What Happened To The Wives Of These Infamous Serial Killers?

When we're little, we're told that life is pretty much black and white. Good and evil. That things are clear. On one hand there's things like being kind, helping little old ladies cross the street, and charity work. On the other hand, there's things like being mean to animals, being a spiteful troll on social media, and — the biggie — killing.

Then, we grow up, and we learn that the world is more grey than black and white, and that's confusing as heck. Murder is one of those things that — for most — stays firmly on the "bad" side, but here's where things get weird. What if someone you love turned out to be a serial killer? Would you stand by them? Turn them in? And when they were killing, would you have been open to seeing the signs ... or would you believe the lies of these deeply manipulative people?

Netflix's "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil" film on Ted Bundy is pretty much the perfect illustration of this. Much of the film deals with Bundy's then-girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (who now goes by Liz Kendall). Women's Health says she was with him for six years, and while she was suspicious, she just didn't want to believe the man she loved was capable of those terrible things. They were just dating at the time, so what about the women who were actually married to serial killers?

Carole Ann Boone hooked up with Ted Bundy during his trial

Carole Ann Boone worked with Ted Bundy at the Washington State Department of Energy Services, and they were just friends at first. Boone said of Bundy (via Women's Health): "He struck me as being a rather shy person with a lot more going on under the surface than what was on the surface."

They seem to have bonded as friends — while both working with law enforcement as they searched for Bundy's victims — and it wasn't until he was on trial for murder that they took the relationship to the next step. When Bundy ended up on trial in Florida, she moved there to be with him — he proposed to her in the courtroom and they got married right then and there. She stuck with him after his conviction, too, and he was on death row when she became pregnant with their daughter.

Boone unconditionally believed in his innocence, but things came crashing down when Bundy was approached with what's called a "bones for time" deal. It meant that if he were to give up the remains of his victims he'd get a stay of execution, and when he did, she realized that he did, in fact, commit the murders he was convicted of. She filed for divorce, moved back to Washington State, and didn't speak with him again. Boone died in 2018.

Judith Mawson had no idea she was married to the Green River Killer

When Gary Ridgway was finally identified as the Green River Killer, he'd already spent years killing, and had a body count of at least 48 (and possibly, he said, as high as 80). He'd been questioned so many times that his coworkers jokingly called him Green River Gary, but even by the time DNA finally linked him to his victims, his wife, now Judith Mawson, had no idea.

She spoke with People in 2011, and said that she had absolutely no qualms about believing his stories ... even after seeing the state of his house when they first started dating. He claimed he'd rented to tenants that had destroyed the carpets, and decades later, she found out the truth: "I found out that he'd had the carpets removed because he'd killed women on them and there were bloodstains. He got rid of the bed because he'd had sex with some of his victims there, then killed them."

Mawson was so distraught that even the friends and families of her husband's victims sympathized with her at the trials... but neighbors grew abusive and hateful. Ridgway continued to deny they'd got the right man and she visited him for those first two years, but once he confessed, she was done. Diving deep into alcohol and pain pills, she wrote a book about her experiences and says it finally "helped me to heal."

Paula Dietz lived a quiet, happy life with BTK

BTK is an acronym for Bind, Torture, Kill, and it was the name of a serial killer who stalked the area of Wichita, Kansas for almost 20 years. He went dormant in 1991 and wasn't captured until 2004: when Dennis Rader was arrested, his family was shocked.

The entire time he was killing he was married to a woman named Paula Dietz, a local bookkeeper, and well-known as a dedicated volunteer for their church. According to Cosmopolitan, Dietz has never publicly said a word about her husband's conviction, but sometimes, actions speak louder than words. After the truth came out, she filed for what's called an "emergency divorce" and got it — The Wichita Eagle says that when district judges skipped the normal 60-day waiting period and signed the papers immediately, they had been married for 34 years. She left the state, and never reached out to her husband again.

When Dietz had originally described her husband (via the Independent) as "a good man, a great father," she wasn't the only one who thought so. Their daughter, Kerri (pictured), has spoken out about her mother, saying that there was "no way" she had any suspicions about what secrets were being kept.

Sharon Huddle spent 46 years with the Golden State Killer

The so-called Golden State Killer terrorized California residents in the 1970s and 80s, and it's believed he was responsible for at least 60 attacks. His last known victim died in 1986, and shockingly, the Golden State Killer was back in the headlines again in 2020: 74-year-old Joseph DeAngelo had been arrested.

By the time his wife spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle, they were already divorced. She went back to being Sharon Huddle, and said that in their 46 years of marriage, she had never doubted the stories he'd told her about where he was and what he was doing. He was — as far as she'd been concerned — working long hours, visiting family, or hunting.

