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Dovie Blanche DEAN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Poisoner
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 22, 1952
Date of arrest: September 12, 1952
Date of birth: February 25, 1898
Victim profile: Hawkins Dean, 69 (her newlywed farmer husband)
Method of murder: Poisoning (arsenic)
Location: Clermont County, Ohio, USA
Status: Executed by electrocution on January 15, 1954

Dovie Blanche Dean - a 55-year-old Clermont County mother of six and a grandmother - was executed Jan. 15, 1954.

She was convicted of putting arsenic-laced rat poison in the milk of her newlywed farmer husband, 69-year-old Hawkins Dean.

The couple married April 13, 1952, one day after she was divorced from her former husband who was in jail. Dean died four months later, on Aug. 22, 1952.


Blanche "Dovie" Dean finally confessed to poisoning her 69-year-old husband, Hawkins Dean, by putting rat poison in his milk. She tried to frame her son by a previous marriage but eventually confessed when the sheriff commented that "any woman who could accuse her son of such a crime could easily have done it herself." She said the killing took place after several violent arguments when she found her new husband (her third) could not "perform his husbandly duties." Dovie said: "He wanted a housekeeper and I wanted a home."

Dovie's last meal consisted of roast chicken, potatoes, asparagus, green salad with French dressing, coconut cream pie, angel food cake, and coffee.

Dovie Dean, age 55, went to Ohio's electric chair on January 15, 1954, at 8:00 p.m. wearing a "simple green dress buttoned down the front, white anklets and brown shoes." She was pronounced dead 7 minutes later. According to those who had witnessed executions before, "they had never seen a condemned prisoner meet final fate more placidly."


The Woman Who Couldn’t Cry

Dovie Dean sat quietly in the room, sipping coffee. Hands clasped on her lap, she declined a plate of cookies passed to her by her guest, the Rev. C.W. Wilsher.

“I’ll eat a couple later,” she said, a little smile on her lips.

The relaxed attitude of the 55-year-old grandmother from Batavia, Ohio, only contributed to the surreal atmosphere in the death house at the old Ohio State Prison in Columbus (now the parking lot outside the arena where the Blue Jackets play). After all, this wasn’t a tea party or a pleasant afternoon visit from the local pastor; Dovie was waiting to take the short walk to the electric chair as punishment for killing her husband with rat poison.

Dovie became a 9-day wonder when she was arrested in 1952 after her husband of five months, Hawkins Dean, died from ingesting arsenic.

“I got him before he got me,” Dovie told Clermont County Sheriff Clyde B. Dericks. “He threatened to take both his life and mine.”

Dovie added that Hawkins, who had been married three times before, “could not perform his husbandly duties.”

Prosecutors had a more simplistic view of Hawkins’s death.

“Dean signed his death warrant when he named her in his will,” Prosecutor Ray Bradford told the jury.

A 69-year-old farmer, Hawkins changed his will shortly after he married Dovie, making her the sole beneficiary of his $27,000 estate.

During August 1952, Dovie gave Hawkins arsenic on four occasions, dumping the powder in his milk. Once, when Hawkins came down with severe stomach pains, she called the ambulance that took him to the hospital. This, she claimed, showed that she did not kill her husband.

She admitted giving him some powder, but said it was at his request for a headache.

By August 22, 1952, Hawkins was dead. An autopsy revealed the obvious signs of arsenic poisoning (bright red organs) and Dovie was brought in for questioning.

She initially blamed the murder on her son.

The young man “became hysterical when told his mother had accused him of the crime,” Dericks told the press. Her interrogators, convinced of her son’s innocence, pressed her for information and she admitted she killed her husband.“If a mother can make such a charge against her son, wouldn’t she be capable of killing?” Dericks asked her. “Don’t you want to change your story?”

“And take the blame myself?” Dovie asked. A few moments later she spoke again.

“Yes, I want to change my story,” she said, matter-of-factly. “I did it.”

She told police that Hawkins could not satisfy her and that led to several arguments. Eventually he threatened to kill her, she said.

“I got him before he got me,” she told them.

“He wanted a housekeeper,” she said. “I wanted a home.”

Dovie was interviewed by a University of Cincinnati psychiatrist who found her sane, but with a flattened affect.

“I examined her after her arrest,” said Dr. Robert Buckley. “I found she is not insane. She was sad and melancholy, and on the verge of tears several times, but the tears would not come.”

During her brief trial, Dovie sat stony still and obdurate, telling friends that “I cannot cry.”

Her only argument in defense was that she confessed to shield her son from an earlier marriage who actually committed the crime.

The jury took just 40 minutes to convict her without a recommendation for mercy.

Her emotionless exterior nearly broke when the verdict came, and she tensed briefly before leaning back in her chair. When she was escorted from the courtroom, her icy demeanor contrasted with the cries of anguish from her family.

Under Ohio law at the time, the judge was required to sentence her to death.

Dovie became the second woman to be sentenced to die in the electric chair; the first was Anna Marie Hahn, another poisoner.

Hahn died screaming in terror, pleading for her life. Dovie Dean was an ice queen to the end.

Before moving to the Ohio State Pentitentiary from Marysville Reformatory, she managed to gain 30 pounds and kept a pet parakeet she named “Charlie.”

On January 15, 1954, she sat with her spiritual advisor in the anteroom outside the death chamber, drinking coffee and taking a pass on the cookies. Shortly before it came time to move into the execution room, the top of her head was shaved to allow for better contact with the electrode, and as a last request she asked that someone sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Oddly, perhaps because none of the persons present was confident in his singing voice, her request was denied. The Rev. C.W. Wilsher read the hymn to her.

Dovie sat down in the electric chair, her chapped red hands gripped the armrest tightly and she made her final statement.

“When I got on the witness stands they made light of me because I couldn’t cry,” she said. “Years ago, I couldn’t have faced all of those people, but I asked God to help me. I had grief inside like knives.”

Precisely at 8 p.m., the warden ordered that the switch be pulled. More than 1,900 volts coursed through her body and at 8:07 p.m., Dovie Dean was dead.






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