Black Widow Grandma Charged With Murder Of Husband Whose Scalp Was Found In A Bag

Michael Harris said his grandmother often talked about the best way to get rid of a body, including telling him that you have to stab a corpse before putting it into water so that it won't float, and telling him that a perpetrator could use a victim's heart medication to make it appear as though they had a heart attack.

May 02, 2019
Mug shot of Virginia Hayden [York County Sheriff's Office]

Photo by: Mug shot of Virginia Hayden [York County Sheriff's Office]

Mug shot of Virginia Hayden [York County Sheriff's Office]

By: Catherine Townsend

YORK COUNTY, PA — A Pennsylvania grandmother has been charged with the murder of her husband, whose bloody remains were found in a FoodSaver bag seven years ago.

Police have arrested Virginia L. Hayden, 67, in connection with the 2011 murder of her third husband, 62-year-old Thomas Hayden.

Virginia, who stands just 5 feet tall, looks like an unlikely villain. But in addition to the criminal homicide charge, Virginia faces 64 additional counts that include forgery, theft, conspiracy, and tampering with public records, according to PennLive.

Authorities allege that after her husband was out of the picture, she continued to cash in his Social Security benefits. She allegedly received almost $117,000 in Social Security benefits intended for her husband that were deposited into a joint account.

Police say she also forged his signature on a deed transfer for the home, which allowed her to sell the residence.

In 2012, a man walking down a road in Dover Township found a human scalp with hair that appeared to be tied in a ponytail inside a plastic, vacuum-sealed FoodSaver bag. Pieces of what was described as a bloody bedsheet were also found inside the bag — and according to the arrest affidavit, this finding "supports the conclusion that he (Thomas Hayden) died a violent death."

The remains were sent to the state crime lab, but investigators were unable to find a DNA match at the time.

In January 2017, Thomas Hayden's daughter Kim Via called police and told them that she had been unable to contact her father. Each time she tried calling him, according to the criminal complaint, Virginia answered the phone and told her that her father didn’t want to talk to her.

After she asked police to do a welfare check, police began an investigation. They soon learned that no one had heard from Thomas since 2011. A former neighbor said that Virginia told him that Thomas died after traveling to Mexico for treatment for ALS.

Another former neighbor recalled that Virginia had a concrete slab poured in her backyard.

Virginia told police that Thomas had traveled to Mexico in 2011 for treatment — and insisted that she had been "telling people he was dead because it was less embarrassing than admitting he had left her."

One problem with the Mexico story is that, after getting a warrant to search her apartment, police discovered that Virginia still had his driver’s license, passport, and Social Security card.

But according to Virginia's daughter Carolyn Cooksey, her mom often talked about the best way to dispose of a body. "Seemingly unprompted, she explained that pigs would eat every part of a corpse except for the skull," The Washington Post reported.

Her grandson Michael Harris reportedly heard the same speech from Hayden. He told investigators that his grandmother often talked about the best way to get rid of a body, including telling him that you have to stab a corpse before putting it into water so that it won't float, and telling him that a perpetrator could use a victim's heart medication to make it appear as though they had a heart attack.

Harris told police that the comments did not alarm him at the time.

Harris' body has never been found. The investigation continues.

Read more: The Fayetteville Observer, York Daily Record , The Washington Post, PennLive

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