Transcript: 10. Killer Grandparents (Alice & Gerald Uden) | USA


This is The Evidence Locker.


Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. 


Warning: This episode contains the murder of a young family, including children. Listener discretion is advised.


Chadwick, Missouri is located in the hills of the Ozarks. The area has green rolling hills, limestone caves and springs. Many homes and schools are right in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest.


In the early 1980’s, Alice and Gerald Uden moved into the area from Wyoming. Alice was originally from Missouri and she was happy about the new start. She had not been too lucky in love, Gerald was her fourth husband. She had five children, of which only the youngest, a 4-year-old girl, called Erica lived with them. 


Erica had everything she could ever wish for. Alice and Gerald had started a trucking company shortly after moving to Chadwick. Gerald was hands-on and drove the trucks, long distance himself. The company was successful, and they were in a position to send Erica to private school.


Alice was Catholic and loved going to church. She spent lots of time in prayer and penance and tried to convince Gerald to go to Catholic church too. He was more hesitant to attend, but he would do anything to keep Alice happy, and after a couple of years, he too was a regular face in the local congregation. 


Although Gerald was not Erica’s biological father, he treated her like she was his own daughter. He was dedicated to giving her a good life. Erica felt her parents’ relationship was rock solid, they always supported each other and stood together no matter what. There was a lot of laughter in their home. 


By 2013, the couple were proud grandparents. Alice was 74 and Gerald 71, but they weren’t ready to retire yet. Gerald was still driving his trucks long haul. They were well-liked by their neighbours, one of which said:


“They’re the kind of neighbours you leaned over the fence and talked about your chickens with.”


When police arrested Alice at her home, nobody believed that she was actually a criminal. There had to be a mistake. How can this grandmother be guilty of any crime other than overcooking a Sunday roast?

Gerald was away on a job at the time, but when he came home, police arrested him too.  


And NOT for the same crime. 


Alice was under arrest for the murder of her third husband in 1974, while Gerald was charged with killing his ex-wife and her two sons in 1980. Both committed the crimes while living in Wyoming.


In Missouri, the Udens did not seem like they were on the run from the law. They had a normal, peaceful, family life. They co-operated when police needed information about their deceased families. 


But they were masters at keeping their darkest secrets under wraps – for more than 30 years.


>>Intro Music


It was July 1974 and Alice Prunty was working as a nurse in the psychiatric unit at a Veterans Administration Hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming. 


Alice was in her early thirties and had been married twice before. She had four children with her first husband, but they separated. He lived in Illinois and the children lived with him. Her second husband, Donald Prunty, had died the year before. Their only child, Erica, was only one-year-old when Donald passed away.


Soon after starting her new job, Alice met a 25-year-old man called Ron Holtz. Ron had been a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam but was honorably discharged in 1970 due to various psychiatric problems. He often threatened to commit suicide and needed support. When Alice met him, he was a patient in the psychiatric ward and she took care of him.


Ron liked Alice and made his feelings clear from the start. After a short courtship, the two married – on September 17th, 1974. They moved to Cheyenne where Ron worked as a taxi driver and Alice took a job in a bar. The three of them: Ron, Alice and Alice’s 19-month-old daughter Erica lived in a trailer home, just outside of town.


But the marriage wasn’t a happy one. Alice soon realised that her 3rd husband was a violent man who could not control his temper. He was a mean drunk and this was not the kind of life Alice wanted for her and Erica.


Less than five months into their marriage, in February 1975 Alice filed for divorce. 


Records from the US Department of Veteran Affairs showed that Ron had been released from the psychiatric ward on a work-study program on December 24th. In February the next year, he was nowhere to be found. 


The divorce was granted without Ron’s signature on the papers, because he could not be tracked down.


Alice was ready to start fresh – again. She had no more contact with Ron. In fact, nobody did. After Christmas of 1974, his family and friends never heard from Ron Holtz again.

It didn’t take Alice long to find another man. Working at an iron ore mine, she met divorcé Gerald Uden. The couple married in 1976.


Unfortunately, this marriage had its problems too. Gerald came with baggage.


