Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.










A.K.A.: "The Pittsburgh Poisoner" - "The Pittsburgh Borgia"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Poisoner
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: February 28, 1864 / August 1, 1865
Date of arrest: August 24, 1865
Date of birth: 1815
Victim profile: Jane R. Buchanan / Mary Caroline Caruthers
Method of murder: Poisoning (arsenic and antimony)
Location: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 25, 1865. Executed by hanging on January 19, 1866

Execution of Mrs. Grinder
The New York Times

January 20, 1866 January 21, 1866

January 19, 1866 - 50 year old Martha Grinder "The Pittsburgh Poisoner" was hanged in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the poisoning by arsenic, of Mary Caruthers and Jane Buchanan, crimes to which she confessed. She told the astonished jury at her trial "I loved to see death in all its forms and phases and left no opportunity to gratify my tastes for such sights. Could I have had my own way, probably I should have done more." She went bravely to the gallows set up in the Pittsburgh prison yard and seemed quite serene in the face of death. It is suspected that these two women were not her only victims.


Martha GRINDER Mrs.

Monday, January 22, 1866

The Pittsburgh poisoner, was executed by hanging Friday, January 19, 1866. She confessed to having poisoned Mary Caruthers and Jane R. Buchanan, but denied other cases. A few days ago, a thorough medical test was made of her mental condition and the conclusion was unanimous that she was entirely sane. Her demeanor on the gallows was unexpectedly calm.

Tuesday, January 23, 1866

A most singular coincidence in reference to the case of Mrs. Grinder, who was executed at Pittsburgh on Friday, January 19, 1866, for murder by poisoning, is the fact that one of her victims, Mrs. Caruthers, is the same name of an entire family of Caruthers, including father, mother, sons and daughters, who were poisoned about 15 years ago in Carlisle, Pennsylvania by a young girl named Rachel Clark, a domestic in the house of Mr. Caruthers. If we are not mistaken, two, three or more of the family died. Andrew Caruthers, an eminent lawyer of Carlisle, who had a very large practice and died a few years ago, it may be recollected, was very lame and much deformed, the muscles and (unreadable) of his arms, hands and legs, being contracted and drawn up to a painful degree. This was the result of the poisoning referred to from which he never recovered. It was alleged that jealousy caused the youthful murderess, who was represented as very handsome, to perpetrate the crime.


The Pittsburgh Borgia - Conviction of Martha Grinder

The New York Times

October 31, 1865

From the Pittsburgh Chronicle.

Oct. 28.

The Grinder poisoning case was this morning concluded in the Court of Oyer and Terminer. The first act of the drama is over. Never in our recollection has the trial of any murder case attracted so much attention in this community. During the five days of the hearing of evidence, and addresses of counsel to the jury, the court-room was crowded almost to suffocation by men, women and children, drawn thither by a desire to learn the extent of this most extraordinary woman's atrocities. The evidence was entirely circumstantial, but so complete was every link in the chain of testimony, that when the last witness left the stand, a universal murmur of guilty was heard from every part of the room. The case was most ably conducted both by the Commonwealth and defence, and everything which could be done to insure her a fair and impartial trial was afforded.

Yesterday afternoon, after the charge of Judge Sterbets, the jury retired to their room for consultation as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, and at 5 o'clock had not arrived at any conclusion, when the court adjourned until 9 o'clock this morning. We are informed, by good authority, that on the first ballot the jury stood : For acquittal, six: for conviction, six. No other ballot was has until about 10 o'clock, when the vote was unanimous for conviction, but owing to the adjournment of the court, they wore unable to render it until this morning.

At 9 o'clock this morning the court was opened, and in a few minutes after Mrs. Martha Grinder was brought in and placed in the dock. At 9:25 the jury came in and took their seats in the jury-box.

CLERK HERREON -- Gentlemen of the jury, look upon the prisoner. Have you agreed upon a verdict ?

FOREMAN -- We have. We find the prisoner guilty of murder in the first degree.

[The verdict was now recorded as prescribed by law.]

