Lowell Edwin Amos
(b. January 4, 1943, Anderson, Indiana) is a former
Detroit business man whose mother and three wives all
died under suspicious circumstances.
He was convicted in 1996 of murdering
his third wife, Roberta Mowery Amos. Lowell Amos was the
subject of a 2006 Lifetime Network made-for-tv movie
called Black Widower.
Lowell was a former General Motors
plant manager. Some sources spell his first name as "Lowel".
In December 1994, Lowell and Roberta
Amos attended a company executive party at the Atheneum
Hotel in Detroit. The Amos's went to their suite at 4:30
am. Four hours later (at 8:30 am) Lowell called Bert
Crabtree, another executive from the party, and seemed
to be in a panic. Crabtree and another hotel guest named
Daniel Porcasi went to the room, and Lowell told them
that Roberta had died in an accident.
Lowell said he needed to cleanup
before calling police, and he asked Porcasi to take his
sport coat for him, which he did. Porcasi, while driving
home that morning looked inside the breast pocket of the
coat, and found a small black leather case with a
syringe without a needle, and a foul-smelling washcloth
inside. Amos later reclaimed the coat, and its contents
Amos told police that he and Roberta
had engaged in sexual acts involving cocaine, and
claimed she was still taking the cocaine when he fell
asleep. He told police that she could not snort the drug
due to a sinus problem, and that instead she took it "inside"
her body. He said that when he woke up she was dead.
There was a lot of cocaine on the bed
linen, including the part that was tucked under the
mattress. Roberta's body contained over 15 times the
lethal dose of the drug. An autopsy revealed that there
was cocaine inside Roberta's vagina, but none externally.
Police suspected that Amos had washed the body before
Forensic scientist Dr. Phyllis Goode
found lipstick and toothmarks on a pillowcase, and other
makeup residue, although Roberta did not have any makeup
on her when police arrived. The bedsheets were also
slightly soiled, although Roberta's body was very clean.
Investigation into previous wives', and mother's deaths
Police lacked enough hard evidence to
bring charges against Lowell, so they began to follow
him and look into his history. Two days after Roberta’s
death, Lowell spent over one thousand dollars on dinner
and drinks with two women who he proceeded to have sex
After the story of Roberta's death
had gained publicity, several women came forward and
told investigators that that they thought they had been
drugged by Lowell before having sex.
Investigators found out that Lowell's
first wife Saundra died under suspicious circumstances
at age 36, fifteen years earlier in 1979. Saundra was
found dead in her bathroom. Lowell's statement to police
at that time was that Saundra had mixed wine with a
sedative, collapsed, and hit her head. The cause of
death was ruled indeterminate, and Amos received a
$350,000 insurance payout.
Shortly after Saundra's death, Lowell
married his longtime mistress, Caroline. According to
friends, Lowell and Caroline argued a lot over the large
insurance policies Lowell had bought on her life, and
since he would not cancel the policies, she threw him
out in 1988.
Lowell moved-in with his mother. His
mother was rushed to the hospital just a few weeks later,
seemingly stupefied. No specific diagnosis was found,
and she was released. Several days later, she died.
Lowell had told Caroline over the
telephone that his mother had died, when she arrived at
the house Lowell was throwing his belongings into the
car. He told her that he did not want people to know
that he was living with his mother. Because she was 76
years old, no autopsy was performed, and authorities
presumed she died of natural causes. Lowell inherited
more than $1 million.
Caroline allowed Lowell to move back
in with her. Nine months later she was found dead in her
bathroom. Lowell's statement to police was that he’d
taken her a glass of wine to the bathroom, where she was
blow-drying her hair next to the full bathtub.
Later he found her dead in the bath,
apparently electrocuted. No cause of death was ever
determined. The wineglass that Lowell claimed to have
brought Caroline was not in the bathroom, but rather
found rinsed-clean and in the dishwasher. Lowell
received $800,000 from the insurance policies.
On November 8, 1996, Lowell was
arrested for the murder of his third wife. Due to a 1994
change in Michigan law, the prosecution was allowed to
enter details of previous incidents into the trials.
Prosecutors also argued that although Lowell lacked a
financial motive for killing Roberta, as he had for the
other three deaths, his marriage was about to end.
Roberta had already bought a house of her own, and had
told friends and family that she wanted Lowell out of
The prosecution surmised that Lowell
killed her because he couldn’t stand rejection. They
said that he first gave her a glass of wine with two
crushed sedatives in it, then when she was passed-out,
he injected her vagina with the cocaine (dissolved in
water), and then smothered her with the pillow when she
began to convulse.
On October 24, 1996, Lowell was
convicted of premeditated murder and murder using a
toxic substance, (both considered separate charges of
first-degree murder), and was sentenced to life
imprisonment without possibility of parole. He is
currently in security level II at the Muskegon
Correctional Facility, in Michigan. Charges have not
been made in the cases of the other three deaths.
Christmas 1994, a group of executives was gathered at theAtheneum Hotel
in Detroit for a company party. Among those present were Lowell Amos, a
fifty-two-year-old former General Motors plant man-ager from Anderson,
Indiana, and his wife, Roberta. After socializing with friends until
4:30 a.m., the Amoses retired.
