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Retired teacher accused of killing younger boyfriend with antifreeze

A retired Massachusetts schoolteacher was charged with murder last week after being accused of poisoning her boyfriend’s coffee shakes with antifreeze.

Judy Church, 64, of Salisbury, appeared briefly in court on Friday, one day after she was arrested on suspicion of poisoning Leroy Fowler, 55, with ethylene glycol, WCVB reported.

Church called emergency services shortly after 8 p.m. Nov. 11 to report that Fowler was in “medical distress,” according to records obtained by NBC Boston. Explaining to dispatchers that her boyfriend “must have ingested something,” Church alleged that he was “pulling the bedroom apart, and had a bloody nose.”

Fowler was transferred to three different hospitals for care, where doctors eventually determined his kidneys were failing due to antifreeze poisoning. The discovery prompted Fowler’s family to contact police.

Fowler was pronounced dead on Nov. 13. Investigators eventually discovered unidentified containers on surveillance footage around Church’s apartment.

Fowler’s stepson, Michael Hawkins, told investigators that Fowler suggested “out of the blue” that Church was poisoning him just two weeks before. Fowler allegedly said he “‘felt better’” when he left Church’s home, but he still relied on her for most of his meals.

Fowler’s sister, Tammy Carbone, reported similar suspicions, telling police that her brother claimed Church might be contaminating the coffee shakes she frequently made for him.

Although Church’s motive remains unclear, Hawkins divulged to authorities that Fowler was known to “go back and forth” between Church and a second girlfriend.

Citing court documents, NBC Boston alleged that Hawkins claimed to have overheard Church saying she “wanted to murder” the other girlfriend. Church also reportedly took out a life insurance policy on Fowler one year before his death.

A common ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol can be unknowingly ingested because of its syrupy texture and sweet flavor. Though symptoms of antifreeze poisoning can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion, even small amounts can be fatal.

In a brief statement to the Daily Beast, Fowler’s son, also called Leroy, described his father as “a good guy.”

“Not perfect but he was a good guy,” he said, noting that Fowler was especially close to his 8-year-old grandson.

Church was denied bail on Friday. She is due back in court on Jan. 23 for a probable cause hearing.

In a comment on Church’s Facebook page, Carbone expressed outrage over her brother’s fate.

“I can’t wait to see [Church’s] face tomorrow when she can’t walk out [of jail],” the grieving sister wrote before Church’s arraignment. “To think she thought she could get away with it.”

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