The elderly couple got away with their murders for over 30 years.
To look at Gerald and Alice Uden, you’d never guess the dark secrets that they were hiding. The elderly couple lived a quiet life in rural Missouri – they’d been settled there since the 1980s. Regular church-goers, they’d raised their children in the sleepy community. One local commented: ‘They’re the kind of neighbours you leaned over the fence and talked about your chickens with.’ Then, in 2013, the police came knocking and the secrets the Udens had kept for decades spilled out.
Gerald and Alice Uden were both taken into custody – for separate murders, committed over 1000 miles away in Wyoming, over 30 years before. Alice, 75, was arrested for the murder of her former husband, and Gerald, 71, for the murder of his ex-wife and her two sons. The case drew national attention, and by the time Gerald and Alice stood trial, the country was gripped.
Gerald Uden’s trial came first. He admitted the murders of his ex-wife Virginia, and her sons Richard, 12, and Reagan, 10, describing his crime in chilling detail.
Gerald said he’d married Virginia and adopted Richard and Reagan, her children from a previous relationship. But six weeks after the adoption had gone through, Virginia had filed for divorce. It was then that Gerald met Alice, and the pair began a relationship. But Virginia made life hard for new couple. Gerald decided to make the problem go away – permanently. Not just by killing Virginia, but murdering her boys, too.
‘I saw all of them as the wedge,’ Gerald confessed. ‘I knew if I was going to kill one of them, I was going to have to kill all of them.’
So in September 1980, he arranged to meet Virginia and the boys, drove them to a remote spot, and shot them all in the head with a .22 rifle. He dumped their bodies, and their remains were never found. Soon afterwards he and Alice had left Wyoming, to settle in Missouri. But now Gerald would never return there. He was handed a life sentence.
Gerald insisted he’d acted alone and there was no suggestion that Alice had played a part in the triple slaying. But she was soon facing justice of her own.
Alice Uden faced the court in August 2014. Sobbing, she denied murder, saying that she’d shot her then-husband Ronald Holtz in 1974, but only to defend her child from him. She claimed she’d shot him with a rifle after he became furious that their toddler daughter was crying and he was moments away from attacking her.
‘I wish that I never would have met him so that none of this ever would have happened. He was a very frightening man,’ she said.
But the jury rejected this account, and she was found guilty of second-degree murder. ‘This was very much a cold, calculated murder,’ the judge said, sentencing Alice to life in prison.
So, Alice was already a murderer when she took up with Gerald, and then he committed his heinous crime. But the cases weren’t connected, and since moving to Missouri, it appeared that the couple had lead a law-abiding life. It made their convictions difficult to accept for those they were close to. Especially their children, who struggled to reconcile their peaceful upbringing with fact that their parents were killers.
‘The memories are tainted and dark, knowing what happened,’ Alice’s youngest daughter told People magazine. ‘It’s the most bizarre feeling in the world to find out your parents are different people, but at the same time, they’re still the people I love.’