Helmuth Buxbaum, convicted in 1980s murder, dies in jail

Millionaire Ontario nursing home operator Helmuth Buxbaum, who was convicted in one of the most sensational murder trials of the 1980s, has died.

Ontario multimillionaire Helmuth Buxbaum, convicted in 1986 for arranging his wife's murder in one of the decade's most lurid trials, has died. He was 67.

Helmuth Buxbaum, seen here at Kingston Penitentiary in 1990, was painted as a drug addict who frequently used prostitutes in the 1986 trial that convicted him of hiring a hitman to kill his wife. ((Bill Becker/Canadian Press))

The former London, Ont.-area businessman, who made his name through his nursing-home empire, died Thursday after he was transferred for unspecified health concerns to Kingston Penitentiary Regional hospital.

During the sensational 1986 trial that eventually found him guilty of paying a hitman to kill his wife, the court heard testimony from a bevy of characters that included drug dealers, prostitutes and their pimps.

Buxbaum was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Witnesses testified that despite his apparently wholesome work life, Buxbaum was a cocaine addict with an appetite for young prostitutes who was desperate to rid himself of his wife, Hanna Buxbaum, because he found her dull and unattractive.

The Crown's case focused on money, saying that nearly $2 million had disappeared from Buxbaum's bank account and that he had recently taken out a $1-million life insurance policy on his wife.

She was found shot in the head three times on July 5, 1984, on a highway near London.

The Crown argued that as part of a pre-arranged plan, Buxbaum had offered a contract killer a sum of $10,000 to do the deed, and that Buxbaum himself pulled over to the side of the road so his wife could be dragged out and shot by a masked man.

The gunman, Gary Foshay, later received a life sentence for second-degree murder with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Buxbaum was one of prominent Canadian lawyer Eddie Greenspan's most notorious clients. He reportedly paid Greenspan $1.1 million in fees and also promised a $250,000 bonus if Greenspan could get him acquitted.

Buxbaum denied until the end that he hired a drug dealer as the hit man.

With files from the Canadian Press