Ada was a ninety-year-old grandmother, the sweetest person you can think of. Not only was she a lovely old lady but a very healthy one at that. Ada lived in York, Pennsylvania. Now you would expect that someone like Ada would die peacefully in her sleep, but you are wrong. She died at the hands of her flesh and blood.
Ada’s daughter Norma aged 40 at the time thought that her mother is a burden for the family. Now I know that I sometimes older people become difficult especially if they have health problems, but Ada was a loving person. What made the difference was that Ada had a lot of money in the bank. Norma would at times remark to her daughter Shelby that she wished her mother would die so that they can start to enjoy her money. That is pretty cold. There is no love lost between mother and daughter, or that is how it seems from the daughter’s side.
There was trouble on the Horizon, and its name was Shelby
Ada’s Granddaughter Shelby used to work in a retirement home for seven years. Shelby lost that job in 2007 for abusing the senior women, and the improper disposal of medicine. Shelby borrowed money from Ada when she had financial difficulties. The repayments put her in another overdraft, and she was livid with Ada. Shelby thought she had a fool proof plan. She stole Ada’s check book and forged checks to cover the money she owed to Ada.
Maybe Shelby thought Ada would not see that her bank account is suddenly missing $12,000. According to Shelby her mother Norma knew about the forged checks and said that they should give Ada a nudge into the hereafter before she found out about it.
At this stage, Shelby works in the emergency room in York hospital, and she has access to all the medicine. They planned to put a substantial amount of morphine into Ada’s favorite meal.
The day Ada Adams is poisoned – With Chilli
In May 2008, Shelby, Norma, and Ada visited the fast food chain Wendys. Ada’s favorite meal was a bowl of chilli. She said that they made the beef and beans extra tasty. During the meal, Norma took Ada to use the facilities while Shelby put a large dose of morphine in Ada’s chilies. Ada ate almost all of her chilies and remarked it was a good meal.
When David, Ada’s son came to visit her the next morning, he was shocked to see his mother. She was weak, and she vomited. He saw the take out from the previous evening, and he immediately thought that she had food poisoning. He wanted to take her to the hospital, but she refused. David noticed that there were bank statements on the dining room table and he remembers he had a telephone conversation with his mother about the bank. At that stage, he had no other information and left the house.
Moments after David visited his mother, Shelby came to the house. She thought that the morphine would have kicked in by now and her grandmother would be dead. As it turns out, Ada suffered a painful and slow death, and after a few hours, she succumbed to the medication. The worst is that Shelby sat by her side and waited for her to die.
Shelby then phoned the police, and they arrived and did not suspect foul play at that point. There was no break in or other crime, reported and it is not unusual for senior women to die in their sleep.
How did they catch Shelby?
David returned to the house that evening to say his good byes to his mother. He noticed that the bank statements and the chilli carton had disappeared. It would have been a perfect crime but, there was one snag. Two days before her death Ada was at her local doctor who declared her in good health, the doctor even remarked that she would out live him. Because of this tidbit of information, the coroner ran a test and found that Ada has died of opiate toxicity. The forensic analysis shows that there were traces of morphine in her chilli.
It took three years for Shelby to be sentenced. There were a few things that slowed the investigation. The York police station had a change in police investigators, and Norma died two years after Ada. The investigators tracked the morphine to the hospital that Shelby worked at. She signed for the morphine. When the news broke that Shelby stole Ada’s money some family members remarked that Ada would not have gone to the police as she loves her family too much.
In February 2012, Shelby was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. She entered a guilty plea to third-degree murder and forgery in exchange for 20 to 25 years in prison. For four years she protested her innocence, blaming her dead mother. She said that her mother was controlling and that you can never say no to Norma. Shelby stated that it was Norma’s idea to take Ada to Wendy’s and to lace the chilli. It is easy to blame the dead women as she cannot defend herself.
In court, Judge Craig Trebilcock said that this case left him without words and sad. He stated that he had never before come across such a case and that he wished he would never get one again. David added that his mother a Christian woman would have forgiven Shelby for what she did.
What a sad ending just because someone is old does not give anyone the right to end a life just because we think they have lived long enough.
True Crime Magazine – Detective Monthly May 2016