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America's First Female Serial Killer Lived in This SC Town

According to legend, Lavinia Fisher was America's first female serial killer. Although, it's been debated, what we do know is that she and her husband, John Fisher, owned an Inn in Charleston, SC, where she would allegedly poison her victims with a cup of oleander tea she sent to bed with them.

The Six Mile Wayfarer House in Charleston, SC was not the place to be if you were a seemingly well-to-do man in the early 1800's. If you had money or even the appearance of money, you could enter the Inn, but you would never leave, according to local legend. Located six miles from Charleston, hence the name, the Inn was a hideout for local criminals. In fact, Lavinia Fisher was a member of a large gang of highwaymen that operated out of the Six Mile House and the Five Mile House.

Lavinia was described as beautiful, charismatic, and charming. Hey...just like most psychopaths.

John and Lavinia were so popular with the locals that when men disappeared and the sheriff came to investigate, nothing would ever come of the complaints. Sounds like a lot of small towns across S.C. - you have popular people who are "pillars" of the community, so towns turn a blind eye to misdeeds or even take up for those who commit atrocities.

The Legends:

It's been said that Lavinia Fisher would find lone travelers and determine if they had money. If they did, she would send them up to their room with a cup of poisoned tea, then her husband would beat them almost to death.

Another version was just wild. Fisher would send them up to bed with a cup of poisoned tea that would put them to sleep. Then their bed would drop the victim into a pit with spikes after she pulled a lever. Legend says that the police found mazes, hidden hallways, and piles of bodies under the inn when they dug it up.

And yet another version claims that a vigilante gang went to the Inn to mete out justice to the other gang that included the Fishers. This gang left a man behind to stand watch, and he was allegedly found and drug before the Fishers and gang where Lavinia strangled him and bashed his head through a window. David Ross, the young man, eventually escaped to Charleston and was able to alert authorities.

Subsequent to this, a traveler by the name of John Peeples stopped to get a room. Lavinia told him there were no vacancies, gave him a cup of her special tea, and proceeded to interrogate him. Fortunately for Peeples, he didn't like tea, and when she wasn't looking, he threw it out. Fisher then said she did have vacancies, so he was led up to his room. Feeling strange about her behavior, Peeple decided to sleep in the chair rather than the bed, and when she pulled the lever, he saw their scam for what it was. He was also able to escape and alert the authorities by jumping out the window and riding to Charleston.

At this point, authorities knew who and what they were dealing with. Deputies were sent out and the Fishers along with two other gang members were found. Wanting to protect his wife from gunfire, John Fisher surrendered the group, and they were all taken to jail. John later gave up the rest of the gang to once again protect Lavinia.

A jury of their peers found the pair guilty of highway robbery, which was a capital offense, but the judge entertained an appeal and reprieve until January. The Fishers attempted to escape from jail, but only John was able to get out. Instead of continuing, he did not want to leave his wife, so he was taken back to jail and they were held with heightened security.

On February 4, 1820, they learned their appeal was denied. They were sentenced to hang on the gallows in front of the Old City Jail.

Written By: Jennifer


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