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Cherrylle Margaret DELL





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Poisoner
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: December 29, 1995 / August 19, 1997
Date of arrest: December 1997
Date of birth: 1957

Victims profile: Scott Dell, 44 (her estranged husband) / Nancy Fillmore, 39 (her lesbian lover)

Method of murder: Poisoning (antifreeze) / Arson (smoke inhalation)
Location: Killaloe, Ontario, Canada
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole for 25 years in February 2001
photo gallery

Poisoned husband with antifreeze, Cherrylle Dell applies for ‘faint hope’ parole

By Andrew Seymour - The Ottawa Citizen

July 12, 2013

OTTAWA — More than fifteen years into a life sentence for murdering her husband with antifreeze-laced wine, Cherrylle Dell has taken the first step toward release on early parole.

Dell has filed a faint hope application, according to her Ottawa lawyer Jeffrey Schroeder.

The now 58-year-old Dell was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years after being convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 28, 1995 killing of husband Scott Dell in Killaloe.

She was also charged in the murder of her lesbian lover, Nancy Fillmore, but pleaded guilty to the much lesser charge of counselling Fillmore’s killer, Brent Crawford, to intimidate Fillmore.

Fillmore told police that Dell bought the antifreeze, laced a bottle of white wine with it and delivered it to her estranged husband. Dell then kept her husband up all night on the phone, encouraging him to drink it, according to Fillmore.

Fillmore died in a fire in August 1997. Crawford, who was 16 at the time of the killing, was later convicted of first-degree murder in Fillmore’s death.

Schroeder said Dell now admits she killed her husband and accepts responsibility for what she has done.

Schroeder said Dell is in the first stage of her faint hope application, having filed her prison records along with his written submissions to Ontario’s Chief Superior Court Justice Heather Forster Smith.

A yet-to-be appointed judge will review the material, and if he or she feels there is a “substantial likelihood” a jury would recommend early parole, a hearing will be scheduled.

The jury then hears the evidence, and can recommend that Dell receive early parole.

It is only then that the matter is referred to the National Parole Board, who have the final say on when Dell would be granted escorted and unescorted passes, work release, day parole and, eventually, full parole.

The faint hope provisions of the Criminal Code have since been abolished, although Dell is still eligible because her conviction predated changes to the law.

“When the jury recommends immediate parole eligibility, that just means you can get into the line,” said Schroeder.

“It means nothing whatsoever about opening the steel doors and out you pop,” he said. “That is completely and utterly a myth, if anyone holds that opinion.”

It typically takes four to five years before full parole might be granted, Schroeder said.

That was little comfort to Scott Dell’s 90-year-old mother, Myra Dell.

Myra Dell called early release for her “conniving” former daughter-in-law a “bad idea.”

“We were in the court the day the judge sentenced here and he said no chance of parole for 25 years,” said Dell.

“We were so glad when she was put away. I can’t imagine if she was out, I really can’t,” she added.

“You know how some people are in jail and you have to feel sorry for them? All I felt for her was such a relief that she was in there because she caused so much harm for everyone. She really and truly did,” Dell said.

Myra Dell said she is most concerned for Scott and Cherrylle’s children.

She said she fears the day Cherrylle is released.

Elsa Steenberg, a close friend of Scott Dell, said there is “no way” Cherrylle Dell should be released early.

“I think of all the lives she’s ruined,” said Steenberg.

Schroeder said Dell was nearly killed in prison after being attacked by another inmate with a metal rod shortly after she was first incarcerated. The attack left Dell with “devastating” physical and psychological injuries and delayed her access to prison programming, Schroeder said.

But Dell has since earned certificates for completing different rehabilitation programs, including cognitive therapy.

“Subsequently she’s completed numerous psychological programs, and has received very positive psychological assessments regarding her dealing with the offence in particular and with respect to her future,” said Schroeder.

Schroeder said Dell has recently been transferred to Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener to be closer to supportive family members and friends. Dell is currently eligible for parole in 2022.

Schroeder said he wouldn’t be proceeding with the application if he didn’t believe there was a chance it would succeed. Legal Aid Ontario, who is funding the application, has also reviewed and approved it.

“She’s a 58 year old woman who was convicted of the most serious offence in the criminal code who has served in excess of 15 years in the penitentiary and is now asking to get into line to have the National Parole Board determine whether or not the protection of the public can only be served by her remaining behind bars,” said Schroeder.


Ex-wife loses antifreeze poisoning appeal

March 12, 2005

An eastern Ontario woman who poisoned her estranged husband with antifreeze nearly 10 years ago has lost her court appeal.

Cherylle Dell of Killaloe, Ont., was found guilty in February 2001 of killing Scott Dell by tricking him into drinking more than half a litre of wine mixed with ethylene glycol. She was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole for 25 years.

The three-judge Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Friday the trial judge had made a reasonable verdict, based on evidence.

The court rejected defence arguments that the Crown failed to prove the death was a homicide and that the trial judge ignored physical evidence supporting the theory that Scott Dell committed suicide.

They also noted that while in custody, Dell told another inmate she "had" to put antifreeze in her estranged husband's wine in December 1995 because he was "dying anyways."

At trial, the Crown argued Cherylle Dell had persuaded her spouse to drink himself to death with what he thought was homemade wine. The unemployed trucker was battling throat cancer and had broken up with his girlfriend.

But the defence suggested the 44-year-old man was lovesick and downtrodden, and had committed suicide.

Cherylle Dell was charged after her jilted lesbian lover, Nancy Filmore, told police Dell had planned to kill her husband with a laced bottle of Piat d'Or. Two years later, Filmore was dead.

The Crown alleged Cherylle poisoned Scott to gain his farm and custody of their three children.

