‘Black Widow’ Judy Buenoano Executed by the State of Florida for Three Homicides; First Woman to Die by Death Penalty in Florida Since 1848 (March 30, 1998)

Judy Buenoano

Judy Buenoano was executed by the State of Florida on March 30, 1998.

Air Force Sergeant James Goodyear, 37, died on September 16, 1971 in Orlando, Florida. Sergeant Goodyear died just three months after completing a year long tour of duty in Vietnam. He left behind his wife Judy Buenoano Goodyear and her son Michael Buenoano. Judy received $28,000 in military life insurance benefits and military death benefits to help support the family. When her son Michael turned eighteen, he joined the US Army. On his way to his post in Georgia, he stopped in to visit his mother Judy, she fed him, and afterwards he became ill. The illness led to a crippling condition that left him paralyzed in his lower extremities and he was subsequently discharged from the Army as a Private. Michael was disabled and Judy was taking care of him. On May 13, 1980 Judy took Michael for a canoe ride. Judy reported to local authorities that her canoe capsized and her son Michael had drowned. She collected $125,000 in military life insurance benefits for her son’s death.

In June 1983, Judy was suspected in the car bombing of her fiancé John Gentry of Pensacola, Florida. She stood to gain $500,000 in life insurance money for this death. Judy Buenoano was first convicted of the attempted murder of John Gentry. As a result of her involvement in the attempted murder of John, investigators looked into the ‘accidental deaths’ of her husband James Goodyear and her son Michael. They exhumed John’s body a decade later and an autopsy revealed he had been poisoned with arsenic. Testimony revealed long-term arsenic poisoning had actually caused her son Michael’s disability. And when Judy drowned him, he was wearing an extra 15 pounds of weighted braces. Judy reportedly admitted to being involved in the 1978 death of her boyfriend Bobby Joe Morris as well. She received $50,000 in life insurance benefits for his death. Judy Buenoano was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death. She was executed by the electric chair in Florida on March 30, 1998. Judy Buenoano was motivated by money, profit, and greed.

Source: Dark Secrets’ Deadly Women

Full Episode: While drugs can cure disease and ease pain, they can also be agents of murder. Toxicologists can examine blood and tissue to uncover cases where death is not as natural as it may seem – from slow arsenic poisoning to quick cocaine overdoses. -Lethal Dosage, The New Detectives (S3, E5)

Full Episode: Dark Secrets are the stock-in-trade of Deadly Women -Dark Secrets, Deadly Women (S2, E4)

My Favorite Murder – MFM #96: Live at the Hard Rock in Orlando | Aileen Wuornos & Judy Buenoano

Related Links:
The Black Widow
Wikipedia: Judy Buenoano
Michael Buenoano Goodyear
The prosecutor in the murder trial of a woman…
New Twist In Trial Of Buenoano Daughter Says Brother Poisoned Stepfather
Jury deliberates ‘Black Widow’ case
`Black Widow` Convicted Of Murder
The Black Widow
No tears for the ‘Black Widow’ of Death Row
Supreme Court of Florida: Judy A. Buenoano (1988)
United States Court of Appeals: Judy A. Buenoano (1998)
Florida court denies appeal to killer known as ‘black widow’
‘Black Widow’ Faces Electric Chair Judy Buenoano Was Convicted Of Killing Husband And Son, And Bombing Boyfriend
Buenoano Goes To Chair Appearing Small, Scared
Florida woman dies in electric chair
`Black Widow’ Executed In Florida
Florida Executes ‘Black Widow’
Florida Puts to Death First Woman in 150 Years
Judy Buenoano was executed by electrocution
After a series of insurance fraud schemes — and several poisoned lovers — a southern con artist met her electrifying end
These 20 Lethal Ladies Will Give You The Chills. Seriously Creepy.
The Black Widows of Death Row
On Death Row, Women Want Salad for Last Meal
Women Who Murder: 10 Deadliest ‘Black Widows’
5 Super-Twisted Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard Of
12 Female Poisoners Who Killed With Arsenic
Pensacola’s most memorable crime stories
A Look Back: The Execution of Florida “Black Widow” Judy Buenoano
Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear Died of Arsenic Poisoning; Judy Buenoano Murdered Husband and Son Michael for Military Life Insurance Benefits, Executed in Florida (September 16, 1971)
Deadly Women Premiered ‘Dark Secrets’ on Investigation Discovery: Judy Buenoano (October 30, 2008)
International Men’s Day: FIVE Female Killers who Murdered Soldiers, Veterans and Spouses (November 19, 2017)
Life Insurance Fraud is a Common Motive for Murder in the Military
The New Detectives: Season 3 – Ep 5 “Lethal Dosage”
Judy Buenoano Documentary | Female Killers (Deadly Women)
About the Show | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery
Dark Secrets | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (website)
Season 2 | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Judy Buenoano | Death Penalty Information Center
Judy Buenoano | The Next to Die | The Marshall Project
My Favorite Murder – MFM #96: Live at the Hard Rock in Orlando | Aileen Wuornos & Judy Buenoano
Judy Buenoano | Crime Museum

