Betty Neumar

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Betty Neumar
Born November 1931 (1931-11)
Ironton, Ohio
Died June 13, 2011 (aged 79)
Other names Black Widow, Black Widow Granny
Criminal charge solicitation of murder
Criminal penalty pending conviction
Spouse(s) Clarence Malone (1950–1952; d. 1970)
James Flynn (? –1955)
Richard Sills (? –1965)
Thomas Harold Gentry (1968–1986)
John Neumar (1991–2007)
Children 2

Betty Neumar (November 1931 – June 13, 2011) was an American woman charged with arranging the murder of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry, who died in 1986. Al Gentry, brother of Neumar's fourth husband Harold, had urged police to investigate his death for 22 years, prior to her arrest in 2007.[1] Following this arrest, and learning of the fact that Neumar had had five husbands in total who had all died, the case generated much media interest in the United States, who dubbed Neumar the "Black Widow".[1] On June 13, 2011 Betty Neumar died in a Louisiana hospital of an undisclosed illness.[2]


Betty Johnson was born in November 1931 in Ironton, Ohio to Odis and Elizabeth Walden Johnson. She graduated from South Point High School in 1949.[3]

She was married five times:

  1. Clarence Malone (1950–1952) remarried twice after the couple split and died November 27, 1970 in Medina, Ohio;[4]
  2. James Flynn (d. 1955) was shot dead on a pier in New York in 1955;
  3. Richard Sills (d. 1965) died from an allegedly self-inflicted gunshot wound sustained during an argument the couple was having in a closed room in their Big Coppitt Key, Florida home;
  4. Thomas Harold Gentry (1968–1986) was found dead in the couple's Norwood, North Carolina home, shot multiple times;[5] and
  5. John Neumar (1991–2007) was found dead from apparent natural causes.

Mr. Neumar's cause of death was listed as sepsis, ischemic bowel[disambiguation needed], and ileus - symptoms that could point to death by arsenic poisoning. Additional reasons his death were considered suspicious came from Neumar's son, John Neumar, Jr., who told authorities he was not informed of the death until reading about it in a newspaper. When he contacted the widow about the death, he was told that his father had already been cremated despite having previously bought a burial plot.[6]


In May 2008 Neumar was charged with hiring a hit man to kill her husband.[7]

Investigators are taking a closer look at the deaths of her other husbands, three of whom had been shot dead.[8]

Neumar was extradited to Albemarle, North Carolina in June 2008, a month after her arrest. She was charged with the murder of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry, by North Carolina officials after receiving a tip pointing to her involvement.[9] The indictment alleges that Neumar "sought out a former police officer and her neighbor to kill her husband in the months before his death", with the motive allegedly being his $20,000 life insurance policy.[10]

As of (December 23, 2012), none of the deaths of her five dead husbands are actively being re-investigated, as well as the death of her first child, Gary Flynn, whose 1985 death was ruled as suicide.[11]

Neumar was released in October 2008 on a $300,000 bail bond.[12]

Charged with three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, as of May 2009 Neumar remained free on bond while she waited for the trial.[13] Investigators had the ashes of her fifth husband John Neumar seized, and analysed for traces of arsenic. The results were negative.[10] As of November 2009, no trial date had been set.[10]

BBC documentary[edit]

The case of Betty Neumar was the subject of a BBC television documentary, Black Widow Granny?, first aired on BBC One on 3 November 2009.[1] The film featured interviews with friends and relatives, as well as an interview with Neumar, who had otherwise avoided the media.[10]


On June 13, 2011 Betty Neumar died in a Louisiana hospital of an undisclosed illness. Police stated that they would look into her death.

In the "Matriarchs of Murder" episode of Investigation Discovery's anthology Deadly Women, writers claimed that Neumar's death was caused by cancer.[2][14]


  1. ^ a b c "Tangled web of 'Black Widow' case". BBC News. 2009-11-03. Archived from the original on 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  2. ^ a b "'Black Widow' Grandmother Dies Before Facing Charges Related to String of Dead Husbands". Fox News. 2011-06-13. 
  3. ^ Heath, Benita (2008-06-27). "Brother: Neumar didn't murder first husband". The Ironton Tribune. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Weiss, Mitch (2008-06-27). "5-time widow's 1st spouse died long after breakup". Associated Press. [dead link]
  5. ^ Edwards, Johnny (2008-05-24). "Suspect's past holds other dead husbands". Augusta Chronicle. 
  6. ^ Folk, Adam (2008-05-31). "Police search woman's home". Augusta Chronicle. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Folk, Adam (2008-05-29). "Suspect to return to North Carolina". Augusta Chronicle. 
  10. ^ a b c d "BBC documentary profiles accused Augusta woman". Augusta Chronicle. 2009-11-02. Archived from the original on 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Woman with 5 dead spouses leaves jail". MSNBC. 2008-10-16. Archived from the original on 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "US woman Betty Neumar - with trail of dead husbands - dies". The Australian. 2011-06-14.