In 1998, convicted murderer Judias Buenoano—dubbed, “the Black Widow”—was executed in the electric chair. She was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848. Although most murders are not federal crimes, the Writ of Habeas Corpus brings murder cases to the federal courts.
Judias Buenoano | The Black Widow
Judy Buenoano had a son, Michael, when she married United States Air Force officer James Goodyear in 1962. Three months after his return from a tour of duty in Vietnam, Goodyear died after being admitted to the United States Naval Hospital in Orlando, suffering from mysterious symptoms. Buenoano collected the benefits from various life insurance policies on Goodyear’s life.
By 1972, Judy Buenoano had a new boyfriend, Bobby Joe Morris. She moved to Colorado with Morris, where, in 1978, Morris became ill and died after exhibiting the same mysterious symptoms that Goodyear exhibited before his death. Buenoano collected on three separate life insurance policies taken out on Morris’ life.
In 1979, Buenoano’s son Michael joined the Army. He soon became ill and was diagnosed as suffering from arsenic poisoning which rapidly affected his upper and lower limbs. He was fitted with heavy metal leg braces and discharged into the care of his mother. Shortly thereafter, Buenoano took Michael canoeing on the East River. The canoe capsized, and Michael, weighed down by his heavy braces, drowned. Buenoano received $20,000 from Michael’s military life insurance.
Caught in Her Own Web
After Michael’s death, Buenoano opened a beauty salon in Gulf Breeze and began dating John Gentry. She persuaded him that they should take out life insurance policies on each other, later increasing the size of his policy to $500,000. A month later, Gentry caught a cold, and Buenoano began giving him “vitamin C” capsules to treat it. Because he was experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting, Gentry checked into a hospital. Gentry recovered and was released, only to return to the hospital when his car exploded.
A search of Judy Buenoano’s home revealed wire and tape in her bedroom that matched the remains from the bomb in Gentry’s car. Buenoano was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the car bombing.