Nova Scotia

'Internet Black widow' wants trial heard soon

An elderly woman charged with trying to kill her new husband will no longer be allowed to use his name.

Shephard will return to court in December

An elderly woman charged with trying to kill her new husband will no longer be allowed to use his surname.

The 77-year-old woman nicknamed "the Internet Black Widow," for her ability to persuade grieving widowers to marry her, has gone by several last names.

Most recently she was called Melissa Weeks, following her marriage to Fred Weeks of New Glasgow, N.S.

She was charged in October with attempted murder and administering a noxious thing — listed in court documents as the tranquillizer benzodiazepine — after 75-year-old Weeks fell ill at a bed and breakfast in Cape Breton in late September.

They had been married just a few days earlier.

On Wednesday, the Crown changed the name on the charge information to Melissa Shephard.

"The marriage was never registered so that's the Crown's position. Shephard was her first husband. She was married to him for 25 years. She did use that name a lot, for most of her life," said defence lawyer Allan Nicholson.

Shephard waived her right to a preliminary hearing. She is scheduled for a Dec. 3 court appearance.

Shephard said wants her trial to be heard as quickly as possible

History of surnames

The woman best known as Melissa Friedrich has a long history with the law.

In 1991, she was convicted of manslaughter and served two years of a six-year jail term after killing her husband, Gordon Stewart, of P.E.I., on a deserted road near Halifax.

Stewart was heavily drugged when she ran him over twice with a car.

Shortly after she was released from jail, 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, Weeks was sentenced to five years in prison for a slew of charges stemming from a relationship she had with another Florida man she met online.