray dead.
Cristal Coon, another woman who was at the house on the night of Murray’s death, pleaded guilty to lesser charges, news reports said.
• Nicole Kees, 24, also got a life sentence in connection with a drug overdose death in 2004. Kees supplied the heroin that killed 18-year-old Jashua Frocke in a Martinsburg motel room, according to news reports.
After the verdict in her case was read, Kees became enraged.
“I’m going to spend my life in prison because their son wanted to get high?” she screamed amid members of Frocke’s family.
Then she stormed out of the Berkeley County courtroom and slammed a door so hard it cracked the drywall.
• Michelle McCracken, 36, set a fire at a Marshall County home in 2003 that killed Gene and Ruth Evans, 80 and 70, and the couple’s 7-year-old granddaughter, Briana.
McCracken’s crime was precipitated by jealousy she felt over Greg Evans, the victims’ son and father, news reports said.
Following her 2003 convictions, McCracken unsuccessfully appealed to the state Supreme Court on the grounds that former Marshall Prosecutor Herman Lantz unfairly prejudiced the jury by reciting a child’s bedtime prayer.
• Barbara Jean Milburn, 57, shot her former lesbian lover Judy Jenkins because she was jealous of Jenkins’ relationship with a man.
Milburn, of Charles Town, told police that Jenkins wanted to die because the relationship with the man failed, news reports said.
Jurors didn’t believe it and sentenced her to life in prison in 1996. Milburn also was convicted of arson for setting a barn on fire to throw police off the track.
• Angela Miller, 36, killed the former boyfriend of her lesbian lover in 1993.
Miller and her lover, Tina Reed, were at a Wyoming County bar in 1993 when Miller first met Jerry White, Reed’s former boyfriend. White had apparently threatened to kill Miller during a conversation a year earlier, news reports said.
White got into an argument with Miller’s father in the parking lot of the bar that night. Miller approached and emptied a pistol into White, killing him. She said she didn’t remember firing the gun because she had drunk a lot of beer and taken Valium that night.
• April Miller, 46, of Ravenswood brutally murdered her 74-year-old neighbor after forcing the woman to write her a $5,000 check so Miller’s boyfriend could get his truck fixed.
To throw officers off the trail, Miller stabbed herself and set her own trailer ablaze, news reports said.
She ended up pleading guilty in 2003 to stabbing Ethel Matheny in the throat with scissors and choked her to death with a telephone cord. Miller then set Matheny’s trailer on fire.
• Family members said Tammy L. Moore, 47, was never the same after suffering brain damage in a 1991 car accident.
“She’s not the same person. She’s got a split personality,” said Moore’s mother, Louise Scott.
Medication she was taking because of the accident was blamed on Moore’s shooting her father, Ray Scott, at his grocery store in Monaville in 1994, according to news reports.
In 1995, a jury convicted Moore in the killing and sentenced her to life without parole.
• Eva J. Nicholas, 61, shot to death her live-in boyfriend, Dallas Duncan, during an argument in 1992.
Nicholas used a .25-caliber pistol to kill Duncan on the day she was moving out of his house in the Indore area of Nicholas County, news reports said. Nicholas had apparently bought the weapon six days before.
The argument started over car keys. Nicholas had a prior conviction for second-degree murder from 1982, according to state records.
• Danette Pauley, 31, was riding around and drinking in Boone County with a couple, Leslie and Danny Halley, in 1999.
Danette, who was Danny’s ex-girlfriend, was convicted of strangling him to death with a telephone cord. Initially, both Danette and Leslie admitted to killing Danny, then dumping his body near the Lincoln and Boone county line.
Leslie was acquitted of murder in 2000 after proving she had been passed out and woke up to find that Danette had killed her husband. Leslie said she admitted to the crime because she figured no one would believe she wasn’t involved.
Danette pleaded guilty to the murder.
• In 1993 Clay County officials sentenced Lena Peek, 40, to a year in jail by Clay County officials for selling her 1-month-old son for $1,400 to undercover state troopers. The case garnered national attention.
Nine years later Peek was living on Charleston’s West Side when she stabbed to death Effie McClanahan, a 72-year-old blind woman who lived across the street, according to news reports.
Police said the motive was robbery because Peek got into some financial troubles and had a methamphetamine addiction.
• Demerise Ann Smith, 55, of Fairdale was divorced from her husband, Jackie Smith, in 1988. Jackie was a disabled coal miner who was receiving disability benefits, according to news reports.
