Man Tries to Murder Wife with Poisoned Food and Condoms Apr 12, 2016 15:40:32 GMT -5 kitty likes this
Post by Graveyardbride on Apr 12, 2016 15:40:32 GMT -5
Man Tries to Murder Wife with Poisoned Food and Condoms
In 1986, Cheryl Ann “Cheri” Kostrewa (above) was working at a bakery when she met Harald Ehrenfeld (born March 19, 1967, in Michigan), the charming Norwegian who worked in the frame shop next door. Soon, the two were courting and Harald was showering her with flowers, gushy cards and other gifts. “We got serious pretty quickly,” Cheri recalled. “Within two months, he gave me an opal ring and by Christmas, we were engaged. Our families were very happy. My family loved Harald. He’s very charming, funny. He was everything a boyfriend should be. You know, I thought I knew him very well.” It was three years before the two finally married in 1989 and even though Cheri was still crazy in love, she admitted there were times she thought Harald “just seemed sometimes too perfect.” She should have paid attention to her instincts.
In 1994, the Ehrenfelds opened Wild Wings Gallery & Framing in Medina, Ohio, at which they sold frames and other items. Six days a week, the two worked side-by-side and were so happy they delayed starting a family for nine years. Their first child, Karl Ehrenfeld, was born November 7, 1998, and Cheri thought their son would add to their happiness, but days after she gave birth, her perfect husband changed. “He wouldn’t want to get out of bed in the morning,” she said. “He wouldn’t want to interact with us. ... I would ask him, what’s wrong? Because he just didn’t feel like himself. And he would say, ‘I don’t feel good.’” Cheri repeatedly tried to talk with her husband about their problems and even suggested he seek help. Instead, the following summer, when Karl was just 8-months-old, Harald announced he and his mother were taking a trip to Norway to visit family and friends.
Harald acted even more suspiciously when he returned from his long trip. “When he came back he started receiving letters here at work from Norway,” Cheri remembered. “I said to him, ‘Oh, I hear you got a letter from Norway,’ and he’d deny it. He said, ‘No, I didn’t,’ and that started a whole series of events. You know he was seen on the phone all the time. He would talk quietly and in the backroom. And he was seen writing letters.”
For reasons known only to Cheri, she ignored her concerns and became pregnant again, after which she noticed her husband was becoming increasingly withdrawn. After their second son, Erik, was born August 14, 2000, she became more aware of how her husband ignored the children, even when they attempted to interact with him. “That was very painful to me,” she recalled. “Sometimes he would ... come home and he would just turn on the television and he’d be watching the television and laying on the couch and Karl would be trying to tell him something. And he wouldn’t even look at him.”
When she discovered her mate was corresponding with a woman in Norway, Cheri was devastated and confronted him. Harold, of course, denied it. “He’d tell me that I was crazy, that I was imagining things, that I was too suspicious,” she said. “And then he would become angry. ... He’d say, ‘I can’t take this anymore, I just can’t take this anymore,’ and he’d just get up and walk away from me and then he wouldn’t speak to me, sometimes for days.”
When Karl was 2-years-old and Erik just a few months, Harold left the United States again to visit what he said was his distant cousin, Hilda, in Norway. When he returned, Cheri became aware of something even more disturbing than his odd, uncaring behavior. She began to “notice scary things at home.” She would see small items such as toy blocks on the stairs when she returned from putting the children to bed. Once, she remembered, “there were marbles, another time little matchbox cars ....” Unwilling to allow herself to believe what she was thinking, she nonetheless began checking the steps when she went upstairs and came to the realization that Harald was placing these objects in her path in an attempt to cause her to trip and fall. And there was more. “I always keep a glass of water by the bed,” she said, “and I went to take a sip and it was vile tasting, it tasted metallic. It was so bad that I woke Harald up.” When she asked him to taste the water, he refused. Finally, she had to admit something was terribly wrong and began to fear for her safety and that of her children. She wanted to contact the authorities, but thought to herself, “Who is going to believe me? No one will believe me. Here is this great guy, people love him, he’s well-respected and I had no proof.”
Mary Ellen Prochaska worked at Wild Wings and one day Cheri couldn’t hold it in any longer and confided in her employee. Later, Prochaska revealed that while her friend was telling her story, “I was thinking, are you kidding?” But it wasn’t long before Prochaska and her co-workers began whispering to each other that Harold was different and wondering why he spent so much time on long-distance and looked guilty when he was interrupted.
In spite of the mounting evidence, Cheri still wasn’t totally convinced her husband wanted to do her harm. Then beginning some time in 2003, she started tasting something “funny,” something she described as “bitter” and “metallic” in her food that left “an aftertaste ... like a can of soup, or a can of vegetables and they’ve been in the can too long.”
In the meantime, Harald seemed to be regaining his cheerful attitude and his wife believed he was once again becoming the thoughtful man she married, as opposed to the surly stranger who was possibly trying to kill her. Cheri did the books for their business, but because of the children, worked just two afternoons per week in the office. “In the past,” she recalled, “I would go home and have to make dinner, but then all of a sudden, I’d go home and he’d say, ‘Well, I made dinner for us, isn’t that nice?’” Harald’s cooking phase continued for almost six months and then one night when he had prepared frozen pizza, he added extra cheese to Cheri’s portion. “I started to eat it,” she remembered, “and it had that taste, that funny, bitter, metallic taste, and I said, this tastes funny. I took my fork, and I kind of lifted up the cheese and underneath that I saw all these little green crystals.”
