Results of Intuitive Challenge #2

Here she is again, if you need to take another look at her and try to connect one last time. If you can discipline yourself to give it one more shot before reading the results, go for it. If you just can’t stop yourself from peeking (like me lol), then scroll down and read all about her.


The woman in the photo is Martha Needle
; she was born in Morgan, South Australia in 1863. She was quite attractive, was said to have “a kindly disposition”, and as far as anyone knew, Our Little Martha had a pretty unremarkable childhood and life. That is, until you did a little digging. Martha’s early life was a nightmare, and by that, I don’t mean the usual ups and downs for a young woman in that time and place. I mean a total, all out, no holds barred, f*cking nightmare from hell.

Martha grew up in a violent and abusive household (JeanMarie - you were on the money with that one!) and had shown signs of mental instability from an early age. She married Henry Needle at the age of 17 in North Adelaide. Two years later (1882) she gave birth to a daughter. Mabel, followed by another daughter, Elsie, in 1883. In 1885, The Needles had yet another daughter, who they named May.

One fine day, Henry Needle woke up and chirped: “Hey Martha! Guess what we’re doing today?”, and then packed their stuff and moved the whole family to the Melbourne suburb of Richmond Hill. No wonder she went bonkers…

On the 23rd of February 1885 little Mabel Needle died after a short illness. Martha stated that she "seemed to fade". Just like that, without batting an eyelash. Martha later collected 100 pounds ($13,050 today) life insurance on Mabel's death. Henry, who was insured for 200 pounds, died of a mysterious illness on October 4, 1889, followed by Elsie in 1890 and May later that year. Doctors were baffled. Martha spent almost all the insurance money (about $40,000 today) on an elaborate family grave which she visited regularly.

Louis Juncken, a friend from Adelaide, operated a saddlery business with his brother Otto at 137 Bridge Road, Richmond and in 1891 Martha sub-let the attached house and took in lodgers. Martha began an affair with Otto in 1893 but Louis and his other brother Herman disapproved and attempted to prevent their engagement.

The following year Louis became ill and died of suspected typhoid. In June 1894 Herman travelled to Melbourne from Adelaide to handle his late brother's affairs, he ate a meal prepared by Martha and suddenly became ill. He recovered but became ill again the next day after eating breakfast. Two days later Herman had fully recovered but while eating lunch, prepared by Martha, he was seized by painful violent cramps. Doctor Boyd treated Herman for suspected poisoning and took a sample of Herman's vomit and sent it to the Government laboratory for analysis. The analyst reported that the sample contained arsenic.

Doctor Boyd informed the police of his suspicions and a trap was set, the police asked Hermann to ask Martha to make lunch. After being served a cup of tea, Hermann literally "blew the whistle", summoning detectives who arrived as Martha was struggling with Hermann to upset the tea cup, which was found to contain enough arsenic to kill five people.

Martha was charged with attempted murder. The body of Louis Juncken, interned in Lyndoch, South Australia was exhumed and samples sent to Melbourne. The bodies of Henry Needle and the three girls, interned in Kew, were also exhumed. All five bodies were found to contain fatal levels of arsenic and Martha was charged with the murder of Louis Juncken. Pleading not guilty, the trial lasted three days, with Martha being found guilty and sentenced to death, though she pleaded her innocence.

Martha Needle was executed at 8.00am on 22 October 1894. Despite insisting her own innocence when asked for last words, Martha replied, "I have nothing to say."

Like Sissy Spacek’s hand coming out of the grave in the original “Carrie”, Martha’s legacy continued after her execution via her loving nephew. On 15 July 1920, Alexander Newland Lee, the son of Martha's older sister Ellen, was hanged at Adelaide Gaol for the April 1 murder of his wife Muriel. Muriel had been poisoned with strychnine. Must be a family thing….

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