‘Black Widow’ denied early release
MONCTON, N.B. — The Parole Board of Canada says an elderly woman known as the “Black Widow’’ who was convicted of spiking her newlywed husband’s coffee with tranquilizers has been denied an early release. Melissa Ann Shepard, now in her early 80s, was sentenced in Sydney in June 2013 to two years, nine months and 10 days for administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessities of life to 76-year-old Fred Weeks. The board says in a recently released decision that Shepard was found to be in possession of six bottles of eye drops and although she has a diagnosis requiring the medication, the amount that was found was excessive and could have been used to cause harm. The agency says Shepard has a tendency to fabricate and deny events to correctional staff, and is unable to link consequences to actions. The board has determined her risk of reoffending in a violent way was unchanged and ordered that she remain in custody. Shepard acquired the moniker of the “Black Widow’’ after being convicted of manslaughter in 1992 in the death of her second husband, Gordon Stewart, whom she drugged and ran over twice with a car.