Victorian era murderess. She was born Florence Elizabeth Chandler to a former mayor of Mobile, Alabama. While on a boat trip to England the 19 year old Florence met James Maybrick, a 42 year old cotton broker. They were married in London on July 27, 1881, then settled in Liverpool. The Maybrick household seemed happy on the surface, with them having two children together and attending many social events arm in arm. What the public didn't suspect was that Maybrick had several mistress, one of whom bore him five children. He was also a hypochondriac, regularly administering medicines to himself, including arsenic and strychnine. Florence engaged in several affairs of her own, including a suspected dalliance with her brother-in-law and a local businessman. Upon finding this out Maybrick, enraged, sought a divorce. On May 11 1889 James Maybrick died. He had taken ill on April 27 and never fully recovered. It was found that he had slight traces of arsenic in his system. His brothers, suspicious of his death, and aware of Florence's affairs, pointed the finger at her. After an inquest she was charged with his murder. She was tried and found guilty of his murder, then sentenced to death. After a public outcry the case was reviewed and it was established that although she had administered the poison to him, it could not be determined that it was enough to kill him. Her sentence was commuted to life in prison. During the ensuing years the case remained in the public eye as more information came to light, including Maybrick's abuse of arsenic to feed his addiction. While the case for Florence's innocence seemed stronger no appeal was ever heard. She languished in prison until 1904. She returned to the United States and briefly gave lectures on her imprisonment. She also wrote a book entitled My Fifteen Lost Years. Her whereabouts for many years went unknown, until she showed up in South Kent, where she was able to subsist with the help of a few acquaintances, living in a small shack near the South Kent Boys School, with a large group of cats as her companions. Her mental state deteriorated over the years and she became a notorious recluse. However, no one who knew her was aware of her past. She died in her shack, alone, after a short illness. A footnote to this story occurred over forty years later when her husband, James Maybrick, was suspected of being Jack The Ripper, after a diary supposedly belonging to him came to light. His role as the ripper has never been proven, and in fact has been dismissed by many. Florence continues to be an object of much discussion, however, and the case for her innocence seems to grow stronger with time.
Bio by: Sean McKim