The Crown also argued that she seduced Brent Crawford, 19, into setting Filmore's house ablaze. The teen was convicted of first-degree murder in 2001, and the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld that decision last year.


An evil woman faces new charges

After poisoning her husband, Cherrylle Dell allegedly arranged the murder of her lesbian lover

By Marnie Ko - Report Newsmagazine

March 5, 2001

Scott and Cherrylle Dell married when he was 19 and she was 17. Their marriage was turbulent, and in 1992 they separated after more than 20 years together. When Mr. Dell was found dead in his Killaloe, Ont., farmhouse in the early hours of December 29, 1995, it was considered a suicide. His intake of a lethal dose of antifreeze-laced wine was blamed on depression due to the separation and a diagnosis of cancer. But two years later, to the astonishment of the small Ottawa Valley village, Cherrylle Dell was charged with his death. And on January 26 of this year, after a long and bizarre trial, Cherrylle Dell was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The story is far from over, however. Next month Dell, an ex-stripper, will again stand trial for first-degree murder, this time in connection with an August 1997 fire that killed her former lesbian lover, Nancy Fillmore. A now-19-year-old boy from the Ottawa Valley who police believe acted as Dell's accomplice in the Fillmore killing will also stand trial, beginning April 2. The boy allegedly had a sexual relationship with Dell, and at Dell's behest set the fire that killed Fillmore.

Dell's first murder trial began in Pembroke, Ont., in November. The Crown presented 50 witnesses who painted Dell as a vindictive, miserable, promiscuous and conniving woman who had a grudge against her ex-husband. There was no jury. After two months of gruelling testimony, Superior Court justice lames Chadwick ruled Dell, now 47, wanted her husband dead and duped him into drinking more than a pint of red wine laced with antifreeze. (About four ounces of antifreeze is lethal.)

Court testimony described Mr. Dell, 44 when he died, as an excellent husband and father. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in the early 1990s, and after his death his estranged wife told police that the cancer had recently flared up again. She claimed she urged him to see a doctor. "He said he wanted to stay home. He wanted to die on the farm," she told police. But the autopsy found no trace of cancer in his body, and witnesses would I later testify in court that he never mentioned suicide. Other witnesses would testify Mr. Dell forgave his wife's multiple infidelities, and harboured no grudge even after she falsely accused him of sexually abusing their young adopted daughter -- allegations which were proven false in court. During her mother's murder trial, the girl testified she accused her father only because her mother told her to. "It made me feel bad because I knew it wasn't true," she said.

Court heard that Mr. Dell continued to love his wife even after she left him for a woman she met at an incest survivors' group. Cherrylle Dell and Gay Doherty were inseparable until Ms. Doherty began to feel suffocated and broke off the affair. She would later testify Dell became emotionally unstable and overdosed on medication after the two split. Still, the women kept in touch and visited sporadically, even after Cherrylle began a new relationship with Nancy Fillmore, the children's nanny. Fillmore and Dell soon became lovers and shared an apartment. One day, while Ms. Doherty was visiting, Scott Dell failed to pick up his children as scheduled. Ms. Doherty decided to check on him and found his farmhouse lights on, the Christmas tree lit, and love songs playing in the background. Mr. Dell was dead, clad only in a blue sweater, his fingers a "really strange blue colour." Pages of handwritten notes were found beside the phone and a half-empty 1.5-litre bottle of Piat d'Or wine rested on the desk. Prosecutors would later allege Dell gave her husband poisoned wine as a Christmas gift, and then kept him on the phone for hours while waiting for him to die, presumably by hinting at a reconciliation.

Mr. Dell's notes provided the only clue to his final hours. "What did you think was going to happen if I drank a bottle of wine, listening to music we used to listen to?" he wrote. "I'm going to think about you and me together. I feel like holding you close to me like never before. I fell like making love to you. I fell like all the bad stuff would go away. I was probably supposed to die [of cancer] but my life was spared. I don't know why ... our lives are going by so fast." Eventually he put his pen down and took his last breath.

Meanwhile, Dell and Fillmore continued their relationship until it soured in March 1997. Fillmore was forced to take her former lover to court to retrieve her belongings. Fillmore also alleged Dell locked her children in their rooms, drugged them with sleeping medication and neglected them. Another former friend of Cherrylle Dell's would later testify to the same thing. Kim Knott told court Dell drugged the children with Gravol and cold medicine at bedtime, and that on many occasions Mrs. Knott had to wash the children's sheets after they soaked their beds with urine. In further testimony, Mrs. Knott alleged Dell constantly bad-mouthed her husband and had wanted him dead for some time, once mentioning her interest in hiring a hit man. Mrs. Knott told police Dell wondered aloud how much antifreeze would be needed to kill a human.

It was Fillmore, though, who provided police with the information that led to Dell's arrest. Fillmore told police she purchased wine and antifreeze at Dell's request. She said she watched as Dell mixed the two together and later offered the bottle to her husband as a gift. "I was freaking out and [Cherrylle] kept telling me to shut up," she recalled in a videotaped interview with police. Fillmore alleged Dell told her to keep quiet, otherwise Fillmore might be seen as the jealous lover who poisoned Mr. Dell. After giving her husband the bottle of poisoned wine, alleged Fillmore, Dell "got out her witchcraft books and lit candles and was saying ... weird ... rituals or prayers.

Additional information Fillmore provided resulted in further charges against Dell for fraud, falsifying academic credentials and misleading police.

