Murdering her two husbands and possibly her father, mother of two Stacey Castor, betrayed the sacred bond between mother and child. In an attempted murder gone wrong, she tried to kill and frame her daughter for her crimes.
On July 24, 1967, Stacey was born in Clay County, New York, to Jerry Daniels and Judie Eaton. As a teenager, Stacey was a functioning introvert who struggled to let people in but could socialize in social gatherings. As a 17-year-old, she met 23-year-old Michael Wallace, her complete opposite personality-wise. Where Stacey was withdrawn, Michael was lively, and three years later, they tied the knot.
In 1988, the newlyweds welcomed their first child, Ashley, and so began the family’s early troubles. Stacey was a stay-at-home mom and did not work. With their meager source of income, the new baby put the couple in a financial strain.
Then in 1991, Bree came along, their second daughter, and everything changed. Stacey began to accuse her husband Michael of playing favoritism and to get back at him; she became “best friends” with the oldest daughter, Ashley. Whether they were aware or not, this strained their relationship; moreover, the couple grew apart. It did not take long for rumors of affairs to emerge. For the rift, Stacey blamed Michael’s use of drugs and alcohol, an unconfirmed allegation. However, their working hours arrangement could have been the cause. She started working as an ambulance driver during the day, whereas Michael Wallace worked during the nights as a mechanic. Despite both being in employment, their financial woes were far from over.
According to reports, Michael Wallace was considering divorcing his wife when he fell sick in the winter of 1999, suspecting that he may have an ear problem. Michael’s health issues were noticed by his family when his sister Rosemary Corbett noticed her brother’s worsening condition at a family Christmas dinner. She said, “Mike was coughing a lot” and was “swollen and puffy.” A few weeks later, on January 11, 2000, he was found at the family home unresponsive on a sofa. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Ashley, who was 11 years old at the time, also vividly remembers her father’s last moments. She said, “he was laying on the couch, making what I thought were funny faces. And all of a sudden, he just sticks his arm up in the air and puts his arm on his side, and then his arm just fell down.” This was Ashley’s last memory of her father. At the time of his death, Michael Wallace was 38 years old.
Perhaps investigators missed their chance to resolve the question of why Michael Wallace, an otherwise healthy man, died so suddenly after only having complained of an ear infection. Indeed, this is not the sort of sickness that would put a man in an early grave, and precisely so, investigators did not ask themselves the old Latin phrase “Cui bono,” loosely translated as “who benefits” from the crime?
The doctors, too, failed Michael Wallace. They quickly concluded that Michael died of a heart attack despite his sister’s skepticism, where she noticed that before his death, Michael’s skin from head to chest had turned to deep dark purple. When she requested an autopsy, Stacey shut her down. After all, who could argue with the doctors’ medical expertise, and why would a grieving widow give air to “skepticisms”? Stacey’s refusal for an autopsy made sense, and Rosemary Corbett gave up on her curiosity. Moreover, Stacey was awarded all of Michael’s assets, including a $55,000 life insurance payout.
Despite the financial gain from the inheritance, she also made her first mistake. She buried Michael instead of cremating him, a miscalculation that will come to haunt her. Investigators believe that the motive of the murder was monetary gain. Once again, another opportunity presented itself to Stacey. However, the difference is that having gotten away with the murder of her husband, she was now confident.
Her next suspected victim
On February 26, 2002, Jerry Daniel, Stacey’s father, was hospitalized for what seemed to be a mild lung ailment and was responding well to treatment. Daniel was scheduled to be released; however, he suddenly died after a visit from his daughter Stacey. According to reports, Michael Wallace’s relatives informed the investigators of their suspicions after Stacey gave her father a drink, alluding that the drink was poisoned. After that, as the executor of his estate, she cremated him. Even though an autopsy carried on Daniel’s body led the doctors to conclude that the cause of death was natural. Suspicion of Stacey’s involvement could not be ruled out. It was a case of too little too late; the cremation took away the possibility of a do-over autopsy after Stacey’s crimes became known to authorities.
With the experience of her husband’s murder and the possible killing of her father, Stacey’s journey from an ambulance driver to a ruthless killer was far from over. The beautiful redhead and mother of two was once again ready to find love, if not for another financial opportunity. It did not take long as Stacey met an older divorcee, David Castor, an entrepreneur she married on August 16, 2003. The couple seemed happy on the surface, but at home, the relationship was rocky.
