Thursday, September 22, 2011

Josephine Gray, Serial Killer of 3 Husbands By Proxy - 2001


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): Rockville, Md. - Police charged a woman yesterday with killing her first husband in 1974 and her second husband in November. Police said Josephine Gray, 44, and her housemate, Clarence Goode, 23, killed William Robert Gray, 48, Nov. 9 at his Germantown home. He had been shot in the chest and neck with a pistol, Geehreng said. Police also charged Josephine Gray with the murder of Norman Stribbling, who was found in his car March 4, 1974. He had been shot once in the head. Josephine Gray, then Josephine Stribbling, and William Robert Gray, the man who would become her second husband, were arrested shortly after that incident and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Charges were dropped when witnesses failed to appear, police said.

[“Police Say Woman Killed Two Husbands,” syndicated (AP), Seattle Times (Wa.),  Apr. 26, 1991]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): Washington, D.C. – In this tale of witchcraft and murder, prosecutors have been thwarted for decades in investigating violent deaths of husbands in suburbs of the nation’s capital. “I’ve seen all forms of witness intimidation,” said Douglas Gansler, state’s attorney of Montgomery County, Md. “But this is only time it involved voodoo and black magic.”

Gansler said two formal murder warrants were filed yesterday against Josephine Gray, a 55-year-old widow and mother of six who lived in the Maryland suburbs. Gray is already being held on federal charges of mail and wire fraud in connection with the $165,000 that she collected from life insurance policies on two of her husbands and one alleged lover -- all now dead.

The federal cases will proceed first, said Gansler, with the widow being tried under the co-called “slayer’s rule,” which prohibits a beneficiary from receiving the insurance benefits of someone they intentionally killed. Conviction does not require proof of murder, however.

Gray, who has pleaded not guilty, will also be tried for murder, Gansler said. Her attorney has declined public comment.

What she did, law enforcement agents allege, was to woo a lover to kill a husband, marry the lover, and then woo another lover who killed the second husband. Then, the alleged second lover was killed shortly after the effective date of another $100,000 insurance policy that named Gray as the beneficiary.

The evidence pointed to the widow from the start, but witnesses would not testify, the prosecutor recalled.

Why?

“It was the witchcraft mostly,” Lenron Goode, brother of the third victim, told the Washington Post.

Relatives believe that Gray cast spells to convert her lovers into killers willing to do her bidding.

“She was dealing in witchcraft and voodoo,” a former wife of one told the Post. “She must have been feeding him something to make him do what she said. He wasn’t himself.”

The first husband, Norman Stribbling, was found shot in the head in his parked car beside a suburban road in 1974. Police said that two brothers, Donald and Clement Mills, gave statements that they were individually approached by Josephine and a man named William Gray and offered money to kill Norman Stribbling. The widow and Gray were subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit murder but the charges were dropped after the witnesses disappeared. Josephine and William Gray were later married.

In the mid-1980s, a young man named Clarence Goode moved in with the Grays. He was described as Josephine Gray’s cousin, according to the police report. In 1990, William Gray moved out of the house. Later that year, he was found face down and dead on the floor of his apartment. He had been shot in the chest and neck.

The following year, Josephine Gray and Clarence Goode were charged with the murder. The case never reached trial though because witnesses changed their stories and evidence was lacking.

In 1996, Clarence Goode was found dead from a gunshot wound in his car on a Baltimore street.

Gansler said Josephine Gray is being charged with killing her two husbands in Montgomery County, Md., but the murder of Goode occurred outside his jurisdiction. All three killings will be linked in the federal insurance case, he said.

[Bob Dart, “A trail of bodies in grisly tale of voodoo killings.  Woman used black magic to intimidate witnesses, police say,” (Cox News Service) Seattle Times (Wa.),  January 4, 2002]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 5): After escaping prosecution for more than two decades by using threats of voodoo against potential witnesses, a woman who authorities said had a hand in the deaths of three lovers was convicted yesterday of fraudulently collecting the victims' life insurance benefits.

Josephine Virginia Gray, 55, of Upper Marlboro was found guilty on eight counts of mail and wire fraud by a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Prosecutors said she collected $165,000 in insurance money after two husbands were shot to death in Montgomery County and a young boyfriend was found dead in Baltimore.

