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Women to stand trial in homeless men's slayings

March 16, 2007|Charles Proctor | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that two women accused of killing transient men to collect life insurance money will stand trial on murder and conspiracy charges.

Helen Golay, 76, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 74, are accused of taking out multiple life insurance policies on Paul Vados, 73, and Kenneth McDavid, 50, and then killing both men by hitting them with a car. The two women pleaded not guilty at a September arraignment.

Golay and Rutterschmidt appeared at the hearing wearing orange jumpsuits. Golay was impassive as Judge David Wesley gave his ruling, but Rutterschmidt opened her mouth in disbelief, then bit her lip and seemed to be holding back tears. She shook her head several times and buried her face in her right hand.

Earlier, Michael Sklar, Rutterschmidt's attorney, argued that his client may have committed insurance fraud, but he assigned most of the blame for the deaths to Golay.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Shelli Samuels said the charges of insurance fraud and murder were linked. "The only purpose for taking out these policies is if these women knew these men were going to die in a reasonable amount of time so they could collect," she said.

Vados was covered by more than a dozen life insurance policies when he was struck and killed by a car on La Brea Avenue in 1999. McDavid was covered by 23 policies when he was killed by a car last year in Westwood.

Authorities allege Golay and Rutterschmidt befriended the men and helped them rent apartments. They took out multiple insurance policies on the men, listing themselves as the beneficiaries.

After Vados and McDavid died, Golay and Rutterschmidt posed as their distant relatives to collect the money, authorities said. They received about $595,000 from Vados' insurance and about $2.2 million from McDavid's.

They are scheduled to return to court March 29.

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charles.proctor@latimes.com

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