Fillmore was scheduled to appear as the lead witness in Dell's murder trial. Five months after going to police, however, she was killed in a fire. The judge would eventually rule against allowing videotapes of the deceased woman to be introduced as evidence in court. Testimony by the alleged teenage accomplice in the fire was also ruled inadmissible. Although he later recanted his confessions to police and his parents, at the time the youth provided graphic details about his claimed role in murdering Fillmore. A letter police found, allegedly in his handwriting, described how he found Nancy Fillmore lying on the floor drunk, with candles burning. "So instead of cutting her neck, I flipped over all the tables with the candles and leave," the letter read. The boy will stand trial under the Young Offenders Act and is expected to plead not guilty. At the time of his police interviews, however, he alleged Dell told him to kill Fillmore and offered him $300 and a motorcycle as payment. He allegedly told his mother in a taped phone call from jail that he had been smoking marijuana with Dell and killed Fillmore while he was high because "she was going to testify against someone in court ... she was the star witness."

In his 86-page decision, the judge described Dell as a bitter, conniving woman and said there was no doubt Scott Dell was murdered by poisoning. "I find that from 1992 onward Cherrylle Dell expressed a hatred towards her husband and wished him dead. She wanted the exclusive custody of the children, sole occupation and possession of the farm, and wanted [her husband] out of her life forever," concluded Mr. Justice Chadwick. "There is seldom a case where we hear such strong and consistent evidence about the character of a deceased person. [Mr. Dell] was very positive about his life and his love for his children. He wanted to live."


'Angel' of Death gets life in prison

'Cherrylle Dell wanted Scott Dell out of her life forever'

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

February 3, 2001

Cherrylle Dell was found guilty yesterday of murdering her husband, Scott, by poisoning him with antifreeze, to the surprise of onlookers who packed a tense Ottawa courtroom.

"I don't believe it," said Mr. Dell's mother, Myra, after Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick gave his reasons for convicting her daughter-in-law, who is known as "Angel" in jail. "We went in with misgivings. We thought it would go either way ... even though we knew she was guilty," she said.

The first-degree conviction, which meant that Mrs. Dell was immediately sentenced to life behind bars with no chance of parole for 25 years, concludes a two-month trial that has held rapt the Ottawa Valley, where the Dells lived, because of its bizarre details. It had also been the buzz of the Ottawa courthouse because, to many onlookers, including Mr. Dell's relatives, it seemed that Mrs. Dell might be acquitted.

The defence had argued that Mr. Dell, 44, who was found dead on Dec. 29, 1995, in his Killaloe farmhouse, and who had ingested wine laced with antifreeze, had committed suicide in a fit of depression. The Crown's circumstantial case was so bizarre and full of holes as to be unfeasible, the defence argued.

But Judge Chadwick, who presided over the non-jury case, was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Dell duped her husband into drinking what he called a "lethal cocktail."

Reading a summary from his 89-page decision, Judge Chadwick said: "I find that from 1992 onward Cherrylle Dell expressed a hatred towards her husband Scott Dell and wished him dead," the judge said.

"She wanted the exclusive custody of the children, the sole occupation and possession of the farm, and wanted Scott Dell out of her life forever.

"There is seldom a case where we hear such strong and consistent evidence about the character of a deceased person. Scott Dell ... was very positive about his life and his love for his children. He wanted to live for his children.

"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Scott Dell did not commit suicide but was murdered by poisoning."

"The evidence of Scott Dell's friends confirmed he could not let Cherrylle Dell go. He felt he was her caregiver. As a result, she was able to manipulate him into doing anything she wanted.

"The only inference I can draw when I look at all of the evidence is that Cherrylle Dell knew the wine Scott Dell was drinking was laced with antifreeze and that the effects of drinking the lethal cocktail would be death."

The judge noted that Mrs. Dell fabricated elaborate tales to cover up her crime, hoping to convince acquaintances and police that her estranged husband had either died of cancer, which had plagued him months earlier, or that he had killed himself.

He also noted that Mrs. Dell had several motives to kill her husband, including financial gain she thought would be her due, and sole custody of their young children.

The powerful decision left Mr. Dell's mother, aunt and sisters in tears.

Cherrylle Dell, 46, sullen throughout her trial, wiped her eyes after being convicted but said nothing when the judge gave her an opportunity to speak.

As she was being led out of the courtroom, the convicted killer glanced at her mother and mouthed: "I love you, Mom. I love you."

The decision came as a surprise to some because defence lawyers Robert Selkirk and Michael March won key legal arguments during the trial.

They were successful in arguing the trial be heard before a judge rather than a jury. (A jury is thought to be more easily swayed by "bad character" evidence such as the testimony regarding Mrs. Dell's promiscuity, drug use, poor parenting and freeloading during the trial.)

Mrs. Dell's lawyers also successfully argued that significant Crown evidence be found inadmissable.

Judge Chadwick ruled that videotaped police interviews of Mrs. Dell's lesbian lover, Nancy Fillmore, were inadmissable because they were insufficiently reliable. Ms. Fillmore told police she bought the wine and antifreeze Mr. Dell drank and watched Mrs. Dell mix the two.

Ms. Fillmore, 37, died in an August 1997 fire.

Mrs. Dell is charged with first-degree murder in connection with that death, and her preliminary hearing is to begin this month.

Judge Chadwick also excluded a videotaped police interview with Brent Crawford, a Killaloe teenager. Mr. Crawford said that Mrs. Dell asked him to set the fire that killed Ms. Fillmore. However, he testified to the contrary at Mrs. Dell's trial and the judge found his videotaped interview insufficiently reliable.

Mr. Crawford's first-degree murder trial is to begin April 2.

The judge also disallowed evidence from Dr. Antoon Leenaars, a Windsor psychologist and expert in suicide, who offered his opinion that Mr. Dell did not commit suicide.

