Time spent: 45640 hours
(Date Posted:04/18/2009 23:30 PM)
Sunset Memorial Park
|2296 Kimberly Rd, Twin Falls, ID 83301, USA|
|Sunset Memorial Park|
This Twin Falls cemetery dates back to 1937 when it began accepting its first burials. Since then, it has been the site of over 14,000 interments and continues to serve as the final resting place of many residents of Twin Falls, Idaho and surrounding areas. Among the many buried within, there is one name that has a relatively scandalous place in the history of the state of Idaho.
Anna E. Shaw
Sunset Memorial Park is the final resting place for one of Idaho's most notorious murderers. Anna E. Shaw is perhaps better known as Lyda Southard (Lyda Anna Mae Trueblood was her birth name) or "Idaho's Lady Bluebeard." Southard was convicted of poisoning her fourth husband, Edward F. Meyer, with arsenic that she had extracted by boiling flypaper and serving it to him in food. She was incarcerated for the crime in the Old Idaho Penitentiary between the years of 1921 and 1941. Though Meyer is the only death for which she was convicted, she was believed to be responsible for many more.
The story of Lyda Southard truly began on March 17, 1912 when she married Twin Falls-resident, Robert C. Dooley, at the age of 19. She moved to Dooley's ranch where she lived with her husband and his brother, Edward. Soon afterwards, Lyda gave birth to a daughter, whom they named Lorraine, but the baby only lived for a short time. Brother-in-law, Edward would join her rather suddenly when he succumbed to what was believed to be ptomaine poisoning. On October 12, 1915, Robert too passed away and his death was attributed to typhoid fever.
The relatively short marriage would turn out to be much longer than the next two. By June 1917, Lyda had remarried and had relocated to Hardin, Montana. Her second husband was a man by the name of William G. McHaffle. The couple was married for over a year until October 1, 1918 when William suddenly passed away. The death certificate put the cause of death as influenza and diphtheria. By March 1919, Lyda had married yet again, this time to Billings-resident, Harlan C. Lewis. By July, Harlan was dead. His cause of death was listed as gastroenteritis.
After the death of Harlan Lewis, Lyda moved back to Pocatello, Idaho where she met a ranch foreman by the name of Edward F. Meyer. They were married in August 1920, but by September 7, 1920, Edward was dead - again reportedly of typhoid fever. Interestingly enough, another ranch hand also became ill around the same time, but managed to recover following Edward's death.
Now a widow for the fourth time, the authorities grew suspicious. Each of the husbands had taken out life insurance policies that listed Lyda as the direct beneficiary and the amount paid out seemed to grow which each death. Lyda and first husband, Robert, had even collected from a policy on her brother-in-law, Edward. With motive in-hand, the authorities exhumed the body of Ed Meyer and found a lethal amount of arsenic in his system. A warrant was immediately issued but Lyda had fled town. The bodies of her other three husbands, brother-in-law, and daughter were all quickly exhumed as well. While traces of arsenic were found in some, the excellent state of preservation of the bodies led the authorities to suspect arsenic poisoning in all.
Lyda was finally tracked down in Honolulu, Hawaii where she had already married for a fifth time. However, Petty Officer Paul Vincent Southard was still alive and insistent that his wife was innocent. Nevertheless, the now-legally named Lyda Southard was returned to Idaho to face trial for the murder of Edward Meyer. On November 4, 1921, a jury returned a guilty verdict of second-degree murder and Lyda was subsequently sentenced to the Old Idaho Penitentiary for ten years to life. However, her story was not over.
Ten years after she had first entered the prison, she escaped by prying the bars loose on her cell's window and climbing down a rope fashioned together with bed sheets. With the assistance of a male inmate that had been released only three weeks prior, she fled the prison and the state of Idaho. The couple were later tracked to Denver, Colorado where Lyda had unceremoniously dumped the man that aided in her escape, and had married for a sixth time. After reading her accomplice had been arrested, Lyda left her new husband and fled to Topeka, Kansas. The husband, Harry Whitlock, was shocked to hear about her past, as she had just convinced him to take out his own life insurance policy. With his assistance, Lyda was recaptured in Topeka and transported back to the prison.
Even then, her story was not over. A minor scandal broke out when a local newspaper uncovered special favors that had been granted to Lyda by the current warden, who subsequently resigned. Lyda was officially released on October 3, 1941 and, after a short stay with her sister in Oregon, she returned to Twin Falls and married for a seventh time to Hal Shaw. According to accounts, the seventh husband disappeared without a trace within two years. Lyda ultimately settled in Salt Lake City where she passed away from a heart attack on February 5, 1958. Her body was brought back to Twin Falls and buried in Sunset Memorial Park in Lot 441 of the Pinehurst Gardens under the name Anna E. Shaw.
Her story was the focus of the 1994 novel, Lady Bluebeard: The True Story of Love and Marriage, Death and Flypaper, by author William C. Anderson. It was also given the murder ballad treatment with the ironically titled, Lyda Southard's Famous Apple Pie (believed to be how she delivered the poison in at least some of the cases). The song appears in the compilation of ballads, Way Out in Idaho: A Celebration of Songs and Stories, compiled by author Rosalie Sorrels. (See Available from Amazon.com below)
The Cemetery Today
The Sunset Memorial Park cemetery continues to accept burials in Twin Falls, Idaho to this day. It is open from sunrise to dusk with no admittance after dark.
usertype:1 tt= 0
Director - The Indiana Paranormal Society
"To die will be an awfully BIG adventure" - Peter Pan