Pushing Up Lilies

Deadly Elixir: Antifreeze Murders

Episode Summary

Welcome to Pushing Up Lilies. I'm Julie Mattson, your host and forensic death investigator. In this episode, we explore the sinister world of murders where antifreeze is used as a deadly poison. Join me as we uncover chilling cases where individuals have been fatally poisoned by this seemingly innocuous substance. We'll delve into the motives behind these crimes, the methods used to administer antifreeze, and the challenges faced by investigators in solving these perplexing cases. * Listener discretion is advised.

Episode Notes


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Episode Transcription

0:06 Welcome to Pushing Up Lilies.

0:08 I'm your host, Julie Mattson.

0:10 Pushing Up Lilies is a weekly True Crime podcast with spine tingling, unusual and terrifyingly true stories from my perspective as a forensic death investigator and a sexual assault nurse examiner.

0:24 Do I have some stories for you?

0:26 Are you ready?

0:30 Hey, guys, I hope everybody's having an amazing week.

0:34 It's been a crazy weather week again here in Texas and the tornadoes were crazy in Oklahoma last week.

0:42 I don't know about this weather.

0:44 My allergies are still crazy though, but Friday, I'm gearing up for my graduation as many of, you know, I am getting my bachelor’s after working on it since 09.

0:58 Kind of funny.

0:59 I never really needed it, and I still don't need it.

1:02 You know, as much as they told us that we had to have our bachelor’s to get a job in management when I was in school.

1:10 That really wasn't true.

1:12 I think that advancing many times is based on your experience and that's kind of the way it worked for me.

1:19 I've been a nurse manager and a unit director and have had a lot of management jobs with just my associate degree.

1:27 I don't want any nurses out there to think that you have to have it.

1:32 I know that a lot of hospitals were pressuring their associate degree nurses to get their bachelor’s so they could obtain Magnet Status.

1:41 But I was told the other day that a lot of hospitals are hiring LVNS again, which they had kind of stopped doing in our area anyway.

1:48 It's just kind of been a goal.

1:50 I think I told y'all, my mom always kind of wished that she had gotten her bachelor's degree, and she never did it.

1:57 When I decided to get my nurse practitioner license.

2:00 I knew that I had to have my bachelor's to continue to progress in school.

2:06 Anyway, finally reaching that goal on Friday, I'm graduating Summa Cumme Laude, and also graduating as a distinctive Maverick, which is just kind of, you have to meet some certain qualifications, owning a business and being a first responder and belonging to an honor society are three of the things that I have done to be able to obtain the Maverick distinction. UTA graduation, super excited, even more excited about progressing through the grad program and getting done.

2:46 I mean, I'm going to be 58 or 59 before, well, 59 probably before I graduate.

2:52 It's never too late, and everyone keeps reminding me of that. Sometimes I'm like, why am I doing this?

2:57 But I think that, you know, reaching our goals is a big deal.

3:02 Anyway, I'm doing it, I'm doing it.

3:05 Got to thinking yesterday I was out on a scene in the afternoon, late afternoon and we seem to get busier in the afternoon as far as like scenes.

3:14 And I think it's because people are found when their loved ones get home from work.

3:18 But I feel like that in our office.

3:21 I mean, it can be busy throughout the day, but I feel like at around four or five is when people are found at home by loved ones because again, they're, they're getting home from work and finding them.

3:32 But yesterday afternoon I worked a suicide and then the rest of the day for me was pretty uneventful.

3:39 Just some hospices.

3:40 It wasn't too, too crazy, which is good for a Monday.

3:44 You know, we never know what Mondays are going to throw our way and in the office, we're always playing catch up on Monday from the weekend because we're not in the office on weekends.

3:53 All of our investigators work from home anyway.

3:56 I got to thinking yesterday about poisonings and I'm like, I don't think I've covered poisonings or even talked about them.

4:02 And a lot of times we'll get a call from a family member after someone has passed away and they'll say, I think my dad poisoned my mom or vice versa.

4:11 I think my brother gave my mom some drugs or too much morphine or, or whatever.

4:17 And so a lot of times, you know, those family dynamics start coming into play.

4:22 We'll get calls from family starting to accuse each other of things.

4:26 And we do not automatically investigate those.

4:30 We do require that they call the police and file a police report.

4:35 Once the police investigate the allegations.

4:38 If they find that they have some validity, then we will get involved and bring the person in and do toxicology or whatever check for whatever the suspicion is.