Her official statement read (in part): "I will never be the same person. I now live everyday with the knowledge of how he attacked and severely damaged hundreds of innocent people's lives and murdered 13 innocent people who were loved and have now been missed for 40 years or more ... I trusted the defendant ... When I was not around I trusted he was doing what he told me he was doing ... I have lost my ability to trust people." 

According to All That's Interesting, the pair had actually separated in 1991 but had stayed married, and shared custody of their three children. It was only after his arrest that she divorced him, and issued a statement asking for privacy.

Darcie Metzler was accused of being her husband's accomplice

Jerry Brudos was one of the serial killers profiled in Netflix's "Mindhunter" (pictured) and the show depicts him pretty accurately. Those who knew him — and his wife, Darcie — believed they were a perfectly ordinary couple living perfectly ordinary lives, but when he was arrested, she wasn't above suspicion.

By the time Brudos met — then married — Darcie Metzler, he'd already been hospitalized at the Oregon State Hospital — where he'd admitted he had regular fantasies about freezing women so he could do terrible things to their frozen bodies. She was just 17 at the time, and according to All That's Interesting, she spent the first years of their marriage going along with his demands — including ones where he insisted she clean wearing nothing but heels. Two children came along during that time, and that's when he started turning his obsessions outwards. 

Brudos killed for the next 18 months, and took many of his victims to his home — specifically, the garage: which was completely off-limits to Darcie. When police finally found Brudos — and the photographs he'd taken of his victims — in 1969, they originally looked to his wife as an accomplice. That (says Yahoo) was in part because of a later discredited eye-witness that claimed to have seen her helping him dispose of a body, but she was not convicted. She has since changed her and her children's names and disappeared.

Linda Yates had a body buried outside her bedroom

Linda Brewer and Robert Yates first married in 1974 ... and then again in 1976, as their first marriage was annulled due to his divorce not being finalized yet. In between — in 1975, just seven months after the birth of their first child — Yates killed for the first time (via Radford University). Yates wouldn't be arrested until 2000, and according to The Seattle Times, Linda wanted to know why he'd done it. She asked him as much during a visit: "I want to know why, like anybody else. And how you could have done this, and still be married to me?"

She didn't get the answers that she was looking for, but she has spoken candidly about how she didn't see it at the time... but in hindsight, knew she should have been suspicious. She explained that his usual excuse was that he was going hunting, and knowing she had married an outdoorsy sort of ex-military man, she didn't question. "You're so close to somebody, you don't see it," she explained to "Dateline."

It wasn't just murder that Linda Yates had to come to terms with, it was also the fact that he'd buried one of the women he had killed in their yard. Every time she had looked out their bedroom window, she had been looking over a grave. Not long after his arrest, they filed for bankruptcy. They have continued to keep in contact, and remain married.

Doreen Lioy was certain Richard Ramierez was innocent

Richard Ramirez remains one of the nation's most notorious serial killers, convicted of a slew of crimes that included 13 murders. His reign of terror didn't come to an end until his 1985 arrest, and even though he was handed the death penalty, he died in 2013 with an official cause of complications from cancer — along with a host of other conditions, like hepatitis C.

That 1985 date is important, because that's the same year Doreen Lioy, a freelance editor from California, started sending him letters. He was already in jail, and according to Marie Claire, Lioy had been obsessed by what she called his "vulnerability." The relationship went from letter-writing to regular visits and finally, the two tied the knot in 1996, after being engaged for eight years. Lioy — who was disowned by her family — described her death row husband like this: "He's kind, he's funny, he's charming ... I think he's a really great person. He's my best friend; he's my buddy."

For most of their relationship, Lioy steadfastly insisted that he was innocent. It's not entirely clear just what happened to Lioy and Ramirez: in 2009, DNA conclusively linked him to the murder and rape of a 9-year-old girl. After that, Lioy's regular visits stopped and when he died, no one claimed his body.

Marlynn Myers and Carole Hoff both fell for the killer clown

John Wayne Gacy is the guy that gives credibility to everyone who's terrified of clowns: before he was arrested in 1978, he both murdered 33 people, and entertained at children's parties while dressed as a clown named Pogo (via The New York Times). Along the way, he was married twice. His first was Marlynn Myers, and even though his new father-in-law got him involved in the Jaycees — where he seemed to thrive — accusations of sexual assault brought that career to a screeching halt, along with his first marriage.

Gacy served just 18 months of a 10-year sentence, and by 1972 he was married again — this time, to Carole Hoff. She explained to the Times, "He swept me off my feet." Quickly, though, she developed suspicions sparked by incidents like finding the wallets of teenage boys in his car. Esquire says when she divorced him in 1976, one of her most constant complaints was the smell that permeated the house. Two years later, he would provide police with detailed sketches of his home and where he had stashed the bodies.