CLERK HEBRON -- Gentlemen of the Jury, harken unto your verdict as the court hath recorded it. In this issue joined between the Commonwealth and MARTHA GRINDER, you say she is "guilty of murder in the first degree," and so you say all?

JURORS -- We do.

Judge Sterrett then thanked the jury for the manner in which they had performed their arduous duties, and announced to them that they were discharged from further service, and could go to their homes.

Mrs. Grinder, during the impressive and solemn scene, maintained the greatest composure, and when remanded to prison walked out of the court-room with a firm and elastic step, apparently indifferent to everything around her. On entering the prison she was conducted to her cell, when she requested that she might have an interview with her husband. Warden White kindly granted the request, and admitted him to her cell During their interview she became much affected and wept bitterly. Grinder also shed tears, but did not appear to fully realize the awful position in which his wife was placed.

In company with Sheriff Stewart, we visited the cell of this unfortunate woman, shortly after the interview with her husband. She was still weeping, and protested her innocence repeatedly, saying that her neighbors had maliciously persecuted her, and on the trial had sworn falsely. She expressed considerable anxiety as to the fate of her husband, and begged the Sheriff to do all in his power to save his life, adding that he too was innocent of the charge pending against him. In answer to the inquiry "if she desired the services of a minister," she said she did, and designated Rev. McDermott, of the M. E. Church, as the person whom she wished to administer to her spiritual welfare.


Sketch of the Life of Mrs. Grinder Is She a Professional Poisoner?

The New York Times

September 3, 1865

From the Pittsburgh Dispatch, Aug. 30.

Mrs. Martha Grinder, of Allegheny, Penn., Mrs. Caruthers and others by poison, with her husband, became a resident of Pittsburgh about six years ago, and to all appearance they were very poor. The family consisted of the husband and wife and a little female child, probably about a year old.

After a few months, however, she suddenly changed her style of living, removed to a bettor house, had plenty of money, dressed elegantly, and introduced herself into society. Her kindness of heart and remarkable conversational abilities soon rendered her a favorite among the residents of the neighborhood in which she resided, and made her always a welcome visitor.

She also connected herself with the Ames' Methodist Episcopal church, as a member, but after some time lost the confidence of the members of that congregation, and finally withdrew. In the way of explaining her sudden prosperity, she stated that she was a near relative of a wealthy Ex-Governor of Indiana, and that he promised previous to her marriage, that he would settle something handsome on her children, if she should have any, and that, true to his promise, he had settled ten thousand dollars upon the child above alluded to.

Among the deaths of which she is alleged to have been the instrument is that of a girl named Jane R. Buchanan, which occurred on the 28th day of February, 1864. The deceased for four years previous to her death, had resided with the family of Mrs. Kirkpatrick, on Liberty-street, in the capacity of a domestic.

Being very economical in her habits, she had accumulated a considerable stock of clothing, and had, also, some thirty or forty dollars deposited in one of the city banks. On the Wednesday preceding her death she left the employ of Mr. Kirkpatrick, for the purpose of visiting her aunt, then living in Philadelphia, drawing her money from the bank with the intention of defraying the expenses to be thus incurred.

For some reason the visit was postponed, and on Thursday, Feb. 24, she accepted a situation in the family of Mrs. Grinder, who was then residing in Pusey's-court, off Hand-street, near the Allegheny River. On the same night she was taken suddenly ill, with violent vomitings and purging. All the services of her friends were declined. On Saturday night Mr. Grinder called at the house where the trunk of the deceased had been left and requested that it be given to him, as she was uneasy about it.

The trunk was produced, and was removed to the house of Mrs. Grinder. The patient had, in the meantime, continued to sink, although no information to the effect had been sent to her acquaintances, and on Monday morning she died. The intelligence of the death of the girl was then sent to Mrs. B. and others, and created the greatest surprise, the deceased having previously enjoyed the best of health.

