Colorado Black Widow Cynthia Phillips had a way with men. She took out hefty insurance policies on her men, then arranged for them to meet their deaths. The first of her beaus to die, Anthony Shinstock, was an apparent suicide, yet Cynthia had something to do with the death, even if to help drive the boy to despair. After his January 1982 death, Anthony’s father found a letter from Cynthia asking the boyfriend to murder her stepfather.
In 1986 Cynthia married Ron Phillips. Nine years later she paid Billy Michael “Bear” Slaughter $10,000 to murder him. But Slaughter high-tailed it with the dough and her husband was unharmed. Her insurance plot was foiled.
Cynthia is associated with the 1996 death in Kansas of a man she met at a VFW hall. He was missing for weeks before the police received a tip. She sent an anonymous letter to police to tell them where to find the body of missing 38-year-old Leslie Konrade. No body, no insurance payment. Konrade was terrified of bodies of water. He couldn’t swim. Police found “floating face-down along the muddy banks of Coon Creek, several miles northeast of Kinsley, Kasnsas.”
Cynthia’s fingerprints were lifted from the paper. There seems to have been some quick insurance policy shenanigans in the Konrade family just before his death. But there was no definitive evidence tying Cynthia to the death.
A couple of years later, Cynthia’s live-in boyfriend, Tony Matthews, 29, was gunned down while in his car. Cynthia held a $100,000 life insurance policy on him.
Matthews had been the room-mate of Bear Slaughter, the no-show hit man hired to finish off Ron Phillips. When he learned of the murder of his friend he contacted the Kiowa County sheriff’s department. Cynthia was arrested in Corsicana, Texas, and brought to Eads, Colorado.
Cynthia Phillips was tried and convicted for the plot to murder Ron Phillips and for the murder of Matthews. She was sentenced to 24 years and 60 years respectively.
But even the convicted Cynthia, 33, had her wiles intact.
“Despite her previous conviction and pending trial, she has remarried while in jail. Bob Nunley isn’t shaken that the love of his life is accused of killing men to collect life insurance settlements. When he learned that Cynthia Phillips, the reputed black widow killer of Kiowa County, faced a prison term extending long after his retirement age, his response was to marry her in jail. But Nunley, 42, a disabled veteran from Poteau, Okla., insists he didn’t come into the marriage blindly. He points out he already knew what everyone considered.” [Kirk Mitchell, “‘Black widow killer’ framed, new husband says Woman accused of killing men to collect insurance,” Denver Post (Co.), Oct. 3, 1999, p. A-33]
Jan. 1982 – Anthony Shinstock, former boyfriend in Kansas died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his pickup truck. Harold Schintock: In 1982 “Cynthia had wrote him a letter. In the letter, she wanted my son [Anthony] to kill her stepdad. She laid it all out in that letter. We gave it to the sheriff. But nothing ever come of it.” [erroneously “1980,” elsewhere]
Oct. 10, 1986 – Cynthia marries Ron Phillips.
Jun. 1995 – C plots to murder husband Ron Phillips; hit man hired for $10,000. “The man who was hired to kill Phillips, Billy Michael Slaughter, said he used the $10,000 down payment to move to Missouri and start a new life. He contacted police three years later, after he heard of the death of his former roommate, Mathews.”; $200,000 insurance, double indemnity.
Aug. 22, 1996 – Leslie Konrade, 38, goes missing after leaving a VFW hall.
Sep. 1996 – Les Konrade, husband, body found, Kansas.
Apr. 14, 1998 – death of Tony Matthews, 29, live-in boyfriend, in the Corsicana; gunned down while in his car; $100,000 life insurance policy.
May 25, 1998 – not long after Bear Slaughter’s call to the Kiowa County sheriff’s department, Cynthia was arrested in Corsicana, Texas, and brought to Eads.
Jan. 21, 1999 – C, 33, Convicted, Eads, Colorado; of hiring a hit man to kill her husband [Ron Phillips, not killed] for a $250,000 insurance policy; “criminal solicitation to commit first degree murder.”
May 14, 1999 – C sentenced to 24 years in prison by 15 th Judicial District, Kiowa County, District Judge; for Ron Phillips murder plot.
May?-June?, 1999 – C, while in jail, marries Bob Nunley, disabled veteran.
Jul. 22, 1999 – C indicted for for Matthews murder.
1999? – Convicted of Matthews murder, sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Feb. 27, 2002 – Matthews verdict upheld on appeal.
Long detailed article: [Eric Dexheimer, “Love on the Rocks,” Denver Westword News (Co.), Oct. 22, 1998]
[AP, “Woman found guilty,” Chronicle Journal (Topeka, Ka.), Monday, January 25, 1999]
[“Woman convicted of trying to kill husband indicted in similar case,” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Tx.), July 24, 1999]
[Kirk Mitchell, “Black widow killer’ framed, new husband says Woman accused of killing men to collect insurance,” Denver Post (Co.), Oct. 3, 1999, p. A-33]
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.