For 22 years, Al Gentry begged and pleaded with detectives to dig deeper into his brother's murder. He suspected there was more to Harold Gentry's July 1986 North Carolina death, but his cries went unheeded and he watched as police labeled the case cold.
"I gave up, figured it'd been thrown under the rug like everyone else," he said.
But now police have made a shocking accusation. They believe Harold Gentry's wife, Betty Johnson Neumar, solicited a hit man to kill her husband.
"We had no doubts we would be here, sooner or later. We're glad to get her here," said Stanly County, N.C., sheriff Rick Burris.
The investigators said Neumar, who was charged last month with one count of solicitation of murder and remains in jail, asked several people to perform the duplicitous deed.
Lead detective Scott Williams said Monday his office is looking into the possibility that one of those would-be hit men went to authorities before Harold Gentry's death, but no one took him seriously, according to the Associated Press
"That's another aspect we're looking into," Williams said, declining to elaborate.The case has prompted other agencies to look into the deaths of Neumar's other husbands — all four of them.
Coincidences or Murders?
According to investigators, the repeat widow's world is a nationwide web of coincidences, and some have labeled her a "black widow."
In all, the 76-year-old Neumar has been married five times since the 1950s, and each union ended with the death of her husband.
Her most recent spouse, John Neumar, died in October 2007. Though his death was originally attributed to a bacterial infection in his blood and tissues, authorities are now examining his ashes for traces of arsenic.
"My father was a picture of health. He was never a sick a day in his life until he wound up marrying Betty," said Janet Neumar, who suspects foul play in her father's death.
A String of Husbands, All Dead
Betty Johnson Neumar married John Neumar, her fifth husband, three years after Harold Gentry's death. Neumar met Gentry in Florida in the late 1960s after he retired from the Army and moved to Norwood, N.C.
Prior to that, she lived with her third spouse, Richard "Dick" Sills, in the Florida Keys. Sills was shot to death in 1965, and at the time police thought his death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
But Williams said Neumar was the only person in the room when he died.
Neumar's first two husbands died in Ohio in the early 1950s under unclear circumstances. Besides being married to Neumar and their subsequent deaths, the men had one other thing in common — they all were in the military.
Today Neumar sits in a Stanly County jail, held on $500,000 bond. Her lawyer, Charles Parnell, said there is no way she is guilty of any crime.
"She is 76 years old. She does not work. In fact, she was working in her garden when the detectives came and spoke to her," he said.
Still, investigators hope to determine if this sweet-faced grandmother really is a cold-blooded murderer.