Judias V. Buenoano
a/k/a Judias Welty
a/k/a Judy Ann Goodyear

Executed March 30, 1998 at 7:13 a.m. by Electric Chair in Florida

18th murderer executed in U.S. in 1998
450th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd female murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Florida in 1998
42nd murderer executed in Florida since 1976
1st female murderer executed in Florida since 1976

Since 1976
Date of Execution
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Method of
to Murderer
Date of
Judias V. Buenoano
W / F / 28 - 54
James Goodyear

W / M / ?

Poisoned with arsenic

Buenoano, known as the "Black Widow," was executed in Florida's electric chair following her 1985 conviction for poisoning her husband, Air Force sergeant James Goodyear, in 1971. Goodyear had died barely three months after returning from Vietnam suffering from symptoms staff physicians never quite identified. His body was exhumed 12 years later after Buenoano became a suspect in another case and found to contain arsenic.

In 1984, a jury convicted Buenoano of killing her partially paralyzed 19-year-old son, Michael Goodyear, and sentenced her to life in prison. Michael wore heavy metal leg braces and he was unable to walk or use his hands. On May 13th, 1980 Judi took Michael and his younger brother James canoeing on the East River. Sadly the canoe capsized. James and Judi were able to get out from under the upturned canoe but Michael, weighed down by the heavy braces didn't stand a chance and drowned.

In 1984, a jury convicted Buenoano of attempting to kill her boyfriend, Pensacola businessman John Gentry, and sentenced her to 12 years imprisonment. On June 25th 1983 Judi announced she was pregnant and John went out to get some champagne to celebrate. When he started his car a bomb exploded and he was seriously injured as a result. John later said Judi had been giving him vitamins. In fact, she was not pregnant and had booked a cruise for herself and her children. She had also recently been telling her friends that John had a terminal illness. Several of the alleged vitamin capsules were recovered and found to contain the arsenic.

She collected more than $240,000 in insurance money from the deaths of her husband, a son, and a boyfriend in Colorado, but was never prosecuted. Insurance benefits were also the motive in each of the Florida cases which resulted in conviction. Buenoano never admitted any of the killings. Buenoano was the first woman executed in Florida since 1848, and the third executed in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

Final / Special Meal:
Broccoli, asparagus, strawberries and hot tea.

Last Words:

Buenoano v. State, 478 So.2d 387 (Fla.App. 1985) (Direct Appeal-Michael).
Buenoano v. State, 527 So.2d 194 (Fla. 1988) (Direct Appeal-Goodyear).

Internet Sources:

Florida Department of Corrections

DC Number: 160663
Hair Color: BROWN
Eye Color: HAZEL
Height: 5'07''
Weight: 170 lbs.
Birth Date: 04/04/1943
Custody: MAXIMUM
Release Date: DECEASED

Prison Sentence History:

05/13/1980 1ST DG MUR/PREMED. OR ATT.
Sentence Date: 06/06/1984
County: SANTA ROSA Case #: 8400017 Sentence: SENTENCED TO LIFE

Conviction: GRAND THEFT,$300 LESS &20,000
Sentence Date: 06/06/1984 County: SANTA ROSA
Case #: 8400017
Sentence: 15Y 0M 0D

Sentence Date: 11/06/1984
Case #: 8401390
Sentence: 12Y 0M 0D

Conviction: 1ST DG MUR/PREMED. OR ATT.
Sentence Date: 11/26/1985
County: ORANGE
Case #: 8404741

Date In-Custody: 11/27/1985
Date Out-of-Custody: 03/30/1998


"Florida's 'Black Widow' Executed." (March 30, 1998)

STARKE, Florida (CNN) - Fifty-four-year-old Judy Buenoano, known as the "Black Widow," was executed in Florida's electric chair Monday morning for poisoning her husband in 1971. Buenoano, who was given the nickname by a Florida prosecutor who said she preyed off her mates and her young, was the first woman executed in Florida since 1848, and the third executed in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. She passed 13 years on Florida's death row writing letters, crocheting blankets and baby clothes, and maintaining her innocence. "I have eternal security and I know that when I die I will go straight to heaven and I will see Jesus," she recently said. But unlike Karla Faye Tucker, the pickax killer executed in Texas last month, Buenoano did not get sympathy from religious circles. That may be because she has never shown remorse and because of the nature of her crimes.

Unraveling her web of crimes

From 1983 to 1985, Buenoano faced three separate Florida juries who convicted her of crimes against her loved ones. Pensacola prosecutor Russell Edgar, who gave Buenoano her spider nickname, says her motive was "twisted greed."

She collected more than $240,000 in insurance money from the deaths of her husband, a son, and a boyfriend in Colorado. Colorado never prosecuted her. The crimes dated back to 1971, but Buenoano never aroused suspicion until 1983, when her fiancee John Gentry survived a car bombing attack in downtown Pensacola. During the investigation, Gentry told police that Buenoano had given him "vitamins" that made him sick. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the car bombing, and Gentry's story about the vitamins led investigators to unravel a web of crimes against her family members. In 1984, a jury convicted Buenoano of killing her partially paralyzed 19-year-old son, Michael Goodyear, and sentenced her to life in prison. Prosecutors say she gave four different versions of what happened, but that she pushed him out of a canoe near Pensacola's East River in 1980. "It wasn't an accident. The guy was paralyzed," Edgar said. "He had 15 pounds of braces on his legs without a life jacket. He was taken up the river in a canoe and basically pitched out."

Goodyear's autopsy revealed traces of arsenic in his system. Although it was never proved, prosecutors believed his crippling illness resulted from her poisoning him. "A person this cruel really needs to get what she deserves," said Ted Chamberlain, who investigated the case.

Michael's father, too

Buenoano's death sentence resulted from a 1985 conviction for killing her husband of nine years, Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear. The elder Goodyear, Michael's father, died of arsenic poisoning in 1971, just three months after returning from a year's tour of duty in Vietnam. Despite the convictions, Buenoano's daughter, Kimberly Hawkins, 30, steadfastly believes in her mother's innocence. "She did things with us," Hawkins has told The Associated Press. "She worked a lot ... but she always made time for us." Edgar says he feels sorry for Buenoano's surviving children but not for Buenoano herself.

"They're without a father, without a brother, and now without a mother. And we lay it all at Judy's feet. She did it." Buenoano was electrocuted in Florida's electric chair. Two executions in the chair, including one last year, resulted in fires, and state officials were forced to examine whether using it was cruel and unusual punishment. Florida's governor, Lawton Chiles, signed a bill continuing its use and adding the provision that if courts ever rule use of the chair unconstitutional, lethal injection would be the state's designated backup.


Judy Buenoano
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Judias "Judy" Buenoano (born Judias Welty, also known as Judias Goodyear, also known as Judias Morris) (April 4, 1943 - March 30, 1998), was a convicted murderer who was executed for the 1971 murder of her husband James Goodyear. She was also convicted for the 1980 murder of her son Michael Goodyear, and of the 1983 attempted murder of her fiancé John Gentry. She is also acknowledged to have been responsible for the 1978 death of her boyfriend Bobby Joe Morris in Colorado; however, by the time authorities made the connection between Buenoano and Morris, she had already been sentenced to death in the state of Florida. She is also believed to have been involved in a 1974 murder in Alabama; on his deathbed, Bobby Joe Morris confessed to having participated in that murder, but police were unable to find enough evidence to press charges. She was also suspected in the 1980 death of her boyfriend Gerald Dossett. After her arrest, Dossett's body was exhumed and analysed for signs of arsenic poisoning. No charges were laid in that case.