A few years earlier, Gerald met divorced single mom, Virginia Beard. Virginia had inherited a .22 calibre rifle from her grandfather. She needed some money and thought she could sell it. Gerald was the local go-to guy for appraisals and Virginia was referred to him. The rifle wasn’t worth much, but the meeting sparked a romance.


Virginia worked a couple of jobs and was struggling to make ends meet. Her pride and joy were her two boys: Richard and Reagan. Her ex-husband wasn’t cut out for family life, so she couldn’t count on him for support in raising their sons.


Gerald always wanted to be a dad, so the fact that Virginia had kids did not scare him off. He was well-liked around town and Virginia felt that he would make the perfect husband and father. 


Gerald was somewhat of a ‘man’s man’, knew how to handle guns and didn’t shy away from a hard day’s work. He, in turn, was all too happy to be a father figure to Virginia’s boys. He took Richard and Reagan fishing and hunting and loved spending time with them.


Before long, Gerald proposed to Virginia and three months later, in July 1974, they were married. To complete the picture, Virginia asked Gerald if he could legally adopt Richard and Reagan. Gerald was only too happy to do so, and the adoption came through on March 28th, 1975. Both boys took his name: that is how they became the happy family Uden.


Gerald was blind-sided, when only six weeks after the adoption was official, Virginia filed for divorce. They split up, but seeing as he had adopted Virginia’s sons, he still had joint custody.


Soon after his marriage broke up, Gerald met Alice at work. Virginia was not happy about the new love interest in Gerald’s life. But Gerald wasn’t about to allow Virginia to ruin his relationship with Alice. 


Gerald was burning the candle at both ends: trying to start his new life with Alice and her daughter Erica, while still trying to keep his ex-wife, Virginia, and his adopted children happy. Virginia did not make it easy on Gerald and Alice hated her for it. Alice encouraged Gerald to stand up to Virginia, but he assured her that everything would settle down in time.


One of Alice’s friends, who worked at the mine with her and Gerald, said Alice always complained that Gerald never had any money. The fact that he had to pay child support put enormous financial strain on him – and by implication: on their marriage.


Alice couldn’t stand the thought of Virginia and the kids in Gerald’s life. As time went on, Gerald too turned hostile towards Virginia. He felt that her behaviour became intolerable. 


But they shared custody of two boys and Gerald and Alice had to accept that Virginia was a part of their lives, like it or not. 


Gerald asked Virginia, Richard and Reagan if they wanted to go bird hunting and target shooting on Saturday, September 13th. This is something they did occasionally. The boys were excited to go and arranged to meet Gerald on a corner, in Pavillion, near Gerald’s property, about a 40-minute drive from Lander where Virginia and the boys lived. Gerald reminded Virginia to bring along her .22 rifle. 


Virginia and the boys borrowed her mom, Claire Martin’s station wagon and left her home in Riverton at 1:30pm to go and meet Gerald. 


It was getting late and Claire was concerned that Virginia and the boys had not returned. Then Gerald arrived at her home and asked her if she perhaps knew where Virginia was. He had been waiting for them, but they never showed up.


Claire knew something wasn’t right. Virginia was on her way to meet Gerald and if her plans had changed, she would have let her mother know. Together with Claire, Gerald drove the route Virginia would have taken to Pavillion, but there was no sign of the 1973 Ford Country Squire station wagon. 


They carried on, driving around Landon, looking for Virginia, Richard and Reagan, but couldn’t find anything.


Virginia’s mother, Claire, knew Virginia had to be in trouble and went to police to report them missing. Police did not get many missing persons cases in the area and they weren’t too concerned at first. After all, Virginia was a 32-year-old adult. And with tension between her and her ex-husband, perhaps she just wanted to get away. Perhaps she wanted to make a new start somewhere else.


Claire Martin was furious about this assumption. Virginia had not packed any clothes or belongings for her or the boys. She did not have much money to survive, let alone pack up and start over in a place with no support. And if that is what she wanted to do, she would definitely have told her mother about it. They were very close, and she would not have taken Claire’s grandsons away without – at least – saying goodbye.


With no sign of the mother and sons in the days that followed, and with pressure from Claire Martin, a full-scale search for the missing family was launched.


Gerald Uden was questioned at his farm. He was as baffled and confused as investigators were: he had no idea where Virginia and her sons could be. He explained their marital situation to police, making it clear that although he was the adoptive father of Richard and Reagan, there was no love lost between him and Virginia. 

