Melissa Ann Shepard: Internet Black Widow (2012)

Published on May 3, 2020 by

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Family members say she preyed on the lonely, then married and buried them. Now the so-called Black Widow has been charged with attempted murder after the the suspicious sudden illness of another husband. the fifth estate’s Linden MacIntyre first spoke to Melissa Ann Shepard, then Melissa Friedrich when she was in jail in Florida, and then again on the phone last year after she moved back to Nova Scotia. In this 2012 doc, MacIntyre tells her troubling story, with exclusive interviews and details on the latest twists and turns in an unfolding mystery the fifth estate has been following since 2005.

Alexander Strategos did what any lonely 73-year-old retiree in Florida looking for love would do — he logged on to a seniors’ website and made a date. The 69-year-old brunette from Canada who answered his call arrived in a new white Cadillac and quickly made herself at home in his condo. Over the next two months, police believe Melissa Ann Friedrich drugged Strategos, took control of his home, stole his life savings and was already searching for her next victim on Internet dating sites.

the fifth estate’s Linden MacIntyre investigated Sheppard ‘s remarkable and complex story, including a lengthy and dramatic interview with her in prison. After police arrested Sheppard on charges of exploitation of the elderly, they learned she had at least 13 aliases and at least 30 prior convictions for various kinds of fraud dating back to 1970. They also learned that she was convicted of manslaughter in 1992 after running over, not once but twice, her 44-year-old husband on a dirt road near the Halifax airport. Another husband died in 2002, and while Friedrich was not charged, to this day family members suspect her in his death. And in March 2005, Sheppard was convicted on seven charges of theft and forgery. She was released from prison in Florida in 2009, and until this 2012, had apparently been living a quiet life for three years.

Shepard left prison in 2016 after serving an 3.5 year sentence for administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessaries of life to Fred Weeks, who was her newlywed husband. Weeks fell ill at a bed-and-breakfast in Cape Breton in September 2012, just a few days after marrying Shepard.

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