Stacey Castor (born July 24, 1967) is a
resident of Clay, New York and is a convicted murderer. In 2007, she
was charged with second degree murder, second degree attempted murder,
and offering a false instrument in the first degree.
She was found guilty of intentionally poisoning
then-husband David Castor with antifreeze in 2005 and attempting to
murder her daughter, Ashley Wallace, with a toxic cocktail consisting
of crushed pills mixed in with vodka, orange juice, and Sprite in
In addition, she is suspected of having murdered
her first husband, Michael Wallace, whose grave lies next to David
Castor's. The story made national news, and Castor was subsequently
named The Black Widow by media outlets. A special two-hour
edition of ABC's 20/20 aired on April 24, 2009 to provide the
full story of the Castor case.
Castor met Michael Wallace when she was 17, in
1985, and they bonded immediately. Castor felt that Wallace was her
true love. The couple married and had their first daughter, Ashley, in
1988. In 1991, they had a second daughter, Bree. Castor was employed
by an ambulance dispatch company, while Wallace worked nights as a
mechanic, but the family had little money. According to Castor,
Wallace was very close to Bree, showing a favoritism that she made up
by becoming "best friends" with elder daughter Ashley. In spite of
their closeness with their children, the couple grew apart, and it was
rumored that each was having affairs.
In late 1999, Wallace began feeling intermittently
ill. Family members variously remember him as acting unsteady,
coughing and seeming swollen. As his inexplicable sickness persisted
over the holiday season, his family encouraged him to seek medical
care, but he died in early 2000 before he could do so. Their daughter
Ashley was 11 at the time and had been alone with him. She blamed
herself for his death. She had noticed his ill appearance that day,
but thought nothing of it.
Doctors told Castor that Wallace died of a heart
attack. Though Wallace's sister was skeptical of a heart attack having
been the cause and requested an autopsy for Wallace's corpse, Castor
refused. Castor said she believed the doctors were correct about
In 2003, Castor married David Castor, whose last
name she bears. In 2005, at 2:00 p.m. one afternoon, Castor called her
local sheriff's office to tell them that her husband had locked
himself in their bedroom for a day following an argument and was not
responding to his cell phone. When he did not appear at their shared
workplace, she had become worried. She claimed he was depressed.
Unable to get a response, Sergeant Robert Willoughby of the Onondaga
County Sheriff's Department kicked in the door of the bedroom and
found David Castor lying dead. Among the items near his body were a
container of antifreeze and a half-full glass of bright green liquid.
Willoughby says he remembers that Castor screamed, "He's not dead,
he's not dead."
The coroner reported that David Castor had
committed suicide through a self-administered lethal dose of
antifreeze, but when police found Stacey Castor's fingerprints on the
antifreeze glass and located a turkey baster that had David Castor's
DNA on the tip, they began to suspect Stacey Castor had engineered her
husband's death. They believed Castor had used the turkey baster to
force-feed him once he became too physically weak.
The detectives on the case ordered wiretappings on
Castor's house. They listened in on phone calls for any unusual
conversations. In addition, they set up cameras overlooking Castor's
house and her husbands' gravesites, who had been buried side by side
at Castor's request. Detectives reasoned that if Castor was
truly genuine about her love for her past husbands, then she would
eventually visit their graves. They wanted to observe her behavior
while there. Castor, however, never visited. The investigators soon
felt the only way to prove Castor responsible for both homicides was
to have Wallace's body exhumed. A toxicology screening ruled that
Wallace had also been killed through antifreeze poisoning.
In September 2007, as evidence steadily piled
against Castor as having murdered her past husbands, she began to
panic. After she learned police had exhumed Wallace's body and had
found antifreeze traces in his remains, she was believed to have
devised a plan to set up her daughter Ashley for the murders.
On Ashley's first day of college, investigators
came to her school to question her about her father's death and to
inform her that he had been poisoned instead of having died of a heart
attack. An upset Ashley called Castor. Soon after, she says that
Castor invited her to go home and drink together. Castor said that
they had been through enough emotional stress and needed to relax.
Ashley agreed because Castor was not only her mother but her "best
friend" and drinking alcoholic beverages would be tempting to any
teenager. The following day, Castor invited Ashley to drink together
at home again. She says that her mother offered her a "nasty-tasting"
drink that she at first refused but eventually drank because she
trusted Castor. Seventeen hours later, Ashley was found comatose on
her bed by her younger sister. Castor made the 911 call. Ashley's
sister left her side for a moment and when she returned, she found a
suicide note beside Ashley. The note appeared to be Ashley's "murder
confession", in which she "admits" to having killed her father and
stepfather. Castor quickly took the note from the sister and later
gave it to the paramedics. Tests revealed that potentially fatal
painkillers had been found in Ashley's system, and that she most
likely would have died if brought to the hospital just a few minutes
later. When Ashley awakened, with police questioning her about the
murders and the suicide note found beside her, she said that the last
thing she remembered was her mother making her an alcoholic drink,
something she had never done before. She told the officers that she
did not write the note and was confused about their questions and
Arrest and trial
For two years, investigators had collected evidence
against Castor for the deaths of her husbands. In 2007, she was
arrested for second degree murder in David's death and for attempting
to murder Ashley and frame her for the murders of David and Wallace.
