Judy Buenoano – Women Executed In The US

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Judy Buenoano was the first women executed in Florida since the reestablishment of the death penalty in 1977. Buenoano who is known as the black widow was convicted on two murders and an attempted murder plus suspected of others

Judy would marry James Goodyear in 1971 and later that same year her husband would pass away from what at first was thought of as natural causes but would later it would be ruled that he died from arsenic poisoning. Judy apparently murdered him to get the money from his insurance policy

In 1973 she would move in with Bobby Joe Morris. Bobby Joe Morris would die in 1979

In 1979 Judy’son would become severely ill and the toxicity in his body would make him paralysed. The next year Judy would take her son out in a canoe with his legs unable to work and wearing braces she would roll the canoe and he ended up drowning.

In 1983 Buenoano was dating John Dentry when sometime into their relationship his car blew up due to a bomb. Judy would be looked at by the police who noticed a number of red flags in her history and soon she would be accused of the murder of her son and the attempted murder of John Dentry,

In 1984 Judy would be convicted in her son’s murder and the attempted murder of John Dentry. In 1985 she would be convicted of the murder of James Goodyear and would be sentenced to death

Judy Buenoano would be executed in the electric chair in March 30, 1998

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On August 31, 1984, Judy Buenoano was indicted for first degree murder for the September 16, 1971 death by suspected arsenic poisoning of her husband, Sergeant James E. Goodyear. Evidence at trial revealed that, shortly after Sergeant Goodyear returned to Orlando from a tour of duty in South Vietnam, he began suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

When hospitalized at the naval hospital in Orlando on September 13, 1971, Goodyear reported to Dr. R.C. Auchenbach that he had been ill with these symptoms for two weeks. When Dr. Auchenbach could find no explanation for these symptoms, he attempted to *196 stabilize Goodyear’s condition but these attempts failed. Goodyear suffered fluid overload and pulmonary congestion and died as a consequence of cardiovascular collapse and renal failure.

No toxicological assay was performed at the time of Goodyear’s death because there was no reason to suspect toxic poisoning. However, Dr. Auchenbach testified that, had he known in 1971 arsenic was present in Goodyear’s body, his medical opinion would be that Goodyear could have died as a result of acute arsenic toxication because circulatory collapse and the other symptoms Goodyear exhibited are manifestations of acute arsenic poisoning.

Forensic toxicologist Dr. Lenard Bednarczyk analyzed tissue samples from the exhumed body of Goodyear. He testified that the level of arsenic found in the liver, kidneys, hair and nails of Goodyear indicated chronic exposure to arsenic poison. The opinion of Dr. Bednarczyk and Dr. Thomas Hegert, the Orange County medical examiner who autopsied Goodyear’s remains in 1984, was that Goodyear’s death was the result of chronic arsenic poisoning occurring over a period of time.

In addition to the medical evidence regarding Goodyear’s condition, Debra Sims, who lived with Judy Buenoano and Goodyear shortly before Goodyear’s death, testified that Goodyear became sick gradually and that she witnessed him having hallucinations about a rabbit on his bed as he picked at the bed linens. She also testified that Judy Buenoano hesitated to take Goodyear to the hospital when he became ill.

Two of Judy Buenoano’s acquaintances, Constance Lang and Mary Beverly Owens, both testified that Judy discussed with each of them on separate occasions the subject of killing a person by adding arsenic to his food. Owens and Lodell Morris each testified that Buenoano admitted she killed Goodyear.

Evidence was also presented at trial that Bobby Joe Morris, with whom Judy lived after Goodyear’s death, became ill and died after exhibiting the same symptoms of vomiting, nausea, fever and hallucinating that Goodyear exhibited before his death. When Morris’ remains were exhumed in 1984, the tissue analysis revealed acute arsenic poisoning.

After Morris’ death Judy Buenoano and John Gentry began living together and later became engaged. Gentry testified at trial that Judy Buenoano told him Goodyear died in a plane crash in Vietnam and Morris died of alcoholism. In November of 1982, Gentry caught a cold, and Judy Buenoano began giving him the vitamin C capsule Vicon C to treat it. Because he was experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting, Gentry checked into a hospital on December 15, 1982.

After a full recovery he returned home, and on that same day Buenoano gave him Vicon C capsules again. The nausea and vomiting returned. Gentry had the capsules chemically analyzed, and the capsules were found to contain paraformaldehyde, a class III poison. Testimony at trial was that Judy Buenoano had been telling her associates Gentry was suffering from terminal cancer.

Following Goodyear’s death in 1971, Judy Buenoano collected the benefits from various life insurance policies on her husband’s life totalling approximately $33,000. She also received $62,000 in dependency indemnity compensation from the Veterans Administration. When Bobby Joe Morris died, Buenoano again received insurance money from three separate policies on Morris’ life totalling approximately $23,000. The house mortgage was also paid off. Judy Buenoano owned life insurance on Gentry’s life totalling $510,000 in benefits, and she was a 50% beneficiary under his will.

At trial the jury found Buenoano guilty of first degree murder for the death of James Goodyear and recommended imposition of the death penalty. The trial court found four aggravating circumstances and no mitigating factors and sentenced Judy Buenoano to death.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When Was Judy Buenoano Executed

    Judy Buenoano was executed in the electric chair on March 30, 1998

  2. Why Was Judy Buenoano Executed

    Judy Buenoano was executed for two murders and an attempted murder however she was suspected of more


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