Police allege Black Widow breaches three conditions of release from prison

The woman known as the "Internet Black Widow" is accused of breaching the conditions of her peace bond after an officer on his beat happened to recognize a woman in the Halifax Central Library, say police.

HALIFAX — The woman known as the “Internet Black Widow” is accused of breaching the conditions of her peace bond after an officer on his beat happened to recognize a woman in the Halifax Central Library, say police.

A police spokeswoman said 80-year-old Melissa Ann Shepard was arrested Monday and faces three counts of breaching a recognizance.

The arrest in downtown Halifax comes less than a month after Shepard was released from prison under 22 court-imposed conditions, which included a ban on accessing the Internet.

“A community officer patrols Spring Garden Road,” said Const. Alicia Joseph Tuesday. “He simply was doing a walkthrough of the Halifax Public Library when he happened to observe a woman whom he recognized . . . accessing the Internet on a computer.”

Police issued a public warning when Shepard was released, stating that she is considered a high risk to reoffend. Justice officials had previously said that Shepard would be under surveillance, however Joseph said the officer who made the arrest did so by chance.

Shepard was arrested without incident and taken to police headquarters, where Joseph said she was cooperative.

She said police later found the woman had a device capable of accessing the Internet, a cellphone, which is also a violation of the peace bond conditions.

Shepard is also charged with breaching a condition that she keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Joseph said Shepard was released on a further condition that she not go within a 25 metre radius of any library in the Halifax area.

She is to appear in Halifax provincial court May 24 to answer to the charges and could face more jail time if it’s found that she breached any of her release conditions.

Shepard gained notoriety for killing and poisoning men who were her intimate partners and has a history of offences dating back to the early 1990s, according to police.

She was released March 18 after having served a full sentence — just under three years — for spiking newlywed husband Fred Weeks’s coffee with tranquilizers in 2012. Weeks survived after falling ill during a trip to Newfoundland.

Shepard has been known to change her appearance and court documents indicate she has also used multiple names and has had several other brushes with the law over the years.

Previous last names include that of her former husband Robert Edmund Friedrich, who died in 2002, and of her second husband Gordon Stewart.

Stewart died after he was drugged and run over twice with a car. Shepard was convicted of manslaughter in his death in 1992.

She was also handed a five-year prison sentence in 2005 on seven counts of theft from a man in Florida who she had met online.

Prior to her recent release, a parole board report said Shepard tended to fabricate and deny events to correctional staff and is unable to link consequences to actions.

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