The grannies from hell!

How could homeless men resist their kindness...?

Published by: Amy Thompson
Published on: 20th July 2010

One minute you’re walking down the street minding your own business, and the next, a guy in tattered clothes asks you for some change.
Do you help or not?
Some of us carry on walking, while others spare a few of quid.
But then there are those who do more than anyone would expect. Helen Golay was one of those.
Single, and in her seventies, the estate agent clearly didn’t take for granted that she was lucky to have money, a nice home in Los Angeles, USA, good friends…
She even kept up her perfectly polished appearance with regular manicures, hair appointments and plastic surgery.
And seeing Kenneth McDavid, 50, without any of those luxuries broke her heart. ‘Let’s get you some food,’ she smiled.
Her generosity didn’t stop with a meal at Burger King. She, and her best friend Olga Rutterschmidt, even put a roof over Kenneth’s head.
For two years, they splashed out £590 a month on his rent, paid his electricity bills, and bought him food.
Tragically, on June 22, 2005, Kenneth was found in an alley.
He’d been hit by a car and died from his injuries – a flattened chest, three broken ribs and a fractured spine. Poor guy hadn’t stood a chance.
Devastated, Helen and Olga went to claim his remains. ‘He doesn’t have any family,’ Helen explained miserably. After having his body cremated, Helen and Olga went through the next step after someone close dies – dealing with financial matters, like life insurance.
However, this wasn’t the first time they had taken a homeless guy in, fed and clothed him… and got him to sign a life insurance policy, naming them as the  beneficiaries.
Six years earlier, poor Helen had been through exactly the same situation. She’d met Paul Vados, 73, at a homeless shelter, offered him a place to live rent-free. All she’d asked in return was his signature on a piece of paper.
He’d gratefully signed his life away, completely unaware that in two years, when the insurance company couldn’t easily contest an unrelated woman claiming his life insurance, he’d been killed – in a tragic hit-and-run accident.
When two detectives looked into the death of Kenneth McDavid, they couldn’t help noticing the similarities.
‘I had a case just like that six years ago,’ an officer said, watching his colleague go over Kenneth’s file.
Digging out the Vados file they discovered the two women who’d claimed on his life insurance had also claimed on Kenneth’s, and they had taken out dozens of life policies on the two men.
Were these two old women really capable of murder…?
The detectives followed Helen and Olga, and soon saw Olga pull her Honda Civic up beside a homeless man.
Within minutes, she’d taken him to a nearby bank – but he’d refused to sign a life insurance policy.
Olga then went to an internet café and tried to take out a credit card in someone else’s name.
Police arrested Helen and Olga for mail fraud in connection with the life insurance policies.
Searching their homes while the women waited in a police cell, they found eight rubber stamps bearing the signatures of various men, including Kenneth McDavid.
Once the men had signed one insurance policy, Helen and Olga had the stamps made and used them to sign more policies.
After the two men died, they had claimed more than £3million – a huge return on the £43,000 it had cost to keep them for two years.
Digging deeper, police discovered that Helen’s old car, a Mercury Sable, had been impounded after receiving numerous parking tickets. Unclaimed, it had later been resold.
It was traced and tests showed it had suffered damage to the front at one time. Blood was also found under the car.
The DNA matched Kenneth’s.
In March 2007, Helen and Olga underwent a preliminary hearing. Gone were their bleached blonde hairdos and manicured nails. After two years in prison, without bail, they looked every day of their 70-odd years.
District attorney Shellie Samuels claimed they had housed, fed and clothed the homeless men for two years before killing them to claim on their life insurance policies.
Paul had been covered by more than 12 policies, and Kenneth by a whopping 23 policies.
The women’s defence lawyers claimed all the evidence was circumstantial. There were no eye witnesses, no physical proof that Helen and Olga had murdered the men who had made them rich.
That was until the jury was shown a video tape of Helen, 75, and Olga, 73, talking in their prison cell – it was damning.
‘It’s your fault. You did all these insurance extras,’ Olga told Helen in what she thought was a private conversation.
‘You can’t do that. You got greedy. You’re going to jail, honey. They’re going to lock you up.’
In April 2008, they were both found guilty of conspiracy to murder for financial gain, and sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison without parole.
At least you’ll never face the decision of what to do if you saw them begging in the street…