Several conditions placed on ‘Internet Black Widow’ ahead of release
Melissa Ann Shepard made an appearance on Tuesday at Dartmouth Provincial court.
She is set to be released on Friday after serving a three-year sentence for the administering a noxious substance and failing to provide the necessities of life to her fourth husband who fell ill while on their honeymoon.
The Crown sees her as a risk to the public, especially elderly men, and have placed a total of 22 conditions on her release.
She hasn’t been designated a dangerous offender.
“She will be banned from using the internet, she will be subject to a curfew, she has to report all relationships to the police and she can’t access drugs or alcohol,” said James Giacomantonio, Crown attorney.
Shepard must report to police to tell them where she will be living within 24 hours of her release on Friday.
If she wants to move, she must notify the authorities and any vehicle she uses must be reported to police as well.
WATCH: Melissa Ann Shepard is set to be released from jail later this week, after serving time for poisoning her latest, newlywed husband four years ago. As Global’s Natasha Pace reports, authorities want to keep a close eye on Shepard when she’s free.
Shepard is not allowed to have any access to the internet or possess any illegal non-prescription drugs.
She is also not to have a romantic relationship with anyone until the person has been identified to police.
“We try to be fair with our discretion. We believe someone like Ms Shepard is a good candidate for this sort of order,” said Giacomantonio.
Storied criminal history
Shepard has a long criminal history, having been convicted three times in the past of causing physical and psychological harm to her victims.
She has been named the Internet Black Widow due to the fact that she finds her potential victims online.
One of her victims, Alex Strategos told Global News by phone on Tuesday that he isn’t happy to see Shepard being released.
Shepard was sentenced to five years in prison for elder abuse in 2005 after she took advantage of Strategos, who had been in need of care.
“She’s very nice but you don’t know what goes on in her head,” Strategos said by phone from Florida. “She would give me some ice cream and she had some kind of pill in it. I didn’t know it had anything in it”
His family later found that Shepard had taken thousands of dollars from the man’s bank account. Police found a case full of pills in Strategos’ home, where Shepard had been living.
Despite a criminal history dating back to the 1970’s, Shepard hasn’t been declared a dangerous offender. The crown says that could only possibly happen if she is convicted again.
Right now, imposing conditions is the best they can do.
“It’s just important for us to keep our eye on high risk offenders like Ms Shepard so that the public is protected. We believe that she poses a risk going forward to the particular group of elderly males that she has preyed upon in the past,” said Giacomantonio.
Shepard plans to move to Halifax following her release from jail. At this point, it’s expected she will fight the conditions on a court appearance next month.
History of targeting husbands
In 2012, she was charged with attempted murder after her husband was administered a a noxious substance – prescription drugs – while the couple were on their honeymoon in Cape Breton.
In the 1990s, Shepard was convicted of manslaughter after running over her second husband on a deserted road and failing to report the incident until hours after.
Shepard’s third husband died of an apparent pre-existing medical condition and his remains were cremated before an autopsy or toxicology tests could be done.
Before he died, her husband experienced slurred speech and had to be hospitalized, symptoms similar to Shepard’s fourth husband and most recent victim.
Family members believe he was poisoned.
* With files from Natasha Pace
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