The Korean “Black Widow”—The Serial Killer Who Murdered Her Husbands Without Touching Them
From 1986 to 1988, Kim Sun Ja was Korea’s first female serial killer and murdered her victims without touching them. Though she was charged and sentenced to death, she wasn’t the last female serial killer in the country to murder victims in that manner.
For nearly three years, a woman only known by her surname Noh was part of a similar string of murders in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. It began with her first husband Kim in 2011. Noh spiked a drink with the poisonous pesticide Gramoxone (also known as Paraquat) and placed it in the refrigerator for her husband to drink.
Sadly, Kim died from the poison—originally ruled a suicide by police because Gramoxone was often used for suicides (causing it to be taken off the market in 2012). Kim’s sister also reported that he “received a large inheritance from their parents but lost it all and was in debt because of his business,” which caused a divorce between Kim and Noh years before. Noh even attempted to murder Kim’s mother with the same pesticide but didn’t succeed.
Noh then moved on to a new family by marrying her next husband Lee in 2012. Less than a year later, in January 2013, Noh murdered Lee’s mother with Gramoxone. She also murdered her husband Lee months later in August.
Once again, Noh escaped the police’s notice. Lee and his mother’s causes of death were initially ruled as natural because the hospital diagnosed them with pneumonia. However, the police began to notice a pattern.
In addition to the many people dying around Noh, police realized one of the motives behind her malicious actions. There were three insurance policies on her first husband Kim, which meant that $336,688 USD in insurance money went to their daughter upon his death. Because she was a minor, Noh inevitably had control of the money.
The same situation happened with Noh’s second husband Lee. $396,543 USD of insurance money went to their one-year-old son upon Lee’s death. Once again, Noh had legal control of the money. Unfortunately, her mother-in-law and two husbands weren’t Noh’s only victims.
Using the same poisonous pesticide that killed her victims, Noh gave her daughter a minimal dose on three occasions to get a $5,236 USD insurance payout. With close to a million dollars of blood money she received from insurance companies, police reported that Noh purchased bars of gold, a brand new car, a $14K USD bicycle, and multiple ski trips.
While Noh didn’t explicitly give an explanation for murdering her husbands, she did speak up about killing her mother-in-law during police questioning. Noh claimed that the mother-in-law had “looked down on” her and her children. Noh also clarified that she didn’t intend to murder her daughter with the pesticide doses.
In the end, Noh was initially sentenced to ten years of imprisonment with an ankle monitor but was later sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of her two husbands and mother-in-law.
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