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Third victim suspected of Austrian black widow

Austrian police are considering whether to dig up a third body after a complaint by the family over the death of a relative who was cared for by the Polish woman suspected of poisoning two men in her care.

Arson has already been found in the bodies of two men who died after they were being cared for by Bogumila W. after she had persuaded them to rewrite their wills in her favour.

The accused woman who strongly denies the charges is currently in investigative custody.

The third case which is now being looked at involves a family from Maria Enzersdorf who said that they are grandmother died in 2007 after being looked after by the same woman.

Her son said that she had been taken ill in 2006 and they had arranged for the Polish woman to take over the care of their relative whose condition had quickly worsened.

Her nephew said that with hindsight the symptoms could have been down to poisoning and they have been beside her in her bed when she died a very painful and agonising death.

Prosecutors in Krems confirmed they had also questioned an 81-year-old who she was looking after shortly before the arrest and who has now emerged had also agreed to sign over part of his property to the son of the woman.

The elderly man is reportedly extremely ill and prosecutors took his testimony because of the risk that he may not recover.

Timo Gerersdorfer defending the Polish woman said that the allegations she had stolen from the ill man had no basis, and simply concerned a stamp collection that the man had given to his client.

Earlier a court rejected a bid for bail from the former cleaning lady accused of poisoning her employers shortly after they agreed to leave her all their possessions.

Justifying the decision to keep her in custody the court said that there was a risk she might repeat her alleged crime, and also that she could try to go on the run.

One of the men was found to have arsenic in his body which was 50 times over the normal limits that one might expect. The second man was then also found to have died as a result of poisoning from a plant-based chemical. Initially police had failed to find traces of the poison in the man's body reportedly because he had had a blood transfusion near the end of his life. But arson was then found in a fingernail sample.

The woman was unable to explain how the substance had ended up in the men's body but denied that she had poisoned them. She was remanded in custody while the investigation was ongoing.

The case is reminiscent to that of Austrian serial killer Elfriede Blauensteiner - dubbed the Black Widow, who murdered at least three victims by poison and then inherited their wealth which she then spent on gambling.

The prosecution case is now likely to be finalised allowing charges to take place at the end of October.

Krems prosecution spokesman Franz Hütter said: "It was necessary to prove that she was mentally aware of everything that was going on but it was really just a formality – we never had any doubt that the prosecution case could go ahead."

The woman's son is also facing charges over allegations that he helped her to fraudulently obtain her alleged victims' properties. Hutterer confirmed the investigation against him was also continuing.

The two men died in October 2010 and February 2011 in hospitals in Vienna and Krems.

The woman who was arrested at the end of March is accused of their murder in order to inherit their property - the bodies were exhumed in April. The woman was named only as Bogumila W., 51, because of data protection laws that prevent police from revealing her full name.

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