Page last updated at 00:18 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 01:18 UK

Elderly US pair murdered homeless

Helen Golay, 77, reacts as she is found guilty of first-degree murder, 16 April, 2008
Golay drugged her victims before driving a car over their bodies

Two elderly women have been convicted over the murder of two homeless men in an attempt to collect $2.8m (1.4m) in life insurance.

Helen Golay, 77, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, befriended the men from around Los Angeles, put them up in flats and took out insurance policies.

The two men were then drugged and killed in staged road accidents.

A jury found both women guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder. They face life in prison without parole.

Kenneth McDavid, 50, was found dead in the Westwood area of Los Angeles in June 2005. Paul Vados, 73, died in Hollywood in 1999.

Golay was found guilty of murdering both men for financial gain, and Rutterschmidt of murdering Mr McDavid.

The Los Angeles jury remained deadlocked on Thursday on murder and conspiracy charges against Rutterschmidt relating to the death of Mr Vados.

They will reconvene to attempt to reach a verdict on Monday on those charges.

Charges pending

The women, who had been friends for 20 years, were arrested in May 2006.

They made a profit on the lives of men who were homeless and destitute
Deputy district attorney Truc Do

On Thursday, the judge had ordered lawyers for the defence and prosecution to restate their arguments after the jury failed to reach verdicts on murder charges against Rutterschmidt.

Deputy district attorney Truc Do told the jury the 75-year-old was no pawn in the killings, but rather "fully capable of heading this scheme on her own".

"Golay is not the mastermind of this scheme," she said. "They are 50-50 partners."

Describing the murders, Ms Do had said earlier: "The victim would always be run over - crushed to death - in an alley with no witnesses... it always looked like it was a hit-and-run accident."

Forgotten people

During the four-week trial, Ms Do said the women had found the men in a homeless shelter at a Hollywood church, provided them with apartments and supported them for two years - while taking out multiple life insurance policies on them - before killing them.

You were greedy. That's the problem
Olga Rutterschmidt

Ms Do said the two-year timescale was important, as it was the length of time it would take to make the insurance policies incontestable.

She described the men as "forgotten" people, with no relatives likely to come forward to contest the insurance policies taken out by Golay and Rutterschmidt.

"They made a profit on the lives of men who were homeless and destitute," she said

Prosecutors played jurors excerpts from a secretly recorded conversation between the two women shortly after their arrest.

Rutterschmidt is heard telling Golay: "You were greedy. That's the problem."

Golay replies: "Be quiet. Don't say anything."

LA women 'killed men for payouts'
19 Mar 08 |  Americas

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