 

Police then looked up Virginia’s first husband, Jack Beard – the boys’ biological father. He confirmed that he didn’t have anything to do with his ex-family anymore. He never saw them. Police were able to confirm his alibi for the day the Udens went missing and they were able to eliminate Jack as a suspect. 


Sometime after the disappearance, Virginia’s mother received a typed letter from her. In the letter Virginia said that she had to leave suddenly because she was in trouble. There was no time to tell her mom that she was going away and she apologised if her disappearance had caused her mom to worry. She also said that she was in Illinois with the boys, staying with friends. From there the plan was to head to Pennsylvania.


For a fleeting moment, Claire felt some sort of comfort: at least they are still alive. But then questions came: what sort of trouble would Virginia be in to make her flee from her hometown? Who were the friends she were staying with? Why didn’t she simply call? Why was the letter typed and not handwritten?


Claire desperately wanted to believe that the letter was authentic, but she had to accept the fact that someone had sent it as a red herring. Someone who wanted her to stop looking for her daughter and grandsons.


Then, three weeks after the disappearance, police discovered Virginia’s mom’s station wagon. It was found near Trout Creek Canyon not far from Claire Martin’s home in Riverton. It appeared as if someone had tried to push it into the canyon, but it had become lodged on some rocks, 75 feet (or 22 metres) from the top. The station wagon had been covered with pine branches so as to conceal it. There was a rag in the gas tank, like someone wanted to blow it up, but there was no sign of anyone attempting to light a fire.


In the back of the station wagon was a large amount of blood. In 1980, before DNA testing was the standard, forensic technicians were able to match blood types from a sample to a victim. As they did in this case: the blood in the car was Type A – a match to Virginia’s blood type.


They set up a search of the direct area but could not find any trace of Virginia.


The biggest question on everyone’s lips was: with Virginia injured or dead, where were the boys?


Time went by and there were no new clues in this frustrating case. Police appealed to the public for any information, but nobody knew anything. Richard and Reagan’s photos were printed on milk cartons for years, but it yielded no new leads.


Gerald was feeling the pressure from the local community. After the bloodstained car was found, people felt that he was somehow involved in the disappearance. He received threats and went to police to report that someone had wanted him dead. He had received an anonymous letter saying that the writer of the letter knows that he had harmed Virginia and the boys, and they will take revenge on him. Gerald suspected the letter was from the Wind River Tribe whose reservation bordered his land. He was very concerned for his own safety.


Police looked into anyone who could possibly have a reason to get rid of Virginia. There was absolutely no one who would gain by having the Udens gone. No one, except for Gerald, who would be free from paying child support. But was that really a strong enough reason to hurt or even kill his ex-wife?


Police had no concrete evidence linking Gerald to the case, it was all circumstantial. Even if there had been animosity between him and Virginia, he did seem genuinely concerned about his missing adoptive sons.


When Gerald was laid off from work at the steel iron ore mine, he and Alice made the decision to move to Missouri, where Alice originally came from. Police thought it was strange that he would move over a thousand miles (that’s 1600 kilometres) away while his sons were still missing. But given his work situation and the cloud of suspicion hanging over him in Lander town, it was perhaps not surprising.


Gerald, Alice and Erica set up their new home in Chadwick and managed to live a normal life, away from scrutiny and suspicion.


Back in Lander, Claire Martin was getting increasingly anxious for information about her missing daughter and grandsons. She suspected Gerald knew more than he was letting on but had no way of proving it. The typed letter from Virginia also made her uneasy. Was it possible that Gerald’s new wife, Alice, could have sent it? She was always talking about    – and the letter claimed that Virginia was in Illinois. Was it too far-fetched to think that Alice could have tried to throw Claire off Virginia’s trail?


Claire was so desperate, she even brought in a psychic from out of state and took her to the scene where Virginia’s car was found, but there were no definitive answers either.


At this point, the case went cold for 12 long and painful years. Claire and local investigators never gave up, but there was simply no new information that could help them find an answer to the question of what had happened to Virginia and the boys.


Gerald and Alice were doing well in Missouri. They gave Erica the best home they could. They were supportive and were often seen at school gatherings or at church. 


