On August 22, 2005, a Sunday afternoon, a 911 dispatcher in Syracuse, New York, received a frantic call from a woman. She said that she and her husband – who had been drinking heavily – had gotten into an argument and he had locked himself in their bedroom the night before. The woman told the dispatcher that she went to her friend’s house for the night and then headed to work in the morning.
Her husband, on the other hand, didn’t show up to work. The woman who placed the called was name Stacey Castor. She was the office manager for her husband, David Castor’s air conditioning company. She asked to have an officer sent to her home to do a wellness check on her husband.
911 – What’s Your Emergency?
The officer arrived at the Castor residence, but he couldn’t get a response from David, so he broke down the door. David was found lying face down in the couple’s bed, lifeless. On the surface, it looked as if David had taken his own life. The officer reported that Stacey was shaken and hysterical, but the truth is that this wasn’t the first time Stacey lost a husband.
In 2000, five years earlier, her first husband, Michael Wallace, died of a heart attack… or so it seemed. At the time of Michael’s death, nothing suspicious stood out to doctors. Officers, on the other hand, figured there’s likely more to Stacey Castor than really bad luck.
38 and Twice Widowed… Something’s Fishy
Investigators started looking a little deeper into the life of the 38-year-old twice widow. Let’s begin in 1985, when Stacey met Michael, her first husband. They were at a bar called Clay in New York; Stacey was just 17 years old. Michael, six years older, was kind of a wild guy. He lived the fast life of partying and drinking – he was the life of the party.
Everyone who knew the couple said that Stacey was deeply in love with him. She said he “was larger than life.” “Mike was the life of the party… if you needed something that Mike had, he would give it to you.” Three years into their relationship, they decided to get married.
Two Kids, Endless Fights, and a Stint in Prison
Stacey and Michael got married on April 7, 1990, and had their daughter, Ashley, the same year. A year later, they had their second daughter, Bree. But the couple had a tendency to fight, especially over Michael’s struggle with drugs and alcohol – something that he had dealt with for a long time in his life.
The pair also had opposite work shifts – she worked during the day as an ambulance dispatcher while he worked in the evening as a mechanic. Michael was forced to serve a short prison sentence for several DUI charges, and once he got out, he cut his partying down dramatically.
He Favored Bree; She Favored Ashley
Eventually, the couple got new jobs. He started working at a commercial air conditioner manufacturer, and Stacey switched to the billing department at the ambulance dispatch company. Although money was tight for the family, they were able to make ends meet.
Now, Michael loved both his daughters, but he seemed to have a clear favorite, and that was his youngest – Bree. Stacey, on the other hand, wasn’t much of a loving mother at all. She wasn’t maternal and didn’t really seem to like children at all, even her own. Since Michael blatantly favored Bree over Ashley, Stacey made Ashley her favorite.
Suddenly, He Started Getting Sick
Sadly, it was more of a way to compete with Michael than it was to make Ashley feel loved. Nearing the couple’s 10th anniversary, their marriage was very much so on the rocks. Stacey had concerns that he was having an affair, telling a friend that they started discussing the possibility of a divorce.
By the end of 1999, Michael started getting mysterious waves of sickness. At a family function, he was acting unsteady, coughing, and looked swollen. He was finally convinced by his family members to go to a doctor. Reluctantly, he went.
Dad’s Acting Weird…
The doctor told Michael that he seemed to be suffering from an inner ear disorder considering that he wasn’t consistently sick – that it appeared in sporadic waves. On January 11, 2000, 12-year-old Ashley and 11-year-old Bree came home from school and found their dad lying on the couch.
Ashley called her mom at work to tell her that dad was acting weird and making weird faces. Once Stacey got home, Michael was already unconscious. She called an ambulance, and medics came to the house. The first responders were able to get a pulse on Michael on the way to the hospital…
A Mysterious Death for a Healthy, 35-Year-Old Man
But before they even arrived at the hospital, the father of two was pronounced dead. Doctors reported that Michael died from a heart attack and that his death didn’t seem suspicious. However, Michael was only 35, and other than this mysterious medical issue, he had been quite a healthy young man.