Prosecutors argued that the computer-generated note
where Ashley "confesses" to killing Wallace and David had actually
been written by Castor. Ashley was 11 at the time of her father
Wallace's death. When brought on the stand, she testified that she did
not murder either her father or her stepfather; nor did she write the
Prosecutors—District Attorney William Fitzpatrick
and Chief Assistant District Attorney Christine Garvey -- argued that
David Castor's "suicide" had never made sense given the lack of his
fingerprints on the glass or container tainted with ethylene glycol, a
toxic substance found in antifreeze, and the turkey baster found in
the kitchen garbage bearing both ethylene glycol and his DNA. They
felt that this suggested he was force-fed antifreeze. Given evidence
of the evolution of David Castor's illness, they concluded that Castor
had for four days fed her husband antifreeze through the baster before
trying to make it look like a suicide. She had said that her husband
got the idea to kill himself with antifreeze while both were watching
a news report about Lynn Turner, who murdered two past lovers by using
The prosecutors presented evidence showing how
antifreeze poisoning can be identified from the growth of calcium
oxalate crystals in the kidneys, and that this was seen with
examination of Wallace and David's bodies as well.
In addition, they noted money as one of the main
reasons Castor murdered her husbands. She had murdered her husbands
partly to collect on their life insurance and estates, and had changed
David's will to exclude his son by a previous marriage from the money
left to him by David.
"In 2005, people started to put it together,"
Cayuga County Sheriff Dave Gould said. "If Mr. Wallace had been
cremated, or if Mr. Castor had not died, we would never have known we
had a homicide."
Having searched Castor's computer, prosecutors had
found several drafts of the suicide note Ashley was accused of
writing. They argued that the "suicide attempt" had actually been a
planned-out murder attempt by Castor against Ashley. On the stand,
Ashley retold how her mother had convinced her to drink the two nights
before she almost died. She repeated that she only drank the
"nasty-tasting" beverage because she trusted Castor. She maintained
her innocence of the two murders and the writing of the note.
Castor's defense team—attorneys Charles Keller and
Todd Smith -- was set on creating reasonable doubt in the jury's minds
about Castor having committed the murders. They wanted to "poke holes"
in Ashley's version of what happened and prove that she could have
been capable of murder at age 11. They noted Ashley's father, Wallace,
showing favoritism toward his younger daughter rather than Ashley and
cited jealousy as a possible motive for Ashley having murdered at such
a young age. For her stepfather, they noted his and Ashley's
tumultuous relationship and how they did not get along with each
other. Castor's mother believed her granddaughter Ashley to be guilty.
In a final attempt to convince the jury that she was not guilty,
Castor took the stand.
On cross examination, Fitzpatrick pointed out what
he felt were flaws in Castor's version of that night. She maintained
that it was Ashley who murdered Wallace and David, though she would
not speculate about motives beyond implying that her daughter might be
mentally ill. Fitzpatrick pointed out that Ashley's mother had never
sought therapy for her and that at 21 Ashley exhibited no sign of
Fitzpatrick asserted that Castor's behavior during
David Castor's and Ashley's illnesses made no sense, given the years
she had worked for a paramedics company. She did not seek care for
Ashley for 17 hours and indicated that David Castor, who was
staggering and vomiting and unable to stand, "looked OK". Likewise, he
questioned how a woman who had lost two husbands to poisoning would
not seek help for a daughter in Ashley's state. Fitzpatrick frequently
shouted at Castor, inspiring Castor's defense attorney Charles Keller
to frequently object and even to request a mistrial.
Prosecutors brought up another piece of "damaging
evidence" against Castor when they cited having heard "typing sounds"
while Castor was on the phone. During one of the wiretapped recordings
presented, "typing sounds" can be heard while Castor talks to a
friend, though Castor denied memory of using the computer that day.
Prosecutors argued the "typing sounds" were those of one of the
several drafts Castor had written of the suicide note. Ashley had
already testified to having witnessed her mother working on the
computer on something she had hidden to prevent Ashley's seeing it.
Fitzpatrick claimed this was the day Castor wrote the note, which had
Castor's fingerprints but not Ashley's, to frame her daughter. He told
the jury about the word antifreeze being written as "anti-free" in
four places within the note and noted that Castor had also said
"anti-free" during an interview. Castor said she had cut herself off
while saying "antifreeze" because she had intended to say something
Castor's defense team presented a pharmaceutical
expert in an attempt to cast doubt on Castor having drugged Ashley.