The Big Break

In November 1992, Wyoming police were surprised when a young man walked into his local police stations and let them in on a dark family secret. The man was Todd Scott, Alice Uden’s son from her first marriage. 


Todd told police that before Alice was married to Gerald Uden, she was married to a man name Ron Holtz. Ron was an abusive man, who would hit Alice. He was a heavy drinker – and that did not mix well with his psychiatric problems.


According to Todd, he was driving in his car with his mother. They had both been drinking when Alice simply came out with the story about how she had killed Ron. 


Alice told her son that Ron had passed out after a night of drinking. Alice decided she couldn’t take it anymore. When Ron was asleep she snuck up on him, grabbed his .22 rifle and shot him in the head. 


She took Erica to Ron’s parents in Commerce City Colorado – a two-hour drive one-way – then returned to dispose of his body.


Alice emptied a large 55-gallon (or 200 litre) cardboard barrel that stored their Christmas Decorations and pushed Ron’s 175pound body inside. Then she rolled the barrel onto the porch of their trailer and dropped it into the trunk of her car. 


Todd said that his mother had told him a friend helped her to get rid of Ron’s body in an abandoned gold mine on a ranch between Cheyenne and Laramie. 


Alice Uden had once been a cattle caretaker with her second husband Donald Prunty. They had lived on a farm in that exact area, called The Remount Ranch.


This ranch is famous as the place where author Mary O’Hara wrote the children’s novel “My Friend Flicka”. In the book, that is about the son of a rancher and his horse, there is mention of a mineshaft where workers dumped animal carcasses when they died.


Todd Scott felt strongly that his mother, having worked on the farm knew about the mineshaft. This would have been the perfect spot to dump Ron Holtz’s body as nobody would suspect that there were decaying human remains along with animal carcasses. 


With Ron out of the way, Alice needed to move on. When the paperwork for the divorce came through, she was free to do so. She told Ron’s family that he just ran off and she had lost all contact with him. His family knew he had mental health issues, so they believed her. They had no reason not to.


But there was more to Todd’s stunning revelation. He also believed that Ron’s murder could lead to solving what happened to Virginia Uden and her sons. 


Finally, police had something to follow up on. But Ron Holtz was never reported as missing or dead, so it would be essential to find his body. Archaeologists went to the site and started a dig that would last many years. If Ron was indeed there, his body would have been buried under 20 years’ worth of animal remains and debris. This job would not yield immediate answers. 


Police felt adamant that they could not go to Alice Uden too soon. In January 2005, 11 Years after Todd Scott told police about his mother’s confession, Wyoming police visited her at her home in Missouri. They did not reveal what they had been told, but they did ask her to provide them with a complete family tree. 


Alice complied and gave them the information they asked for. She did, however, fail to note her marriage to Ron Holtz. Investigators returned the next day and confronted her, asking why she did not mention her third husband. 


When Alice Uden heard Ron Holtz’s name, she was shocked. She fell back against the wall and said: 


“My kids told you.”


Her reason for leaving Ron out of her family tree was that they were married for such a short time – not even six months. She never considered it a real marriage. They didn’t have children and they did not have any contact anymore.


Back in Lander, investigators never gave up their search for Virginia, Richard and Reagan Uden. An archaeologist team from the University of Wyoming spent the summer of 2008, digging around on Uden’s old property in Pavillion. They concentrated on the area around the pigsty but did not find anything.


Meanwhile, life was still good for the Udens in Missouri. Both Alice and Gerald drove trucks, but as Alice was getting older, her health caught up with her. She was diagnosed with cancer and received chemo-therapy.


Spending most of her time at home, she raised chickens and neighbours would buy eggs from her. She would talk about her grandchildren and there was nothing about her that seemed out of place. They were your typical elderly neighbours.


Law enforcement knew that either Alice or Gerald Uden, or both of them, were involved in the disappearance and probable murder of Virginia Uden and her kids. They just desperately needed some concrete evidence.


After no less than 14 years of on and off periods of excavation, the archaeologists on Remount Ranch found what they were looking for: human remains. 


