Judias Buenoano was born in Texas
, the daughter of an itinerant farm worker. Her mother died when she was only two, and she and a younger sibling were sent to live with their grandparents. Sometime after she returned to live with her father, now residing in Roswell, New Mexico
with his new wife. Buenoano's life with her father and stepmother was extremely unhappy, as she was physically and economically abused. At the age of fifteen she lashed out, scalding two stepbrothers and attacking her father and stepmother. She was sent to jail, where she spent sixty days before being sent to a reform school at her own request. She remained there for a year before returning to Roswell, where she worked as a nurse's aide. In 1961 she gave birth to an illegitimate son, and the following year married an Air Force
officer who adopted the boy. They had another son in 1966, and a daughter the following year. The family moved to Florida
, where Buenoano opened a child care centre while her husband was stationed in Vietnam
Only a few months after her husband's return he fell ill of a then-unidentified affliction, succumbing in mid September of 1971. Buenoano waited only a few days before cashing the three life insurance policies she had on him. Soon after her house burned down, netting another large insurance payout, and she moved to Pensacola. There she met another man with whom she became romantically involved. Around this time her eldest son began to cause problems for Buenoano, and she eventually had him psychologically evaluated and placed in foster care. In 1977 her house in Pensacola burned down, and, after collecting the insurance money and her son from foster care, she moved the family to Colorado
to be with her current lover. In early January of 1978 her lover fell ill, but the cause of the illness was unknown, and he recovered sufficiently in the hospital to be sent back home. He collapsed two days after returning home, and died five days later in hospital. In June of 1978 she returned the family to Florida. In 1979 her eldest son joined the army
, and began displaying symptoms of poisoning, including paraplegia. He was quickly invalided from the army, and returned home to his mother, now reliant on leg braces and a prosthetic device on one arm. In May of 1980 he went to a lake with his mother and a younger brother. Buenoano rented a canoe and took the children out into the middle of the lake, where the boat tipped. Buenoano and the younger boy made it to shore, but the eldest son drowned, weighed down by the braces and prosthetics. She collected several insurance policies on her son, and though insuring agencies and police became suspicious of her, she was able to collect a great deal of money. Around this time she opened a beauty parlour and became involved with a wealthy man. In October of 1982 she took out a large insurance policy on the man, and by December of that year he began to experience dizziness and vomiting as the result of vitamins she was giving him. Though he noticed the relationship between the vitamins and the sickness, he did not leave Buenoano. In June of 1983 Buenoano planted a car bomb in his car, which went off when he attempted to start the car. He barely survived the attack, which finally drew police attention to Buenoano.
Her lies began to quickly unravel, and in late July she was arrested. Evidence was found throughout her house and her past, and she was charged with the first degree murder of her son in January of 1984. Her two other victims were exhumed soon after, both found to have arsenic in their systems. Her trial for the murder of her son began in late March of 1984, and was convicted nine days later, receiving a life sentence. At this time she was also convicted for her insurance frauds. In October she went to trial for the attempted murder of her final boyfriend, for which she was convicted after a three-day trial and sentenced to twelve years, served consecutively. Her final trial began in the October of 1985, for the murder of her first husband. The trial lasted a week, after which she was convicted, and in November she was sentenced to death. She was held on death row for several years, before exhausting her appeals. She was executed in the electric chair on March 30th, 1998, the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848, the third to be executed in the States since 1976, and the first to be executed by electric chair since 1957. She was 54.
In Other Media
Buenoano appeared in the Discovery Channel's television series Deadly Women
, in the episode "Dark Secrets"