"Professor Francis Gengo testified that after analyzing the traces of
drugs and alcohol found in blood drawn from Ashley at the hospital,
Ashley would have had to ingest the alcohol, Ritalin, and several
other drugs just several hours before she was hospitalized."
On February 5, 2009, Castor was found guilty of
second degree murder in the poisoning death of David and of attempted
second degree murder for overdosing her daughter Ashley with drugs and
vodka. With a "jam-packed" courtroom, most were focused on Castor.
She, however, had her eyes closed as the verdicts were read. Her lead
defense counsel, Keller, announced that Castor would appeal the
verdict, including challenging the inclusion of evidence regarding the
death of her first husband, for which Castor had not been charged.
On March 5, 2009, at Castor's sentencing, Chief
Assistant District Attorney Christine Garvey asked Fahey to impose the
maximum consecutive sentences because of the brutality of David's
death. Further, he criticized how Castor had "partied in her backyard
with friends like nothing was happening" as Ashley was comatose in her
room. "She is cold, calculating and without any emotion for what she
has done," he stated. "Human life is sacred. Stacey Castor places no
value on human life, not even her own flesh and blood. To Stacey
Castor, human beings are disposable."
David's son, whom Castor had cheated out of his
will, pled with Judge Fahey for Castor to be severely punished. "Your
honor, [Castor] is a monster and a threat to society," he said. "She
has created so much pain and death with this, creating multiples of
pain and death, in the families of those she has hurt."
Judge Fahey told Castor that he had never seen a
parent attempt to murder their child in order to set their child up
for a crime they themselves committed and declared Castor "in a class
all by [her]self". He sentenced her to the maximum of 25 years to life
for the murder of David Castor, and to another 25 years for the
attempt to kill Ashley. For forging David's will, he ordered Castor to
serve an additional 11⁄3
to four years in prison.
The trial had lasted for four weeks. An emotional
Ashley told the judge she hated her mother "for ruining so many
people's lives" but still loved her for the bond she originally had
I never knew what hate was until now. Even though
I do hate her, I still love her at the same time. That bothers me,
it is so confusing. How can you hate someone and love them at the
same time? I just wish that she would say sorry for everything she
did, including all the lies. As horrible as it makes me feel, this
is goodbye mom. As hard as you tried, I survived and I will survive
because now I'm surrounded by people that love me. I'm going to do
good things in this world despite making me in every sense of the
word an orphan.
— Ashley Wallace
Fitzpatrick said Castor will "have to serve at
least 51 years behind bars before she is eligible for parole" and
that, given her age, it is "very likely she will die in prison".
Stacey Castor is currently serving her sentence at
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County,
On April 24, 2009, ABC aired a two-hour 20/20
special about Castor and the trial, which included interviews. During
the trial, Castor had been dubbed "The Black Widow" by media outlets,
a title previously given to Lynn Turner. Ashley said that she does not
know how her mother, any mother, could try to kill her own child, a
question that the public has also pondered. Castor, who professed to
being shocked at the guilty verdict, maintained her innocence during
the on-air 20/20 special, as well as in unaired parts of the
program. She said that "Ashley brought this on" and insists that she
and Ashley know what really happened. She did express sympathy for her
daughter Bree. She called Bree an innocent victim, whom she lost along
with her freedom and her husbands. She indicated that her mother,
stepfather and some other relatives still support her.
Bree, like Ashley, has not spoken to Castor since
the trial. Bree said that though losing her mother was hard, "I was
happy that they said she was guilty, because we all know that she's
guilty." Ashley said, "I would have done anything for her. But she
tried to kill me instead." Both of Castor's daughters expressed
concern that their mother had not yet apologized to them. Castor
maintains she is innocent of the deaths of her husbands and the
attempted murder of Ashley.
ABC brought on Dr. James Knoll, a forensic
psychiatrist, to offer a psychological perspective on the case, where
he would answer viewers' questions, via video on April 23, 2009 and
via site comments on April 27, 2009, about how someone could commit
these kinds of crimes. He stated that while most suicide notes focus
on themes of remorse and the person not being able to go on with life,
the note Ashley was accused of writing was repeatedly focused on
taking the blame off Castor. He said that this theme was repeated
fourteen times within the note and that he believes Castor will never
admit to guilt of the murders. The code of murderers such as these, he
said, is "deny, deny, deny" until the bitter end. When asked if
Castor's behavior and body language on the stand shows any sort of
clue about her mental state and guilt, Knoll reminded that body
language and behavior can be affected by events during a trial (such
as "side effects of medications, anxiety, fatigue and attorney
instructions to the defendant on how to behave") and that interpreting
it is not always reliable.
Knoll said that there are many different kinds of
killers with different motivations. He described Castor as not being
the typical type of serial killer but rather as a "black widow" type.