4:50 But it reminded me of a case that I had had when I was working as a sexual assault nurse.

4:56 And it was a lady who… She was in her fifties.

5:01 She was around my age at the time she had presented to the hospital and her story was that she had called her estranged husband's friend to come over and look at her car because it wouldn't start.

5:20 Now, reportedly he came over and then started kind of making advances toward her, which she said he had done before for some reason, they went inside the house, but she said that he forced her to drink two glasses of antifreeze.

5:37 She kind of led us to believe that he was doing that so that she would pass out and he would be able to take advantage of her.

5:46 Her story was very believable.

5:49 She called her kids after this happened and they took her to the hospital.

5:54 I got a call from the police department at this point, and they wanted me to come do a sexual assault exam on her.

6:03 However, she had gone into kidney failure and required dialysis and then she had damage to her esophagus.

6:13 They had to intubate her.

6:15 She was in ICU on dialysis, and we did not do an exam with her in that condition.

6:24 Number one, she couldn't, she couldn't tell me the story, which is a big part of what I need because we want to make sure that it's consistent right with what she told the police.

6:35 She also couldn't consent to the exam.

6:38 And health comes first, you know, in any situation when a sexual assault patient arrives in the hospital, they're a trauma patient, even if they're not bleeding and have cuts and bruises and bite marks, they are emotionally traumatized, so they are all treated as trauma patients.

6:58 Anyway, I was not going to do her exam since she could not consent and I couldn't get the history from her, which we all know is a very important part of the exam.

7:09 I waited, I just told the nursing staff, you know, try to preserve evidence the best you can. Don't clean the private areas, don't wash her, just leave her be so that all the evidence that could possibly be there is still there when she is extubated, and I can come do the exam.

7:31 The same exam was done.

7:33 She was still in ICU, but she had been extubated. So, I went in and of course, visited with her first and she gave me her history and told me basically the same story that she had told the police.

7:47 And, you know, I felt terrible for her because she just, I mean, she was tearful, and she just seemed like she was completely traumatized.

7:57 I completely believed her story.

8:00 I collect all the evidence needed.

8:04 Then later, the police came back in behind me and interviewed her again.

8:10 And the story changed dramatically.

8:14 She confessed that there was no man at her house and that there was nothing wrong with her car and that she drank the antifreeze in a suicide attempt after she did it, she realized what she had done.

8:30 She got a little scared and then she called her kids, and she made up this story because she didn't want her kids to know that she had attempted suicide.

8:41 Antifreeze is Ethylene Glycol. 

8:46 Growing up, I've always heard stories on the news about people who gave their neighbor's dog, antifreeze to kill them.

8:53 They would stop barking.

8:55 I was like, that's horrible, but it is sweet, and you know, they add that to it to kind of make the taste bitter.

9:04 But I think that the sweetness kind of is what draws people to it or dogs to it.

9:12 And it's very, very dangerous even in very small amounts for hours after you drink it, everything seems fine.

9:21 You feel ok.

9:22 There's no difference at all in how you feel.

9:26 But during that process, the body is busy breaking it down into a number of different substances.

9:35 Those substances affect your blood chemistry, your kidneys, and your nervous system.

9:42 If the victim survives, there may be permanent damage to the kidneys and the brain, small amounts are dangerous.

9:51 Again, it tastes sweet.

9:53 Pets love it and even adults can be fooled.

9:57 I've heard stories of adults drinking it out of a soft drink container that someone else had dumped out and put antifreeze in it.

10:07 After a few hours, you feel groggy and then I start to have stomach pain and eventually you could go into a coma.

10:19 It's best to treat before the symptoms develop.

10:23 There is an IV anecdote and then of course, dialysis may be needed.

10:28 And I think that this lady, this sexual assault patient at the time who I believe to be a sexual assault patient.

10:36 I'm pretty sure that she knew that she knew that she had better call her kids and get some help before it kicked in because she had a little bit of time after she drank it before the symptoms started, before her kidneys started shutting down and before she started having breathing issues, it's kind of scary to think.

10:59 And we've all seen all the shows where people poison other people with arsenic and with cyanide and rat poison and antifreeze.

11:10 And it's terrible to think that a lot of those things that can cause you to just get sicker and sicker and sicker over time, the person who gave them to you is sometimes just watching you get sick and basically just waiting for you to die and hoping you die sooner than you're going to.

11:29 There was a case in Smyrna, Georgia where a 47-year-old woman pled guilty to second degree murder for poisoning her husband with an, a phrase.

