Highland County’s ‘black widow’

1975 case caused uproar in county

By Isabella Warner - For The Times-Gazette

Not only does the black widow, one of the world’s most infamous spiders, bite quickly and deliver a deadly toxin, the female black widow is also known for killing her partner. This phenomenon is why women who kill their spouses or lovers are known as black widows — just like the spider for which they are named, they are said to be poised, calculating and lethal.

One lady fitting the description of a black widow was Highland County resident Dorcie Campbell. She and her husband Andrew lived in the Enchanted Hills neighborhood near Rocky Fork Lake. Neighbors and friends noticed the husband and wife seemed to “get along well,” and Dorcie’s reputation was “generally good”. The Campbells had children and grandchildren, lived a comfortable life, and seemed to be a normal family.

On November 6, 1975, 53-year-old Dorcie was home alone. She had just received a call letting her know that her uncle had passed away and was feeling unwell because of the news. Andrew was at a neighbor’s house, and when he returned, he was intoxicated — an autopsy later revealed that his blood alcohol content level was .15 percent.

“He acted like a wildman,” Dorcie told police. Andrew became angry about that night’s dinner. The two argued about uncooked chicken until the bickering escalated to violence.

During Dorcie’s interrogation, police learned that Andrew threatened to “beat her brains out” with a shoe. Dorcie responded by threatening to “shoot him between the eyes.” Andrew then began cursing at her, which infuriated Dorcie. She retrieved her 32-20 revolver from her bedroom and returned to the kitchen where Andrew sat. She told him if he cursed at her one more time, she would pull the trigger. Andrew didn’t heed her warnings, and Dorcie fired at her husband in a moment of rage, hitting Andrew in the chest. The bullet passed partially through his heart as well as the kitchen table.

After the shooting, Dorcie called 911 and shouted from her porch to neighbors. First responders arrived at the scene and attempted to save the fallen husband’s life, but it was clear that Andrew’s injuries were fatal.

Reportedly, Dorcie was shaking and very agitated. She was also intoxicated, testing later showing her blood alcohol content to be .12 percent.

Through cross-examination on the stand, friends admitted Dorcie sometimes became aggressive when she drank.

Ultimately, Dorcie was convicted and charged with 15 years to life in prison after 6 hours of deliberation. Dorcie’s attorney attempted to appeal in 1977, but the judge upheld the original conviction.

The contentious case caused an uproar throughout the Rocky Fork region and all of Highland County.

Isabella Warner is a local high school student and a freelance writer for The Times-Gazette.

1975 case caused uproar in county

By Isabella Warner

For The Times-Gazette