Episode 16: The Redheaded Hellcat Who Wasn’t: Rhonda Belle Martin


Beneath the soft green grass of the Last Supper cemetery, most regular, God-fearing residents of Mobile, Alabama had one family member resting. Maybe two. Rhonda Belle Martin had eight.

This is the story of a woman who the tabloids labeled a “redheaded hellcat,” whose urge to kill swept over her one day when her little daughter asked for a drink of water, and who was never able to explain why she gave her poisoned milk, instead.


All coverage of Rhonda Belle Martin’s case (sometimes spelled “Rhonda Bell Martin”) from The Montgomery Adviser, March 1956-Oct 1957

“Check on ‘Other Husbands’ of Suspected Ala. Murderer,” The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana), 11 Mar 1956

“Open Graves For Clue To Six Deaths,” Nevada State Journal, 13 Mar 1956

“Redheaded Hellcat Admits Killing Six Kin With Arsenic,” Daily News, 14 Mar 1956

“Kin Claim Poisoner Kept Young Husband ‘Prisoner in Drink,’” Alabama Journal, 15 Mar 1956

“Poison Guard Urged on MDs,” Alabama Journal, 21 Apr 1956

“Early Trial Set for Mrs. Martin,” Alabama Journal, 19 May 1956

“Verdict of Death Rendered by Jury For Mrs. Martin,” Alabama Journal, 5 Jun 1956

“Mrs. Martin Sentenced To Die July 13 For Poison Murder,” Alabama Journal, 6 Jun 1956

Executed Women of 20th and 21st Centuries, by L. Kay Gillespie


“Guilty,” by Ruth Etting, via archive.org

“Gymnopédue no. 3” by Erik Satie, via musopen.org. (Musopen requires all users who upload music to the site to represent that the uploaded musical composition and/or the sound recording is in the public domain.)

Tori Telfer