Parole denied for ‘black widow’ Marie Poling

Will be up again in 2022

WARREN — Convicted Howland murderer Marie Poling will have to stay in prison at least three more years.

The woman who Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has called “the black widow” appeared before the Ohio Parole Board, which recently denied her release.

According to Parole Board officials, Poling, 60, will be up for parole for a seventh time in December 2022.

In Watkins’ letter opposing parole, he wrote: “(Poling) is not fit for society and will always be a threat to go into her ‘killer mode’ against anyone who gets in her way in the future once unrestrained.”

Watkins was the lead prosecutor in the 1988 trial that saw Poling convicted of aggravated murder with a firearm specification and abuse of a corpse. She was sentenced to 24 1/2 years to life, and so far has served 31 years and five months in the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville.

The trial before the late Common Pleas Judge Robert Nader focused on a love triangle, leading to the woman convincing her lover to cut off her husband’s head after she murdered him.

In January 1988, Poling was a 29-year-old mother of three when she shot her steel mill-working husband, Richard, as he slept on the couch. At the time, she was having an affair with Rafael Garcia Jr., who worked with her at a nursing home.

Testimony from the trial revealed Poling recruited Garcia and another woman to help her get rid of her husband’s body. Garcia rented an ax from the local Rent-a-Center, and they cut off his head in the basement of Poling’s Niles Road SE home.

They dumped the torso after driving off Interstate 79, west of Pittsburgh. Further south, they put the head in a plastic bag and threw it into a ravine.

Garcia was released from prison in 2001 after serving 13 years of a 5-to-25-year sentence after his conviction on aggravated burglary, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of justice charges.

The Poling case got the attention of an Australian television producer who is interviewing Watkins and some journalists for a segment about Poling for an upcoming series called “Deadly Women.”

Producer Alyse Edwards said she was fascinated by the gruesome story, and her company has done work for “Mythbusters” for the Discovery Channel.

Edwards’ production company, Beyond Productions, now is producing “Deadly Women” for the cable television channel Investigation Discover.

“The show explores the psychological motivation behind why some women commit homicide,” Edwards said. “In doing so, we hope to create a greater awareness and understanding of the effects of such crimes, both on the individuals involved and the larger community.”


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