Woman convicted of killing two in Excedrin tampering

Woman convicted of killing two in Excedrin tampering

Stella Nickell is convicted on two counts of murder by a Seattle, Washington, jury. She was the first person to be found guilty of violating the Federal Anti-Tampering Act after putting cyanide in Excedrin capsules in an effort to kill her husband.

Stella and Bruce Nickell married in 1976, shortly after seven people were killed in Chicago, Illinois, from poisoned Tylenol pills. According to Stella’s daughter from a previous marriage, Stella had begun planning Bruce’s murder almost from the honeymoon. The Chicago Tylenol incident (which was never solved) had a lasting impact on Stella, who decided that cyanide would be a good method of murder.

In 1985, Stella took out a life insurance policy on Bruce that included a substantial indemnity payment for accidental death. A year later, Stella put cyanide in an Excedrin capsule that Bruce later took for a headache. He died in the hospital, but doctors did not detect the cyanide and ascribed the death to emphysema. Stella, who stood to lose $100,000 if his death wasn’t ruled an accident, decided to alter her plan.

Nickell tampered with five additional bottles of Excedrin and placed them on store shelves in the Seattle area. Six days later, Susan Snow took one of these capsules and died instantly. After her death was reported in the news, Stella called police to tell them that she thought her husband had also been poisoned.

When investigators came to Nickell’s home to pick up the Excedrin bottle, she told them that there were two bottles and that she had purchased them on different days at different places. When both turned out to contain contaminated capsules, investigators grew suspicious. FBI detectives knew that it was an unlikely coincidence that Nickell had purchased two of four known contaminated bottles purely by chance. Still, hard evidence against her was hard to come by until January 1988.

Cynthia Hamilton, Stella’s daughter, came forward (possibly in order to obtain reward money) with her account of Stella’s plan to kill her husband. She told authorities that her mother had done extensive research at the library. When detectives investigated, they found that Stella had borrowed, but never returned, a book called Human Poisoning. Her fingerprints were also found all over other books on cyanide.

Nickell was given two 90-year sentences for the murders of her husband and Susan Snow.

READ MORE: How Americans Became Convinced Their Halloween Candy was Poisoned


Chicago Tylenol murders

The Chicago Tylenol murders were a series of poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area in 1982. The victims had all taken Tylenol-branded acetaminophen capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide. [1] A total of seven people died in the original poisonings, with several more deaths in subsequent copycat crimes.

No suspect was ever charged or convicted of the poisonings. New York City resident James William Lewis was convicted of extortion for sending a letter to Johnson & Johnson that took responsibility for the deaths and demanded $1 million to stop them, but evidence tying him to the actual poisoning never emerged.

The incidents led to reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter substances and to federal anti-tampering laws. The actions of Johnson & Johnson to reduce deaths and warn the public of poisoning risks have been widely praised as an exemplary public relations response to such a crisis. [2]


April 1: 2007: Franklin Gallimore Jr and Grace Thorpe were shot to death at Grace’s home, 1310 Post Ave, Elmont, NY 11003 by their son Franklin III because he was angry that they were evicting him. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

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3. THE QUEEN OF COCAINE

A Colombian-born member of the Medellin drug cartel, Griselda Blanco was perhaps Miami’s most influential drug gangster in the 1970s and 80s, earning such sobriquets as “La Madrina,” “The Black Widow,” “Cocaine Godmother,” and “Queen of Narco-Trafficking.” At one point in the 1980s her business was bringing in an estimated $80 million every month.

Blanco allegedly shot someone for the first time when she was only 11 years old. According to Colombian media, she personally ordered the deaths of anywhere between 40 and 250 people.

When learning that her first husband had been taking more than his fair share of the financial cut, she ambushed him in a parking lot with a pistol she’d hid in her ostrich-skin boots, blowing away him and shooting a half-dozen of his bodyguards. The lady was hardcore.

The law finally caught up with her in 1985 and she spent 20 years in prison, only to return to her Colombian homeland. In 2012 at age 69, she was gunned down by a pair of drive-by motorcyclists, which is ironic since she helped pioneer that mode of assassination.