Buenoano was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848 (when a slave named Celia was hanged for killing her master), and was only the third woman to be executed in America since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. Nationally, she was the first woman executed in the electric chair since 1957, when Rhonda Belle Martin was electrocuted in Alabama.


In 1971, she was married to James Goodyear (1934-1971), a sergeant in the USAF. According to prosecutors, she was motivated by insurance money when she poisoned him with lethal doses of arsenic. However, his death was initially believed to be due to natural causes.

In 1973, she moved in with Bobby Joe Morris (?-1978); in January 1978, he succumbed to arsenic poisoning. Later that year, she legally changed her name to "Buenoano" (Spanish for "good year").

Buenoano's son Michael Goodyear (1961-1980) became severely ill in 1979, his symptoms including paraplegia; post-mortem examination indicated that he had been the victim of severe arsenic poisoning, which caused his disability. In 1980, Buenoano took Michael out in a canoe; the canoe rolled, and Michael, weighed down by his arm and leg braces, drowned.

In 1983, Buenoano was engaged to John Gentry. Gentry was severely injured when his car exploded. While he was recovering from his injuries, police began to find several discrepancies in Buenoano's background; further investigation revealed that, in November 1982, she had begun telling her friends that Gentry was suffering from a terminal illness. Upon learning this, Gentry provided police with the "vitamin pills" which Buenoano had been giving him; these were found to contain arsenic and formaldehyde. This led to the exhumations of Michael Goodyear, James Goodyear, and Bobby Joe Morris, and to the discovery that each man had been the victim of arsenic poisoning.

In 1984, Buenoano was convicted for the murders of Michael and James Goodyear, and in 1985 she was convicted for the attempted murder of John Gentry. She received a twelve-year sentence for the Gentry case, a life sentence for the Michael Goodyear case, and a death sentence for the James Goodyear case. She was convicted of multiple counts of grand theft (for insurance fraud), and is thought to have committed multiple acts of arson (again, for purposes of insurance fraud).

Yoda's Page: Serial Killer Central

Born at Quanah, Texas, on April 4, 1943, Judias Welty was the daughter of an itinerant farm worker, named after her mother. In later years, Judi would describe her mother as a full-blooded member of the nonexistent Mesquite Apache tribe, but in fact, they hardly knew each other. The elder Judias Welty died of tuberculosis when her daughter was barely two years old, and the family disintegrated. Judi and her infant brother Robert were sent to live with their grandparents, while two older siblings were placed for adoption. It was all downhill from there, in terms of Judis family life.

Reunited with her father in Roswell, New Mexico, after his next marriage, she found herself the target of abuse from both parents--beaten, starved, burned with cigarettes, forced to work slave hours around the house. At age fourteen, her anger finally exploded: Judi scalded two of her stepbrothers with hot grease and lit into her parents with flying fists, feet, any object she could lay her hands on. The episode cost her sixty days in jail, confined with adult prostitutes, but when the judge asked if she was ready to go home, Judi opted for reform school. She remained at Foothills High School--a girls reformatory in Albuquerque-- until her graduation in 1959, at age sixteen, and she would despise her family from that day on. Of brother Robert, she once said, I wouldnt spit down his throat if his guts were on fire. The year 1960 found Judi back in Roswell, working as a nurses aide under the pseudonym of Anna Schultz. She gave birth to an illegitimate son, christened Michael Schultz, on March 30, 1961, and ever after refused comment on rumors that his father was a pilot from the nearby air force base. On January 21, 1962, she married another air force officer, James Goodyear, and their first child--James, Jr.--was born four years later, on January 16, 1966. Judis husband celebrated the event by adopting Michael Schultz. Daughter Kimberly followed in 1967, after the family had moved to Orlando, Florida. A year later, Judias opened the Conway Acres Child Care Center in Orlando, listing her husband as co-owner despite his continuing service with the Air Force, which would soon include a tour of duty in Vietnam. In fact, James Goodyear, Sr., had been home from Southeast Asia for barely three months when he was admitted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Orlando, suffering from symptoms staff physicians never quite identified. He died on September 15, 1971, and Judi waited a discreet five days before cashing in his three life insurance policies. Before years end, an accidental blaze at her Orlando home paid Judy another $90,000 in fire insurance. It was rotten luck all around ... but at least it paid well.

Loneliness was not a problem for the recent widow. She moved her family to Pensacola in 1972, and was living with new lover Bobby Joe the following year. Son Michael, meanwhile, had become a problem for his mother, raising hell in school, scoring in the dull-normal range on IQ tests. James Goodyears death barred Mike from treatment at a residential facility reserved for military dependents, but Judi wangled an evaluation at the state hospital in 1974, farming her first-born out to foster care with a provision for psychiatric treatment. Bobby Morris moved to Trinidad, Colorado, in 1977, inviting Judi and her brood to join him. She hung around Pensacola long enough to collect fire insurance on a second house, then reclaimed Michael from foster care and moved west with her tribe, settling in Trinidad as Judias Morris. Bobby Joe was admitted to San Rafael Hospital on January 4, 1978, but doctors could find no cause for his sudden illness, and he was released to Judis care on January 21. Two days later, he collap ed at the dinner table and was rushed back to the hospital, where he died on January 28, his death officially ascribed to cardiac arrest and metabolic acidosis. In early February, Judi cashed three life insurance policies on Morris, further fattening her bank account. Bobby Joes family suspected murder from the first, and Morris was not the only victim on their list. In 1974, Judi and Bobby Joe had been visiting Morriss hometown of Brewton, Alabama, when a male resident of Florida was found dead in a Brewton motel. An anonymous call, traced to a local pay phone, led police to the room where the victim was found, shot in the chest with a .22-caliber weapon, his throat slashed for good measure.

After the news broke, Bobby Joes mother overheard Judy telling Bobby Joe, The son of a bitch shouldnt have come up here in the first place. He knew if he came up here he was gonna die. Later, raving in delirium on his deathbed, Morris blurted out, Judi, we should never have done that terrible thing. Police in Brewton, meanwhile, report that they could find no fingerprints inside the room, no bullet was recovered from the corpse, and they have no firm suspects in the case. On May 3, 1978, Judias legally changed her own last name and that of her children to Buenoano, the Spanish equivalent of Goodyear, in an apparent tribute to her late husband and mythical Apache mother. A month later, the family was back in Pensacola, settling into a home on Whisper Pine Drive, in suburban Gulf Breeze. Michael Buenoano had continued his pattern of academic failure by dropping out of high school in his sophomore year, and he joined the army in June 1979, drawing an assignment to Ft. Benning, Georgia, after basic training. En route to his new post, he stopped off to visit his mother in Florida, and that was the beginning of the end. When he reached Ft. Benning on November 6, he was already showing symptoms of base metal poisoning. Army physicians found seven times the normal level of arsenic in Michaels body, and there was little they could do to reverse its destructive action. After six weeks of care, the muscles of his arms and lower legs had atrophied to the point where Michael could neither walk nor use his hands. He finally left the hospital wearing braces and a prosthetic device on one arm, the gear weighing a total of sixty pounds. On May 13, 1980, Michael was canoeing with his mother and younger brother on the East River, near Milton, Florida, when their boat overturned. James and Judi-- described in press reports of the incident as Dr. Judias Buenoano, a clinical physician in Ft. Walton--made it safely to shore, but Michael sank like a stone and drowned. Local authorities accepted Dr. Judis description of the accident and closed their files, but army investigators were more persistent, launching their own search for evidence on May 27. Michaels military life insurance finally paid off in mid-September, to the tune of $20,000, and sheriffs officers began taking a new look at the case when they discovered two civilian policies on Michaels life. Handwriting experts suggested that Michaels signature on the insurance applications may have been forged. Judy, meanwhile, went on as best she could without her eldest son, opening a beauty parlor in Gulf Breeze, dating Pensacola businessman John Gentry II. For Gentrys benefit, she fabricated a stint at nursing school, with Ph.D.s in biochemistry and psychology from the University of Alabama, plus a recent tour of duty as the head of nursing at West Florida Hospital. It was all nonsense, but Gentry swallowed the bait, indulging Judis taste for expensive gifts, Caribbean cruises, and imported champagne.

