LOS ANGELES – Two elderly women accused of killing homeless men in hit-and-run crashes to collect their life insurance drugged the victims before running them over slowly with cars, authorities said Thursday.
"If they were awake it would be a slow painful death," Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels said outside the courtroom after a judge postponed the arraignment of Olga Rutterschmidt, 73, and Helen Golay, 75.
"We think they drugged them with pills or alcohol first, then ran over them," police Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said earlier in a prepared statement.
The court appearance came a day after the women were released from federal custody and re-arrested on state murder charges.
Both women answered "yes" when asked if they agreed to the postponement but said nothing else during the proceedings.
Arraignment was rescheduled for Aug. 29.
Attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who represents Golay, sought the delay for reasons that were not made public.
Police also said they were trying to locate three men whose names were found on applications for $800,000 in life insurance. They were identified as Nicolas Koos, 66; Jimmy Allen Covington, 46; and Scott B. Gones, whose age was not immediately known.
Detectives believe Covington may be in the San Francisco Bay area.
The two women face two counts of murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder for financial gain for the deaths of Paul Vados, 73, in November 1999 and Kenneth McDavid, 51, in June 2005.
The murder charges carry special allegations that could make the women eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Authorities alleged that Golay and Rutterschmidt befriended the two transients, convinced the men to sign them on to their life insurance policies and then collected some $2.3 million after they were killed. Federal agents have seized the money.
The investigation was launched last year when police looking into McDavid's death found similarities to the Vados case.
Police said they found what appears to be McDavid's tissue and blood on the undercarriage of a silver Mercury Sable station wagon linked to his death in a city alley. Investigators also said they have records to show both women bought the Mercury in 2004 then stored it at Golay's house.
The car was later abandoned and sold off for storage fees.
The women were arrested in May and initially charged with federal mail fraud in connection with the insurance scheme.