Outside court, defence lawyer Mr. Selkirk said he and his client were disappointed.

"I thought we had established a case ... The judge found to the contrary," he said.

Mr. Selkirk said the case would be referred to Toronto lawyers, who will weigh whether to appeal.

Pembroke Crown attorney Peter Barnes and OPP Det.-Const. Ken Leppert, the lead investigator in the case, had no comment.


Dell's lawyers succeed again in striking evidence

Judge rules man was 'threatened' during police interview

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

January 6, 2001

Cherrylle Dell's defence lawyers have succeeded again in convincing a judge to exclude evidence that implicates the 46-year-old Killaloe woman in the killing of her husband.

Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick ruled yesterday that a crucial videotaped interview was not reliable enough to be considered as evidence. The tape records Mrs. Dell's acquaintance, Brent Crawford, telling police that Mrs. Dell was behind not one, but two, murders.

Mr. Crawford was not then under oath, and in fact, refused to swear an oath, the judge noted.

Judge Chadwick was also doubtful about whether Mr. Crawford's statement was really voluntary. When police questioned the 19-year-old Killaloe man in July 1999, they manipulated and tacitly threatened him, the judge ruled.

"They stroked his ego, made him feel like a big-shot, a big-shot criminal and a folk hero, for probably the only time in his life," Judge Chadwick noted. "They certainly took advantage of his low self-esteem."

The ruling left Mrs. Dell's lawyers relieved and pleased as the trial, which began Nov. 20, nears its conclusion. Mrs. Dell is accused of killing her estranged husband, Scott, in December 1995 by duping him into drinking wine laced with antifreeze.

When the trial began, the court spent days pondering a March 1997 police videotape, in which Mrs. Dell's ex-lover, Nancy Fillmore, told police that Mrs. Dell fatally poisoned her husband.

Justice Chadwick ruled out that videotape because it was insufficiently reliable. The spurned Ms. Fillmore had several motives to lie, he noted.

Ms. Fillmore could not testify in person because she died in an August 1997 fire. Mr. Crawford is charged with first-degree murder, accused of setting the fire. Mrs. Dell is also accused of the first-degree murder of her ex-lover, by putting Mr. Crawford up to setting the fire. They face separate trials.

The Crown wanted to bring in as much evidence as possible regarding the death of Ms. Fillmore to the current trial, hoping to show that Ms. Fillmore died because Mrs. Dell wanted to silence the key witness against her in the death of Mr. Dell.

Defence lawyer Robert Selkirk said the judge's ruling will simplify and focus the trial. "We can now get back to what we're really here about, which is the death of Scott Dell," he said.

Contrary to his denials on the witness stand last month, Mr. Crawford had told police that he set fire to Ms. Fillmore's apartment because Mrs. Dell asked him to.

But Judge Chadwick said he had seven concerns about the voluntariness of the statement. The "main concern," he said, was that police told Mr. Crawford that if he did not confirm their theory regarding Ms. Fillmore's death and give them facts, then his fellow prisoners might suspect that he also committed sexual offences against Ms. Fillmore. That would imperil his safety in prison.

"This was a veiled threat," Judge Chadwick said.

The trial resumes Jan. 15. Mr. Barnes has just a few witnesses left to call, and Mr. Selkirk said yesterday that the defence will call witnesses. He also said he expects Justice Chadwick will have heard all of the evidence by Jan. 23 or 24.

Among the remaining witnesses is an expert on suicide. Mr. Dell was originally thought to have killed himself, after Mrs. Dell told authorities that he had been depressed because cancer continued to ravage his body -- but a post-mortem showed this wasn't true.


Dell performed 'voodoo thing' on doll, court hears

Woman charged with killing husband made doll to look like him: lesbian lover

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

December 6, 2000

PEMBROKE -- With her years of celibacy long behind her, Gay Doherty embarked on a relationship with Cherrylle Dell, expecting sophisticated lesbian love in the Ottawa Valley.

"I thought I was going to have a smart, New York cocktail kind of affair," Ms. Doherty testified here yesterday.

Instead, she became involved with a Killaloe woman she said once performed a bizarre, voodoo-like ritual on a home-made doll made to resemble her estranged husband.

"She went and purchased ... some kind of waxy material and did this voodoo thing, made it look like Scott, and put ropes and ribbons and pins in it, said certain things over it, and then I think she buried it," Ms. Doherty said.

About 3 1/2 years after Ms. Doherty broke up the Dell marriage, she was the person who discovered Mr. Dell's poisoned, lifeless body, curled in a fetal position on the floor of his son's room.

"I started screaming, 'He's here, he's here,' " Ms. Doherty said.

Her former lover, now 46, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 29, 1995, death of Mr. Dell, the father of their three children. Mr. Dell died after drinking wine laced with antifreeze, and his death was originally thought to be a suicide.

Pembroke Crown attorney Peter Barnes hopes to prove Mrs. Dell duped her husband into drinking from a bottle of poisoned Piat d'Or so she could claim his farm.

A U.S. citizen born in New York, Ms. Doherty had come to the Pembroke area at 18. From 1971 to 1985, she worked for the Roman Catholic Church, making a promise to be celibate and obedient, similar to a nun's vows. In the mid-1980s, she found that she needed to leave her "rarefied" calling and "experience life." She received a bishop's dispensation and some years later, according to documents filed in court, Ms. Doherty met Mrs. Dell at an incest survivors' group in the early 1990s.

"We were attracted to one another," said Ms. Doherty, 51. "Eventually, we became involved."

Mrs. Dell left her husband and children for Ms. Doherty, although Ms. Doherty testified that after three months, she herself wanted to end the relationship.

"I desperately wanted out," Ms. Doherty said. "I felt like my life was being totally consumed."

