Chavers guilty in second murder
She is convicted in Amelia court of killing her second husband
AMELIA — A woman prosecutors dubbed a “black widow” was convicted Thursday of a second murder, ending an elaborate two-year investigation.
Circuit Judge Pamela S. Baskervill found Ulisa Chavers guilty of several charges, including first-degree murder of her second husband, Clent Chavers, whose headless remains were discovered in 2009 in a shallow grave at the couple’s former home in Amelia County. He died more than 15 years ago.
Thursday’s convictions came less than a month after Chavers was convicted in Louisa County of killing her boyfriend, Reginal Cody Bowles, around Christmas 2006. Authorities say she disposed of his remains in an unused well on the property they shared in Louisa. Chavers, 62, is serving more than 40 years in prison.
Though Chavers maintains her innocence, she entered Alford pleas to both murders and other charges, meaning she does not
admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict her.
Prosecutors called Chavers a black widow who told innumerable lies to conceal her scheme to steal the dead men’s Social Security money — a plan that prosecutors dubbed a “killer’s retirement plan.”
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” declared Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas A. Garrett Jr., quoting Sir Walter Scott at a news conference after Thursday’s convictions.
“That tangled web was unwoven,” said Garrett, flanked by investigators from several lawenforcement agencies.
Louisa prosecutors handled the cases against Chavers in both Amelia and Louisa.
In March 2009, authorities found the remains of Bowles in an unused well on the Louisa property where he and Chavers had lived. The next month, they unearthed Clent Chavers’ remains from the backyard of the property he and Ulisa Chavers had shared.
Approving a plea agreement Thursday, Baskervill found Chavers guilty of the first-degree murder of Clent Chavers, desecration of his remains and nine counts of grand larceny.
Baskervill sentenced her to 50 years with 20 years suspended for the murder charge, five years with two years suspended on the desecration charge, and a total of 30 years with 20 suspended for the nine larceny counts.
The 43-year sentence imposed Thursday will run concurrently with the 45 years Chavers is serving for crimes in Louisa, including the slaying of Bowles.
“As far as it goes for her, I think it went extremely well,” said her attorney, Mike Caudill.
Chavers appeared in a wheelchair for her previous two hearings but was on her feet Thursday. Dressed in orange prison attire, she answered questions with “yes” or “no.”
The state medical examiner’s office could not determine a cause of death for Bowles or Clent Chavers.
Chavers has admitted she buried Clent Chavers in their backyard in Amelia in 1994 but said it was after he died of natural causes. She said she carried his body out of their home in Clent Chavers’ wheelchair and dumped him into a hole and buried him. He was 68.
But Douglas Owsley, a renowned anthropologist who examined the remains, found evidence that Ulisa Chavers had wrapped her husband in a sheet and dragged him to the grave.
Chavers later confessed that she had used a shovel to remove Clent Chavers’ skull and dumped it at a landfill about a year after she buried him.
Owsley said even though the head was missing, four fractured pieces of skull were left behind when the head was removed.
Owsley said the evidence suggests that Clent Chavers sustained multiple fractures in the face and cranium at the time of his death and before he was buried, either from a gunshot or blunt-force trauma. “The only reason she moved the head is that head was the key piece of evidence,” McGuire said.