A woman dubbed by authorities as the “internet black widow” has been released from prison in Canada as of Friday. Even at the tender age of 80, Melissa Ann Shepard is still considered one of the most dangerous women alive. Authorities are urging caution to all men of similar age who may be potential victims.
No, this isn’t the Marvel character played by Scarlett Johansson. Shepard has never been military trained as far as anyone knows, and she might actually seem like a sweet lady to anyone who hasn’t encountered her before. Melissa Ann Shepard has a long history of seducing men and allegedly drugging them, often taking all of the money she can get before getting caught.
What makes the “internet black widow” so dangerous is how she has allegedly manipulated the system and gotten away with almost everything up to and including murder. For a possible fictional parallel, you might consider seeing the James Caan and Kathy Bates film based on the Stephen King novel Misery. She can appear to be an innocent victim until she allegedly gets men to fall for her.
Starting back in 1977, Shepard was convicted of over 30 counts of fraud and sent to prison. In 1992, she had allegedly drugged her second husband Gordon Stewart and ran him over with a car twice. In 1994, Shepard was given her first public outing with the documentary When Women Kill, which was about victims of domestic abuse who attack their partners.
That documentary was the first public revelation of what Shepard allegedly does. Journalist Barb McKenna had discovered the “internet black widow” when they had met at one of many talks Shepard was giving about victims of domestic abuse who fight back. Shepard had been awarded a grant to help others, but allegedly fell back into her older ways in 2002. Her third husband Robert Friedrich had died about a year after meeting her online, and her domestic abuse defense allegedly helped her evade charges.
In 2005, Shepard had pled guilty to seven charges of forgery and theft from Alex Strategos. She had allegedly stolen $20,000 from him, drugged his ice cream, and earned five years in prison. Once again in 2013, she had allegedly done the same thing to her last partner, this time drugging his coffee, and was jailed for a little less than three years.
Due to the fact that she has been finding her victims online, Melissa Ann Shepard has earned the nickname of the “internet black widow,” luring them into a relationship and then allegedly stealing from and drugging them.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 19, 2016
Barb McKenna said of Shepard, “There’s a saying, ‘She could charm the bark off a tree.’ She’s very slick. You would confront her and she could immediately think up a response to it … even though it was an obvious lie.”
Pinellas Park Detective Sergeant Mike Lynch looked into the “internet black widow’s” case and came to a similar conclusion.
“She’s never learned from what she’s done. You equate her to a grandmother. But when you start talking to her, you realize there’s something else behind that veil, behind that curtain she puts up. You can almost equate her to a Venus flytrap. She has something that attracts individuals to her.”
Technically, Shepard allegedly poses as a victim of domestic abuse every time she’s in trouble and uses a certain charm to nearly get away with murder.
Shepard has an arrest record spanning nearly 40 years, and now that she’s back out of prison, she may be looking for her next victim already. If you’re looking for love online, beware of the “internet black widow.” Melissa Ann Shepard may be 80-years-old, but authorities consider her one of the most dangerous women alive.
[Feature image via Ian Waldie/Getty Images]