Velma Barfield: Story of a serial murderess who recieved the death penalty.

Essay by KayumeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, October 2006

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Velma Margie Barfield was responsible for the arsenic-related deaths of at least three people, though it is suspected there were more victims, regardless of her history as a model mother and status as a grandmother- albeit one who abused prescription medications. The deaths she was charged with were by and large arsenic-caused gastroenteritis, which is the inflaming of the stomach and bowels.

To begin the story of Velma Barfield's murders, it is pertinent to look into her childhood background. Born on October 29th, 1932 to Murphey Bullard and his housewife Lillie- who would later become one of Velma's victims (Wiki). At that time, Velma's family lived in South Carolina and her father worked on a family farm to serve as their main source of income. As in many families at the time, the father was the ruler of the home, however his strictness and need to control every detail of his family's life was far more intense than that of most father's, and Velma's mother Lillie often simply sat docilely by and allow Bullard to strike his children or even herself as often and hard as necessary (Noe).

Velma is quoted as saying this was one of the main reasons she disliked her mother, because she assumed all fathers behaved that way, but that mother's were supposed to at least attempt to protect their children. Barfield also claimed vehemently that she was raped by her father as a child, though these claims were never substantiated and her siblings and other family members denied it intensely. If it was true, though, this may help to explain her murderous intent later in life.

In high school, Barfield met her husband Tom Burke and married him before dropping out of school entirely. The Burkes had two children, and for the majority of...