Several persons, among others Mr. Roberts, who had been paying addresses to the deceased, called at the house of Mrs. Grinder to assist in preparing for the funeral. On opening the trunks of the deceased, all of money, a set of jewelry, and nearly all of the clothing were found to have been abstracted -- not even sufficient clothing to dress the remains having been left.

Mrs. Grinder, however, supplied the necessary articles for her own wardrobe, and the body was thus prepared for interment. The fact of the deceased being possessed of the money and clothing stated was well known to her immediate acquaintances, and especially to Roberts, he having accompanied her to Mrs. Grinder's house on the evening she accepted the place, and counted it for her. Their sudden disappearance, therefore, aroused suspicion that she had been foully dealt with.

Coroner McClung was accordingly notified and empanneled a jury to inquire into the matter. The investigation failed to throw any light on the affair; and as there was no post-mortem examination held, the jury rendered a verdict of death from natural causes.

We are also informed that Mrs. Hutchinson, wife of M.G.S. Hutchinson, was suddenly taken ill at the house of the accused, where, upon a pressing invitation, she had dined, and that she was confined to her bed for some weeks thereafter. It is also alleged that on the night after the death of Mrs. Caruthers, a supper was prepared by Ms. Grinder for the watchers, and that one or more of the persons who partook of the food became sick, the symptoms being precisely the same as [???] [???] themselves during the illness of Mrs. Caruthers. Several other cases besides those we have given have been mentioned.


Grinder, Martha Grinder

Caruthers, Mary Caroline Caruthers

The Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio, dated, January 31, 1866

In pursuance of the sentence of the law, approved by his Excellency, Governor Andrew G. Curtin, Martha Grinder was executed in the yard of the county prison today for the murder of Mary Caroline Caruthers.

Mrs. Grinder, from facts developed on her trial, and since discovered, was probably the most hellish fiend who ever lived, completely outstripping the Borgia, Brinvilliers or Madam Gottfried in deeds of murder. Her execution is _____ and proper, and we hope it may serve as a warning to all who feel inclined to take the lives of their fellow-beings. The following interesting resume of the case of this unfortunate woman, carefully prepared from official data, will be read with interest:


On Friday morning, August 24, James A. Caruthers appeared before Mayor Lowry and made information charging Mrs. Martha Grinder, with the murder of his wife, Mary Caroline Caruthers, by means of poison. A warrant was issued and placed in the hands of officers Messner and Herron, who preceded to her house in Gray’s Alley, Allegheny City, and after considerable trouble succeeded in securing her arrest, and brought her to the Mayors office, where she was locked up in the tombs for examination. At the time of making the information Mr. Caruthers made the following statement.


In June last I resided in Gray’s Alley, Allegheny City, in an adjoining house to Mrs. Grinder, and my wife’s health up to the 27th day of that month was good—On the evening of the 27th she was invited to take tea with the Grinder family, by Mrs. G. and while at the table eat some peaches and cream. On her return home she was taken suddenly ill, and at nine o’clock was much worse. At twelve she was seized with violent vomiting, purging, nausea at the mouth, and headache. These symptoms continued two hours, rendering her prostrate and weak; she also complained of great thirst. At daylight she requested me to go for Dr. Irish, which I did, and then went to my work. About eleven o’clock I returned home and found my wife still in bed, but somewhat better, gave her some water to quench her thirst, cooked my dinner and returned to the store. In the evening she was worse and she continued bad all night.—Went to the store in the morning and returned at eleven o’clock. My wife complained of being hungry, and requested me to make some rice soup. Went down to the kitchen and kindled a fire, and while so engaged Mrs. Grinder came in and said she had filled the kettle and tried to make a fire, but it would not burn. I made the soup and a pot of tea, and when it was ready my wife came downstairs and partook of the soup quite heartily, after which she returned to her room and I went to the store. About two o’clock Mrs. Grinder came to the store and said my wife was quite sick again. I hurried home and found her affected precisely as she had been in the first attack. Dr. Irish came and said she was poisoned. On Friday morning Mrs. Grinder brought in some coffee, toasted bread and crackers which my wife partook of and was soon after taken with vomiting, spasmodic affection of the throat and burning at the stomach. At noon Mrs. Grinder brought another lot of crackers, coffee and toast, of which my wife eat sparingly, and in twenty minutes after was seized with the old symptoms.