Dishonorably Discharged Army Veteran Robert Cox is a Person of Interest in the Disappearance of ‘The Springfield Three’ in 1992

Robert Craig Cox, US Army

Robert Cox, US Army Veteran

Sherrill Levitt, Stacy McCall, and Suzie Streeter vanished from Sherrill Levitt’s Springfield, Missouri home on June 7, 1992. Dishonorably discharged Army veteran Robert Craig Cox was named a person of interest in their disappearance. Cox not only had a history of violence and run ins with the law but he was living in the Springfield, Missouri area at the time of ‘The Springfield Three’ disappearance and coincidentally worked with Stacy McCall’s father. While serving in the Army, Cox pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon in California. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and dishonorably discharged from the Army, ironically after being named ‘Soldier of the Year’ in 1979. Cox was also a suspect in the death of 19 year old Sharon Zellers who disappeared after leaving work at Walt Disney World on December 30, 1978. Zellar’s badly beaten body was found several days later near Orlando, Florida in an orange grove. Cox was in central Florida visiting his parents and as a result became a suspect because he was staying in a motel close to the grove. Hospital staff also reported Robert Cox to authorities because part of his tongue had been bitten off by someone else, despite his claims that he bit his own tongue off. A case against Cox was never pursued by Florida authorities due to lack of evidence, therefore the case went unsolved for a decade. But after Cox was released from prison in California in 1986, Florida authorities charged Cox with Sharon Zeller’s murder and he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1988. Although in a rare ruling, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction and death sentence arguing that prosecutors only had circumstantial evidence which was not enough to convict in a criminal case. Robert Cox was released in 1989 and then moved to Springfield, Missouri where he worked with Stacy McCall’s father. Although questioned in the disappearance of the three women, Cox has not admitted to any wrongdoing and authorities have found no evidence linking him to their disappearance. To this day, ‘The Springfield Three’ have not been found and no one has been charged with any crimes.

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Stacy McCall, Sherrill Levitt, and Suzie Streeter went missing from Springfield, Missouri on June 7, 1992.

Related Links:
The Springfield Three
Streeter Family Blog: Person of Interests
Cox Receives Death For ’78 Fatal Beating
9 Years Later, A Murder Conviction Circumstantial Case Convicts Ex-soldier Of Beating Teen-age Girl
Man Awaiting Florida Execution Is Ordered Acquitted in ’79 Killing
Court Orders Innocent for ‘Soldier of the Year’
Robert Cox: Circumstances of the Offense
Inmates freed from death row at a glance
Three Missing Women: Ten Years Later – Part 1 of 5
Pokin Around: 3 missing women; here, then suddenly nowhere
Disappeared, Investigation Discovery
Clues to the Springfield Three
The Springfield Three: Sherrill Levitt
Sleuth Won’t Give Up on Women Missing for 17 Years
Whatever happened to the Springfield Three?
The Bizarre, Tragic Disappearance of the Springfield Three
25 years after three Springfield women went missing, the tips still trickle in
BrainScratch: The Springfield Three
Disappeared- The Springfield Three


More than 15 years after the disappearance of “The Springfield Three”, clues to their location may lie beneath a parking garage at Cox Hospital. Will investigators find the answers they need to bring the missing women home? -Investigation Discovery

Estevan Maestas Tragically Killed After He Detonated Live Hand Grenade Found in Rental Garage; Colorado Springs PD Believes Explosive Device Stolen from the Fort Carson Army Post (1978)


When a mysterious explosion rocks a sleepy suburb, it’s up to Kenda to ID a pile of charred remains and find the killer who triggered the blast. -Investigation Discovery

Homicide Hunter is an Investigation Discovery show featuring retired police Detective Lt. Joe Kenda (1973-1996). Lt. Kenda worked for the Colorado Springs Police Department for years and investigated and solved hundreds of cases during his employment. Now in his retirement, he outlines the cases that he encountered on the job and explains how he eventually solved the case. Colorado Springs is home of Fort Carson, an Army base with about 30,000 soldiers. This show is especially interesting given the fact that Lt. Kenda worked in a city with a close proximity to a large base. We have learned over time just how intertwined his job was with a military base known for an active role in fighting wars overseas over the years.

Exercises and deployments continually hone the skills of the Fort Carson Soldiers. When not deployed, Soldiers train annually at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and the National Training Center in California. Additionally, units participate in joint exercises around the world, including Central and South Africa, Europe, and Southwest Asia. In 2003, most Fort Carson units were deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. ~Fort Carson History

Last night, Lt Joe Kenda discussed an explosives case that had been assigned to him. A powerful explosion occurred in a suburban neighborhood of Colorado Springs.  He was actually working on paperwork on a Sunday when he received a call from police on the scene. They think they found human remains in the remnants of a detached garage near a single dwelling home.  Joe was asked to investigate because this could be an intentional act of murder.  Joe shared that the scenes he has investigated over the years have been horrific and quite shocking to include this one.  As a result, he admitted that he has a hard time eating and sleeping, which are both signs of Post Traumatic Stress of which he admitted he has. This is a normal response for anyone who witnesses these acts of horror, especially over a long period of time.

