CHRONICLES OF A BLACK WIDOW — A REVIEW

From the beginning of this true-life account of “the bloody crimes and execution of the Texas Black Widow,” we already know the outcome. We know she kills two husbands, is convicted of the crimes, and is executed—the second woman in Texas to be executed since the Civil War.

But much of the narrative of Buried Memories : The Bloody Crimes and Execution of the Texas Black Widow simply chronicles the life of Betty Lou Dunevant Beets, complete with snippets of her childhood experiences and the numerous marriages (five), along with the birth of six children. Most of the children were parceled off to various relatives or their fathers, while Betty pursued her next man and her next financial gain. Acquiring property, even something simple like a trailer, became an obsession—and would be among other listed motives for the murders, despite her protests that she was a battered wife.

Probably the most heinous aspect to this woman’s crimes, aside from the sheer coldblooded nature of the acts, was how she used her children as accomplices.

Even when she was finally arrested and her trial began, and even after her conviction, it was fifteen years before she was finally executed. And during that time, there were many appeals and efforts to overturn the conviction.

What forces combined to create such a monster hidden behind the sweet, demure and often sociable veneer this woman presented? And how could she fool so many men into marrying her? Even her supporters, including those children she used, would have to admit that she often, in a split second, could turn cold and evil.

Was it simply a matter of the sociopathic charms that killers often hide behind? I did find myself fascinated by the story, but even as I searched for clues along the way, there were few to show us how she came to be the way she was.

In some ways, the story was just a lot of factual information gleaned from various sources and nothing speculative that would tell us why. Perhaps there are no answers. I found the story captivating, but also like reading newspaper or magazine accounts. I would have enjoyed a more exploratory venture. Therefore, I’m giving this one three stars.

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