Trial date set for 'Internet Black Widow'
Published Monday, December 3, 2012 12:33PM AST
Last Updated Monday, December 3, 2012 12:34PM AST
A trial date has been set for an elderly woman dubbed the ‘Internet Black Widow.’
Melissa Ann Shepherd is charged with the attempted murder of a New Glasgow man.
The 77-year-old woman had been honeymooning at an inn in Cape Breton in late September when her new husband, 75-year-old Fred Weeks, fell ill.
He was taken to hospital, where staff grew suspicious of his illness and called police.
After further investigation, police arrested Shepherd and charged her with attempted murder and administering a noxious substance.
She is accused of trying to kill her former partner with powerful tranquilizers.
Shepherd’s trial was originally being considered for 2014, but the court set it earlier due to her age and health.
She remains in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional facility in Dartmouth.
“Ms. Shepherd is in custody and individuals who are in custody are entitled to a speedy trial, as is anybody,” says Crown prosecutor Diane McGrath. “But it’s certainly more important when a person is in custody because their liberty is at stake.”
Shepherd recently had her last name changed from Weeks back to Shepherd after it was ruled her brief marriage to Fred Weeks was not legitimate.
Shepherd was the last name of the woman’s first husband and is one of several names she has adopted over the years.
She is also known internationally as the ‘Internet Black Widow’ after a number of incidents in Nova Scotia and Florida.
Shepherd was once convicted of a number of crimes involving older men, including manslaughter in the death of a husband.
In 2005, when she was known as Melissa Friedrich, she was sentenced to five years in a Florida prison on seven counts of theft from a man in Florida she had met online.
Investigators in that case said she stole about US$20,000 from Alexander Strategos.
In 2001, she was convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband, Gordon Stewart, who she had run over twice with a car in 1991 outside Halifax.
She served two years of a six-year sentence for that crime.
Shepherd has elected to be tried by a Supreme Court judge and also waived her right to a preliminary hearing.