Apr 28, 2009 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
CNY’s infamous antifreeze killer profiled on ABC-TV’s 20/20:
Husband-killer Stacey Castor brought Central New York some unwanted national publicity Friday night April 24, when ABC-TV’s 20/20 profiled her recent case and conviction.
An Onondaga County Court jury of two men and 10 womenpronounced her guilty on Feb. 5 of fatally dosing her second husband, 48-year-old David Castor, with antifreeze in August 2005 at the couple’s home in the town of Clay.
One of the spectators in the downtown courtroom for the verdict was former WTVH-TV anchorman David Muir, now a hotshot reporter for ABC.
Jurors found that Stacey Castor had both the opportunity and motive to poison at least one (and probably two) husbands with antifreeze. She wanted their money. She wanted them out of her life. When she also dosed her daughter two years after David died, it was to pin the murder rap(s) on someone other than herself.
In assessing his interviews with the “black widow,” Muir said, even in the face of overwhelming circumstantial evidence, Castor continued to proclaim her innocence. “She remained defiant ’til the end,” he told a reporter.
She told Muir the guilty verdict was “unbelievable.”
“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that, you know…I had been found guilty. We had been preparing for the fact that that could happen,” Castor told Muir. “From day one we’ve talked about it, and…just hearing it, knowing that that had happened, was kind of unbelievable.”
District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick took issues with Castor’s assertion that she and her lawyers were prepared for a guilty verdict. The DA, whose office has been monitoring all of Castor’s jailhouse communications since her arrest, said she was so confident of an acquittal that she and her boyfriend were planning a post-trial vacation.
Castor appeared in Onondaga County Court a day before the two-hour 20/20 documentary. Transported to Syracuse from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility downstate, Castor didn’t realize why she was due back here until she arrived, said her attorney, Charles Keller.
DA Fitzpatrick is seeking an order from Judge Joseph Fahey authorizing grand jury minutes — normally secret by law — to be given to Cayuga County officials who intend to prosecute Castor for the January 2000 poisoning death of first husband Michael Wallace.
At last Thursday’s hearing Fahey reserved judgment, but said he’ll decide by May 4.
Psychiatrist says Castor exhibited ‘extreme selfishness’
On the 20/20 Web site, forensic psychiatrist Dr. James Knoll explained the reasons why women murder their mates.
Most serial killers are men, said Knoll, the director of forensic psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Men who repeatedly kill typically do so to fulfill sadistic sexual urges.
“In the case of women or so-called ‘black widow’ killers, their primary motive is simply material gain or to simply preserve or better their lifestyle,” Knoll said. In a study of 105 serial killers who are women, he said, a significant majority used poison to kill their victims
The psychiatrist consulted with the prosecution on the Castor case but did not personally examine the defendant nor did he testify.
While stressing that his observations were drawn not from personal analysis of Castor but from his years of experience dealing with murders and suicides, Knoll pointed out that “Classically, psychopaths tend to view others not as human beings with all the respect for the individual that this entails but rather as ‘objects’ to be used for their own gain, and when need be, tossed away like a used Kleenex.”
One of the most important things Knoll did for the DA’s case was analyze the alleged suicide note which the prosecution contended Castor had written in an effort to frame her oldest daughter, Ashley Wallace. Knoll has personally studied more than 200 actual suicide notes, and he said the typed note in the Castor case contained “several atypical features.”
The most glaring anomaly, the psychiatrist said, was that “In the note itself you have a very high frequency repeating the theme of Ms. Castor’s non-responsibility. There’s the theme of ‘It was me, Ashley, who did it not you mommy (Ms. Castor).’ This was repeated approximately 14 times throughout the note That’s an excessive number of times in a one-page note.”
Furthermore, Knoll found “similar, if not identical, idiosyncratic grammar and word usage in both the note and Stacey’s writing samples.”
While many observers were shocked that a mother would blame her own daughter for two murders, Knoll said such blame games are not uncommon.
He’s aware of “at least several dozen” cases in which a killer parent pointed a finger at their child.
The “simple answer” to the question of why Castor claimed Ashley had committed the crimes, Knoll said, were “extreme selfishness and preservation of one’s own needs and making one’s own needs more important than even one’s own child In the mind of Stacey Castor, her continued freedom and, most importantly, her desire to evade detection and avoid conviction were more important to her than her own daughter’s life. In other words, she was simply willing to kill her daughter to avoid responsibility for her crimes.
“Now, still assuming all this is true for the purposes of discussion, what does this require in the mind of Ms. Castor? It requires, at the very least, the psychopathic traits of lack of remorse or sense of guilt, ability to be deceitful and lie with ease, the possession of a callous lack of empathy, irresponsibility and a failure to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, and perhaps a very shallow experience of emotional connectedness to significant others in relationships.”
Or, as Fitzpatrick put it, “She’s a cold customer.”