Arizona's 10 Deadliest Deadly Women

The pink tags attached to Winnie Ruth Judd's trunks read: "Before delivering this, see Mr. Anderson personally." Anderson was the baggage agent in LA One of the trunks was leaking blood.
The pink tags attached to Winnie Ruth Judd's trunks read: "Before delivering this, see Mr. Anderson personally." Anderson was the baggage agent in LA One of the trunks was leaking blood.
Robrt Pela

In 2012, Rebekah Mellon, a 31-year-old mother of one, was charged with the first-degree murder of her husband, who was found shot to death in the family's Phoenix home.

In a bizarre twist, the shooting was recorded on video, thanks to the family's indoor surveillance system.

When the case goes to trial later this year, the sordid and gruesome details are likely to capture the public's attention. Compared to men, women rarely commit murder and make up only 11 percent of all homicides.

But when women kill, the crimes tend to be personal — and dramatic.

Arizona is home to some of the most notorious and bizarre female killers. For your bloodthirsty delectation, New Times has compiled a list of our state's 10 Deadliest Deadly Women.

Wendi Andriano
Wendi Andriano
Arizona Department of Corrections

10. Wendi Andriano
Wendi Andriano appeared to live a happy life with her husband, Joseph, 33, in an apartment complex in Ahwatukee. But in 2000, when Joseph fell ill with terminal cancer and ceased working, Wendi became burdened and resentful, prosecutors would later say. She began frequenting bars and engaging in extramarital affairs, while at the same time scheming to kill her husband and profit from his death. After obtaining a life-insurance policy, she researched and ordered poison on the internet. On October 8, 2000, after Wendi had slipped pesticide into her husband's soup, Joseph suffered a heart attack and Wendi called 911. But when paramedics arrived, she turned them away. Apparently Joseph hadn't died fast enough. So Wendi hit him over the head with a barstool 23 times, then stuck a knife in his neck. Wendi later claimed she was physically and psychologically abused by her husband, although none of her friends had ever observed any signs of abuse. The jury didn't buy her story, and on December 22, 2004, she was sentenced to death, making her one of only two women on Arizona's death row. (Fun fact: Nationwide, women make up less than 2 percent of the death-row population.)

Marissa DeVault
Marissa DeVault
Arizona Department of Corrections

9. Marissa DeVault
On January 14, 2009, Marissa DeVault, then 31, crept into the master bedroom of the Gilbert home she shared with her husband, claw hammer in hand. While Dale Harrell, 34, slept, she slammed the hammer into his head, caving in his skull. Then she called police. Dale Harrell was found on the blood-soaked bedroom floor with multiple skull fractures, clinging to life. Initially, Marissa claimed Dale had been beaten by a burglar. Then she tried to pin the crime on the couple's roommate, who — cue bizarre twist no. 1! — obligingly confessed to the crime. Three weeks after the bludgeoning,  Dale died at a hospice after his family agreed to remove life support. Not long afterward — cue bizarre twist no. 2! — Marissa was found, beaten, in a field near her home. She said she'd been out jogging when she was accosted by an unknown assailant.) Eventually, Marissa confessed to having beaten Dale, claiming it was in self-defense and that he was physically and sexually abusive to her and had molested the eldest of their three daughters. The trial made national and global headlines, with stories that compared the case to that of Jodi Arias. (More on her below!) On April 8, 2014, a jury found Marissa guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Pamela Phillips
Pamela Phillips
Pinal County Sheriff's Department

8. Pamela Phillips
A beautiful blond socialite, Pamela Phillips lived a lavish lifestyle with her millionaire husband, Tucson developer Gary Triano. Gary had made millions investing in Arizona casinos, then lost it all to a gambling habit and the real-estate crash. Pamela filed for divorce and moved to Aspen, Colorado, where she got a job in real estate. When she met boyfriend Robert Young, Pamela hatched a plan to kill Gary and collect on a $2 million life-insurance policy in order to maintain her extravagant taste for the good life. On November 1, 1996, Gary climbed into his Lincoln Town Car at a Tucson golf course when a pipe bomb exploded. Police said Pamela had offered Young $400,000 to carry out the hit. The boyfriend was convicted of the murder, but Pamela fled to Europe. Once extradited, she stood trial, and on May 22, 2014, at the age of 56, she was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Marjorie Orbin
Marjorie Orbin
Arizona Department of Corrections

7. Marjorie Orbin
A former Las Vegas showgirl, Marjorie Orbin had been married six times by the age of 34 when she wed wealthy art dealer Jay Orbin. For the next decade, Marjorie appeared to live in domestic bliss, having a son named Noah and remodeling her North Phoenix home. Secretly, though, Marjorie was unfaithful to her husband, who traveled nearly half the year for his job. In the summer of 2004, she had two affairs — one of them with Noah's 18-year-old karate instructor, the other with a 60-year-old bodybuilder she met at the gym. After Jay Orbin went missing on September 8, 2004 — his 45th birthday — Marjorie began liquidating his assets and moved her boyfriend into the house. A month later, a 50-gallon container was found abandoned on the side of the road on a vacant desert parcel of land. Inside, a transient discovered the disemboweled torso of a man. He'd been sliced above the belly button and below the knees, still clothed in a pair of bloody denim jean shorts. The torso was determined to be that of Jay Orbin. While suspicion immediately fell on Marjorie, she wasn't arrested until police obtained surveillance video of her at a Lowe's purchasing the Rubbermaid container in which her husband's torso was discovered — which they were able to trace right down to the UPC code she'd unwisely left on the container. On October 1, 2009, Marjorie was sentenced to life without possibility of parole. The rest of Jay's body has not been found.

Valerie Pape
Valerie Pape
Arizona Department of Corrections

6. Valerie Pape
Marjorie Orbin wasn't the first — or even the most famous — female killer in Phoenix to dismember her husband. In 2000, Scottsdale salon owner and French citizen Valerie Pape was caught tossing the headless, limbless body of her husband into the Dumpster behind an East Mesa supermarket. Days after the discovery, Valerie, dubbed the "torso killer," admitted to police that she dispatched 60-year-old Ira Pomerantz during a fight. Prosecutors say the motive was a strained relationship, debts, and Valerie's extramarital affair. Although she refused to talk to detectives about the dismemberment or what had become of the rest of Pomerantz's remains, police discovered that she had purchased a reciprocating saw at a Scottsdale hardware store. On October 10, 2002, Valerie pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. In February of this year, Valerie was released — and promptly deported to France.



Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >