Grandmothers are supposed to be sweet, loving old ladies with a plate of fresh baked cookies in one hand and a handful of lemon drops in the other, ever ready to dispense hugs and wisdom whenever needed. Clearly the ladies on this list need to re-read their job description and start knitting more afghans.
Sex has been for sale, trade or rent since mankind figured out how to trade pretty rocks to get their rocks off. For Vera Tursi the asthmatic madam, it was her main source of income. Vera has the dubious honor of being one of the oldest women busted for working the worldâ€™s oldest profession. 80 years old at the time of her arrest and reliant on a walker to get around, police first started to suspect her age when they spoke to her on the phone as part of a sting operation. She was heard struggling to catch her breath and using the word dear,Â adding a truly surreal note to the negotiations with such gems as â€œThatâ€™s all-inclusive, dear.â€
Vera took over the operation of her daughterâ€™s company, August Playmates upon her death several years before. Originally used to supplement her retirement income, Vera took $60 out of the $160 she charged her clients per hour for time with one of her girls.
The Drug Dealer
Florida is known for being the retirement spot of choice for everyone over the age of 65, but it seems some of their senior population wasnâ€™t ready to give up working in exchange for shuffleboard and lawn bowling. Theresia Taylor was one such enterprising individual, who used her network of elderly friends to gather up what police described as a â€œveritable cornucopia of prescription pills,”Â including Oxycoden and Soma, a muscle relaxant. This 64 year old bought the drugs from other seniors and then redistributed them to eager buyers for cold, hard cash.Â Behind a yard strewn with her grandchildrenâ€™s toys and cheery garden decorations, police found a large stash of prescription drugs, cash, marijuana and grow lights. The dope dealing granny was charged with trafficking oxycodone and hydrocodone in addition to two drug-possession charges, and weâ€™re betting she baked the best special brownies in the neighborhood.
The Racketeering Ringleader
Back to Florida again, where yet another criminal mastermind was hiding behind the veneer of blue haired biddy. Ernestine Williams was 67 when she was arrested as the leader of a racketeering outfit that specialized in stealing credit cards and check books from their elderly victims. Though confined to a wheelchair herself, Ernestine commanded a crew of pickpockets and thieves that operated for more than a decade, recruiting family, friends and those she could entice with offers of narcotics in exchange for their services as thieves. She gave instructions on who to target, what to wear and how to approach their elderly targets, and even chartered bus trips to other areas to expand her criminal reach. The collective data on Ernestine and her merry band of thieves was gathered from the witness statements and reports from over one hundred and fifty police reports from departments all over Florida and Georgia.
The Organ Harvester
Russian grandmother Nina Tkacheva told her 5 year old grandson Andrei she was arranging a trip for him to Disneyland, but police say she had planned to sell her orphaned grandson for organs instead of getting him tickets to the happiest place on earth. Â They received a tip this cold blooded babushka was arranging to sell her grandson to a man for $90,000 so his organs could be harvested and sold to Western buyers.Â Nina even ripped off the boyâ€™s uncle in the deal, telling him the boy was being sold for $20,000 less so she could pocket the difference. The loving uncle and father of two daughters of his own explained his reasons to police â€œ”I wanted to buy a house and a new car and some clothes. It was my dream.â€ Â When asked how he could be involved in such a scheme, the uncle stated â€œMy mother said that it is none of my business, he is her grandson.â€
The Bank Robber
When called upon to help out family, most grandmotherâ€™s supply tea, sympathy and oatmeal cookies.Â Marilyn Devine took a slightly more aggressive approach to fixing her sonâ€™s financial woes, and when he called her in his hour of need, Marilyn grabbed a 9mm semi automatic pistol and headed to the nearest bank.Â This gun toting granny put hid her face behind a hood and a black-and-gold Steelers scarf, walked into a branch of the National City Bank and calmly pointed the unloaded gun at two tellers, making off with nearly $6,000.Â Jumping into her own car, she led the local police on a short chase as she wove through slow traffic until a local Tow Truck driver with a police scanner got involved and blocked the renegade grandmotherâ€™s way.
She was sentenced to 3 months of house arrest and 20 years probation, and despite her testimony that the tellers appeared “â€¦ nonchalant. I really didn’t think I scared them that much at the time,” the judge ordered her to pay $10,000 for the duress her victims suffered and any treatment they need to get over being held up by a senior citizen.
The Serial Killer/Black Widow
Betty Neumar was 76 when police arrested her, nearly 20 years after she allegedly arranged for a hit man to take out her fourth husband Harold Gentry for his $20,000 insurance policy. Once they had her for that murder, investigators realized that Betty had been married five times, and all five of her husbands had left the marriage feet first. Proving the adage â€œbetter late than never,â€ all of those deaths are now being investigated as possible homicides, especially considering the fact 3 of her 5 dearly departed died from gunshot wounds. To add to this gruesome grannyâ€™s reputation, Police have also reopened the case of her sonâ€™s death in 1985, which was ruled a suicide back in 1985.
Gentryâ€™s brother hounded the police for years to reopen the case, struck by the fact that upon her return to the family home, surrounded by flashing lights, sirens and police as they investigated her husbandâ€™s violent murder, Bettyâ€™s first words were to establish an alibi and never once did she show an ounce of emotion.Â â€œIf she had gotten out of that car with tears in her eyes and asked me why would anybody kill Harold, I would never have suspected her at all,” he said. “That’s where she slipped up.”
With more than 73 arrests spanning more than four decades, 76 year old Katherine Kelly may be the worldâ€™s oldest pickpocket. She was most recently caught stealing a police officerâ€™s wallet during a sting operation in a local Manhattan grocery store, snagging the wallet and stuffing it into her bra. We admire the bravery of the officer tasked with fishing it out again, and we hope the department paid to have it cleaned to get rid of the scent of mothballs and peppermints. Katherine is a career criminal with more than 36 aliases and has provided police with 26 different dates of birth. When arrested this time gave her address as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, the Washington, DC address of the White House.Â Either she is a crafty old devil, or sheâ€™s a walking poster child for Alzheimerâ€™s disease and has forgotten who she really is.
The Mafia Mobster
Scenic Sicily: home of wine, pasta and quaint mobster hideouts
81 year old Calogera Pia Messina aka Zi Calina (Auntie Calina)Â is an Italian Crime Boss who had been running her own crime family for over two years when she was arrested by Italian anti-mafia detectives.Â This matronly Mafioso took over the family business from her son when he was shot and killed by police attempting to capture him, the rest of his brotherâ€™s having all been arrested and serving life sentences for previous crimes. With her boys all out of commission it fell to Zi Calina to carry on. The empire she inherited covered much of south eastern Sicily and was considered a rival to the Godfathers of Catania and Palermo.
The mafia matriarch gave out the orders, identified who got paid, who paid protection to the family, and saw to running the day to day activities of the crew of racketeering thugs, no doubt dispensing cannoli and lasagna while organizing up targets for murder and mayhem.