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Stacey CASTOR

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Black Widow"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Poisoner - To inherit
Number of victims: 1 +
Date of murder: August 20, 2005
Date of arrest: September 14, 2007
Date of birth: July 24, 1967
Victim profile: David W. Castor Sr. (her second husband)
Method of murder: Poisoning (antifreeze)
Location: Onondaga County, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 51 years to life in prison on March 5, 2009
 
 

 
 
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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 2007.

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.

Early life

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.

Murders

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 Wallace's demise.

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.

Attempted murder

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 accusations.

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 suicide note.

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 poison.

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 mental illness.

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 else.

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 113 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 with her.

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".

Aftermath

Stacey Castor is currently serving her sentence at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County, New York.

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 his prosecution.

Wikipedia.org


Judge rules in Stacey Castor civil suit

By Jim Kenyon - CNYcentral.com

December 19, 2011

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 Castor.

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 punitive damages.

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 wrote.

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 civic responsibility..."

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 Standard

August 16, 2010

Syracuse, 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 new trial.

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, Fahey noted.

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 success."


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, 2002.

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 Just Die'

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 interview.

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 to Stacey.

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 said.

'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 alive.

"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 Spinelli.

But confident his "sixth sense" would not fail him, Spinelli watched as the heavy machinery lifted the casket out of the ground.

"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 thinking.

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 dinners.

"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 of problems."

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 house.

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 suicide.

"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 the case.

"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 Ashley.

"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 blame daughter

NYDailyNews.com

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 September 2007.

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 the poisoning.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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