He described a "black widow" type as a woman who kills husbands or
lovers for material gain, as opposed to the typical serial killer (men
who kill consecutively for sexual or sadistic motives). He relayed
that "psychopathic traits and histories of childhood abuse have been
consistently reported in these women" and suggested that if Castor is
guilty of the crimes of which she has been convicted and accused, then
she would be demonstrating psychopathic traits, including regarding
even her own child as an object to be used for her convenience.
In addition to the Turner and Castor antifreeze
murder cases, other similar cases had been reported in 2008. Years
earlier, in 2002, a man had been convicted of murdering his wife by
antifreeze in 1998. A letter she had written previous to her death
incriminating him as the murderer if she were to die eventually led to
Judge rules in Stacey Castor civil suit
By Jim Kenyon - CNYcentral.com
A new development in the case of notorious
murderer Stacey Castor. The son of her murdered husband, David Castor
and his first wife, Janice Poissant have won a no holds barred
decision from State Supreme Court over the remainder of the Castor
estate along with punitive damages.
Castor is currently serving 51 years to life for
the murder of David Castor by anti-freeze poisoning and the attempted
murder of her own daughter, Ashley Wallace in a failed attempt to
blame her for the crimes. Her 2009 trial gained national attention.
Stacey Castor's alleged motive was to seize her
dead husband's $300 thousand estate through a forged will. She
allegedly conspired with two of her friends, Lynn and Paul Pulaski to
sign their names as witnesses to a post-dated will. The couple was
granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against Stacey
After the sensational trial, David Castor's son,
David Junior and his mother Janice Poissant, sued Stacey Castor along
with Lynn and Paul Pulaski for what was left of the estate. Following
a trial in January, State Supreme Court Judge Anthony Paris issued a
decision dated December 14th, which awards David Junior and his mother
$127,118.65 in compensatory damages, along with $250 thousand in
The wording of Judge Paris' decision leaves no
doubt about his feelings toward Castor and the Pulaski's. "it is
obvious that Defendants Pulaski were not innocent pawns. They knew
what they were doing was wrong and bore false witness to both the Will
and Attestation Clause without any hesitancy or reservation." Paris
He added: "Defendants Pulaski only 'came clean'
when the District Attorney's investigators came knocking on their door
and they were given immunity in return for their cooperation and
testimony in the criminal prosecution of Stacey Castor." In another
part of the decision, Judge Paris wrote: "Stacey Castor's criminal
conviction and sentence addressed her criminal conduct. However
Defendants PULASKI skated away from their criminal responsibility
through the receipt of immunity, They will not skate away from their
Contacted by phone, Janice Poissant told CNY
Central's Jim Kenyon the decision was "awesome." "it's been a really
long haul. The one thing I love best is the comment about Pulaski's
apology, he said it perfectly." Poissant is referring to Lynn
Pulaski's statement during the January trial in which she apologized
to David Castor Junior and called Stacey Castor a "monster." Judge
Paris called that a "poor me" apology. "the only feel evoked was a
feeling of nausea and an urge to vomit."
Paul and Lynn Pulaski have not yet returned our
call for comment.
Stacey Castor has also been implicated in the
anti-freeze murder of her first husband, Michael Wallace in 2000. She
has not yet been prosecuted for that crime.
Judge rejects convicted killer Stacey Castor's
bid for a new trial
By Jim O'Hara - The Post
August 16, 2010
NY - The judge who presided over Stacey Castor’s 2009 murder trial and
sentenced her to serve 51 1/3 years to life in state prison has
rejected a defense request to set aside the conviction and conduct a
In a four-page decision released this afternoon,
Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey rejected lawyer Randi
Bianco’s contention that a key interview of Castor by Sheriff’s
Detective Dominick Spinelli should have been suppressed because the
interview violated Castor’s right to counsel.
The Sept. 7, 2007, interview was a critical part of
the prosecution’s case in convicting Castor of murdering her husband
by poisoning him with antifreeze in August 2005 and trying to murder
her daughter in September 2007 in a plot to blame her for the murder.
Spinelli testified Castor made reference to
“antifree” in the interview, a mispronunciation the prosecution
claimed proved Castor also wrote a would-be suicide note - which
contained the same “antifree” reference – in a bid to try and blame
her daughter for the crime.
Bianco contended that Spinelli should not have been
allowed to talk to Castor because authorities knew she was represented
by lawyer Norman Chirco since detectives had talked to Chirco as
Castor’s lawyer in 2005 in arranging to get fingerprints from Castor
during the investigation of her husband’s death.
Fahey concluded that he was obligated to reject the
defense request to set aside the verdict because there is sufficient
evidence about the issue on the case record for an appellate court to
review in an appeal of Castor’s conviction.
But Fahey went further in noting that he would also
reject the defense request if he were to proceed to consider the
merits of Bianco’s claim.
