A prolific American "Bluebeard," Cline was linked with at least nine homicides between 1930 and his arrest in 1945. Eight of his wives were dispatched after willing their earthly possessions to Cline; his single male victim was an evangelist, Rev. Ernest Jones, who made Cline the heir to $11,000 shortly before his "unexpected" death.
With practice, Cline polished his murder technique to perfection. Insisting on a lavish honeymoon, he would check into a stylish hotel, there persuading his bride to drink a glass of buttermilk laced with powerful sedatives. As she lost consciousness, the house physician would be summoned, told that Mrs. Cline was suffering "another heart attack." Hours later, when a second dose of drugs proved fatal, doctors were inclined to issue death certificates citing 'heart failure' as the proximate cause.
In May 1944, Cline married a Chicago widow, Delora Krebs, and promptly set off for the West Coast. Delora's annuity checks were always promptly cashed, but relatives had trouble reaching her by telephone; Cline habitually put them off with tales of illness, shopping errands, previous engagements. When a wire arrived from Portland, Oregon, reporting her death, family members pressed for an investigation, uncovering Cline's criminal activities in a dozen states.
Cremation of his late, lamented wives saved Cline from prosecution on a murder charge, but he was jailed for forgery in San Francisco. Delora's annuity checks came back to haunt him, and testimony from two surviving poison victims persuaded the court that a maximum sentence was justified. Sentenced to 126 years, Cline died in Folsom Prison, of a heart attack, on August 5, 1948.