In October 1982, John and Judi purchased life insurance policies on one another, Judi later boosting the coverage from $50,000 to $500,000 without Gentrys knowledge, paying the premiums out of her own pocket. By December, she was feeding Gentry vitamin capsules that produced dizziness and vomiting. Hospitalized for twelve days beginning December 16, Gentry noted that his symptoms disappeared when he stopped taking the vitamins. Even so, he was not suspicious enough to break off his relationship with Judi in the interest of survival. On June 25, 1983, Gentry left a dinner party early, planning to pick up some champagne for a private session with Judi. They had much to celebrate, it seemed, for Judi had told him she was carrying his child. John never made it to the liquor store, however, as a bomb exploded in his car when he turned the ignition key. Near death, he was rushed to the hospital where trauma surgeons managed to save his life.

Police got their first crack at questioning Gentry on June 29, learning of the victims curious insurance situation. A background check revealed the gaping holes in Dr. Buenoanos new biography, and Gentry was stunned to discover that her pregnancy was also a lie, Judi having been surgically sterilized in 1975. Detectives further learned that Judi had been telling friends about Gentrys terminal illness since November 1982, lately booking tickets for a world cruise including herself and her children ... without Gentry. It was enough for John, and he provided police with several of the vitamin capsules Judi had prescribed in 1982. Analysis revealed that they contained paraformaldehyde, a poison with no known medical uses, but Floridas state attorney declined to file charges of attempted murder, citing insufficient evidence to prosecute. On July 27, count officers and federal agents searched Judis home in Gulf Breeze, retrieving wire and tape from her bedroom that seemed to match the Gentry car bomb. In Jamess room, they also found marijuana and a sawed-off shotgun, jailing him for possession of drugs and an illegal weapon. Judi, meanwhile, was arrested at her beauty shop on charges of attempted murder. By mid-August, authorities had traced the source of the dynamite used in the bomb, linking the Alabama buyer to Judi via phone records showing a dozen long-distance calls from her home. Judi made bail on the attempted murder charge, but there was worse in store. On January 11, 1984, she was indicted for first-degree murder in the death of her son, with an additional count of grand theft for the insurance scam. Arrested that evening, she staged a fit of convulsions and wound up in Santa Rosa Hospital under guard. The wheels of justice were sluggish, but there was no stopping them once they started to roll. Bobby Joe Morris was exhumed on February 11, with arsenic found in his remains. Identical results were obtained with the exhumation of James Good-year, on March 14, 1984. Judis trial in the first murder case-- Michaels--began on March 22, and she was convicted on all counts nine days later. On June 6 she was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the first twenty-five years. July found Florida authorities exhuming the body of late boyfriend Gerald Dossett, deceased since 1980, in another search for arsenic, but no charges were filed in that case. On August 10, James Buenoano was acquitted of trying to kill James Gentry, but his mother would be less fortunate. Judis trial in that case opened October 15 and lasted three days; jurors deliberated a mere two hours before voting to convict, and Judis 12-year prison sentence was made consecutive with her life term for Michaels slaying. A year later, on October 22, 1985, Judi went to trial for the murder of husband James Goodyear. The trial consumed a week, with Judi denying any criminal activity, but jurors werent buying her act. Convicted on her second charge of first-degree murder, she was formally sentenced to death on November 16. Her latest stay of execution was granted by a federal court in June 1990, and the case remains under appeal. In the unlikely event of Judis release from Florida, Colorado authorities stand ready to prosecute capital charges in the death of Bobby Joe Morris.

UPDATE:Judy was executed March 30, 1998.


Florida Court Denies Appeal to Killer Known as "Black Widow" (March 27, 1998)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Florida's Supreme Court unanimously ruled not to delay the scheduled Monday execution of Judy Buenoano, known as the "black widow" because she poisoned her husband, and drowned her son and tried to blow up her fiance. Buenoano is to be put to death in the electric chair at 7:01 a.m. Monday for the arsenic poisoning of Sgt. James Goodyear, three months after he returned to Orlando from Vietnam in 1971. Buenoano is serving a life sentence for the 1980 drowning of her 19-year-old partially paralyzed son, Michael, and she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the 1983 attempted car-bombing murder of John Gentry in Pensacola. Until the car bombing, Buenoano had not been investigated or under suspicion for the earlier deaths of her husband and son. In Thursday's ruling, the Florida court rejected appeals based on the background of a juror at Buenoano's trial and the work of an FBI chemist. Buenoano's attorney said she was working on a federal appeal.

Florida hasn't executed a woman in 150 years, and only two women have been executed in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976 after a three year moratorium. But Buenoano's case has not drawn as much attention as Karla Faye Tucker's execution in Texas earlier this year. Russell Edgar, who prosecuted Buenoano years ago for her son's drowning, gave her a nickname that stuck. "I likened her to a black widow who fed off her males and her young."

Buenoano said she has been the victim of "defamation, assassination of character... to make me into a vile monster." Also, she says she is innocent and insists jurors have been swayed by manufactured evidence.

"I would have found myself guilty if I were the jury," she said.
But three separate juries have agreed that Buenoano's motive was money -- to collect life insurance. Edgar, who calls it "twisted greed," said: "I feel sorry for her surviving children. They're without a father, without a brother and now without a mother, and we lay it all at Judy's feet 'cause she did it."

Fight the Death Penalty USA

Judias (Judi) Buenoano - Florida's "Black Widow".

Judi Buenoano (right) became the first woman to get the electric chair in America since Rhonda Belle Martin was executed in Alabama on the 11th October 1957. She was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848, when a slave girl named Celia was hanged for battering her master to death. As at July 2000, four other women remain on death row there. Her execution on the 30th March 1998 was a relatively low key affair unlike those of the two women who had preceded her to the death chamber. (Velma Barfield and Karla Faye Tucker) She was not an especially attractive 54 year old and her execution was the third in a series of four that Florida carried out in quick succession that Spring. It did not attract the media attention that Karla Faye Tucker's execution had.

Early Days.

Like so many of the other criminals discussed in these pages she had had a difficult childhood. She was born Judias Welty, in Quanah, Texas, on April 4, 1943, the daughter of a farm laborer. She was of Latina ethnic background. Apparently Judi described her mother as a member of a non-existent Mesquite Apache tribe although they were not close to each other. Her mother (also named Judias) died of tuberculosis when Judi was four years old, and the family were parted. Judi and her infant brother Robert were sent to live with their grandparents, while two older children were put up for adoption.