11:40 And I'm sure this is more common than we know.

11:43 And again, if you use it in small amounts over time, it's going to make someone more and more sick.

11:51 Jamie Baker found her husband James dead in the bedroom floor in their home on September 16th of 2013.

12:02 Now his kidneys contained Ethylene Glycol, which is what is found in antifreeze.

12:10 His death was ruled a homicide after bottles of steroids found at the scene also contain Ethylene Glycol.

12:19 It didn't get in there on its own steroids don't naturally have Ethylene Glycol in them.

12:24 And so naturally they knew that someone else had put it there.

12:28 His death was ruled a homicide.

12:31 This is why this is exactly why the scene is so important for death investigators.

12:38 This is something that we want to be able to find when we go to the home.

12:44 And this is one reason why we do go to the home, and you know what, even if someone dies in the hospital, that's why the police still go to the home because some people are good at hiding all the evidence if they've done something wrong.

12:58 But in this case, it was the steroid bottles which they knew he had given himself because he was a competitive weightlifter.

13:08 And he ordered them online in June and had them shipped to a friend's house.

13:14This was all investigated and the steroid bottles were taken to the medical examiner's office, and they were tested because they knew that he had given them to himself.

13:25 And there was a possibility that they were tainted, which is, you know, what was found, lo and behold now he kept the bottles in a locked toolbox in his home.

13:37 A year after his death, Jamie Baker admitted that she used a syringe to extract antifreeze and then inject them into several bottles of his steroids.

13:50 Had the police not taken those steroid bottles and analyzed them for their contents.

13:57 They would not have been able to prove that Jamie was telling the truth.

14:02 The evidence at the scene is so, so important and many times we find nothing and sometimes we find things that seem like nothing.

14:12 And in this case, I mean, he was probably relatively healthy.

14:17 They were trying to figure out what could have possibly happened.

14:21 But this is why we do attend scenes and why we do collect evidence and of course, at our office and all officers are different, but our office we don't bring the evidence in the police do.

14:34 If they later decide that they want to have some testing done on something, like these steroid bottles, then they'll take them for testing.

14:42 But they are kept in evidence lockers at the police department.

14:47 We do not bring evidence to our office.

14:51 Jamie and James had been married for 21 years and they had two daughters.

14:57 This was a long-time marriage and who knows?

14:59 You know, they always say you have roid rage from steroid injections and he was a weightlifter that might have been a problem.

15:06 I don't know like what was going on in the marriage, but the day before he died, he was very, very sick and he would not call 911 and I'm sure she didn't encourage it because that's exactly what she wanted.

15:20 She was convicted and sentenced to 40 years.

15:26 I mean, it's just sad and I don't know how long a period of time went by that he was taking the steroids that were tainted.

15:33 I don't know how much she was putting in each bottle or how big the bottles were, anything like that.

15:39 But, you know, he didn't feel good, if he was taken a little bit at a time because it does cause so many things in your body to shut down. And again, very sick the day before he died, you know, didn't want to go to the hospital, which I hear all the time, people say.

15:56 You know, when I go to a home scene, they'll say, well, he was so sick yesterday or had really bad chest pain or he was having heartburn, he was really nauseated.

16:05 Go to the hospital, like something is wrong.

16:10 If it's that bad that your family members know to go to the hospital.

16:14 I can remember back in 99 my dad had a heart attack after we ate Christmas dinner, which was very common for you to go into cardiac arrest after a big meal.

16:25 He was sitting on the couch rubbing his chest sweating.

16:29 I could see the sweat under his arms profusely seemed to be in distress.

16:34 I asked him if he was ok, and he said my hernia is acting up.

16:38 I said we're going to go to the hospital.

16:40 No, no, no, I'm fine.

16:41 It's just my hernia go to the hospital.

16:44 I called 911 ambulance came, picked him up.

16:48 I saw on the EKG right in front of my eyes, he was having a heart attack, went to the hospital and ended up the next day or two days later, having open heart surgery, quadruple bypass, don't ignore the symptoms.

17:03 I know.

17:03 And the sad part is, co-pays are high, charges are high.

17:08 Hopefully you have insurance, but you know what, it's just money, like go to the hospital, take care of yourself, take care of your health because you want to be there for your family.

17:18 It's so important.

17:20 Nobody's going to laugh at you, it's going to be ok.

