Millie Weeks: The Black Widow of Benzodiazepene
April 28, 2013
By Kristal Hawkins - TruTv.com
“Millie” is back in the news again. The Canadian
senior citizen has a rap sheet that earned her the nickname “the Black
Widow” — a sobriquet that helps trace her crimes across the various
aliases that her (not always legal) multiple marriages have provided.
As Melissa Stewart, she was convicted of drugging, running over and
killing her second husband while still married to the first. As
Melissa Friedrich, she defrauded a third husband, who died under
suspicious circumstances — then she drugged and defrauded another
suitor. Most recently, Melissa Ann Weeks is accused of drugging her
brand new groom in an attempt to kill him.
Her early story is simple enough. Born in Burnt
Church, New Brunswick, in 1935, Millie moved to Ontario with her
family when she was a teenager. In 1955 she met and married a factory
worker, Russell Sheppard. They had two children.
Between 1970 and 1985 Melissa Ann Sheppard was
convicted on a string of charges of false pretenses fraud, forgery and
impersonation (and littering) in Toronto and in Georgetown, Prince
Edward Island. But it wasn’t until she was 55 that she began her most
Overkill?: Give Him a Lethal Amount of
Benzodiezapene, Hit Him With the Car, Hit Him With the Car Again
In 1988, living on Prince Edward Island, “Millie”
took up with widower Gordon Stewart. She and Russell Sheppard weren’t
divorced until May 1991, but she wed Stewart in ceremonies in
Vancouver and Las Vegas in 1990.
Just before Christmas in 1990, Gordon Stewart,
disoriented and foaming at the mouth, was admitted to the hospital.
Lab tests showed a large amount of benzodiazepine, a psychoactive drug
usually prescribed for insomnia or anxiety. Abuse can lead to
overdose, ranging from deep sleep to death; in elderly patients, its
side effects can mimic dementia.
At the time, the benzodiazepine didn’t arouse
suspicion. Nor did the Stewarts’ tumultuous relationship reveal who
the real danger was in this couple.
In 1991, Gordon pleaded guilty to assaulting Millie
and he spent some time in jail. A judge issued a restraining order
against him in March, but in April they moved together to Dartmouth,
Nova Scotia. Their reconciliation didn’t last long.
On April 27, 1991, Melissa Stewart ran her husband
over twice with their car. She reported the death only a few hours
later. His autopsy showed a lethal amount of benzodiazepine.
During her trial, she said Stewart had raped her.
She was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years. At the
Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario, she formed a convict support
group (once released, she would found Project Another Chance, a
counseling line for women prisoners) — and she found herself a star of
the National Film Board’s When Women Kill feature.
Melissa Stewart was released in 1994. And she was
lonely; or broke.
Another Chance at Love: More
Benzodiazepene, Another Death, Plenty of Alleged Fraud
In April 2000, Melissa Stewart wrote to a Florida
widower and retired engineer who she had spotted in a Christian
Retreat newsletter. She enclosed a photo, and she told Robert
Friedrich flat-out that she believed God wanted them to get married.
He invited her to visit him the next month, and within three days of
her arrival they’d agreed to get married. The wedding was in
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on June 23, 2000; she then joined him in
Over the next two years, his family noticed that
Robert increasingly suffered from slurred speech and faltering health.
In July 2002, one of his sons complained to the Elder Abuse Line,
blaming Millie for his father’s decline. And around that same time,
Robert rewrote his will, leaving out his sons and making Millie the
sole beneficiary of his full estate.
Robert Friedrich died of cardiac arrest on December
16, 2002. There was no autopsy. Millie continued to cash his Social
Security checks before returning to Prince Edward Island in 2004. The
Social Security Administration specifies that benefits are due only
through the last full month that the beneficiary lives.
Friedrich’s family later saw new reports that made
them wondered whether his wife had caused his death. The authorities
also regarded Melissa Friedrich with suspicion.
Records show that she held multiple prescriptions
for Lorazepam, a potent, fast-acting benzodiazepine. Florida’s Manatee
County Sheriff investigated her for “doctor shopping” and prescription
fraud, but by the end of 2004 the county decided it didn’t have enough
evidence to prosecute her.
