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France’s “Black Widow:” A Real-Life Horror Story

Manuela Gonzalez, now known as the “Black Widow of Isère,” is in court now. She is on trial for murder, accused of drugging her husband and burning him alive in his car.

This is not the first time she’s lost a husband. Two of her other lovers died in strange circumstances while two other partners barely made it out of their relationships with her alive.

What was left of the Black Widow’s husband, Daniel Cano, 58, was found in his burned car near the house they both lived in Villard-Bonnot in the Isère region of the Alps.

Police believe the fire was not a coincidence, and that Cano had ingested a large amount of sleeping pills, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

In the Black Widow’s trial, the motive that the prosecution listed for Gonzalez was money. Gambling creates debt, and Gonzalez was deep in it. She had mortgaged their house without even telling her husband in 2008.

Interestingly enough, Cano’s life insurance policy covered the cost of the mortgage.

And now for the previous husbands.

Four of the Black Widow’s previous partners were poisoned in strange circumstances. Two of them died.

In 1983, one partner took too many anti-depressants. So many that he was in a coma for three months. When he woke up, he divorced Gonzalez.

In 1984, there was a jeweler the Black Widow was involved with. He drank tea laced with morphine because Gonzalez wanted him to write her a check for almost $14,000 US dollars (10,000 euros). She got a two year prison sentence for that one. The jeweler did not die, but was hospitalized.

In 1989, a partner of the Black Widow died in his car from exhaust fumes. A closed garage and a running car do not mix. His death was ruled a suicide then.

In 1991, there was a fire in the apartment that Gonzalez and her lover lived in. She was accused of starting the fire but she was acquitted three years later.

A month before Cano’s death, a fire broke out in his room while the Black Widow was “cooking.” She said a dog had knocked over a candle, causing the fire.

Cano’s son has said of Gonzalez: “She is someone with two faces.”

Ronald Gallo, the Widow’s lawyer, paints a different picture of her he accused the French press of being unfair by saying that the press “doesn’t give a damn about the truth and is only interested in the character they have created.”

The Black Widow is facing a life sentence if she is convicted. She has pled innocent, saying this: “I continue to say that I am innocent of what I have been accused and that will be shown in court.”

The verdict will be in on Friday.