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.




William Dale ARCHERD





Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Poisoner - "Bluebeard"
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: 1947 - 1966
Date of arrest: July 27, 1967
Date of birth: 1912
Victims profile: Women (three wives)
Method of murder: Poisoning (insulin)
Location: California/Nevada, USA
Status: Sentenced to death, 1968. Commuted to life, 1972. Died in prison, 1977

Born in 1912, William Archerd cherished a lifelong fascination with medicine. Lacking the cash and self-discipline required for medical school, he sought work as a hospital attendant, learning what he could of drugs and their effects through practical experience.

During 1940 and '41, Archerd worked at Camarillo State Hospital, in California, serving in departments where insulin shock therapy was used to treat mental illness. In 1950, he pled guilty to illegal possession of morphine in San Francisco, receiving five years probation. A second offense revoked his probation, and Archerd was confined to the minimum-security prison at Chino; escaping in 1951, he was swiftly recaptured and transferred to San Quentin. By October 1953, he was free on parole.

Archerd's "bad luck" extended into other aspects of his life. Married seven times in fifteen years, he lost three wives to mysterious bouts of illness between 1956 and 1966. If that were not enough, his friends and other relatives were also dying.

On July 27, 1967, Archerd was arrested in Los Angeles, charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

The victims included: his fourth wife, Zella, who collapsed two months after their marriage, on July 25, 1956; a teenage nephew, Burney Archerd, dead at Long Beach on September 2, 1961; and wife number seven, authoress Mary Brinker Arden, who died on November 3, 1966. As charged in the indictment, Archerd was suspected of injecting each victim with an overdose of insulin, thereby producing lethal attacks of hypoglycemia.

At least three other victims were suspected in the murder series. Archerd's first known victim, according to police, was a friend named William Jones, who died in Fontana, California, on October 12, 1947. Archerd's fifth wife, Juanita, had also displayed classic symptoms of hypoglycemia at her death, in a Las Vegas hospital, on March 13, 1958. Another of Archerd's friends, Frank Stewart, died in the same hospital two years later, on March 17, 1960.

On March 6, 1968, William Archerd was convicted on three counts of murder, the first American defendant convicted of using insulin as a murder weapon. His death sentence was affirmed by California's Supreme Court in December 1970.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


One Coincidence Too Many

Friday, Aug. 11, 1967

With his china-blue eyes, wavy white hair and deferential manner, William Dale Archerd, 55, is the very antithesis of a Bluebeard.

If the Los Angeles County district attorney's office is right however, the sometime hearing-aid salesman's penchant for marriage was matched only by his preference for murder.

Last week he was in jail facing charges that he killed his nephew and two of his seven wives; the investigation also implicated him in the deaths of a third wife and two male friends. The suspected weapon: insulin.*

The list of Archerd's wives, relatives and acquaintances who have died after manifesting symptoms of insulin poisoning is indeed striking.

The first was William Jones Jr., 34, in 1947, who died the day after Archerd paid a visit to his hospital sickbed. The motive, if any, is unknown.

The second-and certainly the weirdest case-was that of bride No. 4, Zella, 48, who died in 1956. Two months after their marriage, Archerd told police in the Los Angeles suburb of Covina, two burglars entered their house. With guns in one hand, hypodermic needles in the other, said Archerd, they injected both himself and Zella with a drug, then made off with $500 in cash, overlooking jewelry and other valuables. Archerd was unaffected by the unsought medication, but his wife went from convulsions into a coma and died. If they found anything odd in such a story, Covina police found no cause for arrest. Kindly Uncle William.

The third unfortunate, in 1958, was Juanita Plum Archerd, wife No. 5. Two days after their marriage in Las Vegas, Juanita was taken to the hospital, suffering from what was described as an overdose of barbiturates. She died the next day of a condition that looked strangely like insulin poisoning. Frank Stewart, 54, was the fourth, in 1960.

Taken to the hospital after apparently faking a fall in an airport rest room to collect on insurance, Stewart was visited by the ever-solicitous Archerd—and died after the usual convulsions that night. Archerd, recipient of the insurance, tried but failed to collect. At about this time, Archerd's brother Everett died at his job, and Archerd and his mother were entrusted with $5,000 for Everett's son, Burney, 15.

In August 1961, Burney was taken to the hospital, where he reported that he had been hit by a car, though an investigation showed no such accident had taken place. Burney nonetheless remained in the hospital, where he was visited by his kindly Uncle William. He died soon thereafter. Symptoms: those of insulin poisoning. Archerd's mother, co-trustee of the $5,000, herself died three weeks later of causes not disclosed by the investigation.

In April 1965, Archerd—calling himself James Lynn Arden—took Bride No. 7 (marriages Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 6 ended in divorce or annulment). His new wife was Mary Brinker Post, 59, a widow with grown children, a successful author of short stories and novels for the women's market (Annie Jordan, Prescription for Marriage), and a public relations woman.

Mary was admitted in a coma to Pomona Valley Community Hospital last November and died next day of hypoglycemia—shortage of blood sugar. Her death was one coincidence too many, and the Los Angeles County sheriff's department finally put eight detectives on the trail of Archerd, who had been convicted of peddling narcotics in the early '50s. More than 25 years ago, it turned out, he had worked as an orderly in the insulin-shock ward of a state mental hospital.

* If Archerd is convicted, he will be only the second known insulin murderer. The first, English Male Nurse Kenneth Barlow, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1957 for the murder of his wife by insulin injection. A natural hormone, insulin helps to control the body's use of sugar for energy. Injected into diabetics, it lowers an abnormally high bloodsugar level. Too great a dosage, however, can bring the sugar content down to the danger point, bringing on convulsions, coma-and death.




MO: "Bluebeard" slayer of wives/others, via insulin injections.

DISPOSITION: Condemned on three counts, 1968; commuted to life, 1972.



home last updates contact