Facts About The Black Widow Murders And The Seemingly Wholesome Grandmas Behind Them

White men between the ages of 20 and 50 don’t completely corner the serial killer demographic. In May of 2006, Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt were arrested for a chilling insurance fraud murder scheme. The Black Widow Murders, as the killings came to be called, forced Los Angeles law enforcement and residents into an uncomfortable paradigm shift of serial killers in California.

Helen Golay (73) and Olga Rutterschmidt (75) were two women who had kept fairly low profiles all their lives. Golay was a divorced mother of three who had lost her father in a car accident at a young age and was active in the Los Angeles real estate business. Rutterschmidt was originally from Hungary where she had been badly injured in a WWII bombing as a child. Upon immigrating to the US, she and her ex-husband opened up a coffee shop in downtown LA. No one suspected these grandma killers to be systemically murdering people. 

These killings rattled the community because the women preyed on the less fortunate. Their hunting ground was their local homeless shelter. There, they masqueraded as benevolent old ladies just doing their part for the community, when they were really scouting for their next victim. Read on to discover fascinating stories about the Black Widow Murders. 


  • They Murdered Their Victims By First Drugging Them Then Running Them Over

    The murders of Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid had to appear as accidents, so that there would be no extensive investigation into foul play. Both times, the women first purchased cars under false names. Then they would take regular prescription medication, grind an almost lethal amount, and serve it to their victim, who would never question a meal from their friends and beneficiaries of two years.

    The ladies would then take the men for a drive, waiting for the victim to become unconscious in the car. Once they fell asleep, the women would find a dark Hollywood back alley and roll their victim into the street. Then, they would reverse the car and run the men clean over. Golay and Rutterschmidt would speed off into the night together and the body would just appear to be another homeless victim of a hit-and-run.

  • The Old Ladies Groomed Their Victims For Execution Over A Period Of Two Years

    The Old Ladies Groomed Their Victims For Execution Over A Period Of Two Years
    Photo: Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons

    Golay and Rutterschmidt committed two murders in 1999 and 2005. There were three other potential victims whose lives were spared, only because the life insurance policies the Widows took out on them were not approved. The victims, Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid, were homeless men chosen from various Los Angeles homeless shelters.

    Each murder took multiple years of planning. Golay and Rutterschmidt would befriend their prey as two kind, old women who were interested in their story and struggle. The ladies would visit their victims regularly, bring them groceries, and when their friendship was strong enough, the women offered them apartment. For two years, the men lived in the residences provided for them by Golay and Rutterschmidt. They became so trusting of the women that when their lives were finally organized enough to name beneficiaries, who else would they pick but Golay and Rutterschmidt? 

    But during that two-year period, the lambs were being made plump for the slaughter. Why? Because after two years, life insurance beneficiaries become very difficult to contest for insurance companies. 

  • Golay Tried To Frame Her Own Daughter

    Of her three children, Golay had the most fraught relationship with her daughter, Kecia. Over the course of their relationship, Golay interfered multiple times in Kecia’s romantic relationships. She wished for her daughter to marry an old rich man, plain and simple. She went so far as to go to the house of one boyfriend’s mother and tell her that the young man was not old or rich enough for her daughter.

    In another incident, an ex-boyfriend of Kecia’s claimed that Golay threatened to kill him. The tension culminated between mother and daughter when Golay made a last ditch attempt to secure her freedom after she was arrested for murder. The mother claimed that Kecia was physically fit enough to carry out the scheme, whereas Golay didn't possibly have enough strength to do all the tasks, implying that Kecia committed the crimes. For many, many reasons, this absurd claim did not hold up in court.

  • They Turned Their Victim’s Signatures Into Rubber Stamps To Sign Insurance Policies

    For each of their victims, the Widows took out numerous life insurance policies. The documents were so extensive and their con had fallen into such a rhythm that it was a natural step to make a rubber stamp of their victims' signatures. For both Vados and McDavid, the Widows would each take out multiple policies that named themselves as either their cousin, business partner, or fiance. Before they were arrested for McDavid’s murder, Golay had received $1,540,767.05 in insurance proceeds from his death, and Rutterschmidt a total of $674,571.89.