Her father remarried and took Judi and Robert to live with his new wife in Roswell, New Mexico. Judi was miserable there and claimed that both her father and step mother abused her. Allegedly she was beaten, starved forced to work long hours as a virtual slave - hardly an ideal upbringing for an adolescent girl. Her family eventually pushed her too far and at the age of 14 she was sentenced to 2 months in prison for attacking them and her two step brothers. After she was released she chose to go a reform school rather than back to her abusive family and went to the Foothills High School in Albuquerque from where she graduated in 1959, at sixteen. She had, not surprisingly, a poor view of her family and is reported to have said of her brother Robert "I wouldn't spit down his throat if his guts were on fire".

Her first job came in 1960 when she was employed as a nursing assistant in Roswell under the assumed name of Anna Schultz. In 1961 she gave birth to an illegitimate son whom she christened Michael Schultz. She refused to confirm rumors that his father was a pilot from the nearby USAF base.

A life of crime.

She married for the first time on January 21st 1962, to James Goodyear who was an air force officer and Judi gave birth to their first child, James, Jr. in January 16, 1966. James Goodyear adopted Michael. In 1967 they had a daughter, Kimberley and were now living in Orlando, Florida. 1968 saw Judi open her first business - the Conway Acres Child Care Center in Orlando with the financial backing of her husband. James Goodyear, Sr. had done a tour of duty in Vietnam and three months after his return home was admitted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Orlando, suffering from mysterious symptoms. He died on September 15th 1971, and Judi cashed in his three life insurance policies. Towards the end of that same year Judi suffered a house fire at her home for which she received a further $90,000 from the insurers. Judi soon found a new boyfriend in the shape of Bobby Joe Morris who lived in Pensacola and with whom she moved in with in 1972. Her new life was marred by her son Michael who was disruptive at school and of low intelligence. She was able to get him into residential foster care for a time. Bobby Morris moved to Trinidad, Colorado, in 1977 and Judi and her family (including Michael) joined him there a little later. Before she left Pensacola, however, she was the victim of another house fire which brought another insurance pay out. Soon after she moved to Colorado, Bobby Joe became ill and was admitted to hospital on January 4th, 1978. Again the cause was a mystery to his doctors and he was soon discharged. Two days after he went home he collapsed and was taken back to hospital where he died on January 21st of that year. Once again Judi benefited from the insurance policies taken out on his life.

His family, however, suspected that Bobby Joe had been murdered and that he was not the only victim. In 1974, Judi and Bobby Joe had been visiting Bobby Joe's hometown of Brewton in Alabama, where a man from Florida had been found dead in a motel room. The local police received an anonymous phone call, traced to a local pay phone which led them to the motel room where the dead body of a man was found who had been shot in the chest and had his throat cut. It is claimed that Bobby Joe's mother overheard Judi telling "The son of a bitch shouldn't have come up here in the first place. He knew if he came up here he was gonna die". Bobby Joe confessed to his part in this killing on his deathbed. However at the time the police could find no fingerprints inside the room and no bullet was recovered from the corpse so they did not have enough evidence to bring charges. On May 3rd 1978, Judi legally changed her surname and that of her children to Buenoano, the Spanish equivalent of Goodyear, in an apparent tribute to her late husband. She and her family moved back to Pensacola. Michael Buenoano, as he had now become, had done badly a school and joined the army in June 1979. He was based in Georgia. He soon started to show signs of illness and was diagnosed as suffering from arsenic poisoning which rapidly affected his upper and lower limbs. He was given heavy metal leg braces in the military hospital and on discharge into the care of his mother unable to walk or use his hands. On May 13th, 1980 Judi took Michael and his younger brother James canoeing on the East River. Sadly the canoe capsized. James and Judi were able to get out from under the upturned canoe but Michael, weighed down by the heavy braces didn't stand a chance and drowned. The police accepted Judi's account of what happened but the army investigators were not so easily taken in. Judi received $20,000 from Michael's military life insurance but the sheriffs officers began taking interest in the case when it was discovered that there were also two other, civilian, policies on Michael's life. It was suggested by handwriting experts that Michael's signature on the insurance applications may have been forged. After Michael's death Judi opened a beauty salon in Gulf Breeze and also began seeing a Pensacola businessman named John Gentry II. She told John Gentry that she had various bogus qualifications and had worked as a senior nurse in Florida. She persuaded him that they should take out life insurance policies on each other in October 1982 and later increased the size of the one on him to$500,000. She also persuaded him to take vitamin capsules which made him feel nauseous and dizzy. When he complained of these effects Judi allegedly told him to double the dose!

On June 25th 1983 Judi announced she was pregnant and John went out to get some champagne to celebrate. When he started his car a bomb exploded and he was seriously injured as a result. Four days later he was well enough to answer questions from the police which led them to examine Judi's background in minute detail. Many inconsistencies between what John thought was the case and what the police found to be reality emerged. Judi had no medical qualifications, she was not pregnant and had booked a cruise for herself and her children. She had also recently been telling her friends that John had a terminal illness. Several of the alleged vitamin capsules were recovered and found to contain the arsenic. At this stage however, there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge Judi with attempted murder. A later search of Judi's house revealed wire and tape in her bedroom which matched the remains from the bomb in John's car. Later the police also traced the source of the dynamite and were able it to link Judi through telephone records. She was duly arrested and bailed on the charge of attempted murder of John Gentry. On January 11th 1984 she was arrested again and charged with first degree murder in respect of Michael's death. In February the body of Bobby Joe Morris was exhumed and arsenic found. It was also found in the body of James Goodyear who was exhumed in March of that year.

Judi was tried separately for each murder and for the attempted murder. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the first twenty-five years on June 6th 1984 for Michael's murder. Surprisingly she was acquitted of the charge of attempted murder but she was found guilty of first degree murder in the case of her first husband James Goodyear. The jury deliberated for 10 1/2 hours and for this she was sentenced to death by electrocution on the 26th of November 1985. Colorado prosecutors decided not to continue with case against her over the murder of Bobby Joe Morris as she was already under sentence of death in Florida. It is estimated that she collected around $240,000 in insurance money from the deaths of her husband, son and boyfriend in Colorado.

On death row.

Condemned female inmates are housed at the Broward Correctional Center at Pembroke Pines in Florida - where Judi was to spend the next 13 years. She continued to appeal and had three death warrants handed down over the years. She spent her time confined to 6 x 9 x 9.5 feet high cell. Death row inmates are served meals three times a day: at 5:00 a.m., from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Food is prepared by prison personnel and is transported in insulated carts to the cells. Inmates are allowed plates and spoons to eat their meals. Visitors are allowed every weekend from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Inmates may receive mail every day except holidays and weekends. They may have cigarettes, snacks, radios and black and white televisions in their cells. They do not have cable television or air-conditioning and they are not allowed to associate with each other. They can watch church services on closed circuit television. While on death watch, (after a death warrant has been signed) inmates may have radios and black and white televisions positioned outside their cell bars.

Death row inmates wear orange t-shirts and blue colored pants (as worn by regular inmates). They are counted at least once an hour and are escorted in handcuffs to the exercise yard and the shower. They are confined to their cells at all other times, except for medical reasons, exercise, social or legal visits or media interviews. It is a fairly harsh regime for long term incarceration. Judi spent the 13 years writing letters and crocheting blankets and baby clothes and also taught Bible study to other inmates. A former death row inmate, Deirdre Hunt, claimed that "Judy was like a mother to me."


