|Blanche Taylor Moore|
|Birth name:||Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore|
|Born:||February 17, 1933
Concord, North Carolina
|Number of victims:||2 confirmed|
|Span of killings:||1968–1989|
|Date apprehended:||July 18, 1989|
Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore (born 1933) is a convicted murderer and probable serial killer from Alamance County, North Carolina. She was convicted of killing her boyfriend by slipping arsenic into his food, and is suspected of killing three other people and nearly killing another in the same manner.
She was born Blanche Kiser to P.D. Kiser, an ordained Baptist minister and alcoholic, who later forced her into prostitution to pay gambling debts. At least in part due to this, she was known to switch from quoting Scripture to sexually explicit topics in the same breath. In 1952, she married James N. Taylor; she bore him two children, one in 1953 and another in 1959.
In 1954, she began working at Kroger as a cashier. By 1959, she'd been promoted to head cashier (roughly the equivalent of a customer service manager today), the highest job available to a female employee at Kroger at the time.
In 1962, she began an affair with Raymond Reid, the manager of the store where she worked. After her husband's death in 1971, the two began dating publicly. By 1985, however, the relationship had soured. There are indications that she began to date Kevin Denton, the regional manager for the Triad area; however, that relationship ended, and Moore filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Denton and Kroger in 1985. Denton was forced to resign, and Kroger settled the case out of court two years later for $275,000.
In 1985, Moore also accused an unknown "pervert" of starting two fires that damaged her mobile home. On Easter Sunday, she met Rev. Dwight Moore, the new pastor of the Carolina United Church of Christ in rural Alamance County, who was divorced, and they began meeting for meals. At the time, Moore was still dating Raymond Reid.
In 1986, Reid developed what was initially diagnosed as a case of shingles. He was hospitalized in April of that year, but by October, he had developed what doctors believed was a severe case of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Reid died on October 7, 1986.
Blanche and Dwight Moore began seeing each other publicly shortly after Reid's death. They planned to marry, but in 1987, Blanche Moore developed breast cancer. The wedding date was pushed back to November 1988, but Moore developed a mysterious intestinal ailment that required two surgeries to correct. In April 1989, the couple married and honeymooned in New Jersey. Returning home on April 26, 1989, Dwight collapsed after eating a pastry. After two days of suffering, he was admitted to Alamance County Hospital on April 28. For the next two days, Moore was transferred between that hospital and North Carolina Baptist Hospital.
Finally, he was admitted to North Carolina Memorial Hospital, and doctors there ordered a toxicology screen after Blanche told them he'd been working in the yard after getting back from their trip. On May 13, the results came back and showed that Dwight Moore had 20 times the lethal dose of arsenic in his system--at the time, the most arsenic found in a living patient in the hospital's history. However, Dwight Moore had a particularly robust constitution, and survived. He has never been able to regain full sensation in his hands and feet.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was notified, and exhumations occurred on Moore's ex-husband, boyfriend, father, and mother-in-law. Subsequent autopsies showed elevated levels of arsenic in all of the bodies. It also emerged that doctors at Baptist Hospital had ordered a toxicology screen for Raymond Reid. The results showed a massive amount of arsenic in his system. However, on the day the test came back, the resident responsible for caring for Reid rotated to another hospital, and the new resident never passed the results up the chain of command. As a result, Reid received the final, fatal doses of arsenic in his hospital bed.
The SBI got suspicious of Blanche Moore when they found out she'd tried to get Dwight Moore's pension changed so she would be the principal beneficiary. They also knew she'd lied about how much money she'd gotten from Raymond Reid's estate. During interviews, Blanche mentioned that both Dwight Moore and Raymond Reid felt depressed and had probably been taking arsenic--something that the SBI found highly improbable. Additionally, it emerged Blanche had still been sleeping with Reid around the same time she began dating Dwight Moore. On July 18, 1989, she was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Raymond Reid. Prosecutors opted to charge her with killing Reid rather than trying to kill Dwight Moore because they felt they'd be able to show her spooning arsenic-laced pudding to Reid. In Dwight Moore's case, doctors had recognized the signs of arsenic poisoning early on, making it more difficult to find out who was poisoning him.
The trial opened in Winston-Salem on October 21, 1990. Blanche adamantly denied ever giving Reid any food. However, the state introduced 53 witnesses who testified about her daily trips to the hospital, bearing food. The state had an easier time than expected in making such a complex case because Reid's ex-wife and sons sued Baptist Hospital for malpractice. They were able to get the normal statute of limitations for wrongful death thrown out because they were able to prove that Blanche, as executor of Raymond Reid's estate, should have been the person to find out about the toxicology screen. The Reid family argued that Blanche fraudulently prevented them from finding out about the test.
Under the terms of a deal between the Forsyth County district attorney's office and the Reid family's lawyers, most of the evidence against Blanche was gathered by the Reid family's lawyers. Although the courts have interpreted the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination very broadly for criminal cases, such protections usually don't apply in civil cases. Civil law also allows much more latitude for searches and subpoenas.
She was convicted on November 14. On November 17, the jury recommended the death penalty. On January 18, 1991, the presiding judge concurred with the jury and sentenced Moore to die by lethal injection. She currently resides at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. She is prisoner # 0288088.
Because of the automatic appeals in progress, Moore has been able to stave off execution for almost 20 years. She maintains her innocence to this day.
During the investigation that led to Moore's conviction, exhumations were also performed on several other people. Subsequent examinations showed that her father, P. D. Kiser, and her first husband, James N. Taylor, had both died of arsenic poisoning. There are other speculated victims, including several close friends and relatives who died mysteriously showing some signs of arsenic poisoning, but none of them have been exhumed for further evaluation. Other possible victims include her mother-in-law Isla Taylor.
Moore has been charged for the murders of James and Isla Taylor, as well as the attempted murder of Dwight Moore. However, authorities have decided not to try her because they felt it wasn't worth the effort to win more verdicts against someone already sentenced to death. They also opted not to charge her with the death of P. D. Kiser because the manner in which he treated Blanche as a girl might have made her seem like a sympathetic figure. Charges are pending in the deaths of several other speculated victims.
In 1993, author Jim Schutze wrote a book about the murders, entitled Preacher's Girl. Schutze found evidence that seemed to indicate that Moore set up Denton in the sexual harassment suit, and may have intentionally set the two fires. Later that year, Elizabeth Montgomery starred as Moore in the made-for-TV movie based on the book entitled The Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story.
Bold indicates a victim who died.