By then, Canada’s Department of Human Resources
Development had started its own investigation into Melissa Friedrich’s
possible involvement in Old Age Security fraud, alleging that she’d
bilked the government of over $30,000. But in 2009, they too dropped
Meanwhile, Millie met another man.
More Love, More Benzo, More Money
In November 2004, Melissa Friedrich returned to
Florida to meet with Alex Strategos, one of several men with whom
she’d corresponded on AmericanSinglesDating.com. Not only did she move
into the divorced Pittsburgh accountant’s Pinellas Park apartment the
night of their first date, but the usual pattern of accidents and
ill-health began that very night when he went to the hospital with a
head injury. This was the first of his eight hospital visits during
their brief relationship; during one of them, he gave her power of
Strategos later suggested that his beloved might
have slipped a drug into his ice cream on that initial dinner date;
she served him ice cream most nights. His son noticed benzodiazepine
showed up on his father’s blood tests during a January 2005 hospital
visit; it was not a drug his father’s doctor had prescribed.
When the son also noticed that $18,000 was missing
from his father’s accounts, he called the police. They went after the
little old lady.
In March of that year, Melissa Friedrich accepted a
plea agreement: grand theft, forgery, and five years in prison.
In 2009, she was freed and deported to Canada. She
moved into a seniors complex in Nova Scotia — and eventually started
Love! Also, Benzodiazepene, and Attempted
In September 2012, Melissa Friedrich’s whirlwind
courtship with a neighbor culminated in a yet another marriage; within
a week of the wedding, the 77-year-old bride would be charged with the
attempted murder of the groom.
Fred Weeks, 75, had lost his wife of half a century
just 18 months earlier. He kept himself busy with cribbage games and
karaoke outings, but he was lonely. He welcomed Millie’s attention,
marrying her on September 25 after knowing her just a month, but at
least one friend was suspicious. George Megeny, a justice of the
peace, had seen Millie on a CBC documentary about her alleged crimes,
“The Widow’s Web.” Megeny performed their marriage ceremony, but he
asked the police to intercept the couple on their way to the ferry
that would start their New Foundland honeymoon trip, and to warn Weeks
about his bride’s pattern of trouble with the law; unsurprisingly, the
police refused to involve themselves in this errand.
Melissa and Fred Weeks checked into the Chambers
Guesthouse in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, on September 28th. Millie
complained of a rough ferry crossing, and said that her husband wasn’t
feeling well. The innkeeper thought she heard someone fall in the
night, but Millie insisted everything was fine. The next morning she
asked the innkeeper to call an ambulance for Fred — but she insisted
on finishing her breakfast first. The innkeeper called for an
ambulance — and the police. Paramedics found Fred Weeks on the floor
of the couple’s room in the bed & breakfast, weak and disoriented.
On September 30, Weeks’ son called the police, and
reported that hospital staff had told him that his new stepmother
insisted that Fred Weeks suffered from dementia, and that he had no
children. Weeks also has a daughter, and the children agree that their
father’s only medical problem is high cholesterol, but police soon
found that Millie had also told her neighbors at the Quinway
Apartments seniors villa that Weeks was childless and struggled with
dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and that he’d had
multiple heart attacks.
Millie seemed to be up to her old tricks. Fred
Weeks survived the episode and was released, but tests showed a high
dose of benzodiazepine in his body. Police confined his wife and
searched their apartment. They found 144 tablets of Lorazepam, a small
amount of Temazepam, three unlabeled empty bottles, prescriptions from
five different doctors, and a suspicious tub of ice cream that would
have to be analyzed.
Fred Weeks is still piecing together what happened;
he remembers little between the wedding and waking up in the hospital,
and he isn’t convinced that they even took that ferry. He’s learned
that there was a mistake on their marriage license, and that it means
they weren’t in fact married.
Timeline: The Life of Melissa Friedrich
May 16, 1935
Melissa is born in Burnt Church, New Brunswick.
Melissa moves to Ontario, lives with aunt and completes high school
through evening correspondence at Stafford College.
Melissa meets future husband Russell Shephard -- factory worker. She
marries Russell Shephard and has two children.
Melissa is charged with over thirty counts of fraud and forgery while
in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. She is convicted and spends over
five years in jail.
Melissa is released from detention and returns to PEI.
Melissa meets Gordon Stewart, a widower, who is selling some property
on PEI. They begin a romantic relationship even though she is still
married to Russell Shephard.