Michael’s family requested that an autopsy be performed, but Stacey refused. And it’s not at all surprising that she did – you’ll see why very soon. “It would seem like a perfectly obvious thing to autopsy a grown man who’s healthy, who lays down on his couch and dies,” said Michael Benson, the author of “Mommy Deadliest,” the book detailing Stacey’s case.
New Freedom and a $55,000 Payout
“But doctors told Stacey they thought it was a heart attack,” Benson recalled. Stacey’s response: “That’s good enough for me.” Stacey was now a 29-year-old widow who only wanted to bury her husband and move on with her life.
After Michael’s death, she grew to be an even more distant parent. She was never a hands-on kind of mom, but now that she was a single parent, she enjoyed her new freedom. Not to mention the nice little life insurance paycheck of $55,000 that she cashed in.
Time for Marriage #2
She was now able to relax from all the responsibilities of being a mom and wife, which was exactly what she was hoping for. A year later, in 2001, Stacey was introduced by her boss to David Castor, the man who would become her second husband.
David was everything Michael wasn’t; he was responsible, didn’t drink, didn’t party, owned his own company, and most important of all – he was financially stable. David was freshly divorced and had an adult son, David Jr., from his first marriage. The two clicked instantly, and within two years, they tied the knot.
They Were Comfortable, but He Wasn’t Into Kids
“David was very conscientious, very work driven, very into outdoors,” Stacey once said. “He had snowmobiles and four-wheelers and a boat.” He was her “support and strength and security,” she asserted. Stacey and David married in 2003.
Afterward, she became the office manager of his business. Their marriage wasn’t passionate, but it brought each of them comfort. Stacey liked having financial stability, and David enjoyed the companionship. When it came to having children around, David made it clear that he didn’t want anymore, and it got to a point where he outwardly resented having to share his life with Stacey’s daughters.
He Didn’t Like the Girls
His message was loud and clear: He had one son and wasn’t interested in being a father figure to Ashley and Bree. In 2009, Stacey confessed in an interview that her daughters “weren’t happy about” the marriage. “They didn’t want their father replaced.”
Stacey said that David was “difficult with the kids.” He expected them to do everything he told them to do – no ‘ifs’ ‘ands’ or ‘buts.’ “And being my children, they questioned everything.” But Stacey and the kids weren’t going to suffer David for much longer. If anyone was going to suffer, it was going to be him.
The Weekend Before the 911 Call
In the summer of 2005, the weekend before Stacey’s 911 call and David’s unexpected death, the couple got into a fight. Allegedly, they were arguing over what they were going to do for their second wedding anniversary.
Stacey sent her girls to friends’ houses, but she and David continued arguing until she left the house as well. Stacey later told investigators that David was feeling depressed over his father’s recent passing. Diane Leshinski, then-detective at the Sheriff’s Office, said that according to Stacey, David’s drinking and suicide were the result of his depression over his father’s death.
Depressed Over His Father’s Death?
Though those who knew David well, however, didn’t really connect to Stacey’s version of the events. David’s friends said that didn’t sound like the man they knew. Of those who knew him well was his ex-wife, Janice Poissant Farmer, who utterly rejected the idea that David killed himself.
Sgt. Michael Norton of Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office reported that Stacey described David’s behavior that weekend. She told Norton that David got upset, “took a bottle of Southern Comfort, went into the bedroom and locked himself in.” He then allegedly got drunk and didn’t come out of the room.
A Deadly Cocktail
Stacey also told Leshinski that she just assumed he was sleeping it off. Stacey even told her friend, Dani Colman, that she knew he was sleeping because she put her ear up to their bedroom and heard him snoring.
Once David was found lifeless in the bed on August 22, 2005, the authorities started investigating. On the nightstand next to the bed were two glasses – one filled with a neon green liquid and the other with brandy. An empty bottle of cranberry juice was also on the table. The bright green fluid was determined to be antifreeze.