17:23 The nurses will take good care of you, and they'll get you diagnosed and if something serious is wrong you can get it taken care of.

17:31 I'm a proponent.

17:32 Like if it's not an emergency, no, don't go to the emergency room if it's not an emergency.

17:37 But if you feel bad you don't know what's wrong.

17:40 You know, when you're about to die because you literally feel like you're about to die.

17:44 Now, I don't know that for a fact, but I've heard a lot of patients tell me, I feel like I'm about to die and they do.

17:51 If you are that sick, please go to the hospital.

17:54 I know that, you know, family members beg and beg and beg.

17:56 And then this happens, you know, the next day they pass away, I'm sure his wife didn't beg him to go to the hospital.

18:03 But his daughter, I think they said, was trying to get him to call 911 and actually go to the hospital and get evaluated and he would not do it.

18:11 There was another case in Weedsport, New York.

18:15 Stacy Castor was a murderer from there in 09.

18:19 She was found guilty of murdering her husband David with antifreeze.

18:25 This event happened in 05.

18:28 She also y'all attempted to murder her daughter Ashley by spiking her drinks with pills a couple years later, she was suspected of murdering her first husband Michael.

18:40 In 2000, she was kind of named the black widow Stacey Caster.

18:46 Stacy was born Stacy Daniels in Clay New York on July 24th of 67.

18:53 And she met her first husband in 1985 at the age of 17.

18:58 And they married and had Ashley in 1988 and then another daughter Bree in 1999 and she worked for an Aulus dispatch company.

19:09 Now, in late 99 Wallace, her first husband began feeling intermittently ill.

19:15 He was unsteady on his feet.

19:17 He was coughing a lot and then he ended up dying in early 2000 before seeking medical care.

19:24 Again, he did not go to the hospital.

19:27 Wallace's sister suspected something, and she requested an autopsy.

19:33 However, and again, this is our county rules, and not everywhere, but in our county, a family member can't just request an autopsy.

19:43 Our office does not do them by request.

19:47 You can have a private autopsy done by a private pathologist who's in practice for themselves.

19:54 And they do charge the family.

19:56 The medical examiner does not charge the family for an autopsy.

20:00 The sister just kind of had some suspicions but absolutely nothing to back them up.

20:06 The wife who was legal next of kin is the only one that could authorize the private autopsy.

20:14 And she because she was guilty, went on to say no, he had a heart attack.

20:21 He doesn't need an autopsy.

20:23 You know, this was a natural death.

20:25 Let's just leave it alone.

20:26 Again, the family here cannot request an autopsy.

20:31 Then legal next of kin is the person who kind of controls whether or not that private autopsy can even be done.

20:38 Now in 03, Stacey married David Castor and in August of 05, she called police and told them that he had locked himself in the bedroom after an argument after a welfare check, he was found deceased in the bedroom and a bottle of antifreeze and a half a glass of bright green liquid were found near his body.

21:04 Now, the coroner at the time reported it was a suicide.

21:08 She had kind of made it look like he was in there mad, locked himself in the bedroom and just downed a glass of antifreeze.

21:17 But Castor's prints were found on the antifreeze glass and on a turkey baster that was in the home.

21:27 Now, Castor was being watched, you know, because all of this evidence was found.

21:32 And so the police were not completely convinced that she was innocent.

21:37 They watched her and noticed that she never visited the graves of either of her husband's Wallace's body was exhumed and the talk revealed antifreeze poisoning and that was her first husband.

21:55 The talk revealed Antares poisoning and her plan was to set her daughter up and make it look like her daughter, Ashley had murdered him on Ashley's first day of college.

22:10 She was questioned about Wallace's death and informed that he was poisoned.

22:15 Ashley was invited to her mom's home to have a drink and found comatose by her younger sister and then caster invited Ashley over again and Ashley tasted this drink, and it was not good.

22:34 And so she refused to drink it.

22:37 But 17 hours later, Ashley was found comatose. Her sister, after she found her, left her for just a minute, and when she returned, there was a suicide note there.

22:49 And in the note, Ashley confessed to murdering her father and her stepfather.

22:55 This was Castor's plan, kill Ashley, leave a suicide note and make it say that Ashley had killed both men to kind of get her off the hook.

23:06 But painkillers were found in Ashley's system, and she woke up, she didn't die, and she mentioned her mother making her a drink that didn't taste good.

23:16 She was able at that point to tell the police; I didn't write a suicide note that was not my intention.

