Barbara Stager: Killing for Money

The Story of North Carolina’s Own Black Widow

Lori Johnston
21 min readAug 30, 2020

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Barbara Terry Ford Stager (photo source: Tapatalk)

Black widow: A woman who systematically murders multiple spouses, partners, family members or individuals outside of the family with whom she has developed a personal relationship.

It was 12:36 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22, 1978 when the emergency call came through about a shooting in the Windemere Heights subdivision, five miles south of High Point, North Carolina. Shootings weren’t unheard of in Randolph County but rarely took place in a quiet, rural middle-class subdivision like Windemere. The first two emergency technicians on the scene were greeted by a blonde woman in jeans who informed them that her husband had shot himself and she believed him to be dead. She was Barbara Terry Ford; her husband was Larry Ford.

Larry and Barbara had met at Appalachian State Teachers College in Boone, nestled in the mountains in the western part of North Carolina during the fall semester of Barbara’s freshman year and Larry’s sophomore year. Larry was the eldest of five children, a gentle child that grew into a gentle man. He participated in sports as a youngster, as well as Boy Scouts and his church’s youth group but he really stood out academically. He was president of his school’s Beta Club, treasurer of the Inner Club Council, secretary of the Junior Civitans and voted most dependable in his class. Deciding he wanted to teach, he worked during the summer to pay for college tuition. His first choice had been North Carolina State in Raleigh but he also applied to Appalachian State. He was accepted quickly at Appalachian and after several weeks of waiting to hear from State, he ultimately accepted Appalachian and sent off a deposit. Eventually, State did send Larry an acceptance letter but as he had already committed to Appalachian, he stuck by his choice. It would be a fateful one for Larry Ford.

His first year in college he attained high grades and earned a great deal of respect from his instructors. He worked hard, spending long hours studying, and very little time with social activities like dating. His future seemed bright before he met Barbara Terry.

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Lori Johnston

Writer, reader, margarita drinker. Currently looking for a “dare to be great” situation.