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'Internet Black Widow' arrested for breaching terms of release

By Arthur Weinreb     Apr 13, 2016 in Crime
Halifax - Melissa Shepard, 80, known as Canada's "Internet Black Widow," was arrested by Halifax police for accessing the Internet, contrary to a condition of her release from custody less than a month ago.
Yesterday, Halifax Regional Police announced Shepard's arrest. The octogenarian has been charged with three counts of breach of recognizance after she was spotted on the Internet at a Halifax library.
According to police, a Community Response Officer saw the woman who he recognized as Shepard access the Internet at the Halifax Central Library around 3:40 p.m. on Apr. 11. Knowing she had been released from prison with a term she not access the Internet, the officer arrested her.
At police headquarters, Sheppard was found to be in possession of a device capable of connecting to the Internet. She now faces three counts of breaching a recognizance.
Shepard is known as the "Internet Black Widow" because of her habit of contacting then marrying men, usually whose spouses have recently died, and who later turn up either extremely ill or dead.
In June 2013, Shepard was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted of administering a noxious subject and failing to provide the necessaries of life to Fred Weekes, her then husband. The marriage was later annulled as Shepard had provided false information in the application for a marriage license.
She was originally charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to the noxious substance charge. In September, 2012, her husband fell ill while the couple was at a Cape Breton bed and breakfast. It was determined she had given him benzodiazepine, a drug used to treat insomnia and anxiety. She and Weekes had only been married a few days and were on their honeymoon.
In 1992, Shepard was convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband at the time, Gordon Stewart. Shepard had run him over with his car. She claimed Stewart had driven her to a secluded spot in the woods and raped her at knife point. She later said she tried to get away when Stewart left the car to urinate, floored the car, but accidentally put the vehicle in reverse and ran over him.
In 2001, Shepard went to Florida and married Robert Friedrich a man she previously contacted. He died shortly afterwards and his family suspected foul play but the body was cremated before any evidence could be obtained. Shepard befriended another man after Friedrich's death, Alex Strategos, who she met on the Internet. Strategos believes she drugged him and benzodiazepine was found in his blood. She was not charged with that as police could not prove she administered the drug to him.
But Sheppard swindled Strategos out of $20,000 and was jailed in Florida for five years .
When her imminent release was announced last month, many people such as Weekes and Strategos and others in the community had concerns she would re-offend. The parole board also concluded she was likely to re-offend. The board found she did not pose a danger to the public in general but to men she would have relationships with. One of the terms of her parole is to advise authorities of such relationships.
Shepard was released on bail on her current charges with the added condition she not enter any library. She is due to appear in court on the breach of recognizance charges on May 24.
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