She said that she stayed with Mrs. Dell because she cared for the Dell children. "They were important to me. They were the only reason I remained in that relationship."

Ms. Doherty said that when she raised leaving the relationship with Mrs. Dell, Mrs. Dell took an overdose of medication and ripped up a gift of poetry that Ms. Doherty had written for her.

Ms. Doherty did leave Mrs. Dell in 1994 but they kept in touch. Ms. Doherty learned that Mr. Dell had been diagnosed with cancer, and that his illness pleased Mrs. Dell, court heard.

"She didn't seem to be upset by it," she testified. "It felt like an answer to a prayer. The guy would die. She would get what she wanted."

Ms. Doherty said that in October 1995, when she lived in Texas, Mrs. Dell called to say that she was planning to buy a house, and to sell Mr. Dell's farm house, which she would inherit when he died. "She fully expected he would die," she said.

Ms. Doherty visited Mrs. Dell that Christmas. On Dec. 28, she visited Mrs. Dell at the rented house she shared with her new lover, Nancy Fillmore. For the entire visit, Mrs. Dell ignored Ms. Doherty, preferring to speak on the telephone. "She was speaking to Scott," Ms. Doherty said.

The next day, Ms. Doherty visited again. Court heard that Mrs. Dell then told her that she had spoken to Mr. Dell continuously until 4 a.m. Mrs. Dell told Ms. Doherty that Mr. Dell's doctor had given him drastic news and that he would die in the next few days.

Mr. Dell was to come by that night to pick up his children, but he did not arrive. Ms. Doherty offered to check on him at his farm. She went there and found a cold, dark house, with the Christmas lights still on and a record still spinning on the record player, court heard. "I started becoming really apprehensive," she said.

She returned to Mrs. Dell's house, saying she wanted someone to return with her to search Mr. Dell's home and property. Neither Mrs. Dell nor Ms. Fillmore wanted to go, she said.

According to Ms. Doherty, Mrs. Dell responded: "I can't cope. I can't cope. I can't cope."

Ms. Doherty returned to the house with two male friends and found Mr. Dell's body upstairs, naked but for a blue sweater.

She noted that in a downstairs hallway there was a bottle of wine beside a telephone on a desk, and in a nearby wine glass there was an "oily substance."

She said that when she went back to Mrs. Dell's house, Mrs. Dell had already been told by a phone caller that her husband was dead. "(She) seemed to have no reaction at all. She asked what he looked like," Ms. Doherty said.

Under cross-examination, Ms. Doherty said she had also considered Mrs. Dell to have been "dazed" and "in shock" by the news.

The final minutes of court time yesterday were spent examining eight 1.5-litre Piat d'Or wine bottles that had been prepared by a police officer. The bottles contained various mixtures of wine and Prestone antifreeze. There was little difference in the appearance of the green bottles. But when their contents were decanted, some mixes ranged in colour from almost fluorescent green to a light yellow depending on the amount of antifreeze that had been included.

At the request of Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick, who is hearing the case without a jury, OPP Const. Colin Reinke sniffed at a glass that had been poured from a bottle containing a two-to-one mix of wine and antifreeze. It smelled like wine, the officer said.

In the prisoner's box, Mrs. Dell paid rapt attention to the multicoloured display of liquids, at one point standing to gain a better view.

The trial, which began Nov. 20, resumes today. Judge Chadwick said he hopes to give his decision before the end of January.


Court hears dying man's final thoughts

Scott Dell scribbled notes while drinking lethal wine

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

November 23, 2000

PEMBROKE -- As Linda Ronstadt crooned love songs in the background, Scott Dell scribbled down the musings of a dying man.

It was early in the morning of Dec. 29, 1995, and he had only hours left to live, although if police and a prosecutor are correct, Mr. Dell did not know it.

Instead, the 44-year-old Killaloe man apparently sat by the telephone, talking occasionally to his estranged wife, drinking wine she had allegedly given him, committing to paper the thoughts in his head and his side of conversations.

Mr. Dell's handwritten notes, seized when police investigated his death, were made public yesterday in the courtroom where Cherrylle Dell stands accused of fatally poisoning her spouse with a gift of antifreeze-laced white wine. Mrs. Dell, now 46, has pleaded not guilty to a count of first-degree murder.

"What did you think was going to happen if I drank a bottle of wine, listening to music we used to listen to? I'm going to think about you and me together," Mr. Dell wrote.

"I feel like holding you close to me like never before. I feel like making love to you. I feel like all the bad stuff would go away. You and I are stuck because of all the bad stuff that has happened to us (in the) last three years. We need to make it go away," he wrote.

On the last of three pages, Mr. Dell, who in the mid-1990s was diagnosed as having cancer, wrote: "I was probably supposed to die but my life was spared. I don't know why. That bothers me.

"Our lives are going by so fast," he concluded. Apparently, he then put down his pen, went upstairs, and died.

Mr. Dell's death was originally ruled a suicide. An Ottawa pathologist found the cause of death to be ethylene glycol poisoning and noted there was "no evidence of carcinoma."

But in March 1997, a woman who had been Mrs. Dell's live-in lover when Mr. Dell died, went to police and told them that Mrs. Dell had given her husband antifreeze-laced wine to take home, and urged him to drink it so that he would have spiritual visions of their future. Mrs. Dell was charged with murder in December 1997.

Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick, who is hearing the case instead of a jury, will determine in the next few days if the videotaped statements of that woman, Nancy Fillmore, are to be admitted as evidence.

Ms. Fillmore is also dead, having perished at age 40 in an August 1997 fire, five months after she broke up with Mrs. Dell and went to police. Mrs. Dell faces another first-degree murder charge and trial in connection with Ms. Fillmore's death.

