Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt: Black Widows

Nailing Down
the Evidence

Police tracked down the Mercury Sable. It had been impounded after receiving numerous parking tickets and was eventually resold when no one came to claim it. Criminalists verified that it did sustain front-end damage and something far more important blood on the undercarriage. A DNA test was run against McDavid and came back a match.

Similar 1999 Mercury Sable
Similar 1999 Mercury Sable

At the time of the accident, the Mercury Sable was registered to an Encino woman whose name was found by police on a piece of paper when they searched Golay's car. Detectives later determined that the Encino woman had been a victim of identity theft and never owned the car.

The women were held without bail in a federal jail and lost a motion to be released on bail. A judge ruled that they should remain incarcerated because prosecutors had shown probable cause that the pair had committed murder.

Shortly after, on July 31, 2006, Rutterschmidt and Golay were charged with two counts of murder and the special circumstances of murder for financial gain and multiple murder. This meant that they were eligible for the death penalty. They were also charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder for financial gain.

The criminal complaint alleged that Golay had collected $348,000 from Vados' life insurance policies and $1.5 million from McDavid's; while Rutterschmidt had collected $246,000 and $674,000 respectively.

DOJ Seal, US Attorney's office
DOJ Seal, US Attorney's office

In light of the murder charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office dismissed the fraud case. They retained the option of refiling it at another time if the women were acquitted of murder.

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