Miranda Grubbs/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle/AP
Howard Breuer
May 07, 2014 03:05 PM

For decades, Todd Scott says, he was haunted by a terrible secret. His mother, Alice Uden, told him that back in the 1970s she killed her third husband, 25-year-old Ronald Holtz, as he slept.

“She just, out of the blue, told me how she got up one night, got a .22, and shot Ron in the head,” Scott, now 53, tearfully told a Wyoming jury last week, adding, “I don’t know why a mother would tell her children she killed somebody.”

After his testimony, Scott turned to Uden, now 75 and wheelchair-bound, and said, “I hate you,” reports West Texas CBS affiliate KOSA.

Although Scott claimed that through the years he had told everyone – from police to his employers – about the confession, the murder charge was only filed late last year when Holtz’s remains were found.

The discovery happened at the same time another shocking family secret was coming to light: Uden’s fourth and current husband, Gerald, 71, a truck driver, confessed to killing his ex-wife and their two boys in Wyoming in 1980. On Nov. 1, Gerald Uden was sentenced to life in prison.

In a PEOPLE exclusive earlier this year, Erica Hayes, 41, and the youngest of Alice Uden’s five children, recalled how her stepfather met her at a truck stop near their home in Chadwick, Missouri, and confessed to the triple murder. Uden’s defense attorney asked the judge not to allow jurors to hear anything about Gerald Uden’s case.

A Violent Man, Claimed Uden

The jurors did hear from Alice Uden’s older daughter, Theresa Twyford, 55, who supported the prosecutors’ argument that Uden shot Holtz in his sleep, and not during a fight, as her lawyers claim. But Twyford also testified that her mother told her Holtz was a violent man who once beat and kicked her on the side of the road.

Frail and emotional, Uden took the witness stand on Monday and Tuesday, telling jurors she killed Holtz because she was “scared” and needed to protect her young daughter. Deliberations began Wednesday.

According to Uden, Holtz was a Vietnam veteran who was honorably discharged in 1970 for numerous psychiatric problems, including threats of suicide. One day, when Erica, then 2, began to cry, Holtz, who had been working as a taxi driver, flew in a rage, charging at the toddler and shouting, ‘I’m going to kill her,’ ” Uden testified.

“I tried to stop him and he knocked me down and ran into her bedroom,” she said. “I was by the mop closet and I had a gun in there and I grabbed it and followed right behind him and shot him in the back of the head.”

Holtz fell over the crib railing, she testified, and slid down to the floor. Uden says she brought Erica to stay with Holtz’s parents in Commerce City, Colorado, then returned and disposed of the body.

The Uden Family

The slaying occurred sometime between Christmas Eve 1974 and Feb. 5, 1975, according to authorities. Nearly six years later, on Sept. 12, 1980, Gerald Uden killed Virginia Uden, 32, and sons Richard, 11, and Reagan, 10.

Investigators have not linked the two cases, but all four victims were initially dumped in mines. Investigators dug up Holtz’s remains last summer in an abandoned mine on the Remount Ranch, a small cattle outfit between Cheyenne and Laramie, where Alice Uden had once been a caretaker.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Uden could spend the rest of her life in prison.

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