Amy Archer-Gilligan opened a boarding house for the elderly with her husband in or around 1907. Per Criminal Element, this home she opened promised “life long care for the elderly and chronic invalids.” It was not all that long after opening that some very strange things begin to happen around the boarding home. The residents began dying. Of course, you must assume that if clientele is either older or ill, people unfortunately are going to pass away. The problem arose when people began dying more rapidly. Even people who were relatively healthy started dropping dead. The death of 61-year-old Franklin Andrews was so suspicious to his sister, that she then began her own investigations and discovered the horrible truth.

A subsequent autopsy of Franklin Andrews showed that he had been poisoned to death. As investigators dug deeper, they found multiple boarders had died of arsenic poisoning and not natural causes. Amy Archer-Gilligan was killing her residents for their pensions and is believed to have killed anywhere between 20 and 100 people. She was arrested and eventually convicted of murder. This elderly woman with a penchant for murder is believed to have inspired Kesserling’s dark comedy.