Anjette Lyles felt the best way to deal with her problematic home life was to poison the people around her. -Secrets and Lies, Deadly Women (S4, E11)
In 1947, Anjette Lyles and WWII Army veteran Ben Lyles ran a successful restaurant in Macon, Georgia. Anjette’s shining personality and beautiful face kept the customers coming back. One judge remembered his experience at the restaurant and claimed she was just a nice person. One day, Ben decides he’s had enough and sells the family restaurant. He said he was sick of it and Anjette was angry because she wanted to keep the restaurant; they also had just gave birth to another child. Ben wouldn’t relent and he would come to regret that decision. At first, Anjette practiced black magic and wished for harm to come to Ben. Then she stepped it up and started using a form of ant poisoning she conveniently put in Ben’s food. Ben Lyles was sick with rheumatic fever since his time in the service but once he sold the restaurant, he rapidly deteriorated. Ben was experiencing bleeding from the nose and mouth, swelling of the eyes, weeping skin lesions, and acute liver failure. Nobody could figure out what was wrong. Ben’s death was painful and the baffled doctors decided it was encephalitis. Ben Lyles died on January 25, 1952.
The pair argued bitterly over [Ben selling the restaurant], and the arguments only got worse when the Veteran’s Administration decided to cut Ben’s pension to a tenth of what it was as they’d decided he was now fit to work. As if to prove the VA wrong, in December of 1951 Ben Lyles fell ill. The doctors were confused. It wasn’t a recurrence of his rheumatic fever, and in fact they weren’t quite sure what it was that was wrong with him. He had nosebleeds and convulsions, and had to be hospitalised. When he went into a coma in January the doctors decided it was encephalitis, but by then it was too late for effective treatment. He never regained consciousness and died on the 25th of January. –HeadStuff
With the life insurance payout and the proceeds from the sale of the restaurant, Anjette bought back the restaurant and it became even more popular. She met Joe ‘Buddy’ Gabbert in the restaurant; he was a pilot from Texas. As soon as Joe met Anjette, he was captivated by her and courted her very energetically. They were married in just a few months. But Joe would quickly learn his new wife is not as she seems. Within three months of walking down the aisle, Joe Gabbert was dead on December 2, 1955. At this point, it is clear that Anjette was a sociopath with no feelings of empathy or love for anyone. Before she was 30, Anjette was widowed twice because the secret to her misfortune was arsenic poisoning. Her first husband Ben died shortly after selling the family restaurant; her second husband Joe died of a mysterious illness shortly after they were married. But instead of mourning, Anjette was happy and thriving in her restaurant. With another life insurance payout, this time Anjette bought herself a new home. But then a complication arose when her mother-in-law, Julia Lyles, announced she wanted to move in with her.
Julia indeed moved in with her but Anjette found a way to eliminate her problem and make even more money. Anjette learned that Julia had lots of money in savings. She attempted to change Julia’s will but one judge would not touch it because he needed to witness Julia sign the document and he knew it wasn’t Julia’s signature. Anjette forged her mother-in-law’s will and began to speed up her demise. When Julia fell ill and was hospitalized, Anjette brought her favorite foods for her and all the nurses thought she was so nice. Instead, Anjette was feeding Julia arsenic poisoning while she was laying in the hospital bed. Julia Lyles died on September 29, 1957. Anjette learned the best way to handle family problems was to simply get rid of them, by murdering. After Anjette’s mother-in-law was dead, she started turning on her daughter Marcia because she was an accessory Anjette didn’t want anymore. Marcia died of another unexplained illness on April 5, 1958 and it was reported that Anjette stood in the corner of the hospital room laughing while she was in pain. The doctors at the time could find reasons for the deaths of her two husbands but not this healthy little girl.
This time the police wanted an autopsy of Marcia Lyles and the autopsy results revealed that Marcia died of arsenic poisoning. After learning this information, the police exhumed both Ben Lyle’s and Joe Gabbert’s bodies and again they found traces of arsenic. Anjette’s secrets were finally revealed; she was a serial killer with no mercy. People were stunned to learned Anjette poisoned both her husbands and her daughter Marcia. It was described as a complete shock as the community always knew the kind, happy, helpful Anjette in the restaurant. Anjette Lyles was convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to death in 1958. But she appealed on the grounds of insanity and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Anjette was spared execution and lived out her life in an asylum. She died in 1977 of a heart attack at age 55. And in the end, a lot of people didn’t believe she was evil; they just figured she had some kind of mental quirk. Former FBI Profiler Candice DeLong shared her assessment of the case: “Anjette was a very high functioning, dedicated, driven, successful business women. That is not the definition of a paranoid schizophrenic.”
Source: ‘Secrets and Lies’ Deadly Women
Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.
Macon, Georgia | City Confidential | Anjette Lyles
Anjette Donovan Lyles (1925-1977) | Find a Grave
Lynn and Anjette | View From a Hearse
Anjette Lyles to be one of Discovery’s ‘Deadly Women’
Macon’s Murderous Maidens
Anjette Lyles, Restaurateur Of Death
Murder À La Carte: The Murders of Anjette Lyles
This Murderous Restaurant Owner Was The First White Woman Ever To Be Sentenced To Death In The US
Anjette Lyles: Serial Killer: Whispers and Spells (book)
Whisper to the Black Candle: Voodoo, Murder, And the Case of Anjette Lyles (book)
6 Serial Killers in Georgia
Macon, GA | City Confidential | Anjette Lyles
Secrets and Lies | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S4, E11)