2 Elderly Women Get Life for Insurance Killings

July 17, 2008

Two homeless men befriended by a pair of elderly woman needed only food, water and shelter, a judge said. Instead, said Superior Court Judge David Wesley, they were killed because of the women’s greed.

For that, Wesley handed down two life terms each without the possibility of parole, to Helen Golay, 77, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 75.

The women were convicted of a scheme in which they befriended homeless men, took out policies, and then killed them in murders staged to look like hit-and-run auto accidents.

Prosecutors say the women collected $2.8 million before the scheme was uncovered.

The judge said the two men they killed “needed a helping hand. They thought they were getting this from you,” Wesley said. “Instead these unfortunate men were sacrificed on your altar of greed.”

The gray-haired women, who once favored fashionable clothing, wore orange jail uniforms to court. Golay’s lawyer, Roger Jon Diamond, asked for a new trial on grounds that a conversation they had after their arrest was illegally videotaped. The judge rejected the motion.

Both women were convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to murder for financial gain in the 1999 death of Paul Vados, 73, and in the 2005 death of Kenneth McDavid, 50.

Relatives of the victims spoke briefly, telling of their sadness at having lost touch with the two men and then finding out they had been murdered.

“I want to know why my father’s life had to end like this,” said Stella Vados, daughter of Paul Vados. “He didn’t deserve that. No one does.”

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented Stella Vados and Sandra Salman, the sister of McDavid, said she hoped the case turned a spotlight on the homeless and “the fact that they are an extremely vulnerable population whom we all have a duty to assist and protect.”

She said given the women’s ages, “This is tantamount to the death penalty. They will die in prison. I think that’s a just sentence.”

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