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Saturday, December 14, 2013
 
 
 
 
The story of Lavinia Fisher has been made into legend since her execution in Charleston, South Carolina in 1820. Lavina is known as America's first female serial killer.

The story told for the last 120 relates like this. John and Lavinia Fisher owned a simple hotel or inn, The Six Mile Wayfarer House, on an almost deserted road outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The building was well kept and was a good stop for the out of the way but often traveled highway , but it was rumored that sometimes guests checked in and did not check out. One night a fur trader named John Peoples stopped at the inn and was warmly greeted by the Fishers. The beautiful Lavinia Fisher was overly friendly and perhaps flirtatious. Peoples thought the Fishers were being a little too odd and, suspicious of their intentions, he went turned in early.


People's suspicions grew and he could not sleep. He decided not to lie in the bed but to sit in the corner facing the door so he could see if anyone came in to rob him. His suspicions were confirmed when a trapdoor sprung, dropping the bed into the cellar where John Fisher was waiting with an axe. Peoples escaped and hurried back to Charleston to tell the sheriff. John and Lavinia were arrested and their property searched. The human remains were found, including many bodies in a lime pit in the cellar under the trap door. The Fishers were convicted of murder and sentenced to hang.

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On February 4, 1820 they were taken to a gallows erected on Meeting Street just outside the city limits of Charleston.  It was a public execution and everyone, including the fine ladies of Charleston, came out to see Lavinia Fisher hang.

John mounted the gallows peacefully but Lavinia had to be physically dragged to the platform where she beseeched the crowd to help her. According to one historian:

"She stamped in rage and swore with all the vehemence of her amazing vocabulary, calling down damnation on a governor who would let a woman swing. The crowd stood shocked into silence, while she cut short one curse with another and ended with a volley of shrieks." When Lavinia was quiet Reverend Furman read a letter from John Fisher in which he thanked the reverend for "explaining the mysteries of our Holy Religion." John then told the crowd he was innocent and blamed Colonel Cleary for coaching the witness who accused him.
Lavinia Fisher went to the gallows  wearing her wedding dress. John Fisher pinned all the blame on his wife, but he was hanged along with her. Lavinia's ghost is said to now haunt the Old Jail on Magazine Street in Charleston as well as the Unitarian Cemetary


The legend of Lavinia Fisher had probably already started but her (true) last words to the crowd at her hanging guaranteed her immortality:

"If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me—I'll carry it."

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