SERIAL WIDOW: Norwalk man's death revisited, 56 years later

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Relatives of the first husband of a five-time widow said he was shot to death at wor
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

Relatives of the first husband of a five-time widow said he was shot to death at work in Norwalk more than 50 years ago and the culprit was never found.

Details of Betty Neumar's first husband's death were revealed Wednesday, a day after Florida authorities said they would re-investigate her third husband's shooting death in 1965.

Neumar, 76, is in jail, charged last month in North Carolina with solicitation of murder in the July 1986 shooting death of her fourth husband.

North Carolina investigators have urged authorities elsewhere to investigate deaths of the other spouses, including that of her fifth and most recent husband: He died last year of an infection that could indicate he was poisoned.

Galen Malone said Wednesday  Ohio police never found the person responsible for the 1952 death of Clarence Malone, his cousin and Neumar’s first husband.

‘‘For years, we never knew what happened to Clarence,’’ Galen Malone told The Associated Press. ‘‘We just couldn’t understand who would do this, who would want to hurt him.’’

Investigators say details about Neumar’s early life are sketchy. They are digging up old files and interviewing family and friends.

But Malone’s relatives and records discovered by The AP reveal more details about Neumar; then Betty Johnson; and her first husband.

Records show the two were married in 1950 and planned to live with her parents in Ironton in southern Ohio.

Galen Malone, who lives in Portsmouth in southern Ohio, said his cousin was a ‘‘good kid.’’ After high school, Malone moved to northern Ohio and was a mechanic at a used car lot. He recalled visiting his cousin at the lot, ‘‘an old red barn’’ outside Norwalk.

But he said he didn’t know much about his cousin’s wife. ‘‘She was a pretty girl with dark features. She told me she grew up in West Virginia,’’ he said.

They dated for nearly a year, but the wedding was sudden, he said. An announcement in a local newspaper said the informal nuptials were performed by a local minister. The marriage license included parental consent. She was 18 and he was 19.

Nearly two years later, Clarence Malone was dead.

Galen Malone says the family was told he was shot — probably during a robbery; and that his wife found the body.

Authorities in Norwalk and Huron County did not immediately return calls Wednesday seeking comment on the case.

The cousin recalled attending the funeral and the widow told him what happened. ‘‘She said he was working on a car in the garage at the time. She seemed upset,’’ he said.

After the funeral, he never saw her again. ‘‘She just disappeared.’’

Over the years, family members would periodically talk about the case.

That’s how Leroy Haas, a high school friend and second cousin, said he learned about Clarence’s death about 10 years ago.

‘‘The details are just shocking. He was a little hardheaded at times, he always had to have his way. But he was a good person,’’ Haas said.

After Malone’s death, Neumar married John Flynn, who died in 1954. Police say she had two children by the early marriages, including a son with Malone.

Her third husband, Richard Sills, was found dead in his apartment in the Florida Keys in 1965. Neumar told police they were alone in a room arguing when he pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. Authorities concluded he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. On Tuesday the Monroe County Sheriff’s office said it would look at the case again after learning about Neumar’s charges in North Carolina.

Gentry, the fourth husband, was found shot to death inside the couple’s home in 1986. Three years later, she married her fifth husband, John Neumar. He died in October, and authorities in Augusta, Ga., are investigating whether his death — officially listed as listed as sepsis, bacterial infection of the body’s blood and tissues — might have another cause, such as arsenic poisoning.

Neumar is being held on $500,000 bond in the Stanly County jail. Two telephone messages left for her attorney, Charles Parnell, were not returned Wednesday.