23:23 And then it looked obvious at that point that Castor had staged all this in 07.

23:29 She was arrested for second degree murder in David's death, and also for attempting to murder Ashley again.

23:36 Ashley testified, she did not write the suicide note and the purpose behind all this is that Castor wanted to collect life insurance.

23:45 She had changed David's will to exclude his son by a previous marriage, families can be evil.

23:54 Y'all.

23:55 I know you know this but also again, why evidence is important drafts of the suicide note were found on Coker's computer.

24:06 The police are going to look at your computer, the police are going to look at your phone.

24:09 You can run but you can't hide.

24:12 It's a strange story because she tried so hard to cover it up.

24:17 But she left so much evidence on February 5th of 2009, Castor was found guilty of second-degree murder in the poisoning death of David and then again, attempted second degree murder for overdosing Ashley.

24:33 She was sentenced on March 5th of 09.

24:38 The judge wanted to impose the maximum sentences because of the brutality of David's death because this was cold and calculating and she didn't have any emotion.

24:48 I mean, she knew Ashley had passed out from an overdose and her husband wasn't feeling well.

24:55 And even though she worked for this ambulance dispatch company, she never tried to get help for them, and she really didn't have value on human life.

25:05 She was sentenced to the maximum of 25 years to life for the murder of David and another 25 years for her attempt to kill Ashley and then for forging David's will.

25:17 She had to serve an additional 1 to 4 years in prison.

25:22 The trial lasted about four weeks, but Castor would have to serve just over 51 years before she was eligible for parole.

25:31 So effectively a life sentence at her age, Castor was found dead in her cell on the morning of June 11th, 2016.

25:40 It wasn't immediately apparent how she died, but the manner of her death was listed as undetermined.

25:46 It was later determined that she died of a heart attack with no evidence of suicide or foul play.

25:52 Crazy, crazy.

25:55 It's hard to trust, it's hard to trust people.

25:57 We all know that.

25:58 But in these cases, again if you're sick and you don't know why go to the hospital and don't always rely on people to take you.

26:08 If someone acts like they don't want to take you, then I would be suspicious and I hate to act like I'm suspicious of everyone.

26:15 But I've just, you know, in this field, you see so many things, so many different things and we all see it on TV.

26:22 People arrested for sexual assault or for murdering somebody that we would never suspect the fact that she had changed his will and that there was a life insurance policy, you know, that all looks fishy, and the police are going to find all that too again.

26:38 You can run but you can't hide.

26:40 Anyway, antifreeze poisonings.

26:42 To me, that's a very interesting subject.

26:45 The Cyanide and the arsenic and all the things we've all seen.


26:49 The sixth sense and if you haven't seen that, you definitely need to see it.

26:54 It's a psychological thriller.

26:56 It's written by M Night Shyamalan and Bruce Willis is a child psychologist.

27:03 It's amazing.

27:04 I mean, you definitely, definitely have to watch this.

27:08 I mean, it's really an amazing movie.

27:11 Sorry.

27:11 I was just thinking about Bruce was so sad that his medical condition is so sad, but it is an amazing movie.

27:17 It's similar, talking about poisoning.

27:19 I'm not going to give you too much info, but it's about poisoning.

27:24 If you have not seen that, I highly recommend it anyway, I'm going to head to work and I hope everyone's day is amazing.

27:32 I hope the county is good to me today.

27:34 We did have a nice county event last week.

27:37 We have an event.

27:38 It's kind of like employee appreciation where the county has food trucks come out and they play music, and they give away prizes and there's a baking contest.

27:49 I entered Samoa cheesecake bars and one second place in the baking contest.

27:56 It was a lot of fun.

27:57 I passed out pushing up Lily's bags for all the county employees.

28:02 And to my surprise, many of them were already listening to the podcast.

28:07 And then yesterday I had a request to sign one of the bags which flattered me just, I can't believe it.

28:14 Just the way that my friends and that all of y'all have been so accepting and loving and supportive is just absolutely amazing.

28:25 I appreciate that.

28:27 Keep spreading the news.

28:28 Good things are coming and again, have a great day, talk to you next week.

28:33 Bye.

28:35 Thank you so much for joining me today on Pushing Up Lilies.

28:38 If you like this podcast and would like to share with others, please do me a quick favor and leave a review on Apple podcast.

28:46 This helps to make the podcast more visible to the public.

28:49 Thanks again for spending your time with me and be sure to visit me at PushingUpLilies.com for merchandise and past episodes.