When Myers spoke to the Times in 1979 after his arrest — on the condition that her new name remain a secret — she had this to say: "I just couldn't believe it. I never had any fear of him. It's hard for me to relate to these killings. I was never afraid of him."

Mary Elizabeth Harriman was called out as being in-the-know

Mary Elizabeth Harriman married Russell Williams in 1991, and when the Toronto Star reported on his arrest for a series of murders, sexual assaults, and what they called "a string of fetish break-ins," they described the pair as a "power couple." She was the executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and he was not just a military man, but the one-time commander of CFB Trenton Air Force base.

And that was part of how he got away with it, they suggest: their high-pressure, high-profile jobs meant that they lived their lives apart much of the time, and it was during that time that Williams first broke into homes to steal underwear, then started killing. 

While friends, neighbors, and experts spoke up and stressed that it was perfectly plausible that she had no idea what was going on, not everyone felt that way. When Laurie Massicotte — who survived after Williams attacked her — charged (via Maclean's) that Harriman knew exactly what was going on, the courts ruled that Harriman would be forced to testify. That was in 2014: in 2016, CBC reported that Harriman and Williams ultimately settled the $7 million lawsuit Massicotte had filed against them.

Cathy Wilson and Margaret Mackintosh both married the same serial killer

Peter Tobin (pictured, center) is one of the UK's most notorious serial killers. He started in 1991 with the murder of 15-year-old Vicky Hamilton, and according to Crime+Investigation, allowing his infant son to play with the purse of one of his victims was a mistake that left valuable DNA evidence behind, and would ultimately link him to the crimes. Law enforcement had help from two others, too: Tobin's ex-wives.

Cathay Wilson was still a teenager when she ended up with Tobin, stuck in a relationship of what Oxygen calls "coercive control." Psychological abuse turned physical after the birth of their son, and Tobin forced the family to move to Scotland. Their marriage ended shortly before Tobin's arrest, and it was Wilson who had recognized her ex-husband as the man in the wanted photo, and tipped off police.

Starting with her tip, investigators backtracked and contacted Tobin's first wife, Margaret. She spoke of the same abusive relationship they'd heard about from Wilson, and even after Tobin was arrested and sentenced to life, detectives kept turning up more bodies and getting more closure. 

Wilson and Margaret Mackintosh met in 2009, and according to the Daily Record, they bonded over the struggles they'd shared, and made it clear: "We're the lucky ones — we survived."

Elena Popkova still says her husband is innocent

In 2018, ABC News reported that the man known as the Werewolf Killer had confessed to 84 murders over the course of two decades. Mikhail Popkov had earned the nickname because of how badly he'd mutilated his victims, stabbing some more than 150 times. The former Russian police officer believed he was punishing his victims for "being morally unfit." He said, "I had a desire to teach and punish them," and at the same time, he had a loving family, and was known as the stand-up guy who donated money to bury the killer's victims.

The truth became pretty clear thanks to DNA evidence, but according to The Siberian Times, his wife Elena still says he's innocent. In 2015 — when his body was still at 22 — she said, "If I suspected something wrong, of course, I would divorce him. I support him, I believe him." She went on to call the accusations "fairy tales," and said that's exactly what he'd told their daughter they were.

Their daughter, too, insisted he was innocent, maintaining: "I read a book with tips of how investigators catch serial killers and there were also basic classifications. Daddy doesn't fit any of these classifications — he doesn't look like some maniac." They maintained that they were standing by him.

Rosalie Martinez married the serial killer she was defending

Three women were murdered in 1986, but Oscar Bolin, says Mercury News, wasn't caught until 1990, when an anonymous tip — that turned out to have come from his ex-wife and her new husband — pointed police in the right direction. Bolin had told his former wife about the killings, it later came out — and here's where his next wife comes in. 

Rosalie Martinez was the wife of a Tampa attorney, and when the mother-of-four was put on Bolin's defense team, no one could have guessed that they'd fall wildly in love and marry on live television, around the 10-year anniversary of the killings. She explained why the killings weren't getting in the way of their love (via ABC News): "Because I know Oscar very well, if he had committed these three murders, he would have pled to something other than death ... he's always professed his innocence."

Bolin was handed the death sentence just three days after their wedding, and she continued to claim that he hadn't had a fair trial — Bolin himself claimed evidence had been faked and that he'd been framed. In spite of her claims that things like fingerprints and footprints clearly didn't match her new husband, he was executed in 2016 (via CBS). She became a private investigator, working to get other accused men exonerated.