Anjette Jyles Donovan – Angel-face and Arsenic

Anjette Lyles’ (1925 – 1977) restaurant on Mulberry Street in downtown Macon, Georgia was a favorite lunch spot for the town’s lawyers, judges and businesspeople in the 1950s. The food was okay, but what attracted the menfolk was the restaurant’s owner, Anjette Lyles. She was blonde, blue-eyed with a gorgeous face and a bubbly disposition. One evening her husband, Ben Lyles informed her he had sold the restaurant since he didn’t like running it anymore. Furious, Anjette decided to buy back the restaurant but she needed money.  After fatally poisoning Ben with arsenic, Anjette received a decent life insurance payment and bought back the Lyles’ restaurant, only this time it was called Anjette’s. In 1955, Anjette married hubby number two, a pilot named Joe Neal. Having had a taste for the good life, however after only a few months of marriage Joe developed a “weeping rash” and died in agony in December. Anjette went shopping for a new convertible. Two years later, Mrs. Julia Lyles, Anjette’s mother-in-law, died after a mysterious illness. What puzzled Anjette’s patrons was how she could remain so cheerful and outgoing with all the tragedy going on around her life. Anjette had a 9-year-old daughter named Marcia. Anjette usually spoke cruelly to Marcia and treated her roughly in front of customers.  Marcia seemed like a burden. Marcia suddenly became very sick and died April 5, 1958. Truly this time everyone expected Anjette to be devastated…but she wasn’t. Watch arsenic and old lace cary grant

Only one person suspected foul play in this incredible string of deaths. About three weeks before the death of Marcia, Carrie Jackson, a cook in Anjette’s Restaurant, wrote an unsigned note to Mrs. Julia Lyles’ sister in Cochran, Georgia, warning her that little Marcia was in danger. The cook was concerned because she felt Anjette was feeding her child poisoned lemonade and other drinks in the hospital. The sister, Mrs. W.K. Bagley, went to Macon, Georgia to see authorities immediately. Nothing was done and Marcia died. However, Mrs. Bagley’s visit raised suspicions to Bibb County coroner, Lester Chapman. The medical examiner, Dr. Leonard Campbell,  did an autopsy on Marcia, sending samples of Marcia’s organs to the State Crime Lab in Atlanta. The lab reported that Marcia died of multiple doses of arsenic, most likely from Terro ant poison, a common insecticide.

On Anjette maintained her innocence throughout the trial, but the jury had heard enough. In mid-October, the jury returned a verdict of guilty and sentenced Anjette to the electric chair. Had this sentence been carried out Anjette would have been the first woman in George to be put to death in the electric chair. A series of appeals and sanity hearings followed and they eventually declared Anjette insane. On December 4, 1977, Anjette Lyles died of natural causes at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville.  Watch Deadly Women – secrets and lies

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4 Responses to Anjette Jyles Donovan – Angel-face and Arsenic

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    • gothrules says:

      Very cool. Just now I am looking for information on Lizzie Tomlinson, a 6-year-old rape and murder victim in Toronto, Ontario during, I believe, the 1980s. Her wrongly accused killer, her mentally handicapped cousin, was defended by Edward Greenspan, a prominent Toronto lawyer. If you are interested, let me know and write me a blog. Thanks

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