Dr. Irish came soon after and informed us that there was something wrong about the house, and advised us to leave and go to the country. Told my wife not to eat anything more prepared by Mrs. Grinder, she did not do so, and on Saturday afternoon we went to New Castle, Lawrence County, where my wife soon recovered her health. [Mr. Caruthers, after eating of the rice soup, was also affected with symptoms similar to those experienced by his wife, and was in consequence confined to his bed until Saturday morning. He did not eat of any victuals prepared by Mrs. G. however, and escaped further injury.


On the 7th of July I returned to Allegheny City and took boarding with a Mrs. Love, sleeping at home. A few days after heard that Mrs. Grinder’s child was dead, called upon her, and at her request consented to accompany the funeral to Leechburg. Called at the house early next morning, when Mrs. Grinder invited me to partake of some breakfast; drank a cup of coffee, which had a strange metallic taste, and shortly after felt sick. On the way to Allegheny Valley Depot, Mrs. G. remarked that I looked pale and inquired if I was sick. After eating dinner felt better, and on my return to the city in the evening left the funeral party and went to Dr. Irish’s office, where I remained about half an hour and then went to Mrs. Grinder’s house. She requested me to wait a few moments for supper; went into my house, and returned in a short time, and eat quite hearty of the meal. After supper Mrs. Grinder told me if I got sick during the night to let her know. Then returned to my house and sat down to read, and after a while became quite ill and commenced vomiting. Afterward went to my window, put my head out and again vomited. Grinder came to his window and asked if I was sick. Replied in the affirmative, and requested him to go for Dr. Irish, who came and remained with me until twelve o’clock. On the next morning Mrs. Grinder came in and brought me some coffee and a piece of toast, which I drank and eat, and in less than half an hour afterwards was in the same condition as on the previous night. Thought I would die, and sent to New Castle for my wife.


My wife arrived at home on the evening of the same day, July 14, about eight o’clock. The next morning she cooked breakfast, and during the day I felt better. In the evening she prepared some rice for me but had no milk, and Mrs. G. coming in at the time offered to give her some. I eat of the rice and milk, after which my wife went to market. She returned in about an hour, and found me in an insensible condition. Dr. Irish was again sent for, and by pursuing his directions I soon got much better. While my wife was attending to me Mrs. Grinper[sic-Grinder] prepared supper in the kitchen, and when it was ready my wife went down and eat of the food. Shortly after she returned to my room, she became dizzy; said she was sick, had a burning in the stomach, and soon commenced to vomit. From that time until August 1 both Mr. and Mrs. Caruthers were confined to their beds—Mrs. Grinder attending to all their wants unceasingly. Whenever she prepared their food they became worse. If others furnished it no bad effects were felt. On the afternoon of August 1, Mrs. Caruthers, after seventeen days suffering, expired, and was taken to New Castle for interment.


The Mayor, believing that a careful search of her house would reveal some traces of the poisons used by this woman in her hellish murder, dispatched an officer to her residence for that purpose, and after a most rigid examination of the whole building, he succeeded in finding several papers containing a fine white powder, together with a small pitcher filled with milk. These he brought to the Mayor’s office, when they were sent to Prof. Otto Wuth for analysis. That gentleman pronounced the poison to be antimony, and on examination of the milk, found it to be highly impregnated with poison. It was also understood that Mr. G. had purchased large quantities of the poisod [sic-poison] from a well known drug store in Allegheny City, and on investigation the rumor was found to be correct.