The judge noted Chirco was representing Castor in
2005 as a result of a dispute with her dead husband’s son over the
estate and she never told authorities she had a lawyer representing
her regarding the investigation into her husband’s death.
Chirco’s conduct in advising Castor to cooperate
fully with regard to the fingerprint request was inconsistent with
that of a lawyer representing a defendant in a criminal investigation,
Chirco’s representation of Castor in the civil
estate matter did not preclude detectives from questioning her in
September 2007 as Bianco contends, Fahey concluded.
The judge also rejected Bianco’s contention that
Castor was the victim of ineffective assistance of counsel because her
trial lawyer, Charles Keller, failed to move to suppress the Spinelli
interview as a violation of Castor’s right to counsel.
“Our constitution guarantees the accused a fair
trial, not necessarily a perfect one and counsel’s effort should not
be second-guessed with the clarity of hindsight,” Fahey noted.
The judge concluded Keller’s failure to challenge
the Spinelli interview as a violation of Castor’s right to counsel did
not amount to ineffective assistance of counsel because such a motion
if it had been made by Keller would have had “little or no chance of
Did Stacey Castor murder her own father?
By Jim Kenyon - CNYcentral.com
February 1, 2010
SYRACUSE -- Did convicted murderer Stacey Castor kill her own father
in addition to her two husbands?
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick
confirms to CNYcentral that his office is investigating the
circumstances surrounding the death of Jerry Daniels on February 27th,
Relatives of Michael Wallace, Castor's first
husband, say they brought the case to the attention of investigators.
Wallace's brother in law, John Corbett tells reporter Jim Kenyon that
Daniels was hospitalized at St. Joseph's hospital for a lung ailment.
Corbett says Daniels was "getting better" and was due to be released,
but the day after a visit from his daughter Stacey, Daniels suddenly
died. Corbett says during the visit, Castor brought in an open can of
soda for her father to drink.
After his death, Corbett says Stacey Castor had her
father's remains cremated. She also became executrix of his estate.
D.A. Fitzpatrick told CNYcentral "you know not the
depths of depravity this woman is capable of." Fitzpatrick says Castor
had "financial motives regarding the death of her father." The D.A.
says Daniel's autopsy report show he died of "natural causes", but
adds, "We'll follow the evidence where it leads."
Fitzpatrick admits that the cremation makes the
death difficult to investigate. He said he is "not optimistic we're
going to get proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
Stacey Castor was convicted nearly one year ago of
murdering her second husband, David Castor by poisoning him with
anti-freeze. During Castor's highly charged trial which gained
national attention, Fitzpatrick also submitted evidence that Castor
poisoned her first husband, Michael Wallace through a combination of
anti-freeze and rat poison. Castor was also convicted of attempting to
murder her own daughter, Ashley Wallace, in a failed attempt to pin
the crimes on her.
Michael Wallace's relatives believe it is no
coincidence that Wallace, David Castor, and her father Jerry Daniels
were buried next to each other in a plot purchased by Stacey Castor.
Corbett calls it "Stacey's monument to murder."
Stacey Castor is serving a sentence of 51 years to
life in prison.
Exhumed Body Reveals Stacey Castor's First Husband 'Didn't
By Angela Chambers and Jon Meyersohn - ABCNews.go.com
April 23, 2009
Just days after the apparent suicide
death of her second husband, 48-year-old David Castor, in 2005, Stacey
Castor buried him in a rural cemetery in upstate New York. Lying next
to him in the neighboring plot was Stacey Castor's first husband,
Michael Wallace, who had died five years earlier, at age 38, of an
apparent heart attack.
Police would later learn that it was more than
coincidence that brought these two men to rest in neighboring graves.
When police confirmed that both of Stacey Castor's husbands had died
of anti-freeze poisoning, the grieving widow was thrust into the
center of a murder investigation.
Stacey Castor, a tall, vivacious redhead, was
introduced to Michael Wallace, the man she would call "the love of her
life," by friends in 1985. Still a teenager at the time, Stacey said
their attraction was instant.
"I knew five minutes after I met him that I was
going to marry him," she told ABC News' David Muir in an exclusive
The couple quickly became inseparable, and five
years after their first date, they were married at Stacey's parent's
home. Judie Eaton, Stacey's mother, recalled that her daughter was "as
happy as she had ever been."
For Wallace, a gregarious guy who "liked to be the
life of the party," having a good time sometimes meant using drugs and
drinking too much, Stacey said.
"He had a problem with both for a long time in his
life," she said.
But he also loved Stacey very much, and in 1987 the
two welcomed their first daughter, Ashley. It was a life-changing
moment for the new mother, who said the two "did everything together."
"I knew from that minute on, my whole reason for
being here was to take care of her," she said.
Three years later, Stacey Castor gave birth to
another daughter, Bree, and this time, it was her husband's turn to
bond. He called their new baby girl his "princess."
