Background and First Two Husbands of Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss

Nannie Doss is one of the most prolific American female serial killers, thought to have killed 11 family members during a span of more than 20 years.

Often referred to as “The Giggling Granny” or “The Jolly Widow”, Nannie Doss did not instill fear in her victims. Rather, she killed quietly with poison, letting victims believe they were getting sick. Before they had time to figure out what happened, they were dead.

Nannie Doss’ Childhood

Nannie Doss was born Nancy Hazle on Nov. 4, 1905 to poor farming parents in Blue Mountain, Ala. From a very young age, Doss could tell that her mother was deathly afraid of her father, who was a violent man and forced Nannie and her siblings to spend much of their childhood working in the fields – often to avoid being beaten. Doss’ only attended school until sixth grade, and after spent her time doing household chores, maintenance work, and fieldwork until her first job in 1921.

Charley Braggs: The One Who Got Away

It was at her first job that Doss met Charley Braggs, who would become her first husband. The couple married when Doss was 16, just five months after meeting. The couple moved in with Bragg’s mother, and soon, Doss realized she had escaped the violent hands of her father, only to fall into the manipulative hands of her mother-in-law. To Doss, Mrs. Braggs was not all that different from her terrifying father.

In 1923, Doss and Braggs had their first daughter, and would have three more over the next four years. Because of the stress of raising four children, Mrs. Braggs, and an adulterous husband, Doss began drinking and smoking heavily, and soon, she too began indulging in adulterous acts. Doss is thought to have committed her first murders in 1927, when her two young daughters died of suspected food poisoning.

Braggs must have known something was wrong with their deaths, because he left, taking the oldest daughter with him. He was gone for more than a year, and when he returned in the summer of 1928, he brought a new girlfriend with him. Doss left, and Braggs was able to escape the fate that awaited all of Doss’ future husbands.

Doss’ Second Husband, Frank Harrelson

Doss was said to have been obsessive about finding love and romance, and thus turned to the newspaper personals after leaving Braggs. It was here that she met Frank Harrelson, whom she married in 1929. When people write personals, they don’t include their faults, but it wasn’t long before Doss discovered that Harrelson was a drunk who had spent time in jail for felonious assault charges. Soon after her discovery, police began showing up at her house several times a week to let her know that Frank was, once again, in the drunk tank for fighting.

During the time Doss was married to Harrelson, her oldest daughter began having children and Doss became a grandmother in 1943 and again in 1945. Doss is suspected of killing both grandchildren – the second one within hours of birth, allegedly having pushed a hatpin into the child’s head. The first grandchild, Robert, died while in Doss’ care of asphyxiation.

Just seven months later, Harrelson also would be dead. After returning from the bar, Harrelson forced sex upon Doss and she vowed to get even. The next day, Doss discovered onez of Harrelson’s liquor bottles in the flower bed. She topped it off with rat poison, and Frank died on Sept. 15, 1945 – just hours after Doss filled his liquor bottle.

But Doss wasn’t finished killing there. She was just getting started. Continue reading to find out about Nannie Doss’ next three husbands and other casualties.


  1. Nannie Doss: Lonely Hearts Lady Loved Her Man to Death Geringer, Joseph. TruTv Crime Library.