Melissa and Gordon Stewart marry in Las Vegas and then later have
another ceremony in Vancouver.
December 23, 1990
At their apartment in PEI, Gordon becomes delusional, and two hours
later he's discovered frothing at the mouth on the floor. He's taken
to the hospital where benzodiazepine is found in his system.
Gordon is charged with and pleads guilty to assaulting Melissa. He
serves time in jail. She visits with him in jail.
March 26, 1991
A probation order for Gordon stipulates that he is to have no contact
with Melissa. Over next few weeks, she initiates contact upon several
April 20, 1991
Melissa and Gordon Stewart relocate to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
April 27, 1991
Melissa runs over and kills her husband on a deserted road. Three
hours later she reports his death. Non-prescribed benzodiazepine
(valium and restoril) is found in his system. It's judged to be enough
to kill him. She claims he sexually assaulted her. Medical tests do
not confirm any rape.
Upon his death, Melissa applies for pension
benefits from the Department of National Defense and Canada Pension.
Melissa and Russell Shephard's divorce is finalized.
May 26, 1992
Melissa is convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband
Gordon Stewart, 44, in Halifax.
August 20, 1992
Melissa is sentenced to 6 years in jail.
She forms a support group for women at the Prison
for Women in Kingston, Ontario.
The National Film Board documentary "When Women Kill" airs. Melissa is
featured as one of the prime characters.
Melissa is released from prison with full parole.
Melissa sets up a toll free counseling line for women having trouble
in jail. It's called "Project Another Chance".
Robert Friedrich, a retired engineer living in Florida, grieves the
death of his wife of 53 years.
Melissa sees Robert Friedrich at a Christian Retreat and later sends
him a letter saying "God wants us to be married." The correspondence
includes her picture.
Friedrich responds to her letter. Melissa returns to Florida to visit
Robert Friedrich. Three days after she arrives, they are engaged.
June 23, 2000
Melissa and Robert marry in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia at the interfaith
March 22, 2001
The Friedrich family notices that Robert's health is faltering, his
speech is slurred, and he's often in the hospital.
May 28, 2001
Melissa obtains two prescriptions for lorazepam. Police records show
that upon six occasions, Melissa got drugs from one doctor and then
within thirty days of the first prescription received another from a
One of Robert's sons, Bob Friedrich, calls the Elder Abuse Line and
launches a complaint against Melissa's care of his father.
Robert Friedrich rewrites his will making Melissa the sole
December 16, 2002
Less than two years after they marry, Robert Friedrich dies. The
apparent cause is cardiac arrest. Friedrich's death certificate is
confirmed by a doctor over the telephone. The doctor did not examine
Melissa continues to receive Robert Friedrich's
social security cheques.
December 20, 2002
The cremation certificate is issued and no autopsy or toxicology
reports are done.
Melissa returns to PEI, but over the next year she will travel back
and forth between Canada and the U.S.
In Florida, the Manatee County Sheriff investigates Melissa for six
counts of doctor shopping (prescription fraud) from March 1, 2001 to
December 1, 2002.
Human Resource Development Canada launches an investigation of
Melissa, specifically crimes relating to the Old Age Security Act
believed to have occurred between 2000-2003.
Melissa initiates internet contact with as many as twenty men from
across the United States and Canada.
October 20, 2004
Dennis Friedrich receives a letter from State's Attorney Office in
Florida. The investigation is completed concerning the crime of doctor
shopping. The State Attorney chooses not to proceed because they feel
they will be unable to prove the charges against Melissa.
RCMP visit Melissa at her home in PEI to ask her questions about their
investigation into Old Age Security fraud.
Early November 2004
As RCMP prepare to lay charges, Melissa drives to Florida to meet Alex
Strategos, a divorced 73-year-old diabetic, who she had been
corresponding with on AmericanSinglesDating.com.
November 5, 2004
Melissa has dinner with Alex Strategos in Pinellas Park, Florida and
moves into his house the same night. Later that night Alex is taken to
hospital after falling down and hitting his head.
Over a two-month period, Alex is hospitalized eight
December 28, 2004
Alex signs over power of attorney to Melissa, while he is in the
Alex Strategos' son Dean sees unprescribed drugs (benzodiazepine) in
his father's medical report and blood tests. He also discovers around
$18,000 missing from his father's bank account.