On the 30th of August, Coroner Clawson, accompanied by Dr. Geo. L. M. Cook and Mr. Caruthers, husband of the deceased, visited New Castle, and exhumed the remains of Mrs. Caruthers, which were interred in the cemetery at that place. A portion of the remains were brought to the city and placed in the hands of Otto Wuth, for analysis, he having conducted the previous examination. The analysis occupied several days, and on Friday, Sept. 8, the jury, which had been previously impaneled, met at the Mayor’s Office for the purpose of completing their investigations. Professor Wuth testified in relation to the result of the analysis, and stated that he had discovered both arsenic and antimony in the remains. Several other witnesses were examined. The jury, after due deliberation, rendered a verdict to the effect that the deceased, Mary C. Caruthers, came to her death from poison administered by Martha Grinder.


On Monday, Oct. 23, the prisoner was arraigned in the regular form, and in answer to the usual interrogatory, “Guilty or not guilty?” replied in a clear, audiable voice, “Not guilty, as God is my Judge!” The trial was then proceeded with and occupied five days. All the witnesses examined were called by the Commonwealth. The defense offered no testimony. The case was submitted to the jury at about four o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, October 27, and on the morning of the 28th they returned a verdict of “Guilty of murder in the first degree.”


The prisoner remained in jail until the morning of Nov. 25, at which time she was brought into court for sentence. During the interim which occurred, the jail was daily visited by scores of persons seeking an interview with the prisoner. But comparatively few, however, were admitted, the prison rules being rigorous in this particular. On the morning of the 25th the prisoner was brought into court, immediately after Marshall and Frecke had been sentenced. On being placed in the box Judge Sterrett directed her to stand up, and inquired if she had anything to say why the sentence of death should not be pronounced upon her. She replied that she was innocent, and charged Mr. Caruthers with conspiracy against her. She continued speaking in a rambling, almost in coherent manner for some time, and finally sank down on her seat. She was assisted to her feet again, when His Honor pronounced the fearful sentence of the law. She was then remanded to the jail to await the execution of the sentence.


At precisely fifteen minutes past 1 o’clock Sheriff Stewart, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Cluley, proceeded to the cell of the doomed woman, and on entering Mrs. Grinder remarked, “ Are you coming for me? The Sheriff replied, “Yes, Mrs. Grinder.” She calmly arose and said, Jesus Christ is coming for me too.” The Sheriff then pinioned her arms, and the funeral procession moved slowly down stairs, the Sheriff in advance, followed by the condemned, and supported on her right by the Rev. Holmes and on the left by Rev. Sinsabaugh. Following were Dr. A. G. McCandless, Thomas M. Marshall, Esq. and Deputy Sheriff Cluley. The procession then moved slowly to the prison yard and Mrs. Grinder with a firm step, mounted to the platform of the dread instrument of death, and took a seat in the chair on the trap door. After a short prayer by the Rev. Holmes, that gentlemen bid her farewell, when she requested him to stay by her. She then bid farewell to Mr. Sonsebaugh [sic-Sinsabaugh] Mr. Marshall, Dr. McCandless and Deputy Cluley. The Sheriff advanced and requested her to arise, and, binding her clothing about her feet, bid her a final good-by, to which she replied; “I am going to Heaven and hope to meet you there.” He then adjusted the rope, placed the cap in its place, and descending the scaffold, sprung the trigger at twenty minutes past one, the trap fell, and the soul of Mrs. Grinder was launched into eternity.


After the trap fell, the following confession was furnished to the members of the press:

Pittsburgh, Jan. 18, 1866

In view of my departure, in a few hours, from earth, I want to say that I acknowledge my guilt in the case of Mrs. Caruthers, and also in the case of Miss Buchanan. But I am innocent of all charges made against me in the papers for poisoning people.

But bad as I have been, I feel that God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me; and through his mercy I hope to find an entrance into heaven. I die without any hard feelings to any one—forgiving all as I hope to be forgiven.

Mr. Stewart has been very kind to me—doing all in his power to make me comfortable, and I pray that he may be assisted in his duty and be rewarded for his kindness. Mr. White has also been very kind and has treated me with respect always. May God be good to him.

If I had been faithful to my Church duties, it would have been different with me now; but I am thankful that God is so good as to return to me now that I do come back to him. Her

Martha[ X ]Grinder


WITNESSES: C. A. Holmes, H. Sinsabaugh



home last updates contact