Deadly Women: Stella Nickell poisoned her husband, Bruce Nickell, and another woman, Susan Snow, so that she could get more insurance money

Victims
Bruce Nickell [6/5/1986]
Susan Snow [6/11/1986]

INMATE INFORMATION

STELLA MAUDINE NICKELL
Register Number: 17371-086
Age: 71
Race: White
Sex: Female
Located at: Dublin FCI
Release Date: 12/07/2017

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How the Tylenol murders of 1982 changed the way we consume medication

Early on the morning of Sept. 29, 1982, a tragic, medical mystery began with a sore throat and a runny nose. It was then that Mary Kellerman, a 12-year-old girl from Elk Grove Village, a suburb of Chicago, told her mother and father about her symptoms. They gave her one extra-strength Tylenol capsule that, unbeknownst to them, was laced with the highly poisonous potassium cyanide. Mary was dead by 7 a.m. Within a week, her death would panic the entire nation. And only months later, it changed the way we purchase and consume over-the-counter medications.

That same day, a 27-year-old postal worker named Adam Janus of Arlington Heights, Illinois, died of what was initially thought to be a massive heart attack but turned out to be cyanide poisoning as well. His brother and sister-in-law, Stanley, 25, and Theresa, 19, of Lisle, Illinois, rushed to his home to console their loved ones. Both experienced throbbing headaches, a not uncommon response to a death in the family and each took a Tylenol extra-strength capsule or two from the same bottle Adam had used earlier in the day. Stanley died that very day and Theresa died two days later.

As a result of the crime, makers of Tylenol developed new product protection methods. Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Over the next few days, three more strange deaths occurred: 35-year-old Mary McFarland of Elmhurst, Illinois, 35-year-old Paula Prince of Chicago, and 27-year-old Mary Weiner of Winfield, Illinois. All of them, it turned out, took Tylenol shortly before they died.

It was at this point, early October of 1982, that investigators made the connection between the poisoning deaths and Tylenol, the best-selling, non-prescription pain reliever sold in the United States at that time. The gelatin-based capsules were especially popular because they were slick and easy to swallow. Unfortunately, each victim swallowed a Tylenol capsule laced with A lethal dose of cyanide.

McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of the health care giant, Johnson & Johnson, manufactured Tylenol. To its credit, the company took an active role with the media in issuing mass warning communications and immediately called for a massive recall of the more than 31 million bottles of Tylenol in circulation. Tainted capsules were discovered in early October in a few other grocery stores and drug stores in the Chicago area, but, fortunately, they had not yet been sold or consumed. McNeill and Johnson & Johnson offered replacement capsules to those who turned in pills already purchased and a reward for anyone with information leading to the apprehension of the individual or people involved in these random murders.

The case continued to be confusing to the police, the drug maker and the public at large. For example, Johnson & Johnson quickly established that the cyanide lacing occurred after cases of Tylenol left the factory. Someone, police hypothesized, must have taken bottles off the shelves of local grocers and drug stores in the Chicago area, laced the capsules with poison, and then returned the restored packages to the shelves to be purchased by the unknowing victims.

To this day, however, the perpetrators of these murders have never been found.

One man, James Lewis, claiming to be the Tylenol killer wrote a “ransom” letter to Johnson & Johnson demanding $1 million in exchange for stopping the poisonings. After a lengthy cat and mouse game, police and federal investigators determined that Lewis lived in New York and had no demonstrable links to the Chicago events. That said, he was charged with extortion and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was released in 1995 after serving only 13 years.

Other “copy-cat” poisonings, involving Tylenol and other over-the-counter medications, cropped up again in the 1980s and early 1990s but these events were never as dramatic or as deadly as the 1982 Chicago-area deaths. Conspiracy theories about motives and suspects for all these heinous acts continue to be bandied about on the Internet to this day.

Before the 1982 crisis, Tylenol controlled more than 35 percent of the over-the-counter pain reliever market only a few weeks after the murders, that number plummeted to less than 8 percent. The dire situation, both in terms of human life and business, made it imperative that the Johnson & Johnson executives respond swiftly and authoritatively.