Gray was charged in the 1974 and 1990 Montgomery County killings, but authorities said the charges in each case were dropped when witnesses, frightened by rumors that Gray practiced voodoo, refused to testify against her.

The jury hearing the fraud case against Gray did not have to decide whether the grandmother and former school janitor committed murder. To find her guilty, jurors had to decide that Gray had a role in the men's deaths and was banned under the so-called slayer's rule from collecting insurance benefits.

Attorneys in the case declined to comment, noting a gag order that extends until Gray is sentenced Dec. 3. She faces up to 40 years in prison.

State prosecutors in Montgomery County also have filed new murder charges against Gray. That case is pending.

At the fraud trial, defense attorneys called Gray a three-time surviving victim who was wrongly targeted by police with tunnel vision who wrongly relied on "gossip, rumor and innuendo."

"For more than a quarter-century, she has been under scrutiny, when all this time she has been a victim who deserves our sympathy and our compassion, not this prosecution," Daniel W. Stiller, an assistant federal public defender, said in court.

Prosecutors offered a different portrayal of Gray, calling her a master manipulator who used new lovers to help her kill men she no longer wanted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Trusty called Gray's story a book of many chapters and said some of them "really are written in the blood of three men who loved Josephine Gray."

[Gail Gibson, “Woman guilty of insurance fraud; She collected $165,000 after deaths of 3 men,” Aug. 17, 2002]

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FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Greenbelt, Md. – A woman dubbed the “Black Widow” by prosecutors was sentenced Monday to 40 years in prison for collecting life insurance proceeds on three slain lovers after allegedly using voodoo to keep witnesses silent. Josephine Gray, ob, received the maximum sentence from U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow for the eight counts of mail and wire fraud she was convicted of in August. Gray was also ordered to repay $170,000 to the insurance companies she defrauded.

The Upper Marlboro woman now faces a possible murder trial in Montgomery County on charges filed against her in January. Gray escaped two previous attempts to prosecute her when witnesses refused to testify. Although Gray wasn’t tried on murder charges in federal court.

Judge Chasanow ruled that the killings were part of Gray’s scheme to cheat insurance companies.

That factor increased the maximum penalty from roughly two years – a penalty Judge Chasanow said was “woefully inadequate” – to 10 years.

“Clearly, in this case the murders were done in connection with these offenses,” Judge Chasanow said.

Gray, who sat slumped between her lawyers, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. She gave a statement through her public defender. Daniel Stiller, maintaining her innocence.

“(She) gives her faith in God as a higher power who knows she has committed no offense or done anything wrong.” Mr. Stiller said. Gray will appeal the verdict. Mr. Stiller said.

Prosecutors said Gray, the matriarch of a large Germantown family held sway over her relatives through threats of violence and voodoo magic.

Her two husbands were shot to death; Norman Stribbling was murdered in 1971 and William Gray was killed in 1990. Gray collected $15.000 from Mr. Stnbbling’s death and $51,000 for William Gray.

Clarence Goode, her in-live boyfriend, was shot and stuffed in the trunk of a car in Baltimore in 1996. That killing netted Cray $95,000.

Montgomery prosecutors said she enlisted the help of her successive paramours lo kill her current lovers, dubbing her the “Black Widow,” after the female version of the venomous spider that kills its mates.

[“Black Widow - Murderer gets 40 years,” syndicated (AP), The Frederick News-Post (Md.), Dec. 3, 2002, p. A-6]

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FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): Greenbelt, Maryland - Josephine V. Gray, age 60, of Wheaton, Maryland was re-sentenced today to 40 years in prison arising from her 2002 convictions for mail and wire fraud stemming from the homicides of two men, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Gray was convicted on August 16, 2002 of intentionally causing the death of William Robert Gray and Clarence Goode, making it illegal for her to profit from those crimes by filing claims for their life insurance benefits.

Gray appealed her original 40 year sentence based on the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in United States v. Booker finding that the mandatory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines were unconstitutional. At her original sentencing hearing U.S. District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow held that since Gray committed premeditated murder, she should be sentenced using the guidelines for first degree murder rather than fraud. Under the advisory Sentencing Guidelines currently in place, Judge Chasanow reinforced her original ruling and resentenced Gray to 40 years.