With irrefutable evidence that her husband was doing something to her food, one would think a woman would waste no time making an appointment with a divorce lawyer, but again, Cheri took no action. “I still wanted to save this marriage and I wanted to save him,” she insisted. So instead, when her food had an odd taste, she simply refused to eat it.
Harald was faced with a dilemma. Cheri wouldn’t eat anything that didn’t taste right, so he came up with an even more devious plan and now Cheri was becoming violently ill after sex. “It was horrible. It was worse than the stomach flu,” she claimed. “I said I want to go to the hospital, I said, I’m really sick. And he said, ‘Oh, you’ll be fine, you just need rest, you’ll be fine.’” Then she started thinking: they used condoms as a contraceptive and Harald must be introducing the poison into her vagina by rubbing it on the outside of the condoms. She was horrified, particularly after she noticed a green crystal-like substance in her vaginal discharge. Still, she had trouble admitting to herself that the man she loved, her husband, friend and the father of her children, wanted her dead, but there was no other answer and she started searching for proof.
One day, she found a film canister containing a green substance, the same color that she had seen in her food and vaginal secretions. She confronted Harald, who casually told her the substance in the container was herbs. Not believing him, she took a sample of the material to the Ohio State Crime Lab, where she was informed the lab was backlogged and it would take months to complete the tests.
It wasn’t long before Harald announced he was making yet another trip to Norway. While he was away, Cheri answered the phone one day and a strange woman, who identified herself as Mary Jo, asked to speak to Harald. After the two women spoke and Mary Jo discovered Harald was a married man with two children, she was shocked. “I was just so devastated,” she said later. “I just never expected a wife.” Cheri now knew her husband was unfaithful and this explained the funny-tasting food and her illness following sex – Harald was, indeed, trying to kill her! “I didn’t know what the green powder was,” she reasoned. “But now with Mary Jo ... it was something concrete that he can’t lie his way out of.” The other woman’s call prompted Cheri to call Harald in Norway. “I told him I know about Mary Jo. I said, we’re getting divorced, that’s it!” When Harald returned a month later, he discovered he was no longer welcome and that his wife had changed the locks on the house.
Though she was terrified, Cheri finally spoke with Harald face-to-face and managed to get him to admit the green substance was rat poison. Even then, he was able to convince her he was suffering from some sort of mental illness and that night, she drove him to the hospital where he was admitted to the psychiatric ward. With Harald locked away, for the first time in three years, Cheri felt safe and because she assumed he would be confined in some sort of facility for years, she declined to press charges. Much to Cheri’s dismay, Harald was discharged 10 days later.
Even though there was no doubt whatsoever her husband had tried to murder her, Cheri failed to contact the police until she discovered Harald had booked another flight to Norway. Before he could take off for the other side of the world, his wife contacted the district attorney and offered to tape her conversation with Harald, hoping to obtain enough evidence so that he could be prosecuted. The DA agreed and she produced a tape on which the man she had loved admitted putting rat poison in her food about “once a month,” but attributed his actions to “my unthinking deep depressive mood.”
Then one day, a Wild Wings employee discovered why the boss wanted to rid himself of his wife. Hidden in the ceiling of the business office were photos of, and love letters from, Hilda, the long-lost Norwegian “cousin,” whom Harald traveled all the way to Norway to see, as well as a videotape of Harald and Hilda kissing.
On July 1, 2005, Harald Ehrenfeld was arrested and pled guilty by reason of insanity to the food contamination charges. At his sentencing, when allowed the opportunity to address his wife, he claimed he was “truly sorry” for what he had done. Harald was ultimately sentenced to 10 years without the possibility of parole. When she was interviewed outside court, Cheri exhibited no sympathy for her husband, saying, “Over time, he got better at it. He could look me in the eyes and watch me eat poison.” She was granted a divorce in August 2006.
The fact Harald Ehrenfeld poisoned his wife’s food in an attempt to kill the mother of his children using a substance that would result in a horrible, extremely painful death, and was so cruel and heartless that he even attempted to kill his wife while making love to her, still didn’t seem to fully register with Cheri. While pondering the reasons why the man she once considered the “perfect husband” didn’t just divorce her, she reflected: “I think the answer is he couldn’t stand to be the bad guy. Standing up to the disapproval of his family, his friends, his co-workers. I don’t think ... he couldn’t face that.” Perhaps realizing how ridiculous this sounded, she added, “That’s what made it so hard for me to accept it; it was all so normal. And if he were released today, and he was walking down the street, you’d probably say hi to him and think, what a nice guy.”
Harald Ehrenfeld served his sentence at the Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton, Ohio. He has since been paroled and is currently under the supervision of the Adult Parole Authority.
Sources: Cynthia McFadden and David Perozzi, ABC News, July 19, 2006; Payton Lower and Erin Winchester, "The Attempted Murder of Cheryl Ehrenfeld,” Medina Historical; The Toledo Blade, and the Ohio Department of Corrections.