The 13th Floor

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE’s Murderous Nurses are Based on a True Story!

This season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY, entitled ROANOKE, is the sixth season of the popular FX’s horror anthology. The ROANOKE series takes on a completely different style, presented in a documentary fashion with actor reenactments. The story of a young couple who find themselves the not-so-proud owners of an old rural home, these first few episodes have introduced us to some pretty insane characters including two homicidal sisters. Serving as nurses to the elderly in their private hospice, they devolve a sick game of coming up with creative ways of murdering their patients, using their first names to spell out the word “murder”. It’s a sick and twisted plot line made even sicker by the fact that these two characters were based on real life killers.


Gwendolyn Graham and Catherine May Wood met at the Alpine Manor nursing home when Graham moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Texas in 1986. The two became fast friends who soon became lovers. In January of 1987, Graham and Wood solidified their love with murder.


Their first victim was an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. Graham entered the woman’s room and smothered her with a washcloth while Wood kept lookout. After claiming their first victim, the couple felt a deep emotional bond to one and other. They sealed this bond by having sex soon after the killing.


Over the coming months, they began to turn the killings into a game. They started picking victims whose initials would spell out “Murder”. The gotten as far as spelling M-U-R-D-E, but when finding that final R proved too difficult, they began using their victims as a way of counting the days they had been together. In a poem Wood wrote for Graham she stated, “You’ll be mine forever and five days” after the couple had taken their fifth life.


The love affair ended when Graham began dating another female nurse at Alpine Manor. This new couple soon left for Texas to work in an infant ward. Distraught, Wood went to her ex-husband for support and ended up confessing the murders to him. Wood’s ex-husband immediately went to the Walker Police Department who promptly issued warrants for the couple’s arrest. Before the trial began, Wood took a plea deal claiming Graham was the one behind the killings. Throughout the trial, Graham maintained her innocence. However, the final nail was put in Graham’s coffin when her new lover testified that Graham had told her about the killings too.


In the end, Graham was found guilty of five counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Wood received a conviction for one count of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison at a minimum security facility in Florida. She is due to be released June 6, 2021.