Dani Colman, one of Stacey's oldest friends,
recalled that Bree was "daddy's little angel" and that "she could do
no wrong" in Wallace's eyes.
"There was no talk of any relationship between
Ashley and Michael Wallace," Colman said. But Stacey said the
connection between father and little sister was not lost on Ashley.
"I think it definitely hurt her," Stacey said.
She said that she made up for the father's slight
by spending more time with her older daughter. The two became more
than mother and daughter; they became "best friends."
Wallace Falls Ill; Appears 'Swollen and Puffy'
For a while, the family of four seemed normal and
happy. Ashley Wallace remembered her childhood fondly.
"We'd just go for a ride in the car, you know? For
no reason, just take a ride. That was fun," she told Muir.
And though Stacey and her husband argued from time
to time, it was never about money, "because they had none," according
She worked days at an ambulance dispatch company
and Wallace worked nights as a mechanic. But over time the
relationship started to lose its luster, according to friends. Rumors
of infidelity by both husband and wife swirled.
In late 1999, with the holidays approaching,
Wallace started to feel very sick.
"It was on and off for like six weeks," his
sister-in-law, Melanne Keim, said. Keim recalled Wallace acting like
he was "drunk, very unsteady."
But no one could figure out what was wrong with the
38-year-old. Wallace himself told Keim that he was "just really tired
of feeling this way."
During a family dinner on Christmas Eve, Michael
Wallace's sister, Rosemary Corbett, recalled: "Mike was coughing a
lot" and was "swollen and puffy." His family encouraged him to see a
doctor, but Wallace never made it.
In 2000, Ashley, then 11, remembered being at home
one day in January with her father.
"He was laying on the couch, making what I thought
were funny faces. And all of sudden, he just sticks his arm up in the
air and puts his arm on his side and then his arm just fell down," she
'Black Widow' Says 'No' to Autopsy
With her father still on the couch, Ashley left to
pick up her sister at school. It would be the last time she'd see him
"I've relived this day over and over again in my
head, because what if there was something that I could've done?" she
said. "Like, I should've known, but I didn't. I was 11!"
Later at the hospital, doctors told Stacey Castor
her husband had died of a heart attack, but Rosemary Corbett, his
older sister, was skeptical.
"The color of his skin from head to chest was deep,
dark purple. And it was really weird," she said.
Corbett wanted Stacey to have doctors perform an
autopsy on her dead brother, but the wife said no.
"When the doctors told me that they believed he'd
died of a heart attack, I believed that. There was no reason for me to
question that," Stacey said.
No one had reason to question Wallace's death until
2005, when after two years of marriage, Stacey Castor's second husband
died under suspicious circumstances. The coroner concluded that David
Castor had committed suicide by consuming a lethal dose of
anti-freeze. Investigators began to look more closely at the evidence
and more closely at the grieving widow, Stacey Castor.
Police said that forensic tests on items seized
from inside David Castor's locked bedroom incriminated his wife.
Stacey's fingerprints were on a glass half full of anti-freeze, and
police found a turkey baster with David's DNA on the tip. For
Detective Dominick Spinelli and others from the Onondaga Sheriff's
Department, it was all adding up.
Investigators said that David Castor's death was
now a homicide, but there was only one way to find out if Stacey
Castor was the one responsible for the murder of both David Castor and
her former husband, Michael Wallace.
Detectives Exhume Michael Wallace's Body
After careful consideration, Spinelli made the
unusual decision to exhume Michael Wallace's body.
"The last thing I want to do is disturb someone
that's at peace, especially if nothing showed up in his system," said
But confident his "sixth sense" would not fail him,
Spinelli watched as the heavy machinery lifted the casket out of the
"What if he's saying, 'It's about time you guys are
looking at this, because I didn't just die on my own,'" he recalled
The exhumation of Wallace's body proved that he,
too, had died of anti-freeze poisoning. After a mounting investigation
spanning two years, Castor was arrested and convicted of second degree
murder in David Castor's death and was also convicted of attempting to
murder her daughter Ashley and frame her for her husbands' deaths.
"20/20" was granted full access to all sides of
this curious investigation and trial. Stacey Castor talked about the
trial and her conviction in an exclusive interview with ABC News'
David Muir, who also sat down with the lawyers, detectives, doctors,
family and friends who spent a decade watching this mystery unravel.
'Black Widow' Stacey Castor Accused in Anti-Freeze Murder
By Angela Chambers - ABCNews.go.com
April 21, 2009
Earlier this year, the dramatic conclusion to a mystery that
captivated an entire community played out in an upstate New York
courtroom. Mother of two, Stacey Castor was charged with the murder of
her husband and attempted murder of her 20-year-old daughter.
The bizarre story began four years earlier, in
August 2005, when Stacey Castor was at work waiting for her husband,
David, to arrive. Stacey Castor, now 41, worked as an office manager
at her husband's business, Liverpool Heating and Air Conditioning.
