'Modern Day Bluebeard' Ordered Tried in Third Wife's Poisoning
Mar. 06, 1996
DETROIT (AP) _ Women in Lowell Amos' life keep dying, and the similarities in the deaths have some people calling the handsome, bespectacled businessman a modern-day Bluebeard.
His three wives and mother all died while living with him. In all four cases, Amos was the last person to see them alive, delayed reporting the deaths and cleaned up the scene before police arrived, authorities said.
``Is Mr. Amos unlucky in love?'' District Judge Deborah Lewis Langston asked. ``I have my own opinion.''
Langston found enough evidence Tuesday to order Amos to stand trial in the cocaine death of his third wife, 37-year-old Roberta.
The judge then looked down at the three-time widower, with his slicked hair and dark suit, and told him, ``May God have mercy on your soul.''
Roberta Amos died Dec. 10, 1994, following a Christmas party for her husband's employment agency at a Detroit hotel.
Amos, 52, told police his wife died of an accidental cocaine overdose, but a medical examiner said he found 15 times the amount of the drug present in a typical overdose death.
Amos was arrested in November in Las Vegas after an 11-month investigation.
Langston called him a ``modern-day Bluebeard'' _ a folk character who married and murdered one wife after another _ and ordered him held without bond. If convicted of first-degree murder, Amos faces life imprisonment without parole.
``This is what we have been praying for,'' said Roberta Amos' mother, Marie Wagner.
Defense lawyer Cornelius Pitts had argued there was no proof that Roberta Amos was killed and that his client was at most guilty of involuntary manslaughter for supplying the drug.
``As horrible, as sordid, as unfortunate as this particular case is,'' Pitts said, ``it is not murder.''
But prosecutors attempted to show a pattern by introducing testimony about the deaths of Amos' first two wives and his mother.
It began in 1979, with the death of his first wife, Saundra Heard Amos, in Anderson, Ind. Amos told police she fell and hit her head in the bathroom. A neighbor said he later found Amos burning his wife's clothes.
An autopsy found the sleeping aid Dalmane and alcohol in her blood but did not determine a cause of death. She was 36.
In 1988, Amos' mother, Mary Toles, died a few weeks after her son moved into her Anderson home. No autopsy was performed because of her age, 77.
The next year, Amos' second wife, Carolyn, 46, died at the home she shared with him near Middletown, Ind.
Amos told police he thought she was electrocuted with a hair dryer while standing at a bathroom sink. An autopsy found traces of Valium and alcohol in her blood and no sign of electrocution. The cause of death was undetermined.
Authorities say Amos received more than $1 million in inheritance and insurance from the Indiana deaths.
And while Pitts acknowledged money could have been the motive in the other deaths, he said there was no money involved in the latest case.
Roberta Amos' mother testified that she and her husband were immediately suspicious when Amos called them and told them of his wife's death.
Confronting him several days later, she said Amos admitted buying the cocaine and apologized for what he still claimed was an accident.
``We couldn't buy into the coincidence, all the others,'' she said.