File updated and corrected July 3, 2015
Stella Nickell's small-time world was one of big-time dreams. In 1986, her biggest one came true when her husband died during a seizure, making her the beneficiary of a $175,000-plus insurance payoff—until authorities discovered Bruce Nickell's headache capsules had been laced with cyanide. In an attempt to cover her tracks, Stella did the unconscionable. She saw to it that a stranger would also become a "random casualty" of cyanide-tainted painkillers. But Stella's cunning plan came undone when her daughter Cynthia notified federal agents. And troubling questions lingered like the secret of bitter almonds...
What would turn a gregarious barfly like Stella Nickell into a cold-hearted killer overnight? Why would Cynthia, a mirror image of her mother, turn on her own flesh and blood? Did Cynthia reveal everything she knew about the crimes? The stunning answers would unfold in a case that sparked a national uproar, dug deep into a troubled family history, and exposed an American mother for the pretty poison she was.
Stella Nickell is considered by many to be one of the first domestic terrorists -- the first to be convicted under American product tampering laws.
Gregg Olsen's Bitter Almonds is true crime writing at its best.