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Nova Scotia's ‘Internet black widow’ signs new peace bond

Melissa Ann Shepard, known as the Internet Black Widow, arrives at court in Dartmouth, N.S. on Nov. 23, 2016.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An 81-year-old woman who killed and poisoned her intimate partners has agreed to peace bond conditions that require her to report any new romantic relationships to police for the next two years.

Melissa Ann Shepard had originally been expected to sign the lengthy set of conditions on Oct. 31 in Dartmouth provincial court, but there have been several delays due to negotiations on the details of the bond.

Shepard – who is also known as the Internet black widow – used a walker in court Wednesday to stand and agree to 21 conditions negotiated between the Crown and Shepard's lawyer Mark Knox.

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Under the bond conditions, she is required to report to police any potential relationship with a man and to report weekly to police by telephone or in person.

She is also to inform police of any changes to her appearance and provide them with fresh photographs.

The elderly woman was released from prison in March after serving a full sentence of just under three years for spiking newlywed husband Fred Weeks's coffee with tranquilizers in 2012.

She had initially challenged the conditions, but agreed to sign them after changes were made.

Crown attorney James Giacomantonio said outside court that the new conditions allow Shepard to come into contact with ex-offenders who are volunteers or residents of Adsum for Women housing, or participate in a group organized by the Elizabeth Fry Society.

In August, Shepard pleaded not guilty to violating previous imposed court conditions by allegedly using a computer at the Halifax Central Library.

Her trial on that charge has been scheduled for Feb. 1.

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Giacomantonio said outside court that the peace bond conditions will continue for two years from Tuesday regardless of the outcome of the February hearing.

Shepard has a long criminal record that has extended across the continent.

In 1991, she was convicted of manslaughter and served two years of a six-year prison term after killing her husband Gordon Stewart on a deserted road near Halifax.

Stewart, from P.E.I., was heavily drugged when Shepard ran over him twice with a car.

Shortly after she was released from prison, she travelled to Florida and met Robert Friedrich at a Christian retreat. They married in Nova Scotia in 2000.

A year later, Friedrich's family noticed his health faltering. He had mysterious fainting spells and slurred speech and was in and out of hospitals.

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In 2005, Shepard was sentenced to five years in prison for a slew of charges stemming from a relationship she had with another Florida man she met online.

She pleaded guilty to seven charges, including three counts of grand theft from a person 65 years or older, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a forged document.

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