To say that Stella Nickell had a rough upbringing would be an understatement. She had a childhood of poverty, neglect, and abuse. At 16, she gave birth to a daughter, Cynthia. In the next 12 years, she had numerous failed relationships, a failed marriage, and spent time in jail. In early 1974, when she was 32, she met Bruce Nickell and they married.
One summer day in 1986, Bruce came home with a headache and took four Excedrin capsules. Stella said that her husband walked out on the back deck and suddenly collapsed. He was taken by helicopter to a Seattle hospital where he died. Doctors said Bruce died from emphysema, but Stella said that never made sense.
Almost two weeks later, Stella heard about the death of 40-year old Sue Snow. News reports said that the woman had died after swallowing cyanide-laced Excedrin. Stella immediately called the police to report that Bruce, too, had taken Excedrin right before he died.
Police initially focused on Sue Snow’s husband Paul Webking for her murder. But the call from Stella Nickell led to the conclusion that Sue Snow was not the only person killed by the poisoned headache medicine. Excedrin capsules were recalled and an investigation for murders by product tampering began.
Join us at the quiet end today for a discussion of the Seattle Cyanide Murders. There is no doubt that it is a heartless act to kill a spouse, but what kind of a person kills at random?