Sunday, August 14, 2016

Galya Tannenbaum, Suspected Serial Killer – Colorado, 1969


Text from Serial Killer True Crime Index:

A peculiar chapter of Colorado’s criminal history was closed on March 9, 1971, with the announcement that Gloria Tannenbaum, suspect in two deaths and one disappearance, had died in the state mental hospital at Pueblo. A suicide note was found at her bedside, and authorities concluded she had somehow managed to ingest a dose of cyanide -- the same poison allegedly used to kill two of her victims in 1969.

Gloria Tannenbaum’s publicized troubles began after Dr. Thomas Riha, 40-year-old professor of Russian history at Colorado University, vanished from his home near the Boulder campus on March 14, 1969. Within a short time, Tannenbaum was charged, both in Boulder and Denver, with four separate felony counts involving illegal disposal of Riha’s property.

Prior to her trial on one charge -- that of forging his name on a $300 check -- Gloria was pronounced insane by court psychiatrists and confined to the state hospital until such time as she recovered sufficiently to participate in her own defense. In confinement, Tannenbaum boasted of influential contacts and hinted at “secret assignments” performed on behalf of intelligence agencies.

Outside her narrow world, the search for Dr. Riha’s body yielded no results, but homicide detectives had begun suspecting Gloria in two more deaths. A couple of her neighbors, 78-year-old Gustav Ingwerson and Barbara Egbert, 51, had recently died of apparent cyanide poisoning. There was insufficient evidence for indictment, but police believed that Gloria had murdered both, perhaps because they had possessed some information on the Riha case.

The deaths and disappearance are officially unsolved, but Gloria appears to have claimed the last word on the case for herself. “It doesn’t matter really,” she wrote to her attorney on the last night of her life, “but I will tell you this. I didn’t do Tom or Gus or Barb in. I went nuts with hurt over losing them. Everything that has made me feel good about myself has been taken away. Life is very cheap.”

Text from Serial Killer True Crime Index:

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BOOK: R. K. Price, Love, Spies & Cynide: Galya’s Story, Quiet Owl Books (November 13, 2014)

Publisher’s description: While Veteran Chief of Detectives Victor Bravo investigates a routine death at Colorado’s notorious Asylum for the Habitually Insane he discovers the cyanide poisoning of the glamorous master forger and con-artist, Galya Tannenbaum, was not self inflicted. As he searches for the killer he becomes entangled in 70’s era international espionage pitting FBI, CIA and KGB agents against each other, jockeying for control of Galya’s lover, Professor Thomas Riha, acclaimed Russian-Soviet authority. When Riha vanishes on March 15, 1969 on his way to teach a Russian History class at the University of Colorado the mystery leads to heightening Cold War tensions, Congressional hearings, outrage by J. Edgar Hoover, and even pre-Watergate abuse-of-power accusations against Richard Nixon.

R.K. Price’s third true-life crime thriller is based on the story Price broke as a newspaper reporter and splashed across across American headlines for weeks. To this day Riha has never been found. The case remains unsolved.

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A book chapter on the case – Jay Robert Nash, “The Prof who went poof,” pp. 239-244, in: Among the Missing: An Anecdotal History of Missing Persons from 1800 to the Present, 1978, M. Evans Pub. (uses the spelling “Galva”)

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Galya Tannenbaum – Born Gloria Ann Forrest

Mar. 14, 1969 – Dr. Thomas Riha (40), disappears; never found. Having affair with GT.
1969 – Within a short time, Tannenbaum was charged, both in Boulder and Denver, with four separate felony counts involving illegal disposal of Riha’s property.
1969 – Prior to her trial on one charge -- that of forging his name on a $300 check -- Gloria was pronounced insane by court psychiatrists and confined to the state hospital until such time as she recovered sufficiently to participate in her own defense.
Mar. 9, 1969 – Hana Riha, attacked, ether on clothing.
Jun. 16, 1969 – Gustav Ingwerson (78), neighbor, dies; cynaide.
Sep. 13, 1969 – Barbara Egbert (51), neighbor, dies; cynaide.
A couple of her neighbors, 78-year-old and had recently died of apparent cyanide poisoning.
Sep. 30, 1969 – Rihas’ divorce decree signed.
March 9, 1971 – GT suicide; cyanide.

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