A silent, simmering killer terrorized New England in 1911. A heat wave unlike any that had come before killed people in the streets, caused others to drown in the waters where they sought relief, and drove still others to suicide. As more than 2,000 people died during the natural disaster, another silent killer began her own murderous spree. Amy Archer-Gilligan operated the Archer Home for Elderly People and Chronic Invalids in Windsor, Connecticut. What was thought to be a respectable business run by a pioneering woman was exposed as little more than a murder factory. Amy would be accused of murdering both her husbands and dozens (as many as sixty) of her elderly patients with cocktails of lemonade and arsenic—all for money. She would be convicted and sentenced to hang, and her story would shock turn-of-the-century America and provide the inspiration for the Broadway sensation and classic film Arsenic and Old Lace. Acclaimed crime writer and New York Times bestselling author M. William Phelps has written the first book to tell the true story of greed and murder even more shocking than its fictional counterpart.
Readers will enter a kind of Twilight Zone where a Bible-thumping caretaker and entrepreneur of the nursing home industry became one of history’s most evil female serial killers. With first-hand accounts from Amy’s “inmates,” riveting trial transcripts, and accounts from the investigative journalists who covered the case, Phelps puts readers face-to-face with a woman who was both a Black Widow and an Angel of Death. And Phelps paints a vivid, spine-chilling portrait of turn-of-the-century New England.
This is historical true crime at its best.
M. William Phelps is a crime expert, lecturer, and investigative journalist who has more than 600,000 copies of his books in print since 1999. His contemporary crime titles include: Perfect Poison, Lethal Guardian, Every Move You Make, Sleep In Heavenly Peace, Murder in the Heartland, Because You Loved Me, If Looks Could Kill, and I'll Be Watching You (2009).
His works of history include an account of Nathan Hale's life titled, Nathan Hale, which chronicles a period in Hale's life between 1773 and 1776 set against two major battles of the American Revolution. He also co-wrote Failures of the Presidents: Our Leaders' Worst Decisions from the Dred Scott Case to Watergate to the Bay of Pigs to Iraq, with Thomas Craughwell.
Phelps has appeared on Court TV, The Discovery Channel, Fox News Channel, CN8, ABC's “Good Morning America,” The Learning Channel, Biography Channel, History Channel, Montel Williams, Geraldo At Large, USA Radio Network, ABC News Radio and Radio America, who calls him “the nation's leading authority on the mind of the female murderer.” He's written for the Providence Journal, Hartford Courant, the New London Day, and published several best-selling history “Shorts” for Amazon.com.
Profiled in such noted publications as Writer's Digest, NY Daily News, Newsday, Albany Times-Union, Hartford Courant, Advance for Nurses magazine, Forensic Nursing, The Globe magazine and NY Post, Phelps has also consulted for the Showtime cable television series “Dexter.”
He lives in a small Connecticut farming community with his wife, three children and Labrador. He runs a crime forum at www.crimerant.com and can also be reached at his author Web site, www.mwilliamphelps.com