Female Serial Killer Who Murdered Patients with Alzheimer's, Dementia Released After Nearly 30 Years

Convicted of killing 5 elderly patients with her lover in 1987, Catherine Wood, 57, was released from prison on Thursday after serving almost 30 years

Catherine Wood
Photo: Kent County Sheriff's Department

A notorious convicted female serial killer who helped murder five women in a nursing home “for fun” has been released from prison after nearly 30 years. She is moving to South Carolina – sparking fear in victims’ families, who worry she’ll kill again.

Known as “The Lethal Lovers” and the “Alpine Manor serial killers,” Catherine Wood, now 57, was part of a crime duo that made national headlines and spawned TV shows, documentaries and a true crime book after she and partner Gwendolyn Graham killed five women at Michigan’s Old Alpine Manor nursing home in 1987.

They even inspired an episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke in 2016, about a pair of nurses who kill their patients.

A nurse’s aide in her 20s at the time, Wood served as a lookout for Graham, who murdered the women, ages 60 to 98, by smothering them with washcloths, she testified in court, WSOC-TV reports.

Gwendolyn Graham
Gwendolyn Graham. Kent County Sheriff's Department

They killed the women “for fun” and because of a “love bond,” Wood said, outlets including the Associated Press, The New York Times and local station ABC Columbia reported.

As part of a depraved game, they also chose their victims based on their last names so they could spell out the word ‘M-U-R-D-E-R’ using the unwitting patients’ initials, The New York Times reported.

Authorities believe the pair could have killed up to 12 people and that Wood was more than a lookout, the outlet reports. They believe Wood concocted the murderous plan as a way to keep Graham close after she learned Graham was interested in another woman.

Now 56, Graham is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Gwendolyn Graham
Gwendolyn Graham, 56. Michigan Department of Corrections

A parole board had refused to release Wood eight times before, saying she was “a potential danger” and lacked remorse for her crimes, WSOC-TV reports.

But in October 2019, she was finally granted release, the Associated Press and local station WGVU report.

Her paroled release, which ends in June 2021, mandates that she stay away from the elderly, children and vulnerable adults, WSOC-TV reports.

On Thursday, Wood left the federal prison in Tallahassee. She had been sent there after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy, and was sentenced to a prison term of 20 to 40 years, local station Fox 46 reports.

She’s moved to Fort Mill, South Carolina, where she will live with her sister, which is worrying the families of her victims and members of law enforcement who helped catch her.

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“She’s a serial killer and she could do it again, and most of them do,” retired Michigan Police Sgt. Roger Kaliniak told WSOC-TV. “I believe that Cathy Wood was the mastermind, she was the one that was pulling strings on Gwendolyn Graham. Gwendolyn Graham handled the dirty work and Cathy Wood was the brains behind it. ”

John Engman, whose mother-in-law, Mae Mason, was one of Graham and Wood’s victims, is unhappy about her release.

“I think she is a danger to society,” he told WSOC-TV. “I would certainly think they are going to keep an eye on her — at least for two years. But after that, she can go wherever she wants.”

“If I was a neighbor, I would want to definitely know that we have a serial killer living next door,” he said.

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