The next morning,
at 8:30, another executive, Norbert Crabtree, received a phone call in
his room from Amos, who sounded agitated and pleaded for help. When
Crabtree and another guest, Daniel Porcasi, reached the room, Amos
dropped a bombshell: Roberta was dead.
There had been a
tragic accident, he explained, and he needed time to clean up before he
contacted the authorities. Could they do him a big favor? He handed over
a small leather case, which he asked them to hold for him. Crabtree
agreed. When he later checked, he found it contained a foul-smelling
washcloth, a sport coat, and a syringe without a needle. (Although Amos
later reclaimed this bag, its contents subsequently vanished.)
When Amos did call
the police, he had a lurid tale to tell. After returning to their suite,
he and Roberta had engaged in cocaine-fueled sex games. These lasted for
some time. Roberta, he said, was still taking the coke when he fell
asleep. When he awoke, he found her dead. In a panic, he’d flushed the
coke down the toilet and tried to clean up the room. Investigators
noticed that the bed linen was soiled and smeared, which was odd because
Roberta’s body looked very clean, without any hint of make up.
pressed Amos about the cocaine usage, he explained that because of sinus
trouble, Roberta didn’t snort the drug but instead found other means of
ingestion. This was confirmed at autopsy, when vaginal swabs showed
unmistakable traces of coke. The absence of external signs of the drug
was still baffling, however, since the body contained more than fifteen
times the lethal amount—so big a dose, in fact, that she’d died before
even half the drug had been broken down.
This set alarm
bells ringing. Acute cocaine poisoning invariably causes violent fits
before death, and it seemed inconceivable that Amos could have slept
through such disturbances. Besides, what was the likelihood, after his
own admitted cocaine binge, that he would sleep, anyway?
It was time to
examine the evidence more closely. The forensic scientist Dr. Phyllis
Goode was given the bed linen for analysis. Nothing in Amos’s story
accounted for the strange staining. Because the body was so clean, it
was suspected that Amos had washed it before calling police. This was
borne out by test samples from the pillowcase, which showed traces of
cosmetics, even though, when found, Roberta was not wearing any. Even
more ominous were the imprints of teeth marks and lipstick found on the
pillowcase, such as might result if the pillow had been pressed over
attention to the sheet, Goode found coke traces all over the material,
even on those parts tucked under the mattress. Although this provided
clear evidence of crime scene manipulation, it was scarcely proof of
struggled to unravel this mystery, Amos found a novel means of easing
his grief. Just two days after Roberta’s death, he spent $1,000on dinner
and drinks with two women and had sex with both. Curiously enough, it
was Amos’s amorous adventures that proved his undoing. Sparked by
publicity surrounding the case, various women now came forward with
stories of having dated Amos, and all felt that they had been drugged
before sex. These revelations prompted an in-depth examination of Amos’s
back-ground. What investigators discovered was horrifying: women close
to Lowell Amos had a habit of dying out of turn.
His first wife,
Saundra, age thirty-six, had been found dead in the bath-room in 1979.
According to Amos, she had mixed a sedative with wine, collapsed, and
hit her head on the bathroom counter. Despite misgivings, the cause of
death was ruled indeterminate, and Amos received a $350,000insurance pay
he married his long time mistress. According to friends, Caroline Amos
argued constantly with her new husband over the large insurance policies
he kept buying on her life, and, when he refused to cancel them, she
threw him out in 1988. In a curious move, he went to live with his
seventy-six-year-old mother. Just a couple of weeks later, she was
rushed to the hospital, seemingly stupefied. Doctors were unable to
diagnose the problem, and when she soon recovered, she went home. Each
day Caroline called to check on her mother-in-law, but one day Amos
answered, and he had bad news: he’d just found his mother; she’d been
dead for several hours.
Caroline rushed to
the house, to find Amos throwing his belongings into his car. He said
that he didn’t want anyone to know he had been living with his mother.
Because of her age, the death wasn’t considered suspicious, and there
was no autopsy. Amos inherited more than $1 million.
herself to now be better insulated against Amos’s avarice, Caroline let
him back into the house. Nine months later she, too, was dead. According
to Amos, he’d taken her a glass of wine to the bathroom, where she was
blow-drying her hair. Later he found her dead in the bath and thought
she had been electrocuted, but no cause of death was ever deter-mined.
Significantly, the wineglass was missing from the bathroom and later
found rinsed out in the dishwasher. Caroline’s death netted Amos another
$800,000 insurance pay out.
It was a damning
litany, and on November 8, 1998, Amos was arrested for murder. In 1994,
Michigan had changed the law to allow details of previous incidents to
be introduced into trials. This enabled prosecutors to show that
although Amos had no direct financial motive for killing Roberta, his
marriage was on the rocks. Roberta had already bought a house of her own
and wanted him out of her life. Amos killed her because he couldn’t
stand the rejection, first injecting her with cocaine, then smothering
her with a pillow when the fits began. He was sentenced to life
M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: CE
“Bluebeard" slayer of wives and mother for insurance
Life without parole on one count, 1996
Lowell Edwin Amos