Judi Buenoano – Poisoned Policies

Judias “Judy” Buenoano (born Judias Welty, also known as Judias Goodyear, also known as Judias Morris) (April 4, 1943 – March 30, 1998), was a convicted murderer who was executed for the 1971 murder of her husband James Goodyear. She was convicted for the 1980 murder of her son Michael Goodyear, and the 1983 attempted murder of her fiancé John Gentry. She is also acknowledged to have been responsible for the 1978 death of her boyfriend Bobby Joe Morris in Colorado however, by the time authorities made the connection between Buenoano and Morris, she was already sentenced to death. She was suspected in the 1980 death of her boyfriend Gerald Dossett. After her arrest, Dossett’s body was exhumed and analysed for signs of arsenic poisoning. No charges were laid in that case. Buenoano was the first woman to be executed in Florida since 1848 and was only the third woman to be executed in the United States since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. Nationally, she was the first woman executed in the electric chair since 1957, when Rhonda Belle Martin was electrocuted in Alabama.

Like so many criminals she had a difficult childhood. She was born Judias Welty, in Quanah, Texas, on April 4, 1943, the daughter of a farm laborer. Her mother (also named Judias) died of tuberculosis when Judi was 4 years old. Her father remarried and took Judi and Robert to live with his new wife in Roswell, New Mexico. Judi was miserable there and claimed her father and stepmother abused her. She was beaten, starved,and forced to work long hours as a slave. At 14  she was sentenced to two months in prison for attacking her father and stepmother and two stepbrothers. After she was released, she went to a reform school rather than back to her abusive family. She is reported to have said of her brother Robert “I wouldn’t spit down his throat if his guts were on fire”.

In 1971, she was married to James Goodyear (1934–1971), a sergeant in the United States Air Force and gave birth to James, Jr., on January 16, 1966. James adopted Michael. In 1967 they had a daughter, Kimberley. In 1968 Judi opened a business, the Conway Acres Child Care Center in Orlando. She was motivated by insurance money when she poisoned James with lethal doses of arsenic and cashed in three life insurance policies. In 1973, she moved in with Bobby Joe Morris (?-1978); Her new life was marred by her son Michael who was disruptive at school and of low intelligence. She was able to get him into residential foster care for a time. In January 1978, Morris succumbed to arsenic poisoning. His family suspected Bobby Joe was murdered and that he was not the only victim. Bobby Joe’s mother overheard Judi saying, “The son of a bitch shouldn’t have come up here in the first place. He knew if he came up here he was gonna die”. Bobby Joe confessed to his part in this killing. At the time, the police could find no fingerprints inside the room and no bullet was recovered from the corpse so they could not bring charges. On May 3, 1978, Judi changed her surname and that of her children to Buenoano, the Spanish equivalent of Goodyear in a tribute to her late husband. She and her family moved back to Pensacola. Later that year, she changed her name to “Buenoano”.

Buenoano’s son Michael (1961–1980) became ill in 1979, his symptoms included paraplegia; and post-mortem examination indicated that he had been the victim of severe arsenic poisoning, which caused his disability. In 1980, Buenoano took Michael out in a canoe; the canoe rolled, and Michael, weighed down by his arm and leg braces, drowned. After Michael’s death, Judi opened a beauty salon in Gulf Breeze and dated John Gentry II. She told John she worked as a senior nurse in Florida. In 1983, Buenoano became engaged to John. Not long afterward, Gentry was severely injured when his car exploded. Four days later police looked into Judi’s background: she had booked a cruise for herself and her children and told friends John had a terminal illness. Gentry provided police with the “vitamin pills” Buenoano gave him; these were found to contain arsenic and formaldehyde. This led to the exhumations of Michael, James, and Bobby Joe, and to the discovery that each man had been the victim of arsenic poisoning. Buenoano displayed a lack of concern for others in the extreme; it was more likely that she exhibited a hatred for her victims. Watch Deadly Women: black widows

The police traced the source of the dynamite. She was arrested for attempted murder. On In 1984, Buenoano was convicted for the murders of Michael and James, and in 1985 she received a twelve-year sentence for the Gentry case, a life sentence for the Michael case, and a death sentence for the James case. Judi was convicted of multiple counts of grand theft. Judi’s last appeal was turned down on March 29, 1998. She was confined to a 12-by-7 foot cell where she passed her time watching a small black and white television through the bars in the death watch area adjacent to the execution room. Judi spent her final hours seeing her adult children, Kim and James. Jeanne Eaton, a cousin who visited before the execution, stated, “She had no fear at all, she’s mostly afraid of leaving her children and how upset they were.” In a television interview a few days before the execution, Judi said “I would like to clear the record for my grandson, I would like for him to know that his grandmother was not a murderer.”

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