Lavinia Fisher was born in 1793 in Charleston, South Carolina and died on February 18, 1820, at the age of 26 or 27 at the Old City Jail, Charleston, South Carolina by hanging. Lavinia resided in the United States for most of her life and might have been the first serial killer in the United States, but it is not proven. Lavinia and her husband John Fisher lived in North Carolina for the most of their life and was convicted of highway robbery which was a capital offense in the early 1800s.
Some people believed that Lavinia killed her victims by crushing their head with her legs which seemed almost impossible unless you are one incredibly strong person. Lavinia was part of the highwaymen gang who operated out of the Five Mile House and the Six Mile House (might have served as a hideout for several outlaws) located in the backcountry near Charleston. John and Lavinia owned the Six Mile Wayfarer House in the early 19th century where several reports were filed with the sheriff"s office about guests disappearing. John and Lavinia were very popular with the townspeople, and there was not any evidence pointing towards them, so the complaints did not lead to anything.
It is said/presumed that Lavinia would invite people traveling alone to dinner at her hotel and ask them personal questions regarding their work to figure out if they had money or not. Lavinia would then give the men a cup of poisonous tea to take back with them to their room, and the men would die upon consuming the tea. John would then enter their room and confirm they were dead by stabbing them.
It is also said that the tea would make the men fall asleep for a few hours giving Lavinia enough time to pull a lever that will collapse the bed and drop the men into a pit where they would die.
Factual details are hard to obtain because many of the events that occurred with Lavinia and John was exaggerated over time, but the Charleston Post and Courier may have some reliable information. The Charleston Post and Courier mention that a vigilante gang enters Lavinia"s neighborhood in February 1819 to stop the gang activities. The vigilante group left Lavinia"s neighborhood after they felt that they took care of the matter but left their watchman David Ross to keep watch on the area. David Ross was attacked the next day by the gang his team thought they got rid of and was dragged and terrorized. David looked at Lavinia for help, but she choked him and smashed his head through a window. David Ross somehow manages to escape receive the help from authorities.
John Peeples went to Lavinia"s inn/motel to seek vacancies where Lavinia told him that there was no room available but he can come inside and have some tea while he rests a little. John Peeples did not like tea, but he did not want to offend her, so he threw away the tea when Lavinia was not looking. John became suspicious after Lavinia questioned him for several hours and then said there was, after all, a room available. John thought that he might be robbed that day/night and decided to sleep in a wooden chair next to the door. John woke up to a loud noise in his bedroom and saw that the bed he was supposed to sleep in was collapsed. He jumped out of the window and went straight to the authorities after figuring out Lavinia"s plan.
John Fisher surrendered his gang to the authorities in the hope of not getting his wife Lavinia caught in a possible gunfire. John loved his wife very much and tried once again to protect her by giving the names of the gang members.
John and Lavinia were held in jail for about a year until their trial date in May where they pleaded not guilty. They were convicted of highway robbery which was a capital offense. The couple appealed their case, and the judge allowed it to a new court date in January. Lavinia and John thought of plans of how to escape while they were in in a 6x8 at the not so heavily guarded Charleston, South Carolina jail. They tried to escape on
September 13 but their plan did not go as planned when the rope they made from the linens in the prison broke. John was free and could have escaped, but he refused to flee without his wife, Lavinia who was trapped in the cell. John was captured, and both of them was now guarded more than before.
The Constitutional Court rejected John and Lavinia"s appeals and on February 4, 1820, and sentenced both of them to be hanged. Reverend Furman read aloud John"s letter stating that he is a Christian and could not be executed with a lie held to his name. He insisted he was innocent and as for all of the people who did wrong to him to be forgiven but he later contradicted himself when he asks the crowd to forgive him. Lavinia knew that there would be no mercy and decided to shout out "If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me, and I"ll carry it!" People report that they see Lavinia"s ghost/apparition in the Old Charleston Jail House.