In addition to Mr. Dell's final writings, Pembroke Crown sttorney Peter Barnes also made public the initial statements to police given by Mrs. Dell and Gay Doherty, the woman who discovered Mr. Dell's body.

Ms. Doherty, who was Mrs. Dell's lover prior to Ms. Fillmore, told police she found Mr. Dell lying in a fetal position, naked from the waist down and with a sweater on. Mr. Dell, she told police, was "a really funny colour, like grey," and his fingers were "a really strange blue colour."

"I noted a bottle of wine sitting on a little desk with a phone in the hallway," Ms. Doherty said. "There was a liquid in it which did not look like wine, or something strange added to it.

"We did notice some writing paper beside the phone," she continued. "We tried to read it but it did not make much sense."

Mrs. Dell told police she had spoken to her husband on the phone the night before he was found dead.

"Scott called me. He sounded really down and really depressed. He spoke about a friend (who) had hung himself. He mentioned dreams and that he would wake up and the dream was going on. He talked about lots of things and sounded slurry. He didn't sound right. He sounded like he had been drinking.

"I believe the last time I spoke with him was around 4 a.m ... He sounded fine. He had perked up. He was going to go to bed, go to sleep," she told police.

The next day, Mr. Dell did not show up to pick up his children, and Ms. Doherty, after speaking to Mrs. Dell, went to Mr. Dell's house, her statement says.

Defence lawyer Robert Selkirk yesterday called several witnesses in an effort to discredit Ms. Fillmore and convince Judge Chadwick to declare her videotaped statements inadmissible. Mr. Selkirk is expected to argue today that Ms. Fillmore had motives to lie to police, including her own "vendetta" against Mrs. Dell.

However, prosecution witness Kim Meisel, who befriended Ms. Fillmore before she died, testified otherwise. "She (Ms. Fillmore) was in love with her (Mrs. Dell). She loved her ... but at the same time she was afraid for her life," Ms. Meisel said. "She knew she wouldn't make it here today to testify," she said.

Court heard that, in addition to making allegations against Mrs. Dell to police, Ms. Fillmore went to Family and Child Services authorities and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in late March and April 1997. Ms. Fillmore alleged that Mrs. Dell gave her children sleeping medication and neglected them, although she was willing to spend $200 on a beauty treatment.

Family services worker Nisha Stoparczyk told the court that upon visiting Mrs. Dell, she found adequate food in the house and no locks on the children's doors as alleged. She also said that Mrs. Dell told her she had been expecting the visit.

Mrs. Dell also said she had had a baby named Bijoula, who was now in Jamaica with its father, Ms. Stoparczyk said. Mrs. Dell's other children said they had seen Bijoula, court also heard.

However, Ms. Fillmore told police that Bijoula didn't exist, and that Mrs. Dell, anxious to have a baby, concocted a hoax about a non-existent baby. Mrs. Dell had thought of several plans to obtain one, including kidnapping a stranger's child, Ms. Fillmore said.

The trial, which is expected to last until late January, continues today.


Accused killer practised 'weird' rituals'

Cherrylle Dell got out witchcraft books after giving husband lethal wine, court hears

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

November 22, 2000

PEMBROKE -- To hear Nancy Fillmore speak, the death of John Scott Dell was a New Age killing, with witchcraft and visions of angels accompanying wine spiked with a lethal dose of antifreeze.

"You mentioned about her (Cherrylle Dell) carrying out some sort of witchcraft rituals prior to giving the bottle to him?" then Det.-Const. Ken Leppert asked Ms. Fillmore in a 1997 interview.

"No. It was right after," Ms. Fillmore said. "She got out her witchcraft books and lit candles and was saying all these weird, I don't know, what you call them, rituals or prayers or whatever.

"They don't make sense to me because that's not what I believe in," she said.

Several of Ms. Fillmore's videotaped statements to police were entered as evidence yesterday at the first-degree murder trial of Ms. Dell. The 46-year-old Killaloe woman has pleaded not guilty to killing her estranged husband, who was found dead in his home in late December 1995.

Mr. Dell, a 44-year-old man who had cancer, was found to have died after drinking wine laced with antifreeze. His death was originally declared a suicide, until Mrs. Dell was charged with first-degree murder in December 1997.

Ms. Fillmore, who was Mrs. Dell's lover when Mr. Dell died, died in an August 1997 fire. Mrs. Dell faces another first-degree murder charge and trial in connection with Ms. Fillmore's death. The second murder charge was laid this summer.

Since the trial pertaining to Mr. Dell's death began this week, the Crown has submitted four videotapes and transcripts of police interviews with Ms. Fillmore for the consideration of Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick, who is hearing the case. In an exception for murder trials, a jury is not sitting.

In the present trial, the videotaped interviews of Ms. Fillmore are the subject of a voir dire -- a trial within a trial. Judge Chadwick is to rule in the next few days on the admissibility of the police tapes.

The case has been the talk of the Ottawa Valley for years, not simply because of the bisexual love triangle and the deaths of Mrs. Dell's lovers, but also because Mrs. Dell was a flamboyant, attractive woman known by Killaloe residents for her outlandish stories.

According to transcripts filed in court, Ms. Fillmore told police that on the last night of his life, Mr. Dell had apparently come to Mrs. Dell's house at her request.

Mrs. Dell told him that she had had a dream that he would have spiritual visions after drinking wine and she gave him a bottle of Piat D'Or, Ms. Fillmore said.

"She said she was trying to help him on his spiritual journey," Ms. Fillmore told police. "She was loaning him books and one of them was this (The) Celestine Prophecy, and it was about important coincidences in your life.

