Cover image for Poison widows : a true story of witchcraft, arsenic, and murder
Poison widows : a true story of witchcraft, arsenic, and murder
Cooper, George, 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 287 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HV6534.P5 C66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Lackawanna Library HV6534.P5 C66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A true story of disgruntled wives, old world witchcraft, and murder as revealed in the trials of the infamous "Poison Widows" in Philadelphia in 1939. of photos.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Former Columbia law professor Cooper (Lost Love: A True Story of Passion, Murder and Justice in Old New York, LJ 8/93) re-creates a sensational but forgotten crime of the 1930s. Working from newspapers, archival records, and interviews, he reconstructs the story of three men in Philadelphia who convinced Italian immigrant wives to solve their domestic problems in drastic fashion. After taking out life insurance policies on their husbands, the women were provided with a special "white powder." The mystery powder turned out to be arsenic or antimony, and the ringleaders, two cousins named Herman and Paul Petrillo and their partner Morris Bolber (a.k.a. Louie the Rabbi), received a healthy cut of the insurance. Cooper focuses on the two attorneys who rose to fame during the trials: Vincent McDevitt, an up-and-coming assistant district attorney, and Raymond Pace Alexander, the first black lawyer to defend a white client successfully. Their stories are as remarkable as the crime itself. Recommended for large true crime collections. [Cooper is the husband of novelist Judy Blume.ÄEd.]ÄMichael Sawyer, Northwestern Regional Lib., Elkin, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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