According to Castor, the couple, from Clay, N.Y.,
had had a fight the previous weekend, but she said she was still
surprised that her husband was so late getting to work. She said she
called him at home and on his cell phone several times but failed to
reach him. Finally, around 2 p.m., she said she became really worried
and called the police to report her concerns.
"My husband has locked himself in our bedroom for
the last day," she said, asking for police to meet her at their
residence. When police arrived, Castor was waiting in the front yard.
Sgt. Robert Willoughby of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department
recalled that she'd mentioned that David had been depressed and that
she was worried about the gun he kept in the room.
Armed with that information, the sergeant made his
way inside the home and knocked on the bedroom door. He could hear the
television and "banged on the door" but didn't "get any response."
Willoughby tried unsuccessfully to look through the
bedroom window but ultimately forced his way in.
"I kicked the door in," he said. "David was lying
naked across the bed."
Next to him on the nightstand the police found
cranberry juice, apricot brandy and a couple of glasses. According to
Willoughby, "one of the glasses is half full of a bright green liquid"
and lying on the floor next to the bed was an antifreeze container.
Willoughby called for paramedics, but by the time
they arrived, it was too late. David Castor, 48, was dead.
"[Stacey Castor] asked me if he's OK," Willoughby
recalled. "All I said was, 'No, he's not.'"
Castor became hysterical, he recalled, screaming,
"He's not dead, he's not dead." Her friend Lynn Pulaski arrived and
found her inconsolable and in shock.
Married for two years, Stacey Castor, by all
accounts, had found her prince charming in David, a tall handsome man
who owned his own business and loved the outdoors. Pulaski said
Castor's husband made his wife feel safe and secure and doted on her
right from the start, buying her dresses and taking her out for fancy
"Stacey was loved. She was treated like a lady,"
said longtime friend Dani Colman.
David Castor's Bizarre Death
Though things appeared to be perfect between the
couple, Stacey Castor's two teenage daughters from her first marriage,
Ashley and Bree Wallace, had a harder time connecting with their
stepfather. According to Stacey Castor's mother, Judie Eaton, their
relationship was strained.
David Castor was "difficult with the kids," she
said. "He expected them to do everything he said without question. And
them being my kids, they questioned everything and that created a lot
Dani Colman remembered that David used to call
17-year-old Ashley, the older daughter, "selfish and disrespectful."
Ashley Wallace said her stepfather claimed "he didn't want to be our
father, but then he acted in ways, he was trying to be."
Their hostile relationship, including a fight the
weekend David Castor died, was a source of constant conflict in the
He was planning a vacation for the couple's wedding
anniversary and wanted to be alone with his wife, but she refused to
leave her younger daughter, Bree, 15 years old at the time, home. A
heated argument ensued, and in the two years of their marriage, Stacey
told ABC News that she had never seen her husband so angry.
Worried for her friend, Colman invited Stacey
Castor to stay with her. Castor claimed she'd stayed on her own couch
that night, but throughout the rest of the weekend kept her distance,
getting out of the house as often as she could. She blamed her
husband's belligerence on the alcohol he was consuming. She said she
thought he was drunk when he fell and couldn't get up on his own. She
grew annoyed when he locked her out of their bedroom but told friends
she heard him snoring.
"She said she'd put her ear up to the door. She
said she heard him snoring," Colman said. "You know, he snored like a
Mack truck. So she knew he was in there sleeping."
But David Castor wasn't sleeping; he was slowly
dying. When Detective Dominick Spinelli from the Onondaga Sheriff's
Department walked onto the scene, he thought he knew why.
"One of the glasses was half full of antifreeze,"
Spinelli told ABC News' David Muir. "So it's thought, he must have
gotten in some kind of argument and through some kind of depression,
may have just committed suicide."
Castor explained to Spinelli that she thought the
recent death of his father plus the rising stress of the business may
have led her husband to take his own life.
Stacey Castor's Story: 'Something Strange'
Detectives searched and collected items from around
the house, including the drinking glasses and various bottles from the
bedroom and a turkey baster found lying in the garbage can in the
kitchen. When Willoughby took a closer look, he noticed the cooking
utensil looked brand new but smelled of alcohol and had a few drops of
liquid in it.
"I found that very odd," he said. "He had no food
around. No dirty dishes. No indication that anybody had been cooking
or baking. I know he's been drinking. I know alcohol's involved. I
know antifreeze was involved."
At the morgue, Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Robert
Stoppacher conducted an autopsy. He found "there were crystals and the
presence of those crystals in the kidney confirmed that he'd died of
ethylene glycol toxicity."
In other words, David Castor died from anti-freeze
poisoning. Virtually untraceable, toxicologists said the sweet-tasting
liquid causes the organs to shut down, even after ingesting a small
amount. It is both a slow and excrutiating way to die. Based on what
he found in the report, the coroner concluded Castor had committed
"Why would he kill himself?" Ashley Wallace
wondered. "I didn't know he was hurting like that. I was crushed."
