Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and so it is that time of year that we are extra nice to our sweeties, and we go out of our way to show just how much we love them. Not all couples remain smitten with each other though, and unfortunately Love and Poison can go together just like flowers and candy or strawberries and champagne.
Recent history (and crime statistics) is full of not-so romantic stories about one half of a couple underhandedly getting rid of their other half by poisoning them. If you are a fan of romantic comedies, these stories may depress you, but if Investigation Discovery is more your viewing pleasure, you will love these tales of toxic love:
Stella Nickell was a less than happily-married wife who killed her husband Bruce by putting cyanide into his Excedrin capsules. Initially, his death was ruled to be of natural causes. Stella was home free and would have gotten away with it…. but she wanted it known that his death was due to poisoning because his life insurance would pay over double if he died an accidental death. When the medical examiner would not listen to Stella’s claims that she thought her husband died of poisoning, Stella poisoned more Excedrin capsules with cyanide and placed them on store shelves. Once another innocent person died after ingesting tainted Excedrin, Stella figured, they would have to check her husband for cyanide. Sadly, a 40 year old woman did take these poisoned pills and died less than a week after Stella’s husband. An investigation ensued. Bruce Nickell’s cause of death was changed to poisoning and Stella was sent to prison for 90 years.
Stacy Castor murdered not one, but two husbands with ethylene glycol (antifreeze). When police started getting wise, Stacy fed a drug cocktail to her 20 year old daughter Ashley. She had written a confession to both murders in Ashley’s name, forged the signature, then tried to kill her daughter, thinking the police would accept the confession of dead Ashley and close the case. Ashley thankfully survived, and Stacy was sentenced to 51 years to life in prison. Lynn Turner was another poisoner who killed two of her lovers with antifreeze. She had a thing for men in uniform, and police officer Glenn Turner and firefighter Randy Thompson both died of ethylene glycol poisoning (thought to have been fed to them in Jello). Lynn was sentenced to life prison and she died there in 2010 (the poison theme continues) from an intentional overdose of her blood pressure medications.
Joseph Meling wanted to cash in on his wife’s $700,000 life insurance policy so he poisoned her Sudafed pills with cyanide. Meling placed similar poisoned Sudafed on store shelves in the area, to divert suspicion away from himself. Mrs Meling survived the attempt (and reconciled with her husband!!), but Joseph was convicted of killing the two other women who died after innocently ingesting the cyanide-laced Sudafed.
Kristen Rossum was a pretty young wife who wanted her new husband out of the picture when she started dating her boss. Kristen worked in the San Diego medical examiner’s office as an analytical toxicologist. She stole some fentanyl from the ME’s office, administered it to her husband, then staged it as a suicide. The staging didn’t work so well, and Kristen is spending life in prison without parole.
Elizabeth Ortiz brought her husband Gilbert lunch one day while he was at work: a burger, fries and a chocolate shake. She had a little something extra in the shake, a toxic pesticide. Gilbert drank it and developed severe toxicity while Elizabeth fled to Mexico with their son. Gilbert recovered and Elizabeth was sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder.
Arsenic is another favorite poison of spouse-killers. Judy Buenoano killed her husband, a boyfriend and her son, all with arsenic. Audrey Marie Hilley killed her husband Frank and tried to kill her daughter Carol with arsenic. Both of these ladies were said to have done it for the insurance money. Richard Lyon killed his wife Nancy with arsenic so he could carry on with his numerous girlfriends.
This Valentine’s Day, if your partner stops at the supermarket on the way home to pick up a wilted rose and picked-over card instead of surprising you with a romantic dinner and lavish gift, don’t give them a hard time…it could be worse!
If you’re the victim of “poisonous” passion, please call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222.
Happy Valentine’s Day!