Stacey had a problem with the close bond David shared with his son and ex-wife. The other issue was the relationship between David and his stepdaughters. According to Ashley, Stacey’s eldest, David was a bad father who did not want anything to do with them. In an interview, she said, “At first, we didn’t really like him. He said he didn’t want to be our father, and he didn’t want any part of being a father. He already had his kids and didn’t want more. There was tension, but half of the time it was brought on by him”. Stacey also confirmed her daughter’s statement in the same interview stating that “David was difficult with the kids, he expected them to do everything that he said without question and being my children, they questioned everything but David and I, we had a very good relationship.”
A black widow strikes again
The marriage reached a breaking point, but the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment for the Castors was when David planned a surprise holiday getaway to celebrate their second anniversary. By then, the oldest daughter Ashley was working, which would have meant the youngest, Bree, would be left behind. According to Stacey, this led the couple to have a 7-hour long argument in the garage, after which David took a bottle of alcohol and locked himself in their bedroom. However, behind the locked bedroom door, David was dying after already being weakened by Stacey’s gradual doses of poisoning. She was now force-feeding the unconscious David with antifreeze. She was determined to finish him off.
The next day she called the police from their place of business, explaining that she was worried about her husband, whom she last saw after he had locked her out of the bedroom. When the police broke down the door, they found David dead in what seemed to be suicide, but the story did not add up to investigators’ trained eye. The first dead giveaway was a turkey baster that the police found discarded in the couple’s kitchen bin, which detectives found suspicious. The police also found on the nightstand next to the bed where the deceased lay two half-full cups, one containing antifreeze and the other cranberry juice.
The fingerprints on the cup containing the antifreeze were none other than Stacey’s. Even the location of the fingerprints on the cup was profound; they were found at the bottom of the cup, suggesting that she could have held the cup to David’s mouth. In another twist to the plot, when the turkey baster was examined, David’s DNA was found as well as antifreeze. Besides the evidence, the family and friends of David rejected the suicide claim. This new development of the investigation did not make sense. He could not have poisoned himself and then throw away the turkey baster in the kitchen bin.
The police found that David Castor’s will had been changed, leaving nothing to his son as he left everything to Stacey and her children. Unbeknown to Stacey, on her heels was a veteran detective Dominick Spinelli who began a two-year-long investigation on her. The detective found that the death of Stacey’s ex-husband Michael Wallace and recently deceased husband David Castor had hallmark similarities. Both men were a picture of health. However, the investigators had an impasse; some wanted to conclude David’s death as a suicide and move on, while others wanted to continue with their inquiries. The only way to move forward was to go back and investigate Michael Wallace’s death, the first husband who was now buried next to the second husband, David Castor.
Detectives exhumed the body of Michael Wallace and ordered an autopsy. What they found did not surprise them the least; he, too, was poisoned with antifreeze. Investigators found their murder weapon and confirmed their murderer, Stacey Castor.
When the police interviewed their suspect, they were shocked. Detective Spinelli showing her a picture of the nightstand, asked her, “Stacey, which bottle did you pour the cranberry juice” to which she replied, “Well, when I poured the antifree…” then she stopped herself, but it was too late. Her complaints of being set up fell on deaf ears.
A frightened Ashley Wallace called her mother after investigators came to her school and disclosed her father’s actual cause of death. When a frantic Ashley called her mother, Stacey sympathized. Then, in an unprecedented move, Stacey invited Ashley for drinks at home. Considering the awful week they have had, Ashley agreed. It was a painful mistake she would come to regret.
Stacey mixed a drink for her daughter at home, and when an unsuspecting Ashley drank, she passed out. The next day, her mother promised that they would get drunk after school. Again, Stacey mixed the drinks, and Ashley once again drank. Stacey had set the stage, and her plan was in motion. The following day, Bree found her sister Ashley unresponsive and barely breathing. Bree informed her mother, who made a 911 call. Meanwhile, Bree found a suicide note in Ashley’s room confessing to the murders of both her father and stepfather. Back at the hospital, doctors said she was 15 minutes away from dying.
Sentencing and aftermath
When Ashley woke up at the hospital and detectives asked her about her suicide and the note, she was dumbfounded. She told detectives, “I did not try to kill myself, nor did I leave a suicide note.” The police immediately arrested Stacey Castor at the hospital for the attempted murder of her daughter and the murder of her husband, David Castor. The only one who believed she was innocent was her mother, Judie Eaton. She could not bring herself to believe that her daughter murdered the husbands she loved and tried to end the life of her own daughter.
On February 5, 2009, Stacey Castor was convicted for Ashley’s attempted murder and the second-degree murder of David Castor. A month later, she was sentenced to 51 years in prison. She never saw her daughters again while maintaining her innocence. Seven years and four months into her sentencing, the 48-year-old black widow Stacey Castor was found dead in her cell on the morning of June 11, 2016. The authorities ruled out suicide and foul play, Stacey died of a heart attack.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -
Thanks for reading