Alpine Manor Nursing Home killer granted parole

Kent County

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the two former nurse’s aides convicted in the Alpine Manor Nursing Home murders has been granted parole and is set to be released later this month.

Catherine Wood, now 57, has served 29 years of her 20- to 40-year sentence in the 1987 murders.

Relatives of one of the five Alpine Manor murder victims told 24 Hour News 8 they plan to fight her Oct. 24 release. They plan to file an appeal in Kent County Circuit Court.

“This woman should not be out until the last day on her 40-year sentence,” said John Engman, the son-in-law of victim Mae Mason. “That’s my viewpoint, if only because she’s dangerous to society.”

Mason, 79, was one of five patients suffocated at Alpine Manor.

“In her sleep, in the nursing home, in the middle of the night,” Engman said.

“She did not deserve this sort of death,” he continued. “None of those people did. They lived good lives and expected people would take care of them until they died of natural causes.”

Wood and her lover Gwendolyn Graham were both nurse’s aides at Alpine Manor in Walker.

But in 1987, rumors started to spread that they had suffocated patients as they slept, even trying to spell MURDER with their initials. Most of the victims, including Mason, suffered from Alzheimer’s.

The other victims were identified as Edith Cole, 89; Marguerite Chambers, 60; Myrtle Luce, 95; and Belle Burkhard, 74.

Wood and Graham were charged with the murders, and later dubbed the “Lethal Lovers” and the “Angels of Death.” The story has been told in books and in documentaries.

Graham got life without parole for all five murders. She’s 55 now and serving her time at Huron Valley Women’s Prison near Ypsilanti.

Wood cooperated with police, claiming she was the lookout and that Graham did the killings. That got her a plea deal in two of the murders and 20 to 40 years in prison. The judge sentenced her 29 years ago this month.

Retired Walker Detective Tom Freeman, who investigated the murders, told 24 Hour News 8 that Wood deserves her freedom. Without her, he said, there was no case.

“I feel that she served her time and I feel she’s not a menace to society or could harm society at this stage,” Freeman said. “I really believe that.”

In a document sent to Mae Mason’s family, the parole board wrote that Wood had accepted responsibility for her crimes and that “reasonable assurance exists that the prisoner will not become a menace to society or to the public safety.”

But Mason’s son-in-law told 24 Hour News 8 that an inmate at the prison where Wood is being held wrote him a letter several years ago. She claimed that Wood was bragging that she did the killing and was not the lookout. He said he sent that to the parole board at the time.

He fears that Wood is still dangerous, and, if released, “that she’d do it again. I think probably that serial killers don’t ever stop.

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