"So she used that in this dialogue ... 'this is an important coincidence -- I had a dream, you're supposed to drink some wine and have visions and I just happen to have a bottle of wine,' " Ms. Fillmore said.

After Mr. Dell returned to his home with the bottle, he began phoning Mrs. Dell almost hourly, Ms. Fillmore said.

"He said he had just started drinking the wine. He was listening to their old music on the record player. He was doing a lot of thinking," she said.

"She (Mrs. Dell) said she would keep the answering machine off or sit right by the phone all night until he just needed to stop talking," Ms. Fillmore continued.

"His last call, she said, was at five o'clock in the morning. No, I came back downstairs. Yes, because I had heard her actually say, 'Are you all right?'

"He was saying ... 'You're here with me. I can see your angel spirit,' " Ms. Fillmore said. "I don't know if this is part of these visions of if he was just making it up. Or if things were getting to him ... by drinking the wine with the antifreeze, like I think he was losing his mind."

Ms. Fillmore, a former Ottawa woman who met Mrs. Dell in the spring of 1995 after placing a Citizen personals ad and then moved in with her, also told police that she bought the antifreeze and wine for Mrs. Dell.

She said that after Mr. Dell died, Mrs. Dell told her that if word of the poisoning got out, then Ms. Fillmore would be blamed, since she fit the role of a jealous lover.

Ms. Fillmore and Mrs. Dell broke up and Ms. Fillmore moved out of Mrs. Dell's house a few weeks before she spoke to police, court has heard.

Ms. Fillmore recounted a number of exchanges she had with Mrs. Dell. She said that in one, Mrs. Dell said: "This is how you end all your relationships, don't you?" Her reply was: "Well, at least I don't kill them."

Defence lawyer Robert Selkirk said yesterday that he intends to call evidence today suggesting that Ms. Fillmore was "on a vendetta" against his client, who apparently had begun a relationship with a man in the hopes of having a baby just before her spurned lesbian lover went to police.

Mr. Selkirk contended that Ms. Fillmore, in addition to contacting police with her allegations, went to the Children's Aid Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hoping to have authorities seize Mrs. Dell's children and pets. Ms. Fillmore wanted Mrs. Dell to feel as she did, "dumped on the side of the road," Mr. Selkirk argued.

However, Mr. Selkirk later did state that his client "essentially ... was running a puppy mill."

The trial, which is expected to last until late January, is to resume today.


Ex-lover 'testifies' from the grave

In taped interviews, Cherrylle Dell is accused of spouse's antifreeze poisoning

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

November 21, 2000

PEMBROKE -- A dead woman told tales in a courtroom yesterday, accusing her ex-lover, Cherrylle Dell, of murder.

Although Nancy Fillmore died in a fire more than two years ago, the 39-year-old Killaloe woman was interviewed by police months before she died. Yesterday, videotaped interviews were played in court at the first-degree murder trial of Mrs. Dell, in which Ms. Fillmore stated that Mrs. Dell duped her estranged husband, Scott Dell, into drinking wine laced with antifreeze.

"I watched her pour the antifreeze into the wine," Ms. Fillmore was heard to say. "I was freaking out and she kept telling me to shut up. I went along with it."

Mrs. Dell, 46, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Mr. Dell, who was found dead in his home after Christmas in 1995. He was 44 and had cancer, and police originally said his death was a suicide.

Mrs. Dell also faces a separate first-degree murder charge and trial in connection with the August 1997 death of Ms. Fillmore. In the present trial, the videotaped interviews of Ms. Fillmore are the subject of a voir dire -- a trial within a trial -- before Ontario Superior Court Justice James Chadwick, who is hearing the case. A jury is not sitting, and Judge Chadwick is to rule at a later date on the admissibility of the police tapes.

The case has been the talk of the Ottawa Valley for years, not simply because of the bisexual love triangle, but also because Mrs. Dell was a flamboyant, attractive woman known by Killaloe residents for her outlandish stories and colourful manner.

During her March 18, 1997 statement to police, Ms. Fillmore said that Mrs. Dell was her common-law partner when Mr. Dell died. She said that Mrs. Dell at first spoke of wanting to shoot Mr. Dell during hunting season. "She said she could shoot," Ms. Fillmore said. "Her father taught her how to shoot."

Court heard that according to Ms. Fillmore, Mrs. Dell later opted to poison Mr. Dell with antifreeze. Mrs. Dell went so far as to conceal her identity and consult the Poison Control Centre to determine how much antifreeze would be lethal, Ms. Fillmore told police.

Ms. Fillmore said that Mr. Dell, while estranged and aware of Mrs. Dell's lesbian affair, wanted to reunite with his wife of more than 20 years and the mother of their children. Meanwhile, Mrs. Dell, who had met Ms. Fillmore in the spring of 1995 through a Citizen personals ad, manipulated Mr. Dell. "I saw her play him for a fool so many times," Ms. Fillmore told police.

Ms. Fillmore said that while Mr. Dell was once an atheist, he had become more concerned with spirituality. Mrs. Dell, she said, told her spouse that she had had a dream which foretold that he would have visions of their future if he drank wine that she gave him.

Ms. Fillmore said that Mr. Dell visited his wife a few days after Christmas in 1995, took the proferred bottle of Piat D'Or, and went home. He telephoned Mrs. Dell several times that night, Ms. Fillmore told police.

Mr. Dell was soon discovered dead, his record player playing, his Christmas lights on, court heard.

Mrs. Dell told Ms. Fillmore to keep the poisoning a secret, court heard. According to Ms. Fillmore, Mrs. Dell said that Ms. Fillmore, jealous lover that she was, would be blamed for the poisoning were it to come to light.