For example, Johnson & Johnson developed new product protection methods and ironclad pledges to do better in protecting their consumers in the future. Working with FDA officials, they introduced a new tamper-proof packaging, which included foil seals and other features that made it obvious to a consumer if foul play had transpired. These packaging protections soon became the industry standard for all over-the-counter medications. The company also introduced price reductions and a new version of their pills — called the “caplet” — a tablet coated with slick, easy-to-swallow gelatin but far harder to tamper with than the older capsules which could be easily opened, laced with a contaminant, and then placed back in the older non-tamper-proof bottle.

Within a year, and after an investment of more than $100 million, Tylenol’s sales rebounded to its healthy past and it became, once again, the nation’s favorite over-the-counter pain reliever. Critics who had prematurely announced the death of the brand Tylenol were now praising the company’s handling of the matter. Indeed, the Johnson & Johnson recall became a classic case study in business schools across the nation.

In 1983, the U.S. Congress passed what was called “the Tylenol bill,” making it a federal offense to tamper with consumer products. In 1989, the FDA established federal guidelines for manufacturers to make all such products tamper-proof.

Sadly, the tragedies that resulted from the Tylenol poisonings can never be undone. But their deaths did inspire a series of important moves to make over-the-counter medications safer (albeit never 100 percent safe) for the hundreds of millions of people who buy them every year.

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to remove the reported amount of cyanide used.

Left: A drugstore clerk removes Tylenol capsules from the shelves of a pharmacy Sept. 30, 1982, in New York City after reports of tampering. Seven people in the Chicago area were killed that year by Tylenol that had been poisoned with potassium cyanide. Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images


Woman convicted for tampering with Excedrin - May 08, 1988 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

Stella Nickell is convicted on two counts of murder by a Seattle, Washington, jury. She was the first person to be found guilty of violating the Federal Anti-Tampering Act after putting cyanide in Excedrin capsules in an effort to kill her husband.

Stella and Bruce Nickell married in 1976, shortly after seven people were killed in Chicago, Illinois, from poisoned Tylenol pills. According to Stella’s daughter from a previous marriage, Stella had begun planning Bruce’s murder almost from the honeymoon. The Chicago Tylenol incident (which was never solved) had a lasting impact on Stella, who decided that cyanide would be a good method of murder.

In 1985, Stella took out a life insurance policy on Bruce that included a substantial indemnity payment for accidental death. A year later, Stella put cyanide in an Excedrin capsule that Bruce later took for a headache. He died in the hospital, but doctors did not detect the cyanide and ascribed the death to emphysema. Stella, who stood to lose $100,000 if his death wasn’t ruled an accident, decided to alter her plan.

Nickell tampered with five additional bottles of Excedrin and placed them on store shelves in the Seattle area. Six days later, Susan Snow took one of these capsules and died instantly. After her death was reported in the news, Stella called police to tell them that she thought her husband had also been poisoned.

When investigators came toNickell’s home to pick up the Excedrin bottle, she told them that there were two bottles and that she had purchased them on different days at different places. When both turned out to contain contaminated capsules, investigators grew suspicious. FBI detectives knew that it was an unlikely coincidence that Nickell had purchased two of four known contaminated bottles purely by chance. Still, hard evidence against her was hard to come by until January 1988.

Cynthia Hamilton, Stella’s daughter, came forward (possibly in order to obtain reward money) with her account of Stella’s plan to kill her husband. She told authorities that her mother had done extensive research at the library. When detectives investigated, they found that Stella had borrowed, but never returned, a book called Human Poisoning. Her fingerprints were also found all over other books on cyanide.

Nickell was given two 90-year sentences for the murders of her husband and Susan Snow. She will be eligible for parole in 2018. New evidence in the case has led some to believe that Nickell might be innocent.


Washington woman poisoned husband, planted tainted pills around state in 1986

In the early morning of June 11, 1986, Haley Snow, 15, heard a thump in the bathroom of the family home in Auburn, Wash. Inside, she found her mother, Susan, 40, on the floor.

Haley immediately called 911, but it was too late. Soon after Snow reached a Seattle hospital, she was brain dead.

Snow, a vice president at a local bank, had been in perfect health and appeared to be living a happy, well-adjusted life with Haley, her daughter from a previous marriage, and her second husband, Paul Webking.

