Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt: Black Widows

Who Were Rutterschmidt and Golay?

The next step was to look at Rutterschmidt and Golay. Both unmarried, they seemed to enjoy getting dressed up and going places where men were plentiful: health clubs, churches and nights on the town. Golay was a real estate broker, owned several pieces of property and lived in a house worth $1.5 million. She drove a Mercedes SUV and kept up her looks with plastic surgery. Rutterschmidt was significantly less well off, living in a small apartment, driving a Honda Civic and having no apparent source of income other than as a scout for Golay's real estate ventures.

Olga Rutterschmidt
Olga Rutterschmidt

It's not clear how they met, although their friendship apparently went back many years. And they were something to look at. With bleached blonde hair, loads of eyeliner and bright lipstick, and flashy clothes, the women were a poor man's version of the Gabor sisters.

So it seemed strange that this pair would go out of their way to gain the trust of homeless men, then put them up in low-rent apartments, help them with errands, and give financial advice. In exchange, the men signed life insurance policies naming the women as beneficiaries.

Suspiciously, the men died after two years of living under this arrangement. Under California law, it's extremely difficult for insurance companies to contest life insurance policy benefits after a two-year period.

After both men died, the women filed claims as the only next of kin. In Vados' case, he did have a living relative a daughter named Stella who had been estranged from her father for several years. When she learned of his death, she fought an uphill battle to get the remains moved to a family plot and to collect some of the life insurance money.

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