Justice: Senior Suspects

It sounds like a remake of "Arsenic and Old Lace," but it's no laughing matter. Two grandmotherly women befriend a homeless man and set him up in an apartment. Then they begin taking out life-insurance policies on him, representing themselves variously as his aunt, business partner or even fiancée. Suddenly, the man dies in a mysterious hit-and-run accident. That's the story line laid out by authorities, who last month charged Olga Rutterschmidt, 73, and Helen Golay, 75, with perpetrating a $2.31 million insurance-fraud scheme involving hit-and-run victim Kenneth McDavid. Both women have pleaded not guilty.

The women haven't been charged in the death of McDavid, whose body was found in a Los Angeles alley last June. But NEWSWEEK has learned that FBI agents searched the homes of the two women last Friday looking for prescription drugs that they suspect could have been used to help knock out McDavid before he was run over, according to an affidavit filed by FBI Agent Samuel Mayrose. The new filing reveals that investigators now believe McDavid was sitting or lying down when he was struck, and they are testing suspected "blood and organic matter [found] on the undercarriage" of a 1999 Mercury Sable linked to Golay. Meanwhile, police are investigating at least two other cases involving the women, including the 1999 hit-and-run death of another man who named the ladies his beneficiaries on several insurance policies. (No charges have been filed in those cases.) This drama is far from over.