What descriptors come to mind when you think of an 80-year-old woman? Smiling? Generous? Motherly? Out of all the word combinations you might choose, we’re going to bet that “calculated murderer” isn’t one of them. For now 85-year-old Melissa Ann Shepard, you can.
Melissa Ann Shepard: The Internet Black Widow
Melissa Ann Shepard is known as The Internet Black Widow and also as Canada’s most dangerous woman. Why? She has murdered or at least attempted to murder all of her husbands and romantic partners. (1)
This Canadian habitual offender has been breaking the law for years, starting with fraud and then progressing to actual manslaughter. (1)
Melissa Ann Shepard‘s First Offenses
Between 1977 and 1991, Melissa Ann Shepard served prison sentences for more than 30 separate convictions of fraud. (2) At some point during that time, she married and then later divorced Russel Shepard. He was the only one of her partners to make it out unscathed. (1)
It was after this marriage that she seemed to form her ultimate money-making scheme (3):
- Find recently widowed/single lonely men
- Gain their trust and start a relationship with them
- Marry them
- Murder them while secretly stealing their money
The worst part? She was repeatedly successful at it.
Victim #1: Second Husband Gordon Stewart
Melissa Ann Shepard married Stewart in 1991. Shortly after she proceeded to give him a heavy dose of tranquilizers, take him to a deserted road near Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then run over him with her car. Twice. (2)
She was caught and sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter, however, was released early for good behavior. Having claimed that Stewart was trying to rape her, she was then featured in a 1994 documentary called When Women Kill about domestic abuse victims who attack their partners. (2)
Victim #2: Third Husband Robert Friedrich
Six years after being released from prison, Melissa Ann Shepard traveled to Florida for a Christian Retreat. (1) She met Friedrich here through an online dating website. In Nova Scotia in the year 2000, the pair wed. (2)
Just over a year later Friedrich’s family noticed he began experiencing numerous health problems: Slurred speech, mysterious fainting spells, and required frequent hospital stays. They also noticed that his money was dwindling at the same time. (1)
In 2002 Friedrich died after going into cardiac arrest and left tens of thousands of dollars to Shepard. (2) His sons believed that Shepard was giving him an overdose of prescription medications. (3) They won back $15,000 but were unable to prove the murder. Shepard got away with no charges. (2)
Victim #3: Romantic Partner Alex Strategos
A couple of years later, Melissa Ann Shepard moved to Florida for a change of pace and got right back into the online dating scene. She met and began dating Strategos there. The pair never married. (2)
It wasn’t long into their relationship when Strategos began feeling ill. He went to the hospital eight times during their relationship. At the same time, his money was also mysteriously vanishing. (3)
The man’s son was suspicious and the case ended up in court. Shepard pleaded guilty and was charged with three counts of grand theft from a person 65 years or older, two counts of forgery, and two counts of using a forged document.
She served five years in prison for this offense as the police couldn’t find conclusive evidence that she had been attempting murder. Strategos believed she repeatedly spiked his ice cream and proceeded to slowly steal $20,000 from him. Luckily for him, he made it out alive. (2)
Victim #4: Fourth Husband Fred Weeks
Melissa Ann Shepard married Fred Weeks in 2012. Not long after they were married she dosed his coffee with the sedative benzos. She didn’t get away with it this time, however. The police found a sizable stockpile of prescription medications from five different doctors in her house. (3)
The court charged her with attempted murder and sentenced to three and a half years in jail, of which she served two years, nine months, and 10 days. (2)
Melissa Ann Shepard: The Black Widow Walks Among Us
Melissa Ann Shepard, now 85-years-old, lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. She is not living entirely freely, however, as she has several restrictions placed upon her as conditions for her release. (2) These restrictions include (2):
- Having to report any relationship she has with a man to the police so that they can inform him of her history and other legal proceedings.
- Not being allowed to use the internet.
- Being unable to own any device capable of accessing the internet.
- Having the police photograph her if she changes her appearance at all.
Of course, many people, including her surviving past victims, don’t think she should have been released at all. (2) One thing is for sure, if you know of any single, older men in the Halifax area, you may want to warn them to steer clear of Melissa Ann Shepard.