I caught this Lifetime movie, Widow on the Hill, yesterday. Apparently, it is old and has been aired once, twice, or even more times before. But I had not seen it. It was presented as a true story, so, of course, I had to check it out.
Turns out, it is real life, but the “black widow” was called Linda Cavanaugh in the movie, a fictious name. Her real name is Donna Somerville.
It takes place in a little town in Virginia. Linda or Donna was a hospice nurse of sorts and was hired by a well-established and well-respected family to care for the dying wife of Hamilton Somerville. The wife did in fact die and Hamilton and Donna were married less than a year later.
She was seen as a gold digger by his daughters who never liked her. The movie mentions only two daughters, but turns out there were really three, and he also had adopted her daughter as well.
But when Hamilton dies, rather unexpectedly, the daughters were suspicious. He had cut them out of the will (supposedly at her insistence) and there had been rumors about town that Donna had not been faithful to her husband.
Donna wanted his body cremated immediately, but the daughters prevailed and an autopsy was ordered. He had died of a concoction of drugs and Donna was charged with murder.
She was tried in June of 2004 for first degree murder in a bench trial, rather than a jury trial, and the judge found her not guilty. (Maybe she beguiled the judge?)
She still lives on the massive 345 acre property she inherited and is rarely seen.
The daughters have filed a civil lawsuit against her and I can’t find anything about whether or not that has been resolved except a mention somewhere about a settlement under seal. [See update at bottom] Couldn’t find a picture of Hamilton either.
Who needs fiction? I think Ann Rule missed this one.
Oh, and she was reportedly studying to become a minister. My. My.
UPDATE: See results of the civil suit here: