Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood


Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood

Gwen Graham & Katherine Wood

Mugshots of Gwen Graham (top) and Cathy Wood (bottom)
Background information
Also known as: The Lethal Lovers
Born: August 6, 1963 (1963-08-06) (age 46) (Graham)
1962 (age 46–47) (Wood)
Killings
Number of victims: 5
Span of killings: January 1987–February 1987
Country: United States
State(s): Michigan
Date apprehended: December 1989

Gwendolyn Graham (born August 6, 1963) and Cathy Wood (born 1962) are American serial killers who killed five elderly women in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the 1980s. They committed their crimes in the Alpine Manor nursing home, where they both worked as nurse’s aides.

Contents

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Crimes

Graham and Wood became lovers apparently some time in September 1986. In January 1987, one of the nursing home’s patients died, seemingly of natural causes and autopsies were not performed. Over the next few months, five more Alpine Manor patients died. Many of the victims, whose ages ranged between 65 to 97, were incapacitated and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. They killed residents of a nursing home because it created a bond between them. They chose victims whose initials collectively spelled M-U-R-D-E-R. Their first victim was exhumed on November 30, 1988 from a grave almost a year after her burial. They took the coffin to Kent County Morgue. She was 60 years old. She had struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for 14 years. The next victim was 97 years old. No autopsy followed because it was believed that she died of natural causes. The murder investigation began in 1988 and was started because of a statement made by Catherine Wood’s ex-husband. She told him the story of the murders (August 1987). Her ex-husband told the police in October 1988 which led to questioning.

The couple openly bragged about smothering six victims, but they were not initially believed. Wood’s ex-husband reported her stories to the police, and some of the bodies of the people they claimed to have smothered were exhumed. There was enough evidence to warrant the arrest of Wood and Graham. In December 1989, Graham was arrested in her hometown of Tyler, Texas; however, she maintained their claims were made as a joke to scare their co-workers.

During the trial, Wood plea-bargained her way to a reduced sentence, claiming that it was Graham who planned and carried out the killings while she served as a lookout or distracted supervisors. On November 3, 1989, Graham (at 26 years old) was guilty of five counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder and the court gave her five life sentences. She resides in the Robert Scott Correctional Facility (for female offenders). Wood (at 27 years old) was charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. She will be able to be set free on parole one day. Alpine Manor does not exist anymore but several of the families sued the owners for hiring “dangerous and unbalanced employees.”

Media

The case was the basis of the 1992 true crime novel Forever and Five Days by Lowell Cauffiel.

Graham and Wood were featured in two episodes of the TV series The Serial Killers in which they were interviewed about their relationship and crimes.

References

Buhk, T.T. and Cohle, S.D. (2008). Skeletons in the closet. New York: Prometheus Books.

  • Cauffiel, Lowell. Forever And Five Days: The Chilling True Story of Love, Betrayal and Serial Murder in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pinacle, 1997. ISBN 0-7860-0469-X
  • “Woman Sentenced In Patients’ Deaths” (Nov 3, 1989). Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

External links

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