Idaho is a beautiful haven, but just like every other state in the country, it has its dark side as well, buried beneath years of history. Each of these Idaho cities have seen uncharacteristically gruesome acts of malice occur within their city limits, forming a shocking contrast to the warm and hospitable small town reputation Idaho has come to be known for. Here are the most notorious serial killers and murder locations in Idaho.
1. Twin Falls
Lyda Southard (Lady Bluebeard) is often considered Idaho's (and the country's) first female serial killer. She was convicted of poisoning her spouses, a brother-in-law, and even her own daughter as a means of collecting insurance money.
In the early 1900s, Lyda's multiple marriages kept ending in the death of her husbands -- along with the demise of her daughter, Lorraine, from her first marriage to Ed Dooley. The picture perfect family lived in Twin Falls before the deaths occurred; after the killings, Lyda remarried and moved to Montana. A few nuptials and funerals later, Lyda returned to Idaho and remarried in Pocatello.
After Southard's crimes caught up with her, she was imprisoned in the Old Idaho State Penitentiary from which she later escaped, was caught, and returned the following year. She is buried in Twin Falls.
2. Idaho Falls
This cozy, church-centered city nurtured a homegrown serial killer unknowingly. Paul Ezra Rhoades, an Idaho Falls native, was executed in Boise in 2011 and was the first Idaho inmate to be put death since 1994. Rhoades was convicted in the kidnapping and murders of 34-year-old Susan Michelbacher and 21-year-old Stacy Dawn Baldwin. He was also sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 20-year-old Nolan Haddon. On his deathbed, he only admitted to one of the killings.
The notorious Snake River Killer haunted the Lewis-Clark Valley in the late 70s. In fact, for three years, young women were disappearing left and right, it seemed. And when human body parts were found wrapped in black garbage bags, floating in the nearby Snake River, the community was rocked to its core.
Lewiston authorities believe the same person killed Christina White, Kristin David, Kristina Nelson, Brandy Miller, and Steven Pearsall; nearly a dozen other disappearances coincide with the canonical murders, but no links have been made. However, although the suspicion is nearly beyond a reasonable doubt, there is little tangible evidence to present to the court. Thus, the case
Michael Braae, aka "Cowboy Mike" or the "Ladykiller," was the lead suspect in the violent disappearances and murders of four women, the shooting of another, and two rapes in the late 90s. The target of a large-scale manhunt that ranged across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, authorities claim Braae lived all over these three states, without permanently settling in any of them since his escape from prison work detail in 1997.
Over four years, Braae moved rapidly across the states in quick succession; from Moscow one day, to La Grande the next. In 2001, the escalated chase began in Payette and ended with Braae jumping into the Snake River and being pulled out by a police dog.
5. Coeur d'Alene
Joseph Edward Duncan III was sentenced to death in 2008 for the kidnappings of two young children from their Wolf Lodge, Idaho home, as well as the murder of several of their family members in 2005. He kept the children in the Montana wilderness for weeks before killing the boy and returning the young girl back to Coeur d'Alene, where he was then arrested.
Duncan is currently serving multiple death and life-in-prison sentences at a high-security U.S. penitentiary across the country.
No doubt America's most notoriously despised murderer, Ted Bundy's sadistic killing spree spanned seven states in the early 70s, with a victim count over 30 -- although the actual number is thought to be much higher.
In one of Bundy's final interviews before his execution in 1989, he revealed details about the murder of a young Pocatello girl that could have only been known by her killer, as well as admitted to the violent murder of a young hitchhiker near Boise. Both accounts rocked the Gem State and added Idaho to Bundy's list of successful targets.
Fortunately, horrific crimes like these are few and far between, but they leave a lasting, painful mark nonetheless. Were you familiar with these stories?