On April 18, 2008, Helen Golay (b.1931) of Santa Monica, California and Olga Rutterschmidt (b.1933) of Hollywood, California were convicted of the murders of two homeless men, Paul Vados in 1999 and Kenneth McDavid in 2005. Golay and Rutterschmidt staged Vados and McDavid’s deaths to appear as hit and run incidents in order to collect on multimillion dollar life insurance policies they took out on the men. On June 22, 2005, a car crept through an alley off Westwood Boulevard in West Los Angeles. The driver slowed to a stop. Someone got out and pulled an inebriated Kenneth McDavid, 50, from the car and laid him in the alley. With a blood alcohol count of .08 percent combined with the influence of a few sleeping pills, McDavid wasn’t in any condition to be walking. The car backed up, and then the driver slowly ran over McDavid, as if to inflict the greatest possible injury. In fact, the car was going so slow that the McDavid’s glasses remained on his head, splattered with grease. A tire imprint was left on his jeans. Years earlier, in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 1999, an elderly man died in an alley near West Hollywood. Someone ran him over with a car and left the scene without stopping. The victim was homeless and carried no identification, so it seemed like just another tragic accident for a John Doe. Eventually the man was identified as Paul Vados, 73, but no leads were forthcoming on his death.
The women — Olga Rutterschmidt, 73, of Hollywood and Helen Golay, 75, of Santa Monica — were longtime friends. They took out a dozen life insurance policies on the two men filed claims worth $4 million. The insurance companies paid out $2.2 million. A few companies suspected the women of murder and balked at paying. The women began legal proceedings. Both unmarried, they seemed to enjoy getting dressed up and going places where men were plentiful: health clubs, churches and nights on the town. Golay was a real estate broker and lived in a house worth $1.5 million. She drove a Mercedes SUV and kept up her looks with plastic surgery. Rutterschmidt was significantly less well off, living in a small apartment, driving a Honda Civic and having no source of income. With bleached blonde hair, loads of eyeliner, bright lipstick, and flashy clothes, the women were a poor man’s version of the Gabor sisters. It seemed strange that this pair would gain the trust of homeless men and put them up in low-rent apartments. The men signed life insurance policies naming the women as beneficiaries then died after two years. The women filed claims as the next of kin. Watch forensic investigators black widow – case study
Detectives were certain that the women committed both murders. Then investigators observed another victim being groomed for murder. Detectives watched as Rutterschmidt pulled her car to a curb and talked to an elderly man who got into her car. They drove to a bank and went inside. Later that day Rutterschmidt opened a credit card account under someone else’s name. Rutterschmidt and Golay intended to murder the old man in the same manner as Vados and McDavid. On May 19, 2006, Rutterschmidt and Golay were charged with eight counts of mail fraud. The best clue of all came from Golay herself. She called a towing service a block from where McDavid was struck and killed, an hour before his body was found. The car had front-end damage and was towed to a street near Rutterschmidt’s home. Traces of blood were found on the car. A DNA test was run against McDavid and came back a match. Watch elderly black widows get life sentences
On July 31, 2006, Rutterschmidt and Golay were charged with two counts of murder and the special circumstances of murder for financial gain and multiple murder. In March 2007, the women underwent a four-day preliminary hearing. Gone were the flashy clothes, excessive makeup and bleached blonde hair. Instead, two weary-looking elderly women sat at the counsel table with their natural gray hair looking every day of their 70-plus years. When told they’d be facing a jury, Golay remained stoic and Rutterschmidt began to cry. The prosecution’s case included secretly recorded conversations between Golay and Rutterschmidt. Ruttershmidt told Golay, “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.” Both Golay and Rutterschmidt were convicted of conspiracy to murder Vados and McDavid, and of the first-degree murder of Vados. Golay was convicted of the first-degree murder of McDavid. Both women were sentenced to consecutive life terms in California Federal prison, without possibility of parole.