Less than five years after the execution of serial poisoner Velma Barfield, residents of North Carolina were shocked to discover a new “black widow” in their midst. Like Barfield, the new suspect was a wife and mother, deeply religious, a pillar of the community. And she indulged a taste for easy money that would land her on death row. Blanche Kiser Taylor Moore (born February 17, 1933) is a convicted murderer and probable serial killer from Alamance County, North Carolina. She was convicted of killing her boyfriend by slipping arsenic into his food, and is suspected of killing three other people and nearly killing another in the same manner. She was born Blanche Kiser to P.D. Kiser, an ordained Baptist minister and alcoholic, who later forced her into prostitution to pay gambling debts. At least in part due to this, she was known to switch from quoting Scripture to sexually explicit topics in the same breath. She married young to escape the abuse, tying the knot with James Taylor, five years her senior, in May 1952. Their first daughter, Vanessa, was born in 1953, the same year that Blanche went to work as a checker at the Kroger supermarket in Burlington. Another child, Cindi, followed in 1959, her birth preceding Blanche’s elevation to head cashier by a matter of weeks. All was not well in the Taylor household, however. James was cut from the same cloth as P.D. Kiser, a hard-drinking compulsive gambler who disappeared for whole weekends, returning empty-handed with a lame excuse for where the family’s money went. In 1962, she began an affair with Raymond Reid, the manager of the store. It took three years of determined flirtation for Blanche to land Raymond in bed, but she never lacked for male companionship in terms of one-night stands.
After her husband’s death in 1971, the two began dating publicly. By 1985 the relationship soured. She dated Kevin Denton, the regional manager, however, that relationship ended and Moore filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Denton and Kroger in 1985. Denton was forced to resign, and Kroger settled the case out of court two years later for $275,000. In 1985, Moore also accused an unknown “pervert” of starting two fires that damaged her mobile home. On Easter Sunday, she met Rev. Dwight Moore, the new pastor of the Carolina United Church of Christ in rural Alamance County and they began meeting for meals. At the time, Moore was still dating Raymond Reid. Raymond abandoned his wife and children in 1971, renting a small apartment and filing for divorce. Blanche made a daily routine of stopping by to cook Reid’s breakfast, proclaiming him “helpless” without her. They planned to marry, but the glad event was constantly postponed for one reason or another. In 1986, Reid developed what was initially diagnosed as a case of shingles. He was hospitalized, but by October, he developed a severe case of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Reid died on October 7, 1986. Blanche and Reverend Dwight began seeing each other publicly after Reid’s death. Blanche developed breast cancer. The wedding date was pushed back to November 1988, but Moore developed a mysterious intestinal ailment that required two surgeries to correct. In April 1989, the couple married and honeymooned in New Jersey. Returning home on April 26, 1989, Dwight collapsed after eating a pastry. After two days of suffering, he was admitted to Alamance County Hospital. Watch black widow’s ex-husband reacts to death row challenge
Doctors ordered a toxicology screen after Blanche told them he’d been working in the yard after getting back from their trip. On May 13, the results came back and showed that Dwight Moore had 20 times the lethal dose of arsenic in his system. However, Dwight Moore survived. He never regained full sensation in his hands and feet. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was notified, and exhumations occurred on Moore’s ex-husband, boyfriend, father, and mother-in-law. They became suspicious when they learned that Blanche had tried to get Moore’s pension changed so she would be the principal beneficiary. They also knew she had lied about how much money she received from Reid’s estate. During interviews, Blanche mentioned that both Moore and Reid felt depressed and had probably been taking arsenic—something that was highly improbable. Additionally, it emerged Moore was sleeping with Reid around the same time she began dating Dwight Moore. Blanche also had Dwight’s hair cut in an attempt to prevent hair samples from being obtained by the SBI, but pubic hair samples were used instead. On July 18, 1989, Blanche Taylor Moore was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Raymond Reid. Prosecutors opted to charge her with killing Reid rather than trying to kill Dwight because they felt they’d be able to show her spooning arsenic-laced pudding to Reid. In Moore’s case, doctors had recognized the signs of arsenic poisoning early on, making it more difficult to find out who was poisoning him. She was convicted on November 14. On November 17, the jury recommended the death penalty. On January 18, 1991, and Moore was sentenced to die by lethal injection. She resides at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. Because of the automatic appeals in progress, Moore has staved off execution for 20 years. She maintains her innocence to this day. Watch a taste of poison: the story of Blanche Moore