All executions in Florida are carried out at the State Penitentiary at Starke and prior to 2000 all were carried out by electrocution in the state's 75-year-old electric chair. A total of 240 men and one woman have been put to death in the three-legged chair which was built by inmates in 1923. (It was rebuilt in 1999 for the execution of Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis who was considered to be too heavy for the old chair) Judi's last appeal was turned down on March 29th 1998 (see Appendix) and the then state Governor Lawton Chiles duly signed her death warrant. She was transferred to Starke and confined to a 12-by-7 foot cell where she passed her time watching a small black and white television through the bars in the death watch area adjacent to the execution room. Judi spent her final hours seeing her adult children, Kim Hawkins and James Goodyear, other relatives and her legal and religious advisers. Jeanne Eaton, a cousin, who visited before the execution was quoted as saying afterwards "She had no fear at all, she’s mostly afraid of leaving her children and how upset they were." In a television interview a few days before the execution Judi said "I would like to clear the record for my grandson, I would like for him to know that his grandmother was not a murderer."

Execution was set for 7.00 a.m. on the Monday 30th March 1998. At 4:30 a.m. she was showered and dressed, probably by female corrections and her head shaved to give good electrical conductivity and so that her hair did not catch fire during the electrocution. Her final meal consisted of broccoli, asparagus, strawberries and hot tea.

Judi entered the execution chamber at 7:02 a.m. accompanied by several guards. She was strapped into the large oak chair (see left) with 8 leather straps over her waist, wrists, chest and legs. The calf and head piece electrodes were fitted, each containing moistened sponge to reduce burning of the flesh. Asked if she had a final statement she replied "No, sir," squeezing her eyes shut and keeping them shut, not looking at the witnesses on the other side of a glass partition. A leather mask was placed over her face and at the signal from the warden the automatic electrocution cycle commenced at 7:08 a.m. A small amount of white smoke (or steam?) was seen to curl up from her right leg throughout the 38 second cycle, but there were no flames. She was pronounced dead at 7:13 a.m. In an interview afterwards prison spokesman Gene Morris said. "She was very solemn. This is the first time I’ve seen that expression on her," he said. "She stared straight ahead, made no visible expression." Judi's was the third of a series of four executions carried out in Florida over the period 23/03/98 to 31/03/98. The identity of the executioner is a well kept secret.

The execution protocol is as follows : - The automatic cycle begins with a nominal 2,300 volts, 9.5 amps, for 8 seconds; 1,000 volts, 4 amps for 22 seconds; and 2,300 volts, 9.5 amps for 8 seconds (actual values below). When the cycle is complete, the equipment is manually disconnected and the safety switch is then opened. In Judi's case the cycles of electricity were officially recorded.


Judy was dubbed the "Black Widow" at her trial by Pensacola prosecutor Russell Edgar and the name was ceased upon by the media. Edgar described her as a scheming, cold-blooded killer. "She’s like a black widow - she feeds off her mates and her young. It does appear the motive was twisted greed," he said.

Like so many of the other cases examined on these pages Judi had a hard and difficult upbringing. One wonders how this affected her personality. Did her own low self worth lead her to the view that the lives of others were also of little value while her hatred of childhood poverty make her resolve never to be poor herself? It would seem that the motive for the arsons and the murders was principally for financial gain as Russell Edgar said and that she had a shallow relationship with her husband and boyfriends. Did she think, as so many have done before her, that she would somehow get away with murder. She very nearly did - had she not tried to kill John Gentry she may well have done. According to Ted Chamberlin, the Pensacola detective who painstakingly examined her past and discovered her trail of insurance scams and death. "Judy just went one murder too far. If she’d just let that last boyfriend alone, she probably could have walked away from the other murders." He described her as " the coldest killer I ever knew" It seems that once a person has committed the first murder each successive crime is easier and when the perpetrator can just walk away from it without too many awkward questions (as she had done) - why not do it again when it so profitable?

It is probable also that she never thought that she would actually one day sit in the electric chair. Hardly any of the women who committed murder in the US have been sentenced to death and virtually none executed even if the occasional jury had voted for death. No woman had been executed in Florida in her life time and only two others in the country as whole, so the potential of the death penalty was unlikely to have been much of a deterrent to her.

Amnesty International - Death Penalty USA Pages (Kuno Sandholzer)

Judy Buenoano was the 1st woman put to death in Florida since 1848, and only the 3rd woman executed in the nation since 1976. She was pronounced dead at 7:13 a.m. (eastern time)

Buenoano, 54, a former nail salon owner, was executed for the arsenic poisoning of her husband in 1971. Prosecutors said she committed that murder for the same reasons she killed her son in 1980 and tried to kill her fiance in 1983 -- insurance money. She also was suspected of killing a boyfriend in 1978 but was never charged because she had already been sentenced to death.

The last woman executed in Florida was a freed slave who was hanged for killing her master. Only 2 other women had been executed since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban on the death penalty in 1976, and both were by injection. In 1984, North Carolina executed Velma Barfield for poisoning her boyfriend. Last month, Texas put Karla Faye Tucker to death for a double-pickax murder. Tucker was a telegenic, avowed Christian who ministered to her fellow inmates, expressed contrition for her crimes and even received support from the pope.

Buenoano crocheted blankets and baby clothes in prison and said she wanted to be remembered as a good mother. She adamantly maintained her son's drowning was an accident. "Seeing the face of Jesus, that's what I think about," she recently told a Florida television station. "I'm ready to go home." Until she tried to kill her fiance, John Gentry, in 1983 by bombing his car in Pensacola, Buenoano had not been suspected of the other killings. Gentry said she had given him pills that made him sick but told him they were vitamins. When investigators realized Buenoano was Spanish for "Goodyear," and learned she had been married to Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear, they exhumed his body and found he had lethal amounts of arsenic in his body when he died in 1971. There was also evidence she fatally poisoned a boyfriend, Bobby Joe Morris, in Trinidad, Colo., in 1978. She was convicted of drowning Michael Goodyear, her 19-year-old son, by giving him arsenic -- which might have caused his paralysis -- and pushing him out of a canoe. Monday would have been his 37th birthday.

The motive for the murders was "twisted greed," because she was trying to claim about $240,000 in insurance money, said prosecutor Russell Edgar, who gave Buenoano her nickname. On Sunday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and then the U.S. Supreme Court denied her last appeals, which claimed she was innocent and called Florida's electric chair "barbaric.... It belongs in Frankenstein's laboratory."


FLORIDA: An attorney for death row inmate Judi Buenoano, who may be the next woman executed in the United States, told the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday sealed FBI documents might weaken the case against her client. Buenoano, 54, who has been nicknamed the "Black Widow," is scheduled to be electrocuted March 30 for the death of her 1st husband. She also was convicted of drowning her handicapped son and plotting to blow up her boyfriend. Buenoano's husband, Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear, died of an apparent heart attack shortly after returning home from a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1971. But an investigation 13 years later revealed that he had been poisoned. Buenoano was convicted in 1985.