Previous, unsuccessful attempts only yielded carcasses of cattle and other ranch animals. But in August of 2013 they dug deeper down the vertical shaft, about 40 feet (or 12 metres) further down. Their efforts had paid off.


Part of the human remains was a skull marked with the unmistakable shape of a bullet hole. Inside the skull was a .22 calibre bullet. DNA tests confirmed that the remains belonged to Ron Holtz.


The time had come to arrest Alice Uden for the murder of her third husband. On September 16th, 2013, almost to the day of what would have been her and Ron Holtz’s 39th wedding anniversary, the FBI picked Alice up from her home in rural Missouri, from where she was taken in for questioning. 


Investigators showed her a photo of Ron Holtz and said to her: this is Ron Holtz. The elderly Alice Uden pretended to be surprised and simply said: 


“Is it?”


Then they showed her a photo of Ron’s skull with the bullet hole and said: this, is also Ron Holtz. The next question was straight: did Alice kill her husband?


To everybody’s surprise, Alice Uden freely admitted that she had shot Ron Holtz back in 1974. She told investigators about his abuse and that she was frightened of him. Her story confirmed the information that her son, Todd Scott, had given police many years before.


One day, while Ron was sleeping, little Erica was crying in her crib in the room next door. It always annoyed Ron when Erica cried. But on this particular day, when the crying woke him up, he snapped and turned his violence towards Alice’s toddler. 


Alice intervened to stop him from hurting the child, and in a scuffle, she landed on the floor next to a closet. Inside the closet was a rifle. When Alice saw Ron going back to Erica’s crib, she grabbed the rifle from the cupboard and shot him in the head. 


She left him on the floor next to the crib where he had died until she returned from Colorado, where she left Erica with Ron’s parents. 


That’s when she wrestled his body into the Christmas decoration box before driving out to Remount Ranch where she threw his body down the mineshaft.


Investigators asked if anyone had helped her and she said no. Police could also find no evidence that anyone else was involved. 


Then the question everybody was eager to get an answer to. Investigators asked her what she knew about the Uden-disappearance. But Alice Uden denied having any knowledge of what happened to Virginia, Richard and Reagan.


When Gerald arrived home to find that Alice had been arrested, he knew it was only a matter of time before police came for him too. He realised the game was up and took his 20-year-old grandson, Erica’s son Mackenzie, into the bedroom and gave him his hunting rifles and guitar and said: 


“Don’t be scared, but this is it.” 


Then he heard the knock on the door.


At this point, Gerald had not spoken with Alice since she’d been taken into custody. Police knew that Alice had murdered Ron Holtz, but they weren’t sure about her involvement with the disappearance of Virginia, Richard and Reagan. So, when they talked to Gerald, they bluffed. They told him that Alice had been arrested for the murder of Virginia and the boys. 


Gerald could not let his wife take the blame for something he had done. At his home, he confessed that he was the one who had killed his ex-wife and his two adopted sons. He told the story of what happened on that fall day in 1980, with the horrifying details of the Uden family’s last moments.


He admitted that he had invited Virginia and the boys to go hunting with him. They met at Pavillion, near his property in Fremont County. They all got into Virginia’s mom’s Ford Country Squire station wagon together and he drove about five or six miles north.


Gerald Uden pulled off the main road and stopped the car near an irrigation canal, where all of them got out. 


The boys were keen to shoot Virginia’s .22 calibre rifle that she had inherited from her grandfather. Gerald said that he wanted to test it first, which he did. He fired a test shot and the firearm was in good working order. 


The following is the quote of Gerald Uden’s confession, finally putting an end to a 33-year-old mystery of what happened to Virginia and her sons. 


Gerald told the chilling story without much emotion:


 “Virginia was there, the gun was there, I was there. I shot her right square in the back of the head and she went down...

And I whirled and shot Richard in the back of the head. 

…by this time Reagan had decided that things were going south, and he started running, he tripped, and he fell in the ditch, and I walk over to him and I shot him once. They were all three dead.

 So, what did I do?

 I loaded them into the car and I took them back home. I had no idea there was so much blood in a person.

So, I took them out there to the gold mines, and I dumped them in it. And I pulled them back out of sight.

It’s a hell of a thing to admit, but I probably would have killed Claire too.”


Claire, remember, was Virginia’s mother. 


