'Black Widow' denied early release by Parole Board of Canada

Melissa Ann Shepard, now in her 80s, has a criminal history that dates to 1970

MONCTON, N.B. — The Parole Board of Canada says an elderly woman known as the “Black Widow” who was convicted of spiking her newlywed husband’s coffee with tranquilizers has been denied an early release.

Melissa Ann Shepard, now in her early 80s, was sentenced in Sydney, N.S., in June 2013 to two years, nine months and 10 days for administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessities of life to 76-year-old Fred Weeks.

The board says in a recently released decision that Shepard was found to be in possession of six bottles of eye drops and although she has a diagnosis requiring the medication, the amount that was found was excessive and could have been used to cause harm.

The agency said Shepard has a tendency to fabricate and deny events to correctional staff, and is unable to link consequences to actions.

“The board must highlight its apprehension with file information that shows you continue to involve yourself in behaviours that are part of your offence cycle, such as your tendency to fabricate events to staff, and hoarding medication since your last detention hearing,” says the decision from the board in Moncton, N.B.

“The board is of the opinion your lack of progress in this matter has not effectively addressed your risk of reoffending.”

The board determined her risk of reoffending in a violent way was unchanged and ordered that she remain in custody.

While on their honeymoon, witnesses noticed that Weeks’s motor skills were decreasing, the decision says. When he was admitted to hospital, it says Lorazepam and Temazepam were found in his blood. Police found that Shepard was in possession of those drugs, the board says.

The decision says Shepard’s criminal history dates back to 1970. Since 1990, it says she has been convicted in three incidents involving death or serious physical or psychological harm to the victims.

Shepard, who acquired the moniker of the “Black Widow” and the “Internet Black Widow,” was convicted of manslaughter in 1992 in the death of her second husband, Gordon Stewart, whom she drugged and ran over twice with a car.

She was also sentenced in 2005 to five years in prison on seven counts of theft from a man in Florida she had met online.


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