As It Happens

Victim questions release of notorious Internet Black Widow: 'She'll never change'

She killed one husband. She drugged and stole from at least two others. Now, the "Black Widow" of Nova Scotia is getting out of prison. But Alex Strategos, one of her victims, thinks she'll attack again.
Melissa Ann Shepard, now in her early 80s, was sentenced in June 2013 for spiking her newly-wed husband's coffee with tranquilizers. (CBC)

She's been dubbed the Internet Black Widow, for attacking a series of men she met online. But in just a few days, she'll be out of prison.

On Friday, March 18, Melissa Ann Shepard will be released from prison in Nova Scotia for spiking her newlywed husband's coffee with tranquilizers in 2013.

Shepard was previously convicted of manslaughter in the 1991 death of her second husband. Then, in 2005, she did time in Florida for stealing from Alex Strategos, a man she'd met online.

Black Widow victim, Alex Strategos, shown in a screenshot from the CBC's the fifth estate 2012 documentary, "The Widow's Web." (CBC)

"To tell you the truth, I was surprised," Alex Strategos tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "I don't think she should be out at all. She did it before, she'll do it again."

​Strategos admits he knew very little about Shepard when their online relationship prompted her to visit him in Florida. He certainly knew nothing about her prior convictions.

Melissa Ann Shepard, known as the Internet Black Widow, arrives at court in Dartmouth, N.S. on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shepard sentenced in June 2013 for spiking her newlywed husband's coffee with tranquilizers, is scheduled to be released upon serving her full sentence. There are conditions imposed on her release. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)

"I was lonely and I thought she was lonely too, but she had other things in mind," Strategos explains. "She wanted to do me in and take my money."

Eventually, Strategos ended up in the hospital after Shepard put drugs in his food. His son's girlfriend knew a detective, and recognized foul play, so they intervened.

Melissa Ann Shepard, also known as the "Internet Black Widow." (CBC)

The courts have imposed conditions on Shepard's release which include a curfew and no internet access. She also must disclose any romantic relationships to the police.
"The only condition she should get is to stay in jail," Strategos argues. "All those conditions that they set up for her are general conditions. They're nothing — nothing to keep her from trying again."

Fred Weeks leaves Supreme Court at the trial of Melissa Ann Shepard in Sydney, N.S. on Monday, June 10, 2013. Weeks was drugged by Shepard, the 78-year-old woman dubbed the "Black Widow." (Andrew Vaughan/CP)

Shepard's release comes after serving nearly three years for administering a noxious substance to another romantic partner — her newlywed husband, Fred Weeks. Like Alex Strategos, Weeks survived his romantic relationship with Melissa Ann Shepard. But her first known victim, Gordon Stewart, did not. She served 2 years of a 6 year sentence for manslaughter in his death. 
In 2012, As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Stewart's sister, Kate Reeves. Here's part of that interview, from our archives.

FOA: Gordon Stewart's sister, Oct. 2, 2012


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