Murderer promises a colorful tale, but publisher backs out on her life story


Voodoo and contract murder. The niece who wouldn't die -- even after being shot in the head on two occasions and having her throat slit on another. "Sister Geraldine" on trial for murder, faking seizures in the courtroom and telling the jury that she couldn't count beyond the number one.

Those were some of the touches that made Geraldine Parrish one of the most bizarre murderers in the annals of Baltimore crime. A detective called her tale the stuff of movies -- and it's been featured on a network police show and in a book on the city's homicide squad.

But the authorized biography won't be coming out soon.

And that has made Parrish angry enough to sue her would-be biographer.

The suit, filed yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court, accuses a Woodlawn woman of reneging on a deal to pay Parrish $100,000 for the rights to her life story.

According to the lawyers who filed the suit, author and publisher Dee Wright and her Sunfield Publishers International agreed in writing last August to pay Parrish for exclusive access to her diaries, letters and legal documents. Parrish's lawyers, Roland Walker and Margaret A. Mead, said the author interviewed Parrish four times.

On Feb. 28, however, Ms. Wright wrote to back out of the deal, without having paid any of the scheduled $10,000 installments, the suit alleges.

"This woman complained that my client, Miss Parrish, wasn't cooperating fully," Ms. Mead said.

Attempts to reach Ms. Wright yesterday were unsuccessful.

Parrish, a self-ordained storefront preacher from East Baltimore, was convicted in 1989 of arranging for the murder of four friends and relatives in order to cash in on their insurance policies.

She also was convicted in the botched attempt to kill her 29-year-old niece.

She married at least eight men, four within 18 months.

A nephew who married Parrish said he had been placed under her spell by a North Carolina "root woman," who he believed had doctored a meal of barbecued goat meat.

In another twist, authorities searching in a paupers' cemetery for one of her victims exhumed the wrong body -- twice.

Parrish, 58, is serving multiple life sentences as prisoner No. 906-073 at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup.

"I've been at this for 41 years and I've never seen a case that has some of the facets this one has. It's fascinating," said Mr. Walker.

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