January 6, 2005
Pinellas Park Police arrest Melissa and charge her with exploitation
of the elderly, theft and forgery. Police say she coerced Strategos to
give her power of attorney and then she siphoned off his money into
her own bank account.
February 1, 2005
Nova Scotia RCMP issue a warrant for Melissa's arrest. She's charged
with defrauding the government of Canada of $30,348.54 over a four
year period. The fraud offences allegedly took place between July 1997
and October 2003.
March 14, 2005
Scheduled date of Melissa's pre-trial.
March 14, 2005
Melissa Friedrich pleads guilty to seven charges related to the
Strategos case, including three counts of grand theft from a person 65
years or older, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a forged
document. As part of a plea agreement, she's sentenced to five years
April 2, 2009
The Crown Attorney's office in Halifax drops Old Age Security fraud
charges against Melissa, stating that they have not received enough
evidence to proceed.
April 4, 2009
Melissa is released from prison in Florida and deported to Canada. She
currently lives on her own in a seniors' apartment building in Nova
Scotia and has so far made good on a promise to stay out of trouble.
Melissa Shepard was charged with attempted murder and administering a
noxious thing -- listed in court documents as the tranquillizer
benzodiazepine. She was charged after her new husband, Fred Weeks,
suddenly fell ill at a bed and breakfast in Cape Breton in late
September. The couple had been married just a few days before the
75-year-old fell ill. Their union was later ruled invalid by the
province's Vital Statistics division after it said false information
was provided on the marriage certificate.
June 10th, 2013
Melissa pleads guilty to administering a noxious thing and failing to
provide necessity of life.
Internet 'Black Widow' pleads guilty to lesser
June 10, 2013
A 78-year-old woman nicknamed the Internet Black
Widow for her ability to persuade grieving widowers to marry her
pleaded guilty today in Sydney, N.S., to administering a noxious thing
and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
Melissa Ann Shepard had been charged with attempted
murder and administering a noxious thing — listed in court documents
as the tranquillizer benzodiazepine — after 75-year-old Fred Weeks
fell ill at a bed and breakfast in Cape Breton in late September.
She is also known as Melissa Friedrich, and was
charged under the last name Weeks.
The couple had been married just a few days before
the 75-year-old fell ill. Their union was later ruled invalid by the
province's Vital Statistics division after it said false information
was provided on the marriage certificate.
Twelve days had been set aside for a trial.
Crown prosecutor Diane McGrath also said the
remainder of the time scheduled for the judge-only trial will not be
Shepard's sentencing will take place Tuesday in
Sydney, N.S. The maximum sentence is two years for administering a
noxious thing and 18 months for failing to provide the necessaries of
The woman has a long history with the law.
In 1991, she was convicted of manslaughter and
served two years of a six-year jail term after killing her husband,
Gordon Stewart, of P.E.I., on a deserted road near Halifax. Stewart
was heavily drugged when she ran him over twice with a car.
Shortly after she was released from jail, she
travelled to Florida and met Robert Friedrich at a Christian retreat.
They married in Nova Scotia in 2000. A year later,
Friedrich's family noticed his health was faltering. He had mysterious
fainting spells and slurred speech and was in and out of hospitals.
Friedrich's family also alleged his money had
started to disappear.
Friedrich died in 2002 of cardiac arrest. No one
In 2005, she was sentenced to five years in prison
for a slew of charges stemming from a relationship she had with
another Florida man she met online.
She pleaded guilty to seven charges including three
counts of grand theft from a person 65 years or older, two counts of
forgery and two counts of using a forged document.
Melissa Ann Friedrich:
Canada's Black Widow
October 12, 2012
In 1988, in Ontario, Canada, the
then 52-year-old Melissa Ann, married to a man named Russell Shephard,
met Gordon Stewart, a factory worker with two children whose wife had
passed away. They had an affair, Melissa divorced Mr. Shepard, and
became Mrs. Stewart.
On April 22, 1991, after drugging
Gordon Stewart with benzodiazepine (valium and restoril), Melissa
drove him to a remote stretch of highway near the Halifax airport,
pulled his body out of the car, and ran over him twice. (Mr. Stewart
was probably dead from the lethal dose of drugs before she dumped him
onto the road.) Three hours later, Melissa reported the incident to
the police, claiming she had killed her husband while he was
attempting to rape her.