Demerise re-married Jackie 20 days before he was drowned in Lake Stephens in Raleigh County in 1989.
A jury in 1991 believed prosecutors who argued that Demerise helped two other men kill Jackie in hopes of cashing in on his benefits. The two other men, Harry Jarrell, Demerise’s brother, and Matt Strogen, also were sent to prison for their roles in the murder.
• Marilyn Thompson, 28, of Boone County was one of three people who robbed 73-year-old Lola Mae Barker at her Madison home in 1999.
Barker, after she realized she’d been robbed, chased the three in her vehicle down an isolated road. One of Thompson’s accomplices, Trisha Justice, fired three shots into Barker’s head, killing her inside her car, reports said.
Justice and Daniel Lee Bias also were sent to prison for their parts. Justice is being held at Anthony Correctional Center because of overcrowding at Lakin.
• In 1994, Lawrence Trail was found shot to death on a Lincoln County farm he owned with his wife, Lillie Trail, 65. Lawrence had been hunting on the farm and was shot four times.
Prosecutors said Lillie, of St. Albans, hired her nephew, Gregory Whittington of Charleston, to kill Lawrence and make it look like a hunting accident. Prosecutors said Lillie did it for life insurance money. A jury believed the state.
• Last year, Angela Wager, 23, of Parkersburg beat Deborah Sue Bennet to death with a crow bar, according to news reports.
Wager’s lawyers asserted a defense that she was mentally unfit and that she heard voices. The lawyers said her condition was aggravated by alcoholism. A Wood County circuit judge granted a psychological evaluation, which apparently resulted in Wager being found competent to stand trial. She was ordered in January to serve a life sentence for the crime.
Wager can be considered for parole in 2021.
• Mary Weekley and Daniel Leasure met John Forrester in a Tyler County bar in 1992. The pair agreed to give Forrester a ride home. Instead, they drove Forrester to a secluded area in Forrester’s Chevrolet Citation, stabbed him to death, and took his money and his car.
Leasure was the one who later directed authorities to Forrester’s body. “Had it not been for his conscience bothering him, we probably wouldn’t have found the guy,” Tyler Prosecutor Dean Rohrig told the Charleston Gazette.
Leasure also was imprisoned for his part in the crime.
• In 1991, Tammy Wilson of Ronceverte and her boss, Lewisburg businessman Tod McQuaid, were drinking at Wilson’s house when she and McQuaid passed out.
Two of Wilson’s co-workers, Harry Johnson and Roger Cline, came into the house and shot McQuaid to death, according to news reports.
Cline was sent to prison for shooting McQuaid. Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Johnson isn’t currently incarcerated in any state prison. Cline is eligible for parole next year.
Though she denied any involvement, Wilson, 46, was convicted of masterminding a plot with the men to kill McQuaid, promising them money and part-ownership in McQuaid’s company, Temac Security Systems.
Her trial had to be moved from Greenbrier County to Monongalia County because of pre-trial publicity.
• Julie Wyatt, 32, of Fairdale faced trial twice for her part in the beating death of a 2-year-old boy.
The state Supreme Court overturned her first conviction in 1995 on the grounds that the jury was given confusing instructions. She was convicted again in 1997.
Prosecutors said Wyatt and her boyfriend, Kevin Browning, beat and shook Browning’s son Derek over several days. The couple failed to get Derek medical attention. The boy fell into a coma and died four days later.
Browning pleaded guilty to lesser charges of child abuse and neglect, according to news reports. Wyatt blamed Browning for the child’s death. Browning blamed Wyatt.
• Kimberly Porter, 26, of Kanawha County is the only woman doing life at Lakin for a kidnapping conviction.
Porter was only 14 when she was charged in 1996 for her part in kidnapping Philip Myles, a paralegal for the state Attorney General, from outside the Tap Room bar on Quarrier Street.
Porter and her two accomplices, Michael Salmons and Matthew Callaghan, both from Boone County, planned to abduct and kill someone who looked like they had a lot of money, according to news reports. The group planned to move to Florida with the money.
After abducting Myles, the trio drove through several states in the south and then decided to turn back. They let Myles go, but warned him against contacting police.
• Further information could not immediately be found on Debbie Mahan, 41. Mahan was sentenced by a Mingo County judge to life in prison in 1999 for first-degree murder. She’s eligible for parole in 2013.
There are 16 times more men than women serving life sentences in West Virginia’s prisons.
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