Sylvia Smith, Buenoano's state-appointed attorney, said she has been unable to see sealed documents that might cast doubt on the accuracy of FBI analysis of arsenic-laced pills that were used to convict Buenoano. But state prosecutors, who pointed out that Buenoano has been convicted of multiple murders, told the court that Smith was only trying to postpone her client's execution date. "This case clearly shows that (Smith) would like to start this case all over again," said Katherine Blanco, assistant attorney general arguing against the appeal.

In April, 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report detailing the results of an 18-month investigation of certain components of the FBI's laboratory. The records contained allegations critical of the reliability and integrity of some of the examiners. Much of the report was sealed. Smith argued that the FBI report could bolster her case if it showed that the scientist or lab was incompetent. A lower court ruled against her and the record remained sealed. When Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker on Tuesday, 14 years had passed since a woman was put to death in the United States. As Buenoano's execution date approaches, death penalty opponents are expected to focus attention on the fact that Buenoano would be the 1st woman executed in Florida since 1848.

(Source: Reuters)

FLORIDA: Saying she is afraid her mother will be disfigured by Florida's electric chair, the daughter of a woman on death row begged state lawmakers to allow execution by lethal injection instead of electrocution.

Kimberly Hawkins, 30, said that "I'm fixing to watch my mom die in the electric chair. People have burned alive in it. I don't want to see her burned alive in it. I accept the penalty that she has to die. But we can choose a better way for her to die." Her mother, Judy Buenoano, is scheduled to die in the electric chair on March 30. Buenoano was convicted of poisoning her husband with arsenic in 1971, then collecting $85,000 in life insurance proceeds. Hawkins was 3 when her father died.

Florida's electric chair has been idle since last March 25, when a footlong flame erupted from Pedro Medina's headpiece as he was being electrocuted. The fire was blamed on human error. Later, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the chair is not cruel or unusual punishment. The fire led many to say injection is a more humane method of execution. Tuesday, Rep. Tracy Stafford, a Democrat from Broward County, argued that the electric chair "tends to be sensationalized and trivialized. There are few things we do that are more solemn than carrying out a death penalty. Sometimes, electrocution lends itself to a little more frivolity than I think the state should be involved in." Stafford could not persuade his colleagues to unplug Old Sparky just yet, and the House committee voted down a propsoal to institute lethal injection. The issue may be revived this spring, as another bill moving through the Florida Senate also promotes lethal injection as an alternative to the electric chair.

Rep. Victor Crist, R.-Temple Terrace, who once suggested the guillotine as a humane means of execution, said electrocution is quick and painless. Hawkins "was very emotional and very touching,but she was incaccurate in her information. She said that bodies are scarred by electrocution, and they are not. Medina had a slight scar; it is like sunburn in a spot," Crist said. He added that he is concerned that nay change in death penalty methods could spur appeals, slowing executions for the 380 people now on Florida's death row.

Hawkins, a waitress in Navarre, near Pensacola, was 16 when her mother was arrested. Dubbed the "black widow," Buenoano, 54, also was convicted in 1980 of killing her 19-year-old paralyzed son by pushing him from a canoe. In 1983, she was found guilty of attempted murder in a car bombing that injured her boyfriend, John Gentry. She had insurance policies on both men. Buenoano would be the 1st woman that Florida has executed since 1848, 3 years after statehood, she is 1 of 6 women on Florida's death row.

Also this week, a lawyer for Buenoano went to the state Supreme Court, alleging that the state has refused to disclose information that would show an FBI crime lab manager provided unreliabel evidence against her client.

(Source: St. Petersburg Times)

ABOLISH Archives (Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

Monday, Feb. 9, 1998 - She poisoned her husband with arsenic, drowned her paralyzed son and tried to blow up her fiance with a car bomb. Another boyfriend mysteriously died. It's no wonder that Judy Buenoano is called the "Black Widow." "When I was asking the judge in the drowning case to admit the other killings (as evidence), I said 'Judge ... she's like a black widow -- she feeds off her mates and her young,'" prosecutor Russell Edgar said.

Ms. Buenoano, a 54-year-old former nail salon owner, is scheduled to die in Florida's electric chair March 30. The death sentence would come months after Karla Faye Tucker of Texas become the 2nd woman to die in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. Ms. Tucker's lethal injection drew worldwide attention, including pleas from the pope for clemency, because of her behind-bars religious conversion. There has been no similar outcry for Ms. Buenoano, described as one of the most infamous women in Florida's prison system.

Ms. Buenoano's daughter believes she is innocent, but concedes little has changed about her mother since she went to prison more than a decade ago. "Even now she is the same," said Kimberly Hawkins. "I love her letters. They cheer me up."

Investigators 1st became suspicious of Ms. Buenoano in 1983, after her fiance, John Gentry, survived a car bombing in downtown Pensacola. Gentry, who met Ms. Buenoano at a mud-wrestling match in the early 1980s, told police she had also given him pills that made him sick. She told them they were vitamins. That was the key to uncovering the other crimes in Ms. Buenoano's past, Edgar said. Investigators had plenty to find -- including the crime that sent her to death row, the murder of Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear. Goodyear died in 1971 of arsenic poisoning 3 months after he returned to Orlando from a year's tour in Vietnam and 9 years after he married the former cocktail waitress. Ms. Buenoano collected $85,000 in life insurance and veteran benefits after Goodyear died.

In each of the 3 cases -- that of her husband, her son and her fiance -- she received or stood to collect insurance benefits, Edgar said. A year before being sent to death row in 1985, Ms. Buenoano was convicted of the 1980 drowning of Michael Goodyear, the son she had as a teen-ager before she met the Air Force sergeant. Michael, 19, partially paralyzed and wearing leg and arm braces, was pushed out of a canoe into a river by his mother. Edgar said evidence also suggests Ms. Buenoano poisoned boyfriend Bobby Joe Morris in Trinidad, Colo., in 1978. Colorado prosecutors decided not to file murder charges after she got the death sentence in Florida.

The last known execution of a woman in Florida occurred in 1848, when a freed slave was hanged in Jacksonville for the murder of her master. Ms. Tucker, who hacked 2 people t death, was only the 2nd women executed in the nation since the Supreme Court lifted the death penalty ban in 1976.

Mrs. Hawkins said her mother would rather die than live her life in the Broward Correctional Institution just north of Miami, where the 6 women sentenced to death in Florida are housed. "She's not scared because it's like she said, she goes to a better place," said Mrs. Hawkins, 30. "Because where she's at now is not fun."

Ms. Buenoano was born in 1943 in Quanah, Texas, a little town 200 miles northwest of Dallas. Her mother died when she was 4, and Ms. Buenoano spent her early years passed among relatives and foster families in Texas and Oklahoma. She told a federal judge during a 1990 hearing that she was sexually abused in some homes, physically abused in others and many times went hungry. At age 10, she lived in Roswell, N.M., with her father and new wife whom she said beat her. She got pregnant at 17 and gave birth to Michael in March 1961. A few months later she met Goodyear. Now, as she waits for her execution, she spends her time reading and knitting blankets and baby clothes that she gives to her daughter to sell.

Ms. Buenoano's best hope to avoid becoming the next woman scheduled to be executed may rely on Florida's means of death. During Florida's last electrocution a year ago, a foot-long flame shot out from the headpiece worn by the inmate, Pedro Medina. The state Supreme Court upheld use of the electric chair last fall, but a federal judge scheduled a hearing on the constitutionality of the chair later this month.

