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Crime News Black Widow Murders

2 Women Lured Men On The Streets In With Kindness Before Killing Them In 'Black Widow Murders'

Two elderly women, Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt, fooled homeless men into believing they wanted to help them. They didn’t.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

In nature, black widow spiders are known for having a telltale red hourglass shape on their bellies. 

How to Watch

Catch up on Black Widow Murders on Peacock or the Oxygen App.

When it comes to the real world and true crime, black widows — everyday shorthand for women who lure men to their deaths, often for financial gain — aren’t so easy to identify. 

That’s one of the intriguing takeaways of “Black Widow Murders,” premiering September 25 on Oxygen, which delves into several shocking homicide cases involving this kind of female killer.

Before the debut of “Black Widow Murders,” we're taking a look at a similar story to the ones featured in the show: The duo of sinister septuagenarians, Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt, became infamous for appearing to rescue down-on-their-luck homeless men in Los Angeles before killing them, staging their deaths as hit-and-run accidents, and collecting life insurance policies worth $2.3 million. 

Their deadly exploits have been explored by “Dateline" podcast “The Thing About Helen & Olga” in November 2021 and a 2010 episode of “American Greed."

Born in Hungary in 1933, Rutterschmidt came to the U.S. in 1957. She later owned an L.A. coffee shop with her husband before they divorced and she moved to Hollywood in the 1970s. Golay, a double divorcée, was born in Texas in 1931. She made “a fortune in Southern California real estate,” reported nbcnews.com. The two eventually connected, and a shocking plan was made.

On November 8, 1999, Paul Vados, a 73-year-old widower struggling with depression and living on the street before meeting the two women, was found dead in Hollywood. It appeared that he was the victim of a hit-and-run. 

In 1997, Rutterschmidt and Golay started taking out insurance policies on behalf of Vados, according to court documents.

On June 21, 2005, Kenneth McDavid, a 50-year-old homeless man taken in by the two women by the promise of free housing, was struck and killed by a car. In 2002 and 2003, Rutterschmidt and Golay purchased insurance policies on McDavid’s behalf, claiming to be his business partner, a relative, and a fiancé on various applications. 

Jimmy Covington, 48, was another homeless man the women tried to befriend with free food and rent. But he walked away. Red flags were raised when they asked him for personal information in order to fill out forms.

The women were eventually caught before their scheme could go any further. In August 2006, Rutterschmidt and Golay were arrested for murdering Vados and McDavid for financial gain, according to lapdonline.com.

In Episode 4 of “The Thing About Helen & Olga,” host Keith Morrison noted that tracking down the vehicle used as a murder weapon was a big challenge for investigators and was key to solving the case.

It had to “be done the new old-fashioned way — by studying the security cameras that were aimed at one of the crime scenes,” he said. Grainy footage and dogged detective work turned up the killer car linked to the black widows. DNA bolstered the evidence against the pair.

At their trial, the jury saw a secretly recorded video of Rutterschmidt berating Golay while in lockup for raising suspicions, reported foxnews.com. “It’s your fault,” Rutterschmidt told Golay. “You can't have that many insurances. ... You were greedy. That’s the problem.”

In 2008, both were women convicted in the murder conspiracy. They were sentenced to life in prison.

To learn more about cases like this one, watch “Black Widow Murders,” airing September 25 on Oxygen.

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