The cause of death was a mystery until the assistant medical examiner got a whiff of a distinctive odor during the autopsy — bitter almonds, the telltale scent of cyanide.

Toxicology confirmed the poison was in her system and further investigations pinpointed the source, a package of Extra Strength Excedrin. Webking told police that both he and his wife took a dose every morning for a boost from the caffeine in the formula.

Webking seemed a likely suspect, but there was also another, more frightening possibility. Snow's death might be a replay of the Chicago Tylenol murders of 1982, in which cyanide, slipped into the over-the-counter pain medicine, killed seven people.

More clues pointed to tampering as FBI agents entered the investigation. Cyanide turned up in another bottle in a store in Kent, Wash., about 5 miles away.

Then there came news of another victim.

In a panic, Stella Nickell, 43, called police and said that her husband, Bruce, 52, had died on June 5, soon after taking an Excedrin capsule from the same lot as the ones that killed Snow.

Emphysema had initially been ruled the cause of death, the widow told police, but once she heard news broadcasts about Snow, she was not so sure. No one looked for cyanide the first time around. A retest of the blood samples detected the poison.

She turned over two bottles of the painkiller that she said came from different stores. Both contained cyanide. This strange detail raised suspicions among the investigators, wrote Gregg Olsen in his book on the case, "Bitter Almonds."

Bristol-Myers, the drug maker, yanked the product from shelves and explored possible sources of contamination along the production chain. Then cyanide turned up in a pain killer from a different company, Anacin-3, suggesting the tampering happened after the products left the plant.

FBI chemists examining the bottles found something odd — traces of a green powder that was used by fish enthusiasts to keep aquariums free of algae. One detective recalled that Nickell had a fish tank in her mobile home.

The FBI visited fish store owners and tracked down records showing she had purchased the algaecide in a local shop.

Additional probing revealed she had about $75,000 in insurance policies on her husband's life, and that she had lied when first questioned about it. Even more damning, there would be an additional $100,000 payout if his death were an accident. A natural cause, like emphysema, would be worth much less to her than murder, which qualifies as an accidental death.

The final blow, though, came from an unlikely source — Cindy Hamilton, Stella's first-born grown child from a previous relationship. Cindy was certain her mom had poisoned her stepdad and eventually squealed to the FBI, offering an earful about life with her spandex-and-high heels clad mama.

The man her mother had married a decade earlier was boring her to death, said Cindy. The marriage was filled with conflict, booze, and financial woes.

Still, Stella refused to divorce the unwanted spouse. Instead, she maintained a wild social life, with many short-term flings and one more serious prospect, her current husband's best friend.

Cindy said her mother spent years musing on ways to get rid of Bruce — like hiring killers to shoot him or run him over, sabotaging his truck brakes, or spiking his tea with deadly doses of cocaine or heroin. She became a scholar of toxic potions, devouring books with titles like "Human Poisoning from Native and Cultivated Plants."

The motive was to collect insurance money so she could open a fish or ceramics store.

Cindy became the star witness, although there were weaknesses in her credibility. Their mother-daughter relationship was strained. Stella, who gave birth to her daughter when she was just 16, had a history of bad marriages and brushes with the law. Over the years, Stella often took her troubles out on the young girl.


Jane Toppan was a nurse whose patients became her victims.

Jane Toppan began working at the Cambridge Hospital in 1885 and was so liked by her peers and patients that they dubbed her "Jolly Jane." She used her time at the hospital to experiment with different medications and drugs such as morphine and atropine to see the reaction in her patients.

She would later confess to killing at least 31 people. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to Taunton State Hospital for life.


Alleged child killer’s damning Google history

The damning online search history of a woman charged with murdering her two children in her basement has been revealed in court.

Lisa Rachelle Snyder was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, tampering with evidence and endangering the welfare of children.

Lisa Rachelle Snyder was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, tampering with evidence and endangering the welfare of children.

Lisa Rachelle Snyder, 36 has been charged over the murders of her two youngest children, who were found hanged in their basement. Source:Facebook

The damning Google history of a woman accused of murdering her two children has been revealed after they were found hanging in her basement.