Electric Library

Black Widow - Poisonous spider of the genus Latrodectus, found throughout North and South America and common in the SW United States. The name derives from the fact that the female, like those of many other spider species, may eat the male after mating.

Orlando Sentinel

"Black Widow Says She's Innocent, But Tired and Ready to Die." (AP - March 18, 1998)

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- "Black Widow'' killer Judy Buenoano, in a sometimes tearful television interview, has said that she is ready to die, but is appealing to prove to her grandson she is not a murderer. Ms. Buenoano continued to insist she is innocent of killing her husband with arsenic, drowning a teen-age son and attempting to murder her fiance with a car bomb, during the interview broadcast Monday night by WEAR-TV. She is scheduled for execution March 30 for the 1971 murder of husband James Goodyear in Orlando. If pending appeals fail, she would be the first woman executed in Florida in 150 years.

Ms. Buenoano was questioned by WEAR anchorwoman Sue Straughn, who had patronized Ms. Buenoano's Pensacola nail salon before the condemned woman's arrest in 1983. ``Seeing the face of Jesus, that's what I think about. I'm ready to go home,'' Ms. Buenoano said, breaking into tears. ``I'm tired, Sue. It's enough of it. I'm ready to go.'' Her lawyers contend newly discovered records cast doubt on the accuracy of evidence processed by the FBI crime laboratory. They also are challenging the constitutionality of Florida's electric chair. ``I would like to clear the record for my grandson,'' Ms. Buenoano said. ``I would like for him to know that his grandmother was not a murderer.''

Ms. Buenoano, 54, who lived in suburban Gulf Breeze, was interviewed at Broward Correctional Institution in Pembroke Pines, outside Fort Lauderdale. She previously had declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press. Pensacola Police Det. Ted Chamberlain began unraveling the case after the 1983 car bombing seriously injured John Gentry in downtown Pensacola. On learning Chamberlain Buenoano is Spanish for ``good year,'' the detective managed to find out Ms. Buenoano had changed her last name from Goodyear. Looking into Judy Goodyear's past led him to the 1980 drowning of her 19-year-old paraplegic son, Michael Goodyear, when their canoe supposedly capsized during a river fishing trip. Then Chamberlain learned that Goodyear's husband, an Air Force sergeant, died after returning from Vietnam and a boyfriend, Bobby Joe Morris, died in 1978, when they were living together in Trinidad, Colo. Both deaths were mysterious.

Bodies were exhumed and autopsies indicated evidence of poisoning in all three cases. Poison also was found in ``vitamin'' capsules Gentry said Ms Buenoano had given him. He said he had stopped taking them when they made him sick. In all four cases, Ms. Buenoano was the beneficiary of life insurance policies. She was convicted and sentenced to terms of life and 12 years for murdering her son and for attempting to kill Gentry, before she was convicted in a separate trial for her husband's death. Colorado authorities decided not to charge her in the death of Morris after the Florida convictions. In the television interview, Ms. Buenoano contends the deaths and the bombing all were coincidental. She was most vehement in denying she had pushed her son, his paralyzed legs weighed down by heavy braces, from their canoe as prosecutors alleged. She said Michael disappeared as she rescued her younger son, James, then about 12. ``I almost lost both of my sons that day,'' she said, stopping to wipe tears from her eyes. ``Mothers just don't murder their children. If I'd have lost both of them, I don't know what I would have done. They would have had to put me in a mental institution.''

Ms. Buenoano said if her husband died of arsenic, he had been poisoned in Vietnam. ``He came home from Vietnam ill and he never got well,'' she said. ``It had nothing to do with me. I was not in Vietnam.'' There has been no public outcry over her impending electrocution as there had been prior to the Feb. 4 execution in Texas of another woman, Karla Faye Tucker, who admitted murdering two people with a pickax. ``Karla was a young female, very attractive and she had become a Christian in prison,'' Ms. Buenoano said. ``We all prayed that she would be granted a stay of execution and clemency because we felt that she was a different person and she deserved a chance. Possibly, I am a different person. But I was a Christian when I came here. I was a devout Catholic. I've not changed in that.''

Jacksonville Sun

"No Victims' Kin See 'Black Widow' Die; Buenoano Had No Last Words," by Kathleen Sweeney.

(Tuesday, March 31, 1998) STARKE - Judy Buenoano told her family her only fear about going to the electric chair yesterday was leaving her children behind. Buenoano, known as the ''Black Widow'' for preying on those who loved her, was executed for murdering her husband. She also was convicted of drowning her paraplegic son and with blowing up her fiance's car. She was the first woman ever to be electrocuted in Florida. Daniel Remeta, convicted of killing a convenience store clerk in Ocala during a multistate crime spree in 1985, was scheduled to be executed this morning, the last of four inmates executed in nine days.

While the 54-year-old said she was unafraid, her face told a different story yesterday as prison officials nearly carried the frail woman into the death chamber at the Florida State Prison. She clenched her fists, shut her eyes and lowered her head as prison officials securely strapped her into the wooden chair. She didn't look at the 46 witnesses behind a glass partition. When asked if she had any last words before 2,300 volts of electricity were applied to her body, her eyes remained shut and she whispered, ''No, sir.'' At 7:08 a.m., the power was turned on. She flinched, hands still in fists as smoke rose from her bare right leg. She was pronounced dead five minutes later - the day that would have been her drowned son's 37th birthday.

''I don't have any fear about where Judy is right now, and she had no fear,'' said Jeanne Eaton, a cousin from Houston. ''She was mostly afraid of leaving her children and how upset they were.''

Buenoano maintained her innocence until she died, claiming her son's death was an accident and denying murdering the others. Prosecutors said she killed to collect $240,000 in insurance. Until she tried to kill her fiance in 1983 by bombing his car in Pensacola, Buenoano had not been a suspect in the other killings. It led to the body of her husband, Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear, being exhumed. Lethal amounts of arsenic were found in his body. Pensacola police detective Ted Chamberlain, who uncovered the murders, witnessed the execution and said the punishment didn't seem cruel. ''Here you have a woman who killed her own - husband, boyfriends and son,'' he said. ''This was a mean person. She needed to go.'' The victims' families were not represented at the prison. ''Judy could have been guilty, she could have been innocent,'' said Eaton. ''The way it was handled, she could only be convicted.''

Buenoano spent her final day watching a hunting and fishing show, eating chocolates, reminiscing with her children and cousin. She finished reading Remember Me, a suspense novel. Her last meal was steamed broccoli and asparagus, strawberries and hot tea. Eaton wondered why her cousin didn't receive the same support as Karla Faye Tucker, whose death sentence in Texas was opposed by the pope and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. She was executed in February. ''She may not have been as photogenic, as young or as pretty as Karla, but she was just as good a Christian,'' Eaton said.


"Bodies of Evidence : The True Story of Judias Buenoano, Florida's Serial Murderess," by Sharon McGehee, Chris Anderson. (Reprint Edition Mass Market Paperback, Published by St Martins, July 1993)

Synopsis: To the rest of the world, Judias Buenoano was an American success story--a savvy businesswoman who pulled herself up from a childhood of dire poverty. To the men in her life, she was a charming seductress--turned calculating killer who grew richer with each of their agonizing deaths. Includes exclusive update. Photographs. Optioned by Viacom. HC: Lyle Stuart.

Buenoano v. State, 478 So.2d 387 (Fla.App. 1985) (Direct Appeal-Michael).

