Elderly women face jail over insurance killings

It was a murder plot on slow burn. The two women, both in their 70s, would befriend the homeless in Hollywood, put them up and insure their lives for millions. Then the women would cash in, dispatching their victims in staged hit-and-run accidents in dark alleys.

But on Thursday a jury in Los Angeles found Helen Golay (77) guilty of the murder of Paul Vados (73) and Kenneth McDavid (50).
She faces the possibility of a life sentence without parole and will probably end her days in jail.

Her friend of 20 years, Olga Rutterschmidt (75), was convicted of conspiracy to murder, which could lead to a 25-year prison term. The jury was to consider murder charges against Rutterschmidt yesterday.

The time delay between the murders—Vados was killed in 1999 and McDavid in 2005—had allowed the two women to escape suspicion until two years ago when a detective overheard a colleague investigating a strikingly similar case.

But their trial, punctuated by tape recordings of the two women squabbling in jail, has exposed a murder plot reminiscent of the film Arsenic and Old Lace.

Golay, a former estate agent in Santa Monica, and Rutterschmidt, who had once owned a coffee shop with her husband, were both Hungarian-born.

They had known each other for 20 years before their arrest, but the partnership in crime soured after Golay took most of the proceeds from the insurance policies, police told the court. In the secret jail recordings, the court heard Rutterschmidt taunting Golay for getting too greedy and inviting suspicion.

“You did all these insurances extra. That’s what raised the suspicion. You can’t do that. Stupidity,” she told Golay. “You’re going to go to jail, honey. They going to lock you up.”

The prosecutor, Bobby Grace, said the women’s decision to target homeless people whose deaths might go unnoticed was chilling. “They didn’t need this money. They weren’t poor and destitute. They went out of their way to target men who had nothing.”

Golay’s lawyer, Roger Jon Diamond, admitted that the women had intended to defraud the insurance companies but denied any intent to murder. He told reporters Golay would appeal. The lawyer for Rutterschmidt claimed that she had been manipulated by Golay.

The prosecution produced a homeless man who said he had been approached by Rutterschmidt, who took him to a Burger King and promised a place to sleep and money.

Jimmy Covington (48) said he grew suspicious when Rutterschmidt asked him for personal details and to sign documents. He moved out within days, but by then the pair had already filled out an application for a policy on his life.—guardian.co.uk Â

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