His Death Was Ruled a Suicide
That’s right: He drank the highly toxic windshield liquid we use to remove ice in the winter. There was even an open bottle of antifreeze located near the bed. The next step in line was to perform an autopsy.
Medical examiners performed an autopsy on David, and lo and behold; it was reported that David’s cause of death was ethylene glycol poisoning – the chemical in antifreeze. His death was ruled a suicide, but detectives had a hunch that something suspicious was going on. They had a feeling that foul play was involved.
It Smelled Like Foul Play
They weren’t convinced that the man simply took his own life. Investigators searched the Castors’ home and found some interesting things. Firstly, the glass with the antifreeze had three fingerprints on it. Want to guess who they belonged to?
Yup, they were Stacey’s. The second thing the investigators found in the home was a turkey baster in the kitchen’s garbage can. On the turkey baster were traces of David’s saliva as well as antifreeze. More so, the baster had been clearly wiped of any fingerprints. At this point, all signs were pointing to Stacey…
She Buried Him Next to Her First Husband
As soon as David’s body was released from the medical examiner’s office, Stacey made sure to have another quick funeral. Believe it or not, she buried him next to her first husband, Michael. Family members were absolutely shocked by the decision.
And just like before, Stacey quickly moved on with her life. Stacey made an effort to keep on keeping on, but the investigation was in full swing. She seemed to be completely oblivious to the ongoing investigation – or she just convinced herself that she was getting away with it.
Michael Left Everything to Stacey
Other than being devastated by his loss, David’s son was also shocked to learn that his father left everything to Stacey. To make things even worse, David Jr. discovered that Stacey sold his father’s company and everything else that belonged to his estate.
The death of her second husband proved to be even more fruitful than her first – she walked away with close to $200,000. But don’t worry – she had what was coming for her. Stacey may have thought that she got away with it, but the detectives knew better…
The Investigation Continues…
Detective Dominick Spinelli was one of the main investigators assigned to the case, and he remained skeptical and suspicious of Stacey. His investigation lasted two years. Three months after David’s death, Spinelli connected with nearby Cayuga County investigators to learn more about Stacey’s first husband’s death.
Spinelli learned of the similarities in the two suspicious deaths. “She claimed that [Michael Wallace] had all sorts of medical issues,” Sgt. Norton said. So, they got Michael’s medical records, and the “worst thing that ever happened to him was he had a hernia.”
Connecting the Dots
It was becoming clear that Stacey wasn’t telling the truth – she was hiding something. Police suspected that both of her husbands were poisoned with antifreeze, which involves a painful death in which crystals are formed in the victims’ organs.
Investigators then decided to take the investigation further, first by exhuming the body of Michael to see if his organs contained those telltale crystals that would only be associated with antifreeze. If so, it would be an undeniable connection between the two deaths… aka murders. First things first, though; detectives needed probable cause.
Back From the Dead
It took detectives a year to gather enough evidence in order to establish probable cause. Finally, they were able to get approval for the exhumation of Michael Wallace. Detectives believed that if they could find evidence of ethylene glycol poisoning in Michael, they could prove that Stacey killed both her husbands.
On September 5, 2007, Michael was exhumed, and the autopsy was performed. It was immediately confirmed that his death was not due to a heart attack. His organs displayed the crystals, indicating ethylene glycol poisoning. The telltale signs were now evident in both men.
He Was Loaded With Crystals
Sgt. Norton remembers exactly what the medical examiner told him: that Michael was “loaded with crystals.” Detective Spinelli said that he knew at that point that they “had a double homicide and Stacey Castor probably killed both her husbands.”
About two years into the investigation, it was high time to look more closely into Stacey. Surveillance was approved, so the police set up cameras at the Castor home as well as one at the graveyard where both Michael and David were buried. Stacey’s cell phone and landline were then wiretapped.
Mrs. Castor? Come With Us
Sure enough, on one of her phone calls, detectives heard that she had been to the cemetery shortly after Michael’s body was exhumed. In early September 2007, detectives showed up at her home and took her in for questioning.