Appellant appeals from judgments and sentences for the offenses of first degree murder and first degree grand theft. Appellant was accused of murdering her invalid son, Michael Goodyear, by drowning him and of stealing more than $20,000 from Prudential Life Insurance Company by defrauding the company of insurance proceeds on the son's life. We affirm as to both convictions.

After three months of therapy at Walter Reed Hospital beginning January 24, 1980, Michael Goodyear (age 19) had been transferred to Tampa to begin long- term physical therapy and occupational rehabilitation for profound heavy metal neuropathy, a degeneration of nerves outside the spinal column which had left Michael with no nerve or muscle function below his knees and elbows.

On May 12, 1980, appellant traveled to the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Tampa to pick up Michael, her son, and return to their home in Pensacola. Michael required braces, weighing approximately 3 1/2 pounds each, on both legs for ambulation and a Robbins hook on his right arm, weighing approximately two pounds, to enable him to hold objects. His treating physician at Walter Reed, Dr. Barry, had cautioned Michael that adequate provisions for his safety would have to be taken should he go for a boat ride, because he would be unable to swim or save himself should the boat overturn. Michael was discharged to his mother, appellant, so that he could receive long-term rehabilitative care in Pensacola. Appellant had stated that she was spending nearly $40,000.00 in home alterations for Michael's return. Dr. Barry informed appellant that Michael had a severe impairment and might never regain complete function of his arms and legs. According to Dr. Barry, Michael would be unable to walk without his braces, cast a fishing line, or swim.

The day after Michael's discharge from the VA hospital, appellant, Michael, and appellant's other son, James (age 14), and daughter, Kimberly (age 13), went on a fishing trip on the East River in Santa Rosa County. While Kimberly was left ashore at the East River Bridge, appellant, James, and Michael went out in the river in a two-seater canoe in the middle of which a folding lawn chair with legs approximately eight inches high had been placed for Michael. They started fishing between 10:30 and 11:00 A.M., moving upriver along the shore. Michael, seated in the lawn chair, wore both his leg braces with leather shoes, his Robbins hook and, by James' account, a ski belt.

At trial, James testified that approximately a mile upriver from the bridge, about two hours after they had started fishing, they were six to eight feet from shore when a snake fell into the canoe and, in the ensuing confusion, the canoe hit a submerged log and capsized. James said that he was knocked unconscious and remembered nothing more until he was in an ambulance. James' grand jury testimony reflected that he was unsure of how the canoe capsized. His written statement made for an Army investigator referred to the submerged log, but made no reference to the snake. Curiously, James was unable to say whether his written statement was his handwriting or bore his signature.

Ricky Hicks testified that he had gone fishing on the East River between 2:00 and 2:30 PM. He had been fishing for about an hour when he retrieved appellant and James from the river approximately 600 feet from the bridge. Hicks said that an overturned canoe, an ice chest, a flip-flop and a plastic lunch bag were floating near them in the river. Hicks testified that appellant told him that she had "lost the other boy" after a snake had gotten into the canoe which overturned as she tried to hold the snake down with a paddle. She said it was useless to go back for Michael. Upon returning to shore, appellant's first concern appeared to be for James. She asked Hicks for a beer and drank it. Hicks *389 drove appellant's car to a nearby phone where he called the county rescue squad. The county sheriff and Hicks returned to the capsized canoe to look for Michael. They picked up the debris, including two ski belts. Hicks stated that thirty minutes had passed since he had rescued appellant and James. During that time the canoe and debris had barely moved as the river's current was very slow that day. Rescue squad diver Diamond testified that approximately three hours after the canoe allegedly capsized, Michael's brace-laden body was found midriver approximately one-quarter mile upriver from where the canoe had been recovered and appellant and James had been rescued. Diamond stated the river's current was "very, very slow" that day and was no impediment to swimming upstream. Appellant first reported that Michael was wearing a life jacket, but later stated that he wore a ski belt. While appellant and James stated Michael was wearing a ski belt when the canoe capsized, no ski belt was on Michael's body when it was recovered. Dr. Barry testified that a secured ski belt could not have slipped off Michael, given the braces he was wearing. The appellant's version was that Michael was thrown into the water when the canoe capsized, which she said occurred approximately a mile upstream from where Hicks discovered her and James. She said that she surfaced after the canoe capsized, spotted James face down in the water, cleared his air passage, and resuscitated him. Not finding Michael, she said she began swimming downstream with James until she was picked up by Ricky Hicks. She said the current was too strong to swim anywhere but downstream.

A former neighbor and, later, housemate, Constance Lang, testified that appellant was ashamed of Michael. Appellant would have Lang, who was acting as a live-in baby sitter, take Michael from the house when visitors arrived. Lang said that appellant was distant to Michael, while being close to James and Kimberly. Former neighbor Ken Barnes visited often in appellant's home and observed that James and Michael did not have a good relationship. He felt that appellant had an obvious bond with James, but not with Michael. Appellant's former sister-in-law, Peggy Goeller, testified that she had spoken by telephone with appellant twice in November, 1980. Appellant made no mention of Michaels' death during the first call. During the second call, appellant told her that Michael had recently died during Army maneuvers. Kimberly testified for the defense that appellant and Michael had a loving relationship. However, she admitted that she had made the statement to appellant during an argument "... just like you killed Michael." On rebuttal, the state presented Kimberly's boyfriend, David Lackey, who testified that Kimberly had told him that appellant had drowned Michael in order to collect insurance.

Bank records showed that appellant had a history of returned checks from June, 1979 until July, 1980. Employment records showed that appellant worked as a licensed practical nurse from December, 1978 to September, 1980, earning $3.50 per hour. At the time of his death, Michael was covered by several insurance policies. Two policies, one issued in 1962, the other issued in 1964, with face values of $1,000.00 each and double indemnity provisions in case of accidental death, were owned by appellant. On April 5, 1980 there was a *390 request signed by appellant and Michael for duplicates of these policies. A third policy owned by appellant, with a face amount of $15,000.00 and an accidental death benefit of an additional $30,000.00 was purchased March 22, 1978. The fourth policy purchased by appellant on October 8, 1978 insured Michael for $20,000.00 with a double indemnity accidental death provision. There was no requirement that an insured of Michael's age undergo a health physical for the amounts of coverage involved. As a member of the Army, Michael was insured for $20,000.00 under a servicemen's group life policy on which he had designated the principal beneficiary to be determined "by law." Subsequent to Michael's death, appellant, as beneficiary of the above policies, received over $100,000.00 in benefits. The state's theory was that appellant did not love Michael, viewed him as a burden and set out to kill him in such a way that his death would appear as an accidental drowning so that she could collect the life insurance proceeds. The defense's version was that Michael's death was a result of accidental drowning.

Buenoano v. State, 527 So.2d 194 (Fla. 1988) (Direct Appeal-Goodyear).

Judias V. Buenoano appeals her conviction for first degree murder and sentence of death. We affirm both the conviction and sentence.

On August 31, 1984, 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 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 Buenoano hesitated to take Goodyear to the hospital when he became ill. Two of Buenoano's acquaintances, Constance Lang and Mary Beverly Owens, both testified that Buenoano 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 Buenoano 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 Buenoano and John Gentry began living together and later became engaged. Gentry testified at trial that 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 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 Buenoano had been telling her associates Gentry was suffering from terminal cancer.

Following Goodyear's death in 1971, 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. 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 Buenoano to death.