The Black Widow Murders

To look at Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt, you would never know that they are a murdering duo. The two women were in their late 70s when they committed their crimes. Dubbed the ‘Black Widow Murderers,’ the two senior citizens concocted a plan that they hoped would make them rich. In this article, you will learn more about this deadly duo.

When Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt went to trial  in 2008, they lived in California and heartlessly killed two homeless men. Aged 75 and 77 at the time of their crimes, the ladies staged the deaths of Kenneth McDavid (50) in 2005 and Paul Vados (73) in 1999. They wanted to make it look like the men died of a hit-and-run accident so they could collect on life insurance policies they had taken out on the two men. Golay and Rutterschmidt hoped to cash in on a total sum of $2.8 million.

Golay and Rutterschmidt met Vados in 1997. They gave him a place to stay and eventually persuaded the man to sign a life insurance policy. The women also learned how to duplicate his signature so they could take out more life insurance policies. When Vados was killed in 1999, no one questioned his death at first, which was made to look like a hit-and-run accident.
However, the women were greedy and had taken out more than 12 life insurance policies on Vados. Their later victor, Mr. McDavid, had 23 life insurance policies taken out.

A Lucky Man

For Jimmy Covington (48), he was extremely lucky to have slipped out of the women’s home alive. He too, was approached by one of the women, who took him to Burger King and offered him a roof over his head. He would later testify against the ladies at their trial. He had moved out after he grew suspicious when the women asked him to sign documents and furnish them with personal details. Little did he know , one life insurance policy application had already been filled out for him.

The Case Against the Ladies

When the case of Golay and Rutterschmidt went to the courts, the Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels likened their actions to ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ The prosecution’s case planned on using secretly recorded conversations that took place between Golay and Rutterschmidt when they were in jail. One was quoted as saying: “You did all these insurances extra. That’s what raised the suspicion. You can’t do that. Stupidity. You’re going to go to jail, honey. They going to lock you up.”

Suspicion had arose, but it came in the form of a detective who happened to overhear a colleague discussing a case that possessed details similar to another case. After comparing notes, the investigators learned that the women had been named as life insurance beneficiaries for both victims in various manners , as business partners, cousins, and in some cases , fiancées.


In April of 2008, the two women were convicted of conspiracy to murder Vados and McDavid. They were also charged with the first-degree murder of Vados. Golay was additionally convicted of the first-degree murder of McDavid. A jury reached a deadlock over the final two counts against Rutterschmidt, but eventually the deliberations continued once an alternate replaced one juror. In the end, both ladies were sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison, without a chance for parole.