His sister, Linda Horzempa, remembered the
overwhelming disbelief she felt seeing her brother in his casket. "Why
are you lying here? What happened?" she recalled asking.
Castor's first wife, Janice Poissaint, was
convinced her ex-husband and the father of her only child, David Jr.,
cared about his life too much to end it. "He would never commit
suicide," she said. "Never. He loved life."
Despite the medical examiner's findings, Spinelli,
a street smart transplant from New York City, quietly refused to close
"A sixth sense is something you develop throughout
your career," he said. "It tells you something isn't right."
Weeks earlier, during their routine interview with
Stacey Castor, she had mentioned that her husband may have chosen
antifreeze after watching a documentary on Julia Lynn Turner, a woman
in Georgia who was convicted of killing her husband and boyfriend with
the toxic liquid. There was "something strange about it," and Spinelli
couldn't let it go.
Investigation Builds in Castor Case
Further investigation into Stacey's phone records
revealed that she'd only made one call to her husband the day he died.
Police also said that forensic tests on that seized
glass, half full of antifreeze, determined that the fingerprints on it
belonged to Stacey, not David, and the antifreeze container found on
the floor had no prints on it at all.
"If David Castor poured a glass of antifreeze, then
why isn't there one fingerprint on that container?" Spinelli said.
And that seemingly new turkey baster found in the
garbage can had no prints on it either, but it did have David Castor's
DNA on the tip.
Investigators said that Castor's death was no
longer a suicide. It was a homicide. District Attorney William
Fitzpatrick found Castor's decision to torture himself slowly with
antifreeze using a turkey baster one drop at a time unbelievable.
"Suicide by turkey baster is not something I've
even heard of in my career," he told ABC News.
As summer turned to fall, the quiet investigation
into who could have killed David Castor began as his wife buried her
second husband in a small cemetery tucked away in rural upstate New
York, right next to her first husband, Michael Wallace. Wallace was 38
when he died, and police began to wonder if his untimely death was a
coincidence or a pattern.
Over the next two years, investigators built a case
against Stacey Castor, and in September 2007, she was arrested after
what they believe was a desperate attempt to throw cops off her trail.
She was ultimately convicted of second degree murder in David Castor's
death and was also convicted of the attempted murder of her daughter
"20/20" was granted full access to all sides of
this curious investigation and trial. Stacey Castor talked about the
trial and her conviction for the first time with ABC News' David Muir,
who also sat down with the lawyers, detectives, doctors, family and
friends who spent a decade watching this mystery unravel.
Woman gets 50 years in
antifreeze murder of husband
Stacy Castor of upstate tried to
March 6, 2009
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - An
upstate New York woman was sentenced Thursday to more than 50 years in
prison for poisoning her husband with antifreeze and then trying to
kill her daughter and frame her as the murderer.
Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey told Stacey
Castor that he had "never seen a parent willing to sacrifice their
child to shift the blame away from themselves."
Fahey sentenced Castor, 41, to the maximum of 25
years to life for the murder of David Castor at their Syracuse home in
August 2005 and to another 25 years for the attempt to kill daughter
Ashley Wallace, then 20, with an overdose of drugs and vodka in
The judge also ordered Castor to an additional 1
1/3 to four years in prison for forging her husband's will.
"In my 34 years in the criminal justice system as a
lawyer and a judge, I have seen serial killers, contract killers,
killers of every variety and stripe," Fahey said. "But, I have to say
Mrs. Castor, you are in a class all by yourself."
Wallace told the judge she hated her mother "for
ruining so many people's lives."
District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Castor
will have to serve at least 51 1/3 years behind bars before she's
eligible for parole.
"In light of her age, it is very likely she will
die in prison," Fitzpatrick said.
Charles Keller, Castor's lawyer, has said he will
appeal her conviction.
David Castor's death at age 48 was initially
considered a suicide, but investigators later determined he didn't
knowingly drink ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical found in antifreeze.
Stacey Castor was not charged with the killing
until September 2007, after investigators in neighboring Cayuga County
exhumed the body of her first husband, Michael Wallace. Doctors
originally ruled that the 38-year-old Wallace died of a heart attack,
but after the exhumation, authorities ruled the death a homicide
caused by ingesting ethylene glycol.
Castor has not been charged in Michael Wallace's
killing, but Fitzpatrick used evidence about his death to build the
case against her. Cayuga County authorities plan to meet with
Fitzpatrick to discuss the Wallace case.
Prosecutors said Castor killed her husbands to
collect on their life insurance and estates.
Fitzpatrick said Castor tried to kill her daughter
and frame her for killing both men when the woman was being
investigated for the deaths. Ashley Wallace nearly died from a mix of
sleeping pills, vodka and prescription pills, but she recovered from