Women of the Electric Chair

Maria Barbella

Maria Barbella was the first woman sentenced to death by electric chair, but she was released on appeal. She was convicted of killing her lover in 1895, but the ruling was overturned in 1896 and she was set free.

Apparently, she wanted her lover to marry her so that she could save face for having a relationship and sexual relations with a man who was not her husband. While it became apparent that he was not going to marry her, she took his life.

Martha Place

The first woman executed in the chair was Martha M. Place, who died at Sing Sing Prison on March 20, 1899. Place was 44 years old when she was put to death for the murder of her stepdaughter Ida Place (who was 17 years old at the time). It was said that she was jealous of her husband’s child from a previous relationship. In an attempt to kill her husband with an axe, he fled the home only to come back with authorities to find that she had killed his daughter.

Anna Marie Hahn

Anna Marie Hahn was born in Germany, but was allegedly sent to America when her family wished to save face following a scandalous affair she supposedly had with a Viennese doctor. Anna was sent to live with relatives in Cincinnati in 1929 where she met a German immigrant named Philip Hahn. They married in 1930. Anna returned to Germany to reclaim a son that she had left in the care of her parents, and brought him to America to live with her new husband.

Hahn allegedly started poisoning and robbing elderly men and women that lived in Cincinnati’s German community as a way to fuel her gambling addiction. Her first victim is believed to have been Ernst Kohler, who died on May 6, 1933. It was Hahn who had become his friend shortly before he died. Kohler left his house to Anna in his will.

It is believed that she next killed Albert Parker, a 72-year-old man who died shortly after she started to take care of him. Before his death, he had signed an IOU for $1000 that she had borrowed from him, but after his death, this document seemed to have vanished.  Next, Jacob Wagner 78, died on June 3, 1937, but not before leaving $17,000 in cash to Anna, who he supposedly called his “beloved niece.” The next man in her care was 67-year-old George Gsellman, who lived in Cincinnati. She was given $15,000 for her services before he died on July 6, 1937. The last man to die in association with Anna was Georg Obendoerfer, who passed away on August 1, 1937, after he traveled to Colorado with Anna and her son.

Testimony stated that Obendoerfer started to get sick on the train during their travel before he died. However, an autopsy revealed that a high level of arsenic was in his system. This piqued the interest of the authorities, who ordered the exhumation of two of her previous clients. Tests showed that they too were poisoned. Anna was convicted of murder following a sensational trial that lasted four weeks. She was given a sentence of the electric chair. She became the first woman to ever to be executed in Ohio, taking her last breath on December 7, 1938.