They asked her about David’s death but purposely left out the fact that they already exhumed and autopsied her first husband, Michael. Stacey was caught off guard and seemed extremely confused. She apparently had no idea that she was even being investigated. She instantly knew what angle the detectives were going for.
A Confessional Slip of the Tongue
Spinelli’s line of questioning created a noticeably suspicious reaction from Stacey. He asked her: “Do you remember which glass it was that you poured the cranberry juice in?” She looked at the photo he provided her with, and she said, “Well when I poured the anti-free– I—”
She then cut herself off, saying, “I mean– I mean, the cranberry juice.” But the antifreeze comment wasn’t the only incriminating thing she blurted out. She also mentioned watching a show in which a wife kills two of her husbands by poisoning them with – none other than – antifreeze.
She Had to Act Quickly
Obviously, her slip of the tongue was too noticeable to miss. It was almost too good to be true, really. It doesn’t often happen when a suspect mistakenly admits to poisoning someone during an initial interrogation.
The detectives were shocked that she essentially admitted to pouring antifreeze into the cup. Now, Stacey had to act quick. She accused Spinelli of trying to frame her. She asked for a lawyer and stopped the interview right away. Detectives were positive they successfully shook her up. They now waited for her to make another slip on her tapped phone line.
Next Up: Ashley
Meanwhile, the investigation continued, and the police then looked toward Stacey’s daughters. First, they interviewed Ashley, the eldest daughter, who was now in college. She was shocked when she heard the allegations about her mother and that her father actually died of antifreeze poisoning.
She didn’t even believe the detectives and told them that everything they were saying was ridiculous. Once the detectives left, she immediately called her mom. Stacey asked her daughter questions about her conversation with the detectives, but during their tapped call, nothing incriminating was said.
Drinks With Mom After a “Hard Day”
Ashley did, however, suggest they go out for drinks together because she’d “had a hard day.” On September 12, 2007, Ashley woke up with a hangover (she was a college student, after all). She did what many hungover students do – she went to her classes.
When she got back from school, Ashley wanted to get drunk again since her 21st birthday was coming up soon. That’s when Ashley drank a cocktail that her mom purposely prepared for her. I think you know where this is going…
That Drink Didn’t Taste So Good
“She remembered that the drink did not taste very good and that her mom got her a straw and told her to put the straw to the back of her throat and to just drink it,” Sgt. Norton reported. “She said she did what her mother told her. And then she was tired, after she drank it, and went and laid down.”
Meanwhile, the police continued to monitor Stacey’s calls. And for a while there, it seemed like a waste of time. But then, on September 14, a 911 call was placed from Stacey’s home. You can see the pattern…
Stacey Made Sure That Ashley Drank It
Stacey told the dispatcher that she just found out that her daughter overdosed on pills. Bree had found her sister barely breathing and yelled out to her mother to call 911. “Stacey relayed to the 911 dispatcher that Ashley had consumed alcohol and quite a few doses of medications,” Spinelli reported.
According to Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, Stacey mixed up a drink for Ashley and made sure she drank it. She became “lethargic and eventually passes out and winds up in her bedroom.” Not only that – there was also a letter…
There Was a Typed “Suicide” Note
Bree found a 750-word typed letter that looked as though it was written by Ashley, with her (typed) signature. In the letter, she confessed to the murders of her father and stepfather and declared that she was now taking her own life.
District Attorney Christine Garvey noted that Stacey “really wanted the 911 call taker to know that there was a suicide note.” Garvey said that it seemed more important for Stacey to tell them about the note than to confirm the condition of her daughter. DA Fitzpatrick stated that Ashley had “a cornucopia of drugs in her system.”
She Was 15 Minutes From Death
Ashley was “15 minutes from death.” Luckily, though, she survived. Once she came to in the hospital, she was shocked at all the drama that was going on around her. Sgt. Norton told Ashley that there was a suicide note, apparently written by her, indicating that she was the one who killed her father and her stepfather.
“She looked at me really wide-eyed, and flat out says, ‘I did not try to kill myself, nor did I leave a suicide note,’” Norton recalled. She also adamantly denied killing both her father and stepfather.