According to trial testimony, on March 3, 1974 Norman Stribbling, Gray’s husband at that time, was found murdered. He died of a single gunshot wound to the right side of his head. Gray was suspected in that murder and two witnesses testified that Gray had solicited them, on separate occasions, to murder Norman Stribbling. Nevertheless, Gray was not convicted of his murder and received $16,000 from Stribbling’s life insurance.

According to trial testimony, Gray married William Robert Gray in November, 1975 with whom she had been having an affair for several years. Josephine and William Gray separated in August of 1990. At the time, Josephine Gray was having an affair with Clarence Goode and a co-worker. Witnesses at trial testified that William Gray stated on numerous occasions that his estranged wife was trying to kill him and that she had assaulted him. From August through October 1990, William Gray changed several of his life insurance policies to remove Josephine Gray as beneficiary. On November 9, 1990, Mr. Gray was discovered shot to death in his apartment. Josephine Gray’s co-worker boyfriend testified at trial that Gray admitted to being involved in the murder. Despite being a suspect in this murder, Josephine Gray collected over $54,000 from Mr. Gray’s life insurance policies.

From 1990 to 1996 Clarence Good and Josephine Gray lived together. In March, 1996 Goode applied for a $100,000 life insurance policy, naming Josephine Gray as the sole beneficiary. On June 21, 1996 Goode’s body was discovered in the trunk of his car in Baltimore. He had been shot in the head. A search warrant executed at Josephine Gray’s home several weeks after the murder found a large stain on the concrete floor of the garage which tested positive for blood. Next to the stain was a commercial vacuum cleaner and small amounts of possible blood was recovered from inside. State charges were never brought against Gray and the insurance company paid Gray $90,000. They paid Mr. Goode’s minor son the remaining $10,000.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Montgomery County Police Department and Baltimore City Police Department for their investigative work performed in this case. Mr. Rosenstein also praised Assistant United States Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and James Trusty who prosecuted the case.

[“Josephine Gray, known as “The Black Widow,” re-sentenced to 40 years in insurance fraud case; Caused the Deaths of A Husband and Lover to Collect Life Insurance Proceeds,” US Fed News Service, Aug. 7, 2006]

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Selected quotations on the subject of fear:


Stribbling told friends weeks before he was killed in 1974 that his wife had tried to shoot him in the head one morning while they were in bed together. He survived because the gun misfired, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Trusty said. [Dennis O'Brien, “A feared woman, 3 killings and allegations of voodoo; She collected benefits, is charged with fraud,” Baltimore Sun (Md.), Dec. 8, 2001]

When police searched Gray's home in 1990, they found "dolls with pins in them" and other voodoo paraphernalia, Gansler said. Witnesses also have told police they feared Gray because of her voodoo, according to Gansler and court papers. [Dennis O'Brien, “Montgomery police charge woman with murder in deaths of two husbands; Voodoo fears undermined earlier cases against her,” Baltimore Sun (Md.), Jan. 5, 2002]

Witnesses at trial testified that William Gray stated on numerous occasions that his estranged wife was trying to kill him and that she had assaulted him. [“Josephine Gray, known as “The Black Widow,” re-sentenced to 40 years in insurance fraud case; Caused the Deaths of A Husband and Lover to Collect Life Insurance Proceeds,” US Fed News Service, Aug. 7, 2006]

Gray was charged in the 1974 and 1990 Montgomery County killings, but authorities said the charges in each case were dropped when witnesses, frightened by rumors that Gray practiced voodoo, refused to testify against her. [Gail Gibson, “Woman guilty of insurance fraud; She collected $165,000 after deaths of 3 men,” Aug. 17, 2002]

Before they were killed, Norman Stribbling, William Robert Gray and Clarence Goode each told friends that a dangerous woman was after them. All three were shot to death, Stribbling in 1974, Gray in 1990 and Goode in 1996. [Dennis O'Brien, “A feared woman, 3 killings and allegations of voodoo; She collected benefits, is charged with fraud,” Baltimore Sun, Dec. 8, 2001]

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For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.

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For more cases of this type, see: Occult Female Serial Killers

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