Lisa Rachelle Snyder was charged on Monday with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, tampering with evidence and endangering the welfare of children in the US state of Pennsylvania.

In a sick twist, Ms Snyder was also charged with animal cruelty and having sexual intercourse with her dog. Evidence, including pictures, was found in her email during the course of the investigation, according to prosecutors. Police indicate the images were taken before the murders. Ms Snyder is being held without bail in Berks County Jail.

The charges come after Ms Snyder reported two of her children dead on September 23, saying she found them hanging from a basement support beam next to chairs that had been tipped over.

According to court documents, Ms Snyder used Google to search for information related to suicide and murder in the days leading up to her children’s deaths.

On September 17 she typed �rbon monoxide in a car how long to die” into the search bar, court records allege. She also looked up 𠇊lmost got away with it” and “I almost got away with it best episodes”.

Two days later she searched for “hanging yourself” and visited a website that describes an effective way of hanging someone.

On the day the children were found unresponsive, Ms Snyder had searched 𠇍oes a hybrid car produce carbon monoxide” and 𠇍oes a hybrid car produce carbon monoxide while idling”.

During her call to authorities to report the deaths of her children, Ms Snyder suggested her eight-year-old son Conner had carried out a murder-suicide, killing his four-year-old sister Brinley before taking his own life.

Berks County District lawyer John Adams described the incident as “horrific”.

𠇎ight-year-olds, generally, that I am aware of, do not commit suicide. So, of course we had questions,” Mr Adams said in a press conference on Monday, US time.

“I don’t know there is any explanation for her behaviour at all. I don’t think I can stand up here, nor anyone, and explain the horrific loss of two innocent children’s lives.

“I think it goes without explanation.”

Lisa Snyder is being held without bail. Picture: Bill Uhrich/Reading Eagle via AP Source:AP

In audio obtained by The Morning Call newspaper, of Allentown, a dispatcher alerts police to Ms Snyder’s emergency phone call.

“She mentioned that the eight-year-old has been bullied and has made threats of doing this but didn’t want to go alone … At this time, it should just be the mother and the two children on scene,” the dispatcher says.

Ms Snyder didn’t return to the basement after calling authorities, prosecutors allege.

“I would agree that we all may think that a mother of children who are found hanging would make every effort possible to save them,” Mr Adams said.

“That was not done in this situation.”

According to a search warrant, emergency responders who arrived at the scene first found the two children hanging a metre apart from a “single wired cable with plastic coating and ends containing swivel eye snap hooks” with two wooden chairs knocked over nearby.

They were rushed to hospital but died three days later.

Ms Snyder’s mugshot. Picture: Berks County Jail Source:Supplied

After their deaths, Ms Snyder took to Facebook, updating her profile with a photo and caption that read: “Words scar, rumours destroy, bullies kill.”

Several electronic devices were seized from Ms Snyder’s home – where her teenage son is also a resident – in Albany Township.

MUM BLAMES SON FOR MURDER OF DAUGHTER

During a police interview, Ms Snyder allegedly told detectives her son was suicidal after he had been bullied over his weight and suggested he killed his sister in a murder-suicide.

“He doesn’t say much because he knows that I will call the school,” Ms Snyder told investigators. “He is overweight, has a speech delay, he needs the extra help, a little slower to grasp things, kids make fun of him because he’s fat. He has lost 25 pounds (11kg) since school has started because he was starving himself.”

NEW VIDEO: Lisa Snyder walks out of PSP Hamburg in handcuffs. She refused to answer my questions. @69News pic.twitter.com/lhPOKGPhzg

&mdash Jim Vasil (@JimVasilWFMZ) December 2, 2019

Ms Snyder also claimed her little boy had told her: “I woulda killed myself already, but I am scared to go myself.”

Conner was a third-grade student at Greenwich-Lenhartsville Elementary School. A school spokesperson denied the boy was bullied prior to his death.

𠇌onner was a beloved member of the Greenwich Elementary School family who enjoyed his peers and teachers,” Kutztown Area School District superintendent Christian Temchatin previously said in a statement.

“He is dearly missed and is fondly remembered for the smile he brought to all who knew him.”