The End of the Road for Stacey Castor
There was no more wasting time – Stacey was a dangerous woman and needed to be behind bars. That same day, at the hospital, Stacey was arrested and charged with the murder of David Castor and the attempted murder of Ashley.
It was the end of the road for the twisted mother and wife. She somehow didn’t think she would ever be caught. “I had a speeding ticket when I was 18 years old,” she stated. “That’s the closest I’ve ever come to a brush with the law. So, to be arrested and handcuffed, I was terrified. I just couldn’t believe that that was happening.”
Her Mother Couldn’t Believe It
According to Judie Eaton, Stacey’s mother, she’s not guilty. “They were blaming Stacey for this,” she claimed. “I kinda went hysterical. I cannot believe Stacey has it in her… to kill two men? Especially men she’s supposed to love. I do not believe Stacey did it. She would not frame Ashley.”
Her mother clearly doesn’t know the truth about her own daughter. On December 20, 2007, Stacey was indicted on multiple counts – one for second-degree murder, one for second-degree attempted murder, and one for a plot to present a forged will.
The Evidence Was Convincing
By September 2008, a judge ruled that evidence in the Michael Wallace death could be used in court as evidence. Stacey hired defense attorney Chuck Keller, who used the line of defense that Ashley was indeed responsible for David’s death and that she did try to kill her.
Fitzpatrick, the prosecutor at the trial, said there was compelling evidence against Stacey. There was DNA evidence, forensic linguistic analysis, and more. With everything we know so far, the case was a slam dunk. Keller and Stacey had no chance.
Her Own Flesh and Blood
Her trial began in January 2009, with Stacey facing 25 years to life if convicted. Two cases were being presented to the jury: her second husband’s death and the attempted murder of her daughter. But the attorneys were also allowed to present evidence from her first husband’s death.
Both Ashley and Stacey took the stand. Fitzpatrick said, “I can’t imagine my own flesh and blood is 50 feet away from me, saying that ‘You tried to kill me,’ and not having a reaction to that.” A cross-examination ensued.
51 Years in Prison
Fitzpatrick confronted Stacey with the phone calls that the investigators listened to, as well as computer evidence that proved that she not only typed Ashley’s “suicide” letter but that she made two drafts. The jury ended up deliberating for four days.
“It’s got to be wrong,” she later said. “I didn’t look around; I just sat there and waited for it to be done and left the courtroom.” A month later, she was sentenced to over 51 years in prison.
A Heartbreaking Statement From Ashley
“I hate my mother for ruining so many people’s lives,” Ashley stated. “What gave her the right to play God with people? I never knew what hate was until now. Even though I do hate her, I still love her at the same time.” Even more heartbreaking is that she said, “She was my best friend, too.”
“I would have done anything for her, but she decided she wanted to kill me instead.” Stacey, amazingly, has maintained her innocence: “I did not kill Michael Wallace, I did not kill David Castor, and I did not try to kill my daughter, period. And I will never say that I did, ever.”
An Unexpected Turn of Events
Neither Ashley nor Bree spoke with their mother after she was arrested. In 2011, David’s son sued Stacey for his father’s estate and won. In 2010, an investigation was opened looking into the death of Stacey’s father, which Stacey still wasn’t indicted for.
Michael was later cremated. Stacey was serving time at a maximum-security prison for women in Westchester County. In an unexpected turn of events, Stacey was found dead in her prison cell on June 11, 2016.
How Did Stacey Castor Die?
Stacey’s death was ruled a heart attack; there were no signs of suicide or foul play. She was 48 years old, and she had not seen her daughters since the sentencing. She would have been eligible for parole in 2055 at the age of 87. Stacey’s trial was one of the biggest in Central New York history, and it was when she was dubbed “The Black Widow.”
Following her death, David’s family petitioned to move his body so that Stacey wouldn’t be buried next to him – something her will stipulated. They successfully moved David, and Stacey was buried next to her first husband, Michael, instead.