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Retired Massachusetts Teacher Allegedly Poisoned Boyfriend With Antifreeze Milkshakes
Judy Church allegedly poisoned her live-in boyfriend Leroy Fowler. His family believes she may have discovered he had another girlfriend.
A retired Massachusetts school teacher has been arrested for allegedly fatally poisoning her boyfriend’s milkshakes with antifreeze.
Judy Church, 64, was taken into police custody on Thursday and charged with murder in connection to the death of her boyfriend, Leroy Fowler, who died of antifreeze poisoning in November.
Church dialed emergency dispatchers around 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 11 requesting an ambulance for Fowler at the couple's home in Salisbury — a beachside community near the New Hampshire border — the Essex District Attorney’s Office said. On the call, Church stated that Fowler "must have ingested something." She told emergency dispatchers that he had a bloody nose, was having difficulty standing and was “pulling the bedroom apart.”
Upon arrival, paramedics found Fowler, 55, in apparent medical distress, according to NBC Boston. He was taken to three different hospitals before he died at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital on Nov. 13. His family, which reported the incident to authorities, were told by hospital staff that his kidneys had shut down and that he may have ingested antifreeze, MassLive.com reported.
The autopsy later confirmed that Fowler had died of ethylene glycol poisoning, per the outlet. His death was ruled a homicide.
Ethylene glycol, a typical ingredient in antifreeze, can prove deadly in tiny amounts if ingested. Because of the substance’s sweet taste, it can unknowingly be ingested with fatal results. Symptoms — which can appear similar to those of alcohol poisoning — include nausea, vomiting, facial blushing, severe agitation and shortness of breath, according to the National Library of Medicine. The onset of symptoms is anywhere between 30 minutes and 12 hours after ingestion.
Shortly after his death, Fowler’s stepson, Michael Hawkins, allegedly disclosed to detectives that Fowler had recently commented “out of the blue” that he suspected his girlfriend was poisoning him, court documents stated. According to NBC Boston, Fowler claimed to have “‘felt better’” when he wasn’t at Church’s home. Fowler, however, relied on his girlfriend to make the majority of his meals.
Fowler's sister, Tammy Carbone, told law enforcement that Church had told her on a past phone call that Fowler suspected she’d been poisoning his coffee shakes.
The victim had been living with Church for several years, according to relatives.
Surveillance footage from Church’s home obtained by investigators allegedly showed unidentified plastic containers strewn about her apartment.
A motive wasn’t released, however, according to reports, Fowler was seeing another woman at the time of his death.
“[Fowler would] go back and forth between these two women," court documents stated.
Fowler’s stepson, Hawkins, also alleged that he’d heard Church say she “wanted to murder” Fowler's other romantic partner, and he divulged that Church had offered him $10,000 to "kidnap" Fowler, "tie him up and bring him back to her," per court records cited by NBC Boston.
Church appeared in court on Friday wearing a Boston College sweatshirt. A judge denied her bail. Her next court date is scheduled Jan. 23.
“I can’t wait to see [Church’s] face tomorrow when she can’t walk out [of jail],” Carbone wrote on social media prior to Church’s Friday court appearance. “To think she thought she could get away with it.”
Family said Fowler was incredibly close with his 8-year-old grandson, Leo.
“Not perfect, but he was a good guy,” his son, also named Leroy Fowler, told the Daily Beast in a message.
Oxygen.com has reached out to Church's attorney Timothy Conners for comment.