According to prosecutors, the 10-week investigation found that Conner 𠇊ppeared to be a happy child” and the only person to claim the child was bullied or depressed was his mother.


The Excedrin Murders

Before we discuss this case, let’s talk for just a moment about death by ingesting cyanide it is a particularly hellish way to die. The poison takes effect rather quickly, within minutes the victim will begin to violently convulse their mouth will begin to ooze a mixture of vomit, saliva, and/or blood. The victim will gasp for air yet they won’t feel that they’re getting any it’s much like suffocation as cyanide prevents the body from absorbing oxygen. It’s really a horrific way to go.

In 1982 the Chicago Tylenol Murders occurred. Someone had tampered with several bottles of Tylenol, which left 7 innocent people dead of cyanide poisoning. The culprit was never brought to justice.

Stella Nickell

Fast forward to 1986. 44 year old Stella Nickell, of Auburn, Washington, had been absolutely miserable with her life. Stella was dirt poor, she lived in a small trailer with her husband, grown daughter Cynthia, and grandchild Stella’s her mother lived next door. Her husband, Bruce, had a difficult time holding a job, and the bank was ready to repossess her home. The only thing Stella truly enjoyed was the nightlife, the woman loved hitting up the local bars, but Bruce had recently decided to get sober so now she didn’t even have that to look forward to! Stella had been desperate for a solution to all this, and she was cool with making some sacrifices.

In 1985 Stella had taken out a life insurance policy on her husband, Bruce, and named herself beneficiary. The policy was worth an extra 105K if Bruce died from an accident. Stella was now determined to off her husband, but it absolutely must appear accidental – and accidental poisoning was included in the policy. Stella tried a few different things, like killing Bruce with foxglove, but this didn’t work. Eventually she decided to copycat the Tylenol Murders, except using Extra Strength Excedrin instead.

Bruce

Stella poisoned Bruce’s Excedrin bottle with cyanide. To make it look like someone was copycatting the Tylenol Murders, she purchased a few extra bottles of Excedrin. Stella took them home, mixed them with cyanide, then drove to 3 separate stores where she placed the tampered bottles directly on the shelf for some unsuspecting innocent strangers to purchase. Sure there would be some collateral damage, but who cared? Not Stella, just so long as her own problems were fixed.

Unsuspecting Bruce with his murderous wife, Stella

On June 5th of 1986, 52 year old Bruce Nickell came home from work with a headache. Stella happily handed her husband 4 Extra-Strength Excedrin capsules, and he collapsed just moments later. To Stella’s great dismay, it is was quickly ruled that Bruce had passed from natural causes the cause of death was deemed to have been pulmonary emphysema. How frustrating this meant Stella would only receive $71,000, a whopping 100K less than she was due!

Susan Snow and her husband, Paul

On the morning of June 11th, a 40 year old mother named Susan Snow downed two Extra-Strength Excedrin capsules (they contain caffeine) as part of her morning wake up ritual. Susan’s husband, Paul Webking, took two capsules from the same bottle for his arthritis before he left for work. At 6:30 am, Sue’s 15 year old daughter, Hayley, discovered her mama collapsed on the bathroom floor Susan was unresponsive with a faint pulse. She passed away that same day.

During Sue’s autopsy, the smell of bitter almonds was detected. Surely we all know what that means further testing verified that Susan had died of cyanide poisoning.

Sue and Paul

It did not take investigators long to find the tampered bottle of Excedrin. Sue’s twin sister had nearly taken one for her own headache, but had thankfully noticed that something hadn’t looked right about them she informed the police instead. Testing did prove that 9 capsules out of those remaining in the 60-count bottle had been laced with cyanide.

It was originally suspected that Sue’s husband, Paul Webking, had been the killer though the couple had seemed to be very much in love, Sue had thought that maybe her new husband of merely 6 months had been unfaithful. During his interrogation, Paul did admit that it had been his idea to switch to this brand of headache medicine. Paul, determined to prove his innocence, demanded that the FBI conduct a polygraph on him to everyone’s surprise, the man passed with flying colors.

