With a Trail of Dead Husbands, 'Black Widow" Gets 40 More Years

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Josephine V. Gray, 60, of Wheaton, was re-sentenced this week to 40 years in prison arising from her 2002 convictions for mail and wire fraud stemming from the homicides of two men, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland  Rod J. Rosenstein.

Gray was convicted on Aug. 16, 2002 of intentionally causing the death of William Robert Gray and Clarence Goode, making it illegal for her to profit from those crimes by filing claims for their life insurance benefits.

Gray appealed her original 40 year sentence based on the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in United States v. Booker finding that the mandatory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines were unconstitutional. At her original sentencing hearing U.S. District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow held that since Gray committed premeditated murder, she should be sentenced using the guidelines for first degree murder rather than fraud. Under the advisory Sentencing Guidelines currently in place, Judge Chasanow reinforced her original ruling and re-sentenced Gray to 40 years.

According to trial testimony, on March 3, 1974 Norman Stribbling, Gray’s husband at that time, was found murdered.  He died of a single gunshot wound to the right side of his head. Gray was suspected in that murder and two witnesses testified that Gray had solicited them, on separate occasions, to murder Norman Stribbling.  Nevertheless, Gray was not convicted of his murder and received $16,000 from Stribbling’s life insurance.

According to trial testimony, Gray married William Robert Gray in November, 1975 with whom she had been having an affair for several years.  Josephine and William Gray separated in August of 1990.  At the time, Josephine Gray was having an affair with Clarence Goode and a co-worker.  Witnesses at trial testified that William Gray stated on numerous occasions that his estranged wife was trying to kill him and that she had assaulted him.  From August through October 1990, William Gray changed several of his life insurance policies to remove Josephine Gray as beneficiary.  On November 9, 1990, Mr. Gray was discovered shot to death in his apartment.  Josephine Gray’s co-worker boyfriend testified at trial that Gray admitted to being involved in the murder. Despite being a suspect in this murder, Josephine Gray collected over $54,000 from Mr. Gray’s life insurance policies.

From 1990 to 1996 Clarence Good and Josephine Gray lived together In March, 1996 Goode applied for a $100,000 life insurance policy, naming Josephine Gray as the sole beneficiary.

On June 21, 1996 Goode’s body was discovered in the trunk of his car in Baltimore. He had been shot in the head. A search warrant executed at Josephine Gray’s home several weeks after the murder found a large stain on the concrete floor of the garage which tested positive for blood. Next to the stain was a commercial vacuum cleaner and small amounts of possible blood was recovered from inside.

State charges were never brought against Gray and the insurance company paid Gray $90,000. They paid Mr. Goode’s minor son the remaining $10,000.

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