- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

Murder charges will again be filed against a woman dubbed the "Black Widow," who reportedly enticed lovers to kill two husbands and a boyfriend and used voodoo to keep witnesses from testifying against her, Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said yesterday.
Josephine Gray, 55, enlisted the help of each successive husband and boyfriend to commit murder on her behalf, first in 1974, then in 1990, and most recently in 1996, authorities said in court documents. The second and third victims were suspected of killing the husbands they replaced.
Mr. Gansler has called Mrs. Gray the "Black Widow," in reference to the female black widow spiders who "kill their mates."
Mrs. Gray received thousands of dollars in insurance payments after the deaths, cashing in on policies that often were filed only weeks before the deaths, prosecutors said.
The Upper Marlboro woman was twice charged with murder in Montgomery County, but the cases were dropped after key witnesses retracted their statements or simply disappeared. Prosecutors contend that she used black magic spells and voodoo dolls against her victims and possible witnesses to keep them quiet.
Mr. Gansler said Mrs. Gray will be charged with the 1974 and 1990 deaths of her two husbands. The latest death, of her boyfriend Clarence Goode, occurred in Baltimore in 1996, outside the jurisdiction of Montgomery County authorities.
She has already pleaded not guilty already to federal charges of mail fraud and aiding and abetting in relation to the deaths. In December, U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow denied bail on those charges, saying evidence that Mrs. Gray took part in three killings and tried to intimidate family members made her a potential threat if released before trial.
Mr. Gansler said he decided to press the murder charges after several witnesses agreed to testify when they learned Mrs. Gray would remain in jail pending her federal trial. Changes in Maryland state law also will allow prosecutors to use statements witnesses gave to police in 1974 and 1990 that later were withdrawn.
Mrs. Gray's current live-in boyfriend, Andre Savoy, is also expected to testify against her in the federal and state cases. Mr. Savoy's safety was the primary argument federal prosecutors used to persuade Judge Chasanow not to release Mrs. Gray on bail.
Calls by the Associated Press to Mrs. Gray's attorney yesterday were not immediately returned.
Mrs. Gray's first husband, Norman Stribbling, was fatally shot on March 4, 1974. She collected $16,000 from his life insurance policy.
The Upper Marlboro woman and her then-boyfriend, William Robert Gray, were charged with murder, but those charges were dropped after witnesses failed to testify. The two eventually married.
William Gray was found dead Nov. 9, 1990, shortly after an accidental death policy was issued in his name. Police charged Mrs. Gray and her boyfriend, Clarence Goode, with murder, but the charges again were dropped because key witnesses did not testify.
Goode was killed June 21, 1996, in Baltimore, and Mrs. Gray received $95,000 from his insurance policy.
Prosecutors say Mrs. Gray held power over family members as the matriarch. She also reportedly cast voodoo spells over her husbands before she had them killed, Mr. Gansler said.
In one instance, Mr. Stribbling gouged his face uncontrollably with his fingernails. Voodoo dolls of Mrs. Gray's dead lovers festooned with needles were found by authorities, Mr. Gansler said.
Mrs. Gray will be tried first in federal court, then by state authorities, the prosecutor said.


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