Woman known as "black widow" dies

Woman known as

Woman known as "black widow" dies

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by BETH SHAYNE / NewsChannel 36

WCNC.com

Posted on June 13, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 13 at 11:24 PM

FORT POLK, LOUISIANA -- Betty Neumar, the grandmother accused of arranging the murder of her fourth husband in Stanly County, North Carolina, has died, according to her attorney.

Charles Parnell told NewsChannel 36 that he got word from Neumar's daughter, who she lived with in Louisiana while awaiting trail. Neumar had been sick with cancer.

Neumar, 79, of Augusta, Ga., was dubbed the "black widow" after her 2008 arrest on three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. They say she tried three times to hire someone to kill Harold Gentry in the six weeks before his bullet-riddled body was found in his home in July 1986.

Gentry, a retired soldier who lived in Norwood, N.C., was Neumar's fourth husband. His family said Neumar collected the insurance money and disappeared.

Neumar, who was arrested in Stanly County, was released in 2009 after posting a $300,000 bond and was living in Augusta.

Her arrest in the Gentry case prompted investigators in other states to look into the deaths of her five husbands. All are dead, and three died of gunshot wounds. Those other investigations did not produce charges.

 "I think I've been cheated out of justice," Harold Gentry's brother, Al,  said  when asked about Neumar's death.

Kathy Neumar Scarlett expressed the same sentiment.  Scarlett is the daughter of John Neumar, Betty Neumar's fifth and final husband.  He died while the couple lived near Augusta, Georgia.

 

Scarlett says Betty Neumar manipulated her father, pitting him against his children.  "He was always a family  man, then there was virtually nothing," she said.  "She just had an eerie feeling," said Scarlett.

 

Scarlett says she too feels cheated, but is skeptical about the news of Neumar's death.

"It kind of wouldn't surprise me if she faked the whole thing and left the country," she said.  "She got away with five dead husbands."

 

OTHER CASES

 

Neumar was working as a beautician in Jacksonville, Fla., in the mid-1960s when she met Richard Sills, who was serving in the Navy.

On April 18, 1967, police found his body in the bedroom of the couple's mobile home in Big Coppitt Key, Fla. Neumar told police they were alone and arguing, when he pulled out a gun and shot himself.

After Neumar was charged in North Carolina, the Monroe County Sheriff's Department in Florida took another look at the death.

They uncovered Navy medical examiner documents revealing that Richard Sills may have been shot twice -- not once, as Neumar told police. One bullet from the .22-caliber pistol pierced his heart, while a second may have sliced his liver.

The Navy medical examiner at the time said that without an autopsy, he would be unable to determine if Richard Sills was shot once or twice. No autopsy was performed when he died. And without knowing the number of gunshot wounds, there's no way to know if his death was a suicide or homicide.

County investigators planned in 2009 to exhume Richard Sills' body from an Ocala, Fla., cemetery for an autopsy, but then determined that a statute of limitations applied to the case, the records said. Investigators have said Florida law sets a time limit on prosecution of some categories of homicide, including involuntary manslaughter, but not on premeditated -- or first-degree -- murder.

Michael Sills then turned to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) cold case squad. The unit is studying the evidence and could decide to investigate.

Georgia authorities two years ago closed their re-examination of the death of Neumar's fifth husband, John Neumar, saying they have no evidence she was involved. His family has criticized the conclusion.

Authorities in Ohio have also closed their investigation of the 1970 shooting death of Neumar's first husband, Clarence Malone.

Details about her second husband, James A. Flynn, are sketchy. She told investigators he "died on a pier" somewhere in New York in the mid-1950s.

The Associated Press contributed.

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