Gerald went on to confess that months after the murders, he retrieved the bodies from the abandoned mine. He put Virginia’s body in a 66-gallon steel drum and sealed it. Then he put the boys’ bodies in a 30-gallon drum and sealed it too. He poked holes into the barrels to ensure that they would sink, then loaded it onto his boat and sank them in the Fremont Lake in western Wyoming.


Fremont Lake measures 10 miles long and about a mile wide. At 600 feet (that’s 180 metres), it's one of the deepest lakes in the U.S.


Stunned by Gerald’s recount of the heartless crime he had committed over 30 years ago, police placed him under arrest and escorted him out of his Missouri home. Just before he stepped outside Gerald turned and said to Erica: 


“God I am sorry for what I did.”


Both Gerald and Alice Uden were extradited to Wyoming to stand trial for the crimes they had committed when they were younger. 


Gerald was the first to stand trial in Lander, Wyoming. 


He refused to have legal representation and insisted on having a court appointed attorney. Gerald was not about to put up much of a fight.


To avoid the death penalty, Gerald Uden pleaded guilty. 


He told the court about the nature of his relationship with Virginia and described her as a predator, who married him under false pretences. Richard and Reagan’s biological father wasn’t paying child support and she needed someone to step in. Gerald believed she had married him with the motive of getting a father who would help support her sons. 


That is why, shortly after the adoption was official, Virginia filed for divorce. She was insistent on the child support payments, but she did honour the terms of their separation: she wouldn’t let him see the boys.


When Gerald started his relationship with Alice – and then married her – he had to prioritise his new family. But, according to Gerald, Virginia made things very difficult. She tried to cause trouble between him and Alice and used the boys to further her agenda. 


Gerald was buckling under the pressure. It wasn’t the child support payments that bothered him, he could afford to keep it up. But he was constantly caught between Virginia and Alice and couldn’t take the pressure anymore. Something had to be done.


He made the decision to make the source of his problems go away. He admitted that he had planned to kill Virginia and both boys before they set out on that fatal afternoon of bird hunting.


When the court wanted to know why Gerald killed the boys – who loved him like a father – too, he said:


“Virginia was trying to force a wedge between [Alice and myself] … I saw them all as the wedge. I knew if I was going to kill one of them, I was going to have to kill all of them.”


He added in a feeble mutter: 


“I don’t think any of them suffered.”


He told the court how he loaded the bodies back into the station wagon and went to his home, where he loaded all three of them onto his pick-up truck. Then he took them to the abandoned Lewiston gold mine in the South Pass area and stashed the bodies there.


In November 1980, two months after the murders, he decided that the mineshaft wasn’t best place to leave the bodies, that’s when he moved them to Fremont Lake.


Gerald Uden conceded that he had no excuse for what he had done. The Honourable Judge Young agreed. 


Gerald sentenced to life in prison in November 2013 and is currently in the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Torrington.


Alice Uden’s court trial was held in Cheyenne in August 2014. Like Gerald, she was satisfied not to have legal representation.


In court, Alice came across as a frail, elderly woman. She was sitting in a wheelchair, wearing blue. Her grey hair was thinning, and she wore wire glasses, a court-supplied hearing aid and maintained that she had killed Ron Holtz in self-defence.


She pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge against her.


Talking about Ron Holtz, Alice Uden said:


“I’ve tried to atone for it… I wish that I never would have met him so that none of the ever would have happened. He was a very frightening man.” 


She told the story of how Ron flew into a rage when 19-month-old Erica started crying in her crib and he was inches away from attacking her. He said ‘I’m going to kill her” – meaning the child.


Prosecution was quick to point out inconsistencies in Alice’s statements about Ron’s death over the years. At first, she said that Ron was sleeping when Erica’s crying woke him up and he stormed into the nursery. But on another occasion Alice said that Ron had just arrived home from a shift as a taxi driver. As he walked in the door he heard Erica crying, and stormed to her room.


Most damning of all, was arguably the testimony of the man who started the whole investigation into Ron Holtz’ death, Alice’s son Tod Scott. Todd, 53-years-old at the time of his mother’s trial, testified that Alice told him years before that she had shot Holtz while he was asleep. 


