Welcome to True Crime Tuesday where we review, recommend and generally obsess over everything crime-related.
They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but anyone who is struggling to get by would beg to differ. Having money can eliminate a lot of stress—and that’s why some people would do just about anything for a little (or a lot) of cash. In fact, money is one of the top motives out there for committing murder. Whether it’s insurance money, an inheritance, or just a monetary-related disagreement, tempers can run high when it comes to who deserves what. Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, the antagonist in Netflix’s Evil Genius, is a good example of that.
A little more rare are the people who have, essentially, made killing their day job. You might think contract killers are only characters in the movies, but they exist in real life too, and they have no problem ending a life if it means a pay day for them. Here are five cases of people who committed murder for money.
Also Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson was a professional hitman for most of his adult life. After he was acquitted of one murder in 1968, he went on to accept $2000 to kill someone else. He was found guilty of killing Sam Degelia and sentenced to 15 years in prison although he only served five. Shortly after he was paroled, he was arrested again, for the murder of U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr.. Harrelson was hired by a drug dealer to kill Wood because the judge was known for handing down particularly harsh sentences to drug offenders.
At trial, Harrelson maintained that he didn’t kill Judge Wood, but took credit for it so he could claim payment. He was found guilty and sentenced to two life terms. Interestingly, there are conspiracy theories that claim Harrelson was also involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but for them to make sense, first you have to believe the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone.
Olga Rutterschmidt and Helen Golay
Also known as the Black Widow Murders, two homeless men, 73-year-old Paul Vados and 50-year-old Kenneth McDavid were killed in what appeared to be hit-and-run accidents. Their deaths were six years apart, but eventually authorities zeroed in on Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt. The two women, both in their seventies, had befriended the homeless men and taken out multi-million dollar life insurance policies on them in the years leading up to their deaths.
Golay and Rutterschmidt were running their scheme on a third man who became suspicious when they asked him to sign documents that would give them access to personal details about him. Both women were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and first degree murder and sentenced to consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole.
When she met first met her future husband John Parker, Judy Hicks she was a 19-year-old single mother with nothing going for her. John was an up-and-coming business man who turned Judy’s life around by marrying her and becoming a step-father to her kids. But still, Judy wasn’t happy. On April 17, 2003, John Parker was murdered, shot in his own office in what Judy claimed was a robbery gone wrong. But John still had a $20,000 Rolex on, so police were understandably suspicious about Judy’s story.
Only six months before John’s murder, two teenagers came forward claiming Judy’s son Danny had paid them $6000 to “take care” of John. The police suspected that Judy had given Danny the money to set up a hit on her husband. It took another four years before both Judy’s kids confessed that they had conspired to kill John and their mother, Judy Parker, was the mastermind. She had already inherited a $3 million estate, but Judy was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and felony murder. Her own kids agreed to testify against her, but she took a plea and was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Roger and Melissa Bluml adopted their son Anthony and his brother Christopher when they were young boys. As they grew up, Anthony became a rebellious teenager and started to resent his adoptive parents. He received a Facebook message from his biological mother Kisha Schaberg, and agreed to meet her in California after the Bluml’s kicked him out of their house for smoking too much marijuana and refusing to get a job.
Anthony bonded with Schaberg and together they hatched a plot to kill Anthony’s adoptive parents and collect the insurance money. Along with two former classmates, Anthony and his mother stalked and ambushed the Bluml’s outside their home, shooting and killing them both. It was no secret that Anthony and his adoptive parents weren’t on good terms so the police were able to link him to the crime within days. He and Kisha both plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. Needless to say, Anthony didn’t end up inheriting any of his adoptive parents’ money.
The notorious serial killer who terrorized 19th Century Chicago was theorized to have killed as many as 200 people, but in reality, only nine have been confirmed. Either way, one of H.H. Holmes’ known motives for killing was money. He originally concocted a plan to fake his own death and collect $10,000 in life insurance money, but it didn’t work. Instead, he conspired with a man named Benjamin Pitezel to help him fake his death so his wife would collect the insurance money and split it with Holmes.
Holmes was supposed to locate a cadaver to stand in for Pitezel, but instead Holmes murdered Pitezel by knocking him out with chloroform and setting his body on fire. Holmes was able to collect the life insurance money and trick Pitezale’s wife into believing her husband was still alive. Holmes was eventually captured and sentenced to death for Pitezel’s murder.