Internet black widow ‘stalked pensioners on the net’

Grandma Death on poisoning charges

US police are investigating if a 69 year-old Canadian woman already convicted of killing her first husband murdered her second spouse. Melissa Friedrich is also accused of drugging a 73-year-old man she met an online dating service in order to systematically fleece him of $20,000, CBC News reports.

Investigators suspect Friedrich forged relationships with elderly men in order to rip off their life savings, leading her to be dubbed the "internet black widow" by the son of her latest alleged victim.

Canada's wrinkly femme fatale

Friedrich served two years in prison for manslaughter after she fed her first husband, Gordon Stewart, a lethal dose of prescription drugs prior to running him over with a car in 1991. She claimed rape by Stewart prompted her lethal assault. At the time, Stewart had 30 convictions for fraud, false pretences and impersonation dating back 15 years, The Daily News in Halifax, via AP reports.

Following her release two years into a six-year sentence, Friedrich left Nova Scotia and eventually settled in Florida. She married second husband, Robert Friedrich, in 2001. The couple met through an online matchmaking service. His death a year later at 83 initially caused no concern. But Florida police have now reopened the case after uncovering evidence that Friedrich drugged and defrauded her latest partner. Friedrich moved in with Alexander Strategos in Pinellas Park, near Tampa, Florida last year after meeting him through an online Christian dating service.

Trace of guilt

Soon afterwards, Strategos's son, Dean, became concerned when his father's health suddenly deteriorated. When a blood test by Dean on his father revealed traces of unprescribed sedatives he called in the police. A suitcase filled with pills was subsequently discovered at his father's condominium. Investigators say Friedrich drugged Strategos and persuaded him to hand her a power-of-attorney via which she withdrew $18,000 from his bank accounts over three months.

Friedrich has been charged being held on a charge of "exploitation of the elderly" with bail set at $10,000. She's not allowed to leaving the US. Friedrich is also in trouble for allegedly lying to the US Department of Homeland Security about her Canadian manslaughter conviction. No charges have been made in the death of Robert Friedrich. ®

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