Familiarity breeds contempt

Diane Staudte, 51, thought her family were lazy: so she decided to cure their indolence. Permanently. 

She didn’t like the fact that her husband Mark was unemployed; she considered her son Shaun, 26, was lazy; and she thought her daughter Sarah, 27 wasn’t getting a job quick enough to pay off her student debts. So they had to go.

Reportedly a quiet woman, who regularly attended church where she lived in Springfield, Missouri, Staudte fed anti-freeze to her husband and two of her children with the assistance of her daughter, Rachel, 25.

Rachel has been sentenced to two life terms plus 20 years, after being found guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault. Diane pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

Diane entered an ‘Alford’ plea, a weird technicality in the US judicial system, whereby you can plead guilty but maintain innocence, thus avoiding the death penalty. Diane claimed she had post-traumatic stress disorder and couldn’t remember all the details of what she’d done.

They used anti-freeze because it’s relatively flavourless and can therefore be slipped into into sugary drinks without detection. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which fatally slows down the central nervous system. It’s uncommon for it to be tested for during an autopsy, and the effects can mimic other health problems.

Diane and Rachel spiked Mark’s fizzy drink, which he consumed without suspicion; medics decided that Mark’s death had been a result of natural causes so there was no need for an autopsy. He was cremated.

Next up was Shaun. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was natural causes again.

They waited nine months before dealing with Sarah, who as a result of her dose of antifreeze was hospitalised in intensive care. This time police received an anonymous tip-off, asking them to take a closer look into the Staudte family. Sarah was however left with serious brain injuries.


Picture source: Flickr