After Joe arrived on the scene, he deduced that the damage looked like shrapnel damage. But his immediate thought was that it was most likely a gas explosion. He notices in the garage what looks like a large pile of human remains. Based on the remains, he assumed that it was most likely an adult male who was killed. If it’s not a gas explosion, what is it? A couple theories began to emerge including maybe the man lit a cigarette in an area with gas cans and exposed fuel or the victim was booby trapped with hidden wire. This could have been a murder.

Based on his fears of more explosives on scene, he decided to call the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) Bomb Squad to investigate further to determine whether there were any more active munitions. He explained how explosive technicians truly understand explosives and other various devices. As soon as the Bomb Squad arrived at the scene, they immediately recognized the explosive had the smell of a military explosive. Fort Carson had this kind of ammunition on their base since before World War II. The Bomb Squad theorized that somebody from the base most likely smuggled it from Fort Carson and brought it to the current location.  A CSPD detective explained how now we have robots to investigate bomb scares but back then we didn’t have that. Explosive technicians put their lives on the line everyday but more so before the advent of robots and other technologies to help minimize the danger of their jobs.

The CSPD Bomb Squad found another hand grenade in the garage that appeared to be live. An ordinance specialist entered the garage and not only found another grenade but he also found evidence of the dead man who was blown up by the first grenade. The second grenade appeared to be untampered with and there were no other explosives found at that location. Police suspected that the victim could have been in the building when someone threw the grenade in. They needed to learn more about the victim to determine if he had any enemies that would do something like this. They learned that the house is a rental and the current tenants only moved in a couple of months ago. The neighbor shared that a man named Estevan had recently retired and moved into this location. While on scene, a police officer found a human index finger quite a distance from the remnants of the garage. This discovery changed the whole direction of the case because the finger was found with a wire around it and this was the pin ring from the hand grenade. The victim may have pulled the pin and detonated the explosive. This could have been an accident.

Joe needed to identify the victim so he started with taking the victim’s finger to the lab so they could attempt to identify him by finger print. The lab technicians told him that without a name, it could take months before they get a match. In the meantime, Estevan’s wife showed up at the police station after learning what happened at her residence. Joe had to tell her that her husband was dead. She shared that his name was Estevan Maestas and he was a custodian at the school with finger prints on file. Estevan was simply going to clean out the garage because the people who lived their before left a bunch of junk in there. She left the house after he went out to the garage. Because his past did not indicate that this could have been a suicide attempt, it was theorized that this was in fact a tragic accident. Estevan most likely found the grenade, had no idea that it was live and maybe he thought it was a toy. He pulled the pin and he never felt a thing, he never knew what hit him.

The CSPD speculated that the grenades had been stolen from Fort Carson and brought into this rental home by a soldier. They assumed that most likely this guy didn’t want to deal with having to dispose of the grenades so he just left them there to become the next person’s problem. This was a hard pill to swallow given a man lost his life over this reckless act. Why was it not followed up on? Given how the military has strict regulations and is supposed to have strict chain of custody records to help them track all explosives, it should be easy to determine whether or not this grenade came from this base. It could have been brought home as a souvenir from World War II, Vietnam, or the Gulf War era. Were they able to cross reference the rental records at the location of the explosion with Fort Carson soldiers? This case revealed more mystery then resolve. If a soldier did smuggle the grenades from the base, why was there no investigation for theft, and now maybe even manslaughter? It is assumed that this person intentionally left them behind because they didn’t want to properly dispose of them.

In theory, no soldier should have been able to get these grenades on a plane or off the base without a search or a documentation trail given how the military usually conducts business. Much like communications security equipment (COMSEC), ammunition is inventoried and kept under lock and key in an effort to prevent compromises with dangerous repercussions.  In most circumstances, if Fort Carson recognized that ammunition was missing, they would shut down the base until they found it. If someone dropped the ball at Fort Carson, a man lost his life because of careless documentation and security practices. And the Colorado bomb squad and Lt. Joe Kenda risked their lives in an effort to prevent anyone else from getting hurt or killed. Hopefully, soldiers learn a valuable lesson from this circumstance given it could have been a harmless act that went terribly wrong. Whoever left the grenades behind may not have intended for Estevan Maestas to die but he did. If a military member was responsible, it would be nice to know that the military has implemented safety and security procedures that can help prevent this kind of a tragedy from ever happening in our communities again.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunter ‘Point of No Return’
Va. Man Finds a Hand Grenade While Doing Yard Work
Army Vet Arrested For Storing Anti-Tank Round On Roof Of His Home
War keepsakes, lookalike grenades surface unexpectedly
Bomb squad investigating grenade ‘donated’ to Goodwill
Neighbors Make Explosive Find While Cleaning Veteran’s Closet
Former Army explosives tech pleads guilty to having live grenades
Grenade Found in Maryland Home During Eviction
Mom: 12-year-old finds old grenade near family’s front porch
2 grenades found in refrigerator at nursing home
‘Don’t assume it’s safe,’ police warn of finding veterans’ explosive memorabilia
Lessons Learned from a Military Ammunitions Explosion in Colorado Springs