Paul and Sue, they looked so happy

Soon after this, another tainted bottle was discovered in a grocery store. At this point all Excedrin products were pulled from the shelves and a group of drug companies pitched in to offer a $300,000 reward for the capture of the person responsible. Paul filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Excedrin.

Seeing this as her golden opportunity, on June 19th Stella summoned police. Playing the part of the grief-stricken widow, Stella explained that her very own husband had suddenly passed away, and that he had taken Excedrin just moments beforehand. Stella handed over the remaining pills and sure enough, testing concluded that there was, in fact, cyanide present in of the widow’s bottle. Blood samples which had been taken from Bruce at autopsy proved that he had not succumbed to emphysema, but to cyanide poisoning.

Stella was beyond thrilled, this was absolutely perfect! Not only could she claim that extra life insurance money, but Stella wasted no time in joining Paul in that wrongful death lawsuit against the makers of Excedrin as well! Stella had gotten greedy, and this greed would be her downfall.

On June 24th, another tampered bottle of Excedrin was discovered. The FBI had been very busy with these bottles while searching for clues, they found something very strange. It was noticed that the tablets laced with cyanide also contain flecks of an unknown green substance. Further testing concluded the substance to be an algaecide used in home aquariums, sold under the brand name Algae Destroyer.

Note the green flecks

Stella did something extremely stupid at this point. She contacted police to hand over another bottle of contaminated Excedrin which she’d claimed to have purchased in a completely different store. A total of five contaminated bottles had been found in the entire country, and Stella just so happened to be in possession of two of them? What are the chances!

Now police decided to zero in on Stella as their suspect. During a chat with Bruce’s physician, police found that Stella had been arguing that her husband’s death was an accident well before Sue Snow’s untimely death. Investigators found out about Bruce’s life insurance policy, and the extra payout for accidental death. Upon hearing of Stella’s financial troubles, investigators were informed of a letter which Stella had written to her creditors just before Bruce’s death. In this letter she had stated that there had been a good reason for falling behind: Stella’s husband was no longer with her. But, Stella had written that she’d suddenly come into a large sum of cash and would now be able to make hefty payment to catch up on what was owed.

Tamper-Proof Packaging

The case broke open when an investigator remembered seeing an aquarium during a visit to Stella’s home. They were soon able to verify that Stella had not only purchased Algae Destroyer from a local pet store, but an employee remembered ordering the substance specifically at Stella’s request! This killer had mixed the green algae destroyer within the same bowl as the cyanide without bothering to clean the bowl thoroughly between uses.

In November of 1986, Stella failed a polygraph and was promptly placed under arrest. At this point Stella’s adult daughter, Cynthia Hamilton, approached police with some very damning information. Before the murders, her mother had often spoke of killing her husband she even told police of the prior attempts at taking Bruce’s life. Cynthia also stated that her mother had visited the local library to research affective poisoning methods. So, investigators visited that library and records proved that Stella had, in fact, checked out numerous books about poison her fingerprints were found on many cyanide-related pages of the multiple books Stella had borrowed.

Cyanide Poisoning

The fact that Stella researched cyanide before following through with her plan makes it all so much worse, you could even use the word evil to describe her. Again, it’s not a pretty way to go out, and Stella not only decided to inflict this death on not only the man she was supposed to love but complete strangers as well! It’s very fortunate that she didn’t rack up a higher body count.

Stella’s walk of shame

A jury deliberated for 5 days ultimately Stella was found guilty of five counts of product tampering, including two which resulted in the deaths of Susan Snow and Bruce Nickell.

This killer was sentenced to 90 years, and the judge ordered Stella to pay a fine and forfeit her remaining assets to the families of her victims. This deadly woman was first eligible for parole in 2018, and thankfully freedom was denied. Stella still swears up and down that she has been wrongly convicted. She claims that her own daughter, Cynthia, lied to police for her own financial gain Cynthia received $250,000 of the reward money offered to whoever helped solve the murders. It appears that this Mother/daughter relationship has always been tumultuous, Stella was once arrested for beating her little girl with a curtain rod, among other things.

This menace to society will likely die in prison, as she should.


Watch the video: Πόσο καλά γνωρίζουμε ο ένας τον άλλο;. ElenaPolichronopoulou