Nova Scotia

Internet Black Widow Melissa Ann Shepard arrested in Halifax

Melissa Ann Shepard, 80, was released from prison last month after serving her full sentence for administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessaries of life to her newlywed husband.

Shepard, 80, charged with breaching her release conditions

Halifax Regional Police circulated this photo of Melissa Ann Shepard when they warned residents that the woman known as the Internet Black Widow had been released from prison and would be living in the area. (Halifax Regional Police)

Less than a month after she agreed to abide by certain rules following her release from prison, an 80-year-old woman dubbed the Internet Black Widow has been charged with breaching those conditions. 

Melissa Ann Shepard is accused of accessing the internet at the Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road, in violation of conditions imposed by a Nova Scotia provincial court in March.

Police said that at 3:40 p.m. on Monday a community response officer saw her using the internet on a computer. The officer arrested her and took her to the police station.

There, officers say, they found she had with her "a device capable of accessing the internet," in violation of her court conditions. 

She was charged with three counts of breaching a recognizance and released on conditions that she not visit any libraries in the Halifax Regional Municipality. She's due in court May 24. 

High risk to re-offend

Shepard left prison last month after serving her full sentence for administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessaries of life to Fred Weeks, who was her newlywed husband. Weeks fell ill at a bed-and-breakfast in Cape Breton in September 2012, just a few days after marrying Shepard.

Halifax police allege she is a high risk to re-offend. Shepard has agreed to 22 temporary conditions but will fight longer term restrictions to her freedom in court this fall.

Her current conditions include not accessing the internet, abiding by a curfew, providing an up-to-date photo of herself to police and that she not possess any drugs for which she doesn't have a prescription.

She must also inform police of any romantic involvements so officers can tell prospective boyfriends of her criminal past.

Criminal past

Shepard has a long history with the law. 

In 1991, she was convicted of manslaughter and served two years of a six-year prison term after killing her husband, Gordon Stewart, on a deserted road near Halifax. Stewart, from P.E.I., was heavily drugged when she ran over him twice with a car.

Shortly after she was released from prison, she travelled to Florida and met Robert Friedrich at a Christian retreat.

They married in Nova Scotia in 2000. A year later, Friedrich's family noticed his health was faltering. He had mysterious fainting spells and slurred speech and was in and out of hospitals.

Friedrich's family also alleged his money had started to disappear. Friedrich died in 2002 of cardiac arrest. No one was charged.

In 2005, Shepard was sentenced to five years in prison on a slew of charges stemming from a relationship she had with another Florida man she met online. 

She pleaded guilty to seven charges, including three counts of grand theft from a person 65 years or older, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a forged document.

With files from Blair Rhodes

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