'Black Widow Killer' Murders 5 Husbands and Gets Away With It

Jacqueline Burt Cote
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black widow spiderFive dead husbands earned Betty Neumar the nickname "The Black Widow Killer," but now that she's gone and joined her victims on the other side, we'll never know for certain if the 79-year-old Southern grandmother knocked off her men or not. One thing's for sure: Either this little old lady was one of the sneakiest serial killers ever or one of the luckiest, because for some reason, the police never managed to connect her decades-long trail of dots (it probably helped that each alleged murder took place in a different state. Good thinking, Granny!).

Another startlingly simple but apparently effective technique Neumar used to throw the fuzz off her trail was to just plain confuse them. She changed her story so many times, apparently, that cops couldn't keep track of what was true and what wasn't. Among Neumar's various explanations for the deaths of the five men she married since the 1950s: Her first husband, Clarence Malone, died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head somewhere near Cleveland. His death was ruled a homicide, though no motive or killer was ever found. Her second husband, James A. Flynn, "died on a pier" somewhere in New York. Yup, that's all she wrote: "Died on a pier." (Okay, ma'am, sorry to hear that! No further questions.) Her third husband, Richard Sills, was found shot to death in the couple's bedroom. They'd been arguing, said Betty, and he pulled out a gun and killed himself. Did they even dust for fingerprints? Husband number four, Harold Gentry? Also found shot to death, multiple times, in the couple's home. This time, Neumar was charged with first-degree murder but released on $300,000 bond and, well, that was that. Tough break, Hal! As for unlucky number five, John Neumar, it seems there never was any kind of explanation offered as to how he kicked the bucket, but Betty had him cremated before any of his family even found out he was dead. Good luck with that autopsy!

So, now Neumar is gone (of natural causes) and of course the living relatives of her deceased ex-husbands are understandably unhappy that justice was never served. Perhaps they should be offered residuals from the Lifetime movie that's sure to be in the works already.

Do you think Betty Neumar was guilty of murdering her five husbands?


Image via Laurence Grayson/Flickr

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