In her early adult years, Rhonda dabbled as a waitress but, more often than not, could be found enjoying cocktails and the company of gentlemen. After all, Rhonda was married five times.
Her first marriage was to W. R. Alderman when she was only fifteen years old in 1922. W.R., or Willy Robert, was one of Rhonda’s mother’s borders, a World War One veteran and twenty-seven years old when they married. Four years later, before her twentieth birthday, the pair divorced. Then, in 1928, Rhonda went to the altar with George W. Garrett.
Rhonda had five children, all with her second husband, George W. Garrett—none of which survived to adulthood.
George had been Rhonda’s next-door neighbor. The young couple had a whirlwind romance and an even quicker boom of children after their marriage. By the late 1930s, they had five daughters: Mary Adelaide, Imogene, Judith, Carolyn, and Ellen Elizabeth. It was during this fateful year when four-year-old Mary Adelaide made a simple request of her mother, could she please have a glass of water. Rhonda, as if a woman possessed, moved toward the fridge. She filled a glass with milk instead of tap water and added a spoonful of ant poison. Turning from the counter, she handed her unsuspecting daughter the poison-laced milk and went about her day.
Mary Adelaide quickly succumbed to the tainted drink. However, Rhonda claimed that it was pneumonia that took her oldest daughter. Imogene, next in line, not in birth order but for cold-blooded murder, was only three in 1937, when Rhonda suddenly felt the old familiar urge. A cold glass of milk, a spoonful of poison—another daughter dead. This time, Rhonda told her husband, friends, and neighbors it was a heart attack.
“Poor Rhonda,” everyone agreed; such a terrible thing for a mother to lose two children. It seemed as quickly as Rhonda dispatched her daughters that another one was born. Two years later, one-year-old Judith suffered the same fate as her siblings. Rhonda decided to try the same tactic with her husband that same year. Except for this time, she laced his whiskey instead of mixing the poison in milk. The toxic mixture had profound results. A confused George writhed in the front yard before dying of “pneumonia” shortly after “jaundice” came for Judith. Carolyn must have pleased her mother somehow, making it to six years of age before Rhonda turned on her, covering up her death under the guise of a “throat disorder.”