Melissa's account of her second
husband's death, in the context of an attempted rape, made no sense.
Moreover, Mr. Stewart, before his death, had written a letter in which
he chronicled how Melissa had cheated on him, repeatedly lied, and
drained his bank account. The authorities also found traces of the
deadly drug in the victim's system.
In the spring of 1992, a jury in
Kingston, Ontario, found Melissa Stewart guilty of manslaughter. The
judge sentenced her to six years in prison. While incarcerated,
Melissa formed a support group for wives who had been abused by their
husbands. (She should have formed a class on how to find husbands to
murder for their bank accounts and inheritance.) After serving just
two years of the manslaughter sentence, the homicidal sociopath became
a nationally known spokesperson for the battered wife syndrome.
In April 2001, while looking for
a husband to kill at a Christian retreat in Ontario, Melissa Stewart
met 83-year-old Robert Edmund Friedrich. The next day, the 66-year-old
black widow sent him a letter in which she wrote: "God wants us to be
married." Within days of that letter, the couple tied the knot.
When Mr. Friedrich died of
cardiac arrest one year after marrying Melissa, she emptied his bank
account of $400,000, and continued to receive his social security
checks. The happy widow arranged to have Mr. Friedrich hastily
cremated before his body could be autopsied. Because of his age, and
the quick cremation, notwithstanding some suspicion of foul play,
Melissa was not charged in connection with this the old man's death.
In March 2004, about two years
after Mr. Friedrich's passing, Melissa hooked up with a Florida man
through an Internet dating site. A few days after the online meeting,
she flew to 73-year-old Alexander Strategos' home in Pinellas Park.
The next day, the Canadian moved into the recently divorced man's
house. Not long after that, they were married.
During the next eight months, Mr.
Strategos, feeling weak, kept falling and hitting his head, injuries
that required eight hospitalizations. His doctors couldn't figure out
what was ailing him. During his residence at a rest home, just before
he died in January 2005, Mr. Strategos signed over power of attorney
to his wife.
Mr. Strategos' son became
suspicious when he discovered, in his father's medical papers, that he
had died with the unprescribed drug benzodiazepine in his system.
Melissa had also withdrawn $20,000 from her deceased husband's bank
account. On January 6, 2005, police arrested Melissa Friedrich on
charges of grand theft and forgery. She pleaded guilty to these
offenses, and was sentenced to five years. On April 4, 2009, upon her
release from the Florida prison, the authorities deported her back to
Canada. Melissa never faced charges in connection with the mysterious
death of Alexander Strategos.
On September 28, 2012, Melissa
Friedrich, now 77, married Fred Weeks, a 75-year-old from New Glasgow,
New Brunswick. While honeymooning a few days later on Cape Breton,
Nova Scotia, Mr. Weeks fell ill at their bed and breakfast, and had to
be hospitalized. After nurses noticed signs that the patient had been
injected with something, hospital personnel alerted the police. On
October 1, Fred Weeks left the hospital a weaker but wiser man.
The day after her husband walked
out of the hospital, the police arrested Melissa on the charge of
administering a noxious substance. No doubt her criminal record, and
the fates of her former husbands influenced the decision to take her
into custody. The judge, at her October 5, 2012 bail hearing, denied
her bond. Time will tell if this woman has poisoned her last man.
Widow Accused Of
Jan 12, 2005
PINELLAS PARK - Melissa Ann Stewart was convicted of killing one
husband by running him over with a car in Nova Scotia to collect his
pension benefits, prosecutors there said.
again, to a retired electrical engineer in his 80s living in
Bradenton. During the 14 months they were married, Robert Friedrich's
will was changed to make her the sole beneficiary of his estate,
according to court documents and family members.
- who had become Melissa Ann Friedrich - was not charged.
Friedrich is accused of slowly drugging an older paramour in his
Pinellas Park condominium. By the time Pinellas Park police got
involved, Friedrich had persuaded Alex Strategos, 73, to sign a power-
say she siphoned more than $18,000 from his investment accounts.
Strategos, a diabetic with a history of medical problems, survived. He
is recuperating in an undisclosed nursing home, said Pinellas Park
Detective Mike Lynch.