“She just, out of the blue, told me how she got up one night, got a .22 and shot Ron in the head. 


Todd said he had told many people over the years, including law enforcement. He wanted to tell people, so he could ‘rip the demon out’ – the demon of Alice’s secret. But charges against Alice only came more than a decade later, once Ron’s body was found. 


“I don’t know why a mother would tell her children she killed somebody.”


He then turned to Alice Uden, who was still seated in her wheelchair and said: 


“I hate you.”


A stunned silence fell in the courtroom. It was clear that Todd Scott was deeply disturbed by his mother’s dark secret and did everything he could to let justice prevail. 


Walking out of the courtroom after testifying, Scott muttered to his mother: 


I hope it was all worth it.”


Corroborating Todd’s testimony, Alice’s other daughter from her first marriage, Theresa Twyford, testified that her mother had once told her too, that she shot Ron Holtz as he slept. 


Theresa remembered the ‘matter of fact’ conversation. Alice had first told her how Ron had kicked her when their car broke down next to a road in Illinois. Then, like it was nothing, Alice told her how she shot and killed Ron.


Theresa, Todd Scott’s older sister by two years, said that the conversation between her and Alice happened when she was in her early twenties on one of Alice’s visits to Illinois. Both her and her mother had been drinking at the time.


However, to convict Alice, more concrete evidence was needed. Forensic Pathologist, Dr James Wilkerson proved in court that the hole in Ron Holtz’s skull told the story of the bullet travelling into the skull from front to back, right to left. 


He showed with a trajectory rod that the angle of the shot was consistent with the shooter standing above someone who was laying down. 


Alice Uden’s court appointed defence argued that Alice said she shot Ron as he was bending over the side of the crib. Dr Wilkerson had to concede that this could have been possible too.


Prosecution produced a recorded jailhouse phone call between Alice and her daughter. In this phone call, she admitted to having a bloody mattress and disposing of it in an Illinois landfill with the help of her mother.


Alice spoke up and claimed she was referring to the mattress in the crib.


But the jury didn’t buy it. They believed Alice Uden shot Ron Holtz while he was sleeping.


After deliberating for a day and a half, the jury found her guilty of second degree murder. They refused to find her guilty of pre-meditated first-degree murder, but also didn’t think it was the lesser instance of manslaughter. 


It is important to note that the jury did not hear about the murders her current husband committed 5 years later. 


On November 1st, 2014, Alice Uden was sentenced to life in prison, the maximum sentence for second degree murder.


Uden’s attorney, Donald Miller, urged the judge to sentence Alice to probation only. His reason for this: Alice’s daughter, Erica Prunty, had cancer and – at the time - had been given six months to live. 


There was a petition on Change.org, asking to overturn Alice’s sentence. It pleaded:


“She’s is 75 and not a threat to society and has paid for her sin many, many times over.


The petition only ever had nine supporters and has since been closed down.


Alice had never been charged in relation with the murders of Virginia, Richard and Reagan Uden in 1980. But the fact that her victim, as well as Gerald’s victims ended up in abandoned mineshafts makes one wonder about what was discussed behind closed doors in the Uden-home.


The woman who was a child when her mother shot her stepdad, Erica Prunty (or Erica Hayes), did not die six months after her mother’s trial. She feels like she has lost both her parents. She agrees that justice has been served, but no person would like to live with the knowledge that the people who raised you, people who you love, and respect are both murderers.


According to People Magazine, Erica says she sees the whole thing as a warped love story. A story where her mother killed to protect herself and her step-father killed to be with her mother.


Virginia’s mom, Claire Martin, died in April 2013, aged 92, before Gerald confessed to her daughter’s and grandsons’ murders. Claire always felt that Gerald was to blame but could never prove it.


In the summers of 2013, 2014 and 2015, boats and sonar equipment were used to continue the search for the mother and her sons at the bottom of Fremont Lake. To this day, despite various efforts by law enforcement, the bodies of Virginia, Richard and Reagan have never been found.


If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes. You would enjoy Investigation Discovery’s ‘Married with Secrets: The Murder of Virginia Uden.’


Also visit and like our Facebook Page at facebook.com/evidencelockerpodcast/” to see more about today’s case.


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This was The Evidence Locker. Thank you for listening!


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