Ms. Fillmore is seen to cry and sob during the police videotape, and Mrs. Dell in the prisoner's box also appeared emotional as the tape was played, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.

Ms. Fillmore accused Mrs. Dell of killing Mr. Dell in the second of two police videotapes played in court yesterday. In the first, given hours earlier on March 18, 1997, Ms. Fillmore said that Mrs. Dell months after Mr. Dell's death was consumed with the idea of having another baby, and was especially keen on a black baby.

Mrs. Dell hatched tried to obtain a child by duping authorities into thinking that her infant, Bijoula Starr Dell, had been abducted, Ms. Fillmore told police. The child never existed, although Mrs. Dell coached Ms. Fillmore into telling authorities that she had assisted in delivering the baby at home, Ms. Fillmore told police.

Mrs. Dell, Ms. Fillmore told police, also placed classified ads hoping to meet a black man. Eventually she did, court heard. "I knew it was insanity," Ms. Fillmore told police.

Ms. Fillmore told police that when she first met Mrs. Dell, she had thought her to be sweet and gentle. Over time, she came to wonder if Mrs. Dell was with her for her money. Police were told that Mrs. Dell eventually was bitter, sarcastic and verbally abusive.

During the March 1997 interview, Ms. Fillmore told police that she left Mrs. Dell's home about three weeks earlier. "I felt trapped. She blew up," she said.

Before the videotapes were played in court, Pembroke Crown attorney Peter Barnes conceded that Ms. Fillmore had several reasons to lie to police. "She had been disappointed in love," he said.

The two women, Mr. Barnes also noted, were in small claims court -- Ms. Fillmore was suing Mrs. Dell for $6,000 she said she had given her.

Defence lawyer Robert Selkirk commented that Ms. Fillmore's story was filled with the stuff of small-town gossip. "This knowledge was out on the street," he said.

The voir dire continues today.


Killaloe woman pleads not guilty in husband's killing

Jurors selected in sensational Pembroke murder trial

By Peter Hum - The Ottawa Citizen

October, 3, 2000

PEMBROKE -- A Killaloe woman pleaded not guilty yesterday in the death of her estranged husband before jurors were selected for her upcoming murder trial.

From dozens of people screened for potential bias, 12 jurors were selected yesterday to hear evidence next month at the murder trial of Cherrylle Dell.

Eight men and four women are to hear evidence when the 45-year-old woman's trial begins Nov. 6.

Before jurors were selected yesterday, Ms. Dell resolutely pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the December 1995 death of her husband, Scott Dell.

Mr. Dell, 44, died after drinking a mixture of wine and antifreeze.

Media attention in the Ottawa Valley after Mrs. Dell was charged prompted the court to take special measures in selecting a jury.

Eight hundred people were notified to report this week, 200 a day, to be in the jury pool. However, 12 jurors were found yesterday, and Justice James Chadwick said he would notify potential jurors slated to appear at the Pembroke courthouse tomorrow and Thursday that they would not be needed.

Three more people are to be selected today as alternate jurors.

The gathering of 200 people was so large yesterday that initial legal proceedings had to be held at the Fellowship Hall of Wesley United Church, beside the Pembroke courthouse.

Each of the 60 potential jurors yesterday was subjected to questioning to determine whether pre-trial publicity and talk in the community had tainted them.

A few responded that they would have been unable to try the case without bias, and they were excused.

Other potential jurors were rejected by the lawyers involved in the case.

When the trial begins, it is expected to last as long as seven weeks. This month, Judge Chadwick is to hold hearings to determine the admissibility of certain evidence.

More than 60 people are listed as prospective witnesses.


Woman faces second murder charge in death of female friend

Small town shocked

By Joanne Laucius - The Ottawa Citizen

March 14, 2000

OTTAWA - An Ontario woman who was charged three years ago with murdering her estranged husband was yesterday charged with first-degree murder in the death of a female friend.

Cherrylle Margaret Dell, 44, is alleged to have killed Nancy Fillmore, 39, who died of smoke inhalation in a fire that destroyed her apartment in August, 1997. The two women, both of Killaloe, Ont., are former roommates, however it is not clear if they were living together at the time of Ms. Fillmore's death.

In December, 1997, Ms. Dell was charged in the first-degree murder of her estranged husband, Scott Dell, 44, who died after drinking ethylene glycol, or antifreeze.

The substance was found in a partially-filled glass and a bottle of red wine in his remote farmhouse.

The macabre nature of the deaths and the subsequent charges have shocked residents of Killaloe, a village in the Ottawa Valley about 140 km from the nation's capital.

Mr. Dell had come to the Ottawa Valley in the 1960s while trying to avoid the draft in his native U.S. The couple had been married in Oshawa when Mr. Dell was 19 and Ms. Dell was 17. The couple moved to the Killaloe area about 10 years ago and were known in the village for their tumultuous relationship.

Mr. Dell was described by neighbours as the perfect house husband and a loving father, cooking and baking bread, growing vegetables in his garden and even taping his voice reading stories to the children after his speech was affected by cancer.

Friends and family of Mr. Dell said he was deeply in love with his wife, forgiving her for an affair with another man and, according to one friend, for later leaving him for a female companion.

At one point in their relationship, Ms. Dell had claimed that Mr. Dell was abusing their children. Child welfare authorities removed the children from his custody until the allegations were proved to be false in court.

The charge lead to animosity between Ms. Dell and her husband's family. Mr. Dell's mother, Myra, stood up and walked out of her son's funeral service when Ms. Dell stood up and said, "I'm Scott's wife."

Ms. Dell, who is now in custody on the first murder charge, is scheduled to appear in court March 28.



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