Friedrich, 69, was arrested Thursday and charged with exploitation of
the elderly. Bail was set at $10,000, but the Department of Homeland
Security has placed a hold on Friedrich because she lied about her
felony conviction in Canada when trying to enter the United States
through Orlando last year.
deported at the time but later returned to Florida, Lynch said.
Pinellas Park and Pinellas County authorities know of the 1992
manslaughter conviction in Nova Scotia, as well as what prosecutors
now describe as the unexpected death of Robert Friedrich in Bradenton
on Dec. 16, 2002.
going to conduct an investigation into all circumstances'' surrounding
that, said Bruce Bartlett, Pinellas- Pasco chief assistant state
attorney. "We are aware of her history as relayed to us by other
authorities, and we'll see how that ties into this situation.''
Authorities wonder if there are other cases, and Tuesday evening
police issued a plea for information. Specifically, detectives are
interested in Friedrich's activities from 1997 until this year.
with information is asked to call Lynch at (727) 541-0797 or police
Sgt. Paul Andrews at (727) 541-0793.
there any other victims out there - local, statewide or across the
nation - that she's done this to?'' Lynch said.
now, there is only the exploitation charge. Lynch said Friedrich met
Strategos through AmericanSingles.Com, an online matchmaking service,
before returning to Florida after her deportation.
she moved into Strategos' condominium at 7070 Versailles St.
said Strategos' son discovered what was going on with his father's
finances and contacted authorities.
neighbors, Friedrich described herself as Strategos' wife. During the
past three months, the same period Friedrich is accused of running her
scheme, they noticed paramedics responding to calls to the
condominium, with at least one resulting in a trip to the hospital.
Neighbor Dottie Gibbons remembers one visit to Strategos in the
hospital. That day, Friedrich gave him a kiss, said she loved him,
then pulled out paperwork for him to sign.
just looked so miserable that day, and I had never seen him look like
that. He's always been really jolly,'' Gibbons said.
went over to the bed on the other side and said, `How're you doing
Alex?' and he said, `... They want me to go to a nursing home.' ''
Friedrich, who then went by the name Stewart, was charged with
second-degree murder in the April 27, 1991, death of her husband,
Gordon Russell Stewart, according to news accounts of her case.
Prosecutors said she gave her 44-year-old husband a combination of
pills, booze and rubbing alcohol that would have made him unconscious.
Then, they said, she ran over him with her Chevrolet Cavalier on a
dirt road near Halifax International Airport.
alleged motive was to collect his pension benefits.
attorneys contended she accidentally backed over him in a rush to
escape after he raped her in the woods beside the road. They portrayed
Gordon Stewart as an alcoholic, abusive husband.
told jurors that if they believed she had intended to kill her
husband, Stewart should be convicted of second-degree murder. But if
they believed it was an accident, they should convict her of
found her guilty of manslaughter, and she was sentenced to six years
told authorities her husband forced her at knifepoint to drive around
all day before sexually assaulting her, published reports said.
physical exam showed no evidence of a sexual assault, prosecutors
said, and there was no dirt on her clothes. A tracking dog could find
no signs of anyone being in the woods where she claimed she was raped.
time, Stewart had 30 convictions for fraud, false pretenses and
impersonation, dating between 1970 and 1985, according to The Daily
News in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
year after his wife of 53 years died of breast cancer, Robert
Friedrich met Melissa Stewart, who was visiting Florida from Canada,
according to a lawsuit filed against her by two of Friedrich's sons.
started writing and talking on the telephone and quickly were married,
said Karen Friedrich, Robert Friedrich's daughter-in-law. They applied
for a marriage license in October 2001.
end of December 2002, Robert Friedrich was dead. According to the
lawsuit, his wife had depleted his accounts through spending and
transfers to herself.
her arrival, Robert Friedrich had intended to divide his estate among
his three sons, says the lawsuit, filed in April 2003. Court records
show that an insurance company was not sure whether to give about
$100,000 in benefits to the sons or to Melissa Friedrich.
Melissa Friedrich moved in with Robert, his health deteriorated, Karen
Friedrich said. His speech became slurred and he was in and out of
knew something was not right,'' Karen Friedrich said. Money was
disappearing, she said. "We knew she was telling lots of lies; we knew
she was keeping him away from us.''
sons' lawsuit was settled eventually, with Melissa Friedrich receiving
$15,000 and the remaining funds going to the two brothers who sued.