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Appeals court upholds convictions of elderly women who killed homeless men

August 18, 2009 | 12:17 pm

An appeals court has upheld the convictions of two elderly women, who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday for participating in a years-long scheme to murder homeless men.

Helen Golay, 77, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, were convicted last year in the scheme, in which they collected more than $2 million in life insurance.

Prosecutors said the women lured the men off the street, housed and cared for them for two years, and ran them over to collect on life insurance policies the women had bought for the men. The septuagenarian women were each convicted of two counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder for financial gain. They appealed the verdict.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, citing the women's ages.

Probation officers for the women concluded that neither woman has a conscience and they both pose a serious threat to the community.

When they met in the 1970s, Golay and Rutterschmidt found that they had a common interest in "fleecing people," the report states. Both were "obsessed with identity frauds," the report found, and Rutterschmidt even had a rubber signature stamp in the name of her deceased husband. The report suggests she used her dead husband's name to cash checks and vote.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Olga Rutterschmidt, left, and Helen Golay. Credit: Los Angeles Times