Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.









Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: The first woman to be hanged in Georgia
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 16, 1734
Date of birth: ????
Victim profile: Her master, William Wise
Method of murder: Drowning
Location: Chatham County, Georgia, USA
Status: Executed by hanging on January 19, 1735

Jan 19, 1735 - Alice Riley became the first woman to be hanged in Georgia (at Savannah), for the murder of her master, William Wise, in which she was assisted by her boyfriend, Richard White. She was pregnant at the time of her trial and was allowed to deliver the baby before her execution. The day after Alice's execution, White was hanged on the same gallows.


Alice Riley was an indentured servant who arrived in America in December 1733. She was sent to work for William Wise, along with her husband, Richard White. Mr. Wise was a horrible man to work for, and each day he ordered the two servants to bathe and groom him. In March 1734 Richard and Alice had all they could take. While grooming Mr. Wise that day, they held his head in a bucket of water until he drowned. They fled the house, but were eventually caught while hiding on the Isle of Hope.

Both Alice Riley and Richard White were sentenced to death for Mr. Wise's murder. They hanged Richard White first, but when it came time to hang Alice, they found out she was pregnant with William Wise's baby. They waited eight months before hanging her...until after the baby was born. Alice was hanged on January 19, 1735. Her body was left hanging on the gallows for three days. She maintained her innocence until death. Unfortunately, her baby died only 45 days later.


The hanging of Alice Riley

One of the first squares in Savannah, Wright Square was the hanging square. Permanent gallows once stood where tourists now tread. Gallows upon which swift “justice” was served to those so condemned. But justice didn’t always favor the innocent…nor did it favor the fairer sex.

For it was with Irish immigrant Alice Riley that the first woman in Georgia was executed. Ms. Riley, like the majority of poor immigrants at the time, was an indentured servant—paying back through labor, the price of her passage to the new world.

William Wise, the man to whom she was contracted, was a wealthy but particularly cruel bloke. He beat and abused Alice daily until she could take it no more. One night while giving the less than charming fellow a bath, Alice and a fellow servant held the old chap’s head beneath the water, drowning him. The servants fled but were quickly captured, convicted and sentenced to death.

After watching her accomplice drop through the gallows, his neck snapping and body writhing, Alice began begging for mercy, claiming she was with child. The local physician verified her claim and Alice was allowed to live—for eight more months.

She was held in the city jail until the time in which she delivered old William Wise’s son, then she was dragged back out of the jail, up the gallows and was hung by the neck until dead. Witnesses have claimed to have seen a woman in Wright Square, dressed in rags and wondering about looking for her lost baby. It is believed to be the spirit of Alice Riley. Unfortunately, Alice's search is in vain. Shortly after she was executed the infant died as well. Poor Alice will forever roam Wright Square looking for her lost baby.


The Hanging Of Alice Riley

It seems that in the very early days of Savannah there came a young girl from Ireland named Alice Riley. She boarded a ship as a bond servant to escape the famine in her own country. She was probably about 15 years old at the time and she knew that once she arrived in Savannah she would be sold into slavery for several years to pay for her passage. Alice never expected to be bought by a man so cruel and sadistic. He was a local plantation owner and even the people of the town despised him.

Alice had thought she would serve as a housemaid or field hand. Her evil new master had other ideas. Alice was a very pretty girl and he decided to use her for his pleasure. She had no right to refuse him, no more right that one of the African slaves. He mistreated her badly and beat her almost daily.

Alice found a friend in the butler on the plantation and they fell in love. One night when the abuse was too much to bear, Alice’s screams were heard by her lover. He ran to her rescue and together they killed the man.

They were arrested and sentenced to hang in Wright Square. Alice, however, was found to be with child. The good people of Savannah would never dream of hanging a pregnant woman. They hanged the butler immediately. The grief stricken Alice stayed in jail until her baby was born. Shortly after giving birth, she too was hanged.

Alice has been seen many, many times in Wright Square. She is as always looking for her baby. She asks everyone to help her find her baby. Very often tourists have called the Savannah police and reported a woman looking for her child in Wright Square. The officers that have been around for a while know it is Alice. Rookies get sent out to look for her as a joke. They never find anything of course. Even though she is often spotted in old fashioned clothing from her day, no one thinks anything of it because of the guided tours in the downtown Savannah area that often have their guides dress in historically accurate clothing.

According to reports Alice Riley has appeared to more people than any other ghost in the United States. Perhaps if you go to Wright Square in the early evening hours you just might catch a glimpse of her. She may even ask you to help her find her baby. Also, I would be careful not to take my newborn to Wright Square. Alice just might think it is hers.


WCNotes: Listen! History is calling

By Linda Sickler -

August 17, 2010

Alice Riley was young, probably no more than 17, when the ship she was sailing on smashed into the Georgia coast. It was a cold winter night and most of the passengers onboard died, but Alice somehow survived.

Not that she was lucky. Alice was an indentured servant, and that meant she would work the next seven years without pay in exchange for the 5-pound cost of her passage to the New World.

As a result, Alice was bonded out to an unsavory character named William Wise. How unsavory? To qualify for passage on the Anne, the ship that carried the first colonists to Georgia, he had to be married.

William wasn't, but he found a way around the requirement. He hired a prostitute to accompany him on the long voyage and pretend to be his wife.

Church services were conducted every day onboard the Anne by the Rev. Henry Hyde. Can you imagine William and his "wife" bowing their heads to pray with their pious fellow passengers?

After his arrival in 1733, William set up a cattle farm on Hutchinson Island across from the new settlement of Savannah. William's immoral ways soon caught up with him, though, and by 1734, he was ailing and needed someone to nurse him.

It fell to poor Alice and a fellow indentured servant named Richard White to care for William. William might have been sick, but it hadn't made him a better person. He was mean-spirited, physically nasty and a devoted lecher.

It is said Alice not only bathed him and combed the lice from his matted hair, she picked the crumbs from his long, greasy beard - all while dodging his lecherous advances. Ugh, she hated it!

Alice and Richard began plotting William's demise. One morning, Richard strangled William with his own neckerchief, and Alice, just to make sure he was dead, drowned him in his own steaming bathwater.

William was a scalawag, but his murder fired up the local populace. They began a manhunt for Alice and Richard, who fled to South Carolina in their desperation to escape.

The two were quickly captured and brought back to trial. Magistrate Thomas Causton promptly sentenced them to hang, but Alice had a surprise for the court - she was with child.

The executions were delayed until it could be determined if Alice was indeed pregnant. Turns out she was, and she had a baby boy several months later.

Not that motherhood saved her. Two weeks later, the baby was adopted out and Alice was taken to Percival Square (today's Wright Square) and hanged. Richard was hanged the following day.

This story is true. Alice Riley was the first person to be publicly executed in the new colony of Georgia. That much is history.



home last updates contact