RIVERTON — A Missouri man whose wife is charged with murdering her ex-husband in Wyoming in the mid-1970s has pleaded guilty to killing his own ex-wife and her two children in Wyoming in 1980.
A judge in Lander sentenced Gerald Lee Uden, 71, to life in prison Friday.
Uden has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. He admitted in court that he shot 32-year-old Virginia Uden, 11-year-old Richard Uden and 10-year-old Reagan Uden. Gerald Uden was the boys' adoptive father.
He was vague about his motive but said Virginia Uden had become "intolerable."
"Virginia did her very best to split Alice and me apart," he said. "She used the boys to do that."
He said he dumped their bodies first in a mine, then in a lake.
He said he had no excuse for the murders. Fremont County District Judge Norman Young said he agreed.
Authorities arrested Gerald Uden and his current wife, Alice Uden, 74, at their home in Chadwick, Mo., in September. Alice Uden is charged with the first-degree murder of Ronald Holtz, 25, in late 1974 or early 1975.
Virginia Uden and the boys were killed in rural Fremont County in central Wyoming. Authorities say they recovered Ronald Holtz's body in a mine on a ranch in Laramie County in southeast Wyoming last summer. Investigators say a bullet hole was in his skull.
Authorities have not speculated whether the crimes are linked beyond the fact that the alleged perpetrators have been married for more than 30 years.
Gerald Uden married Virginia Uden in 1974.
"She came to me in false pretenses," Uden told the courtroom. "She came to me looking for a husband, and through circumstances, I fell in love with this woman, and we married."
He said Virginia asked him to adopt her children. He did but she filed for divorce six weeks later.
Gerald then married Alice. While some investigators have thought that child support was his motive, Uden said paying child support was not a problem.
He said he finally ended up "having to make a choice" between Alice and Virginia.
He said on the day of the slayings, he met Virginia and the boys at a corner near his home east of Pavillion. He said Virginia brought along a .22-caliber rifle, but he denied asking her to bring it.
He said they drove 5 or 6 miles north in a 1973 Ford Country Squire station wagon, then got out near an irrigation canal.
"The boys wanted to shoot the rifle," Uden said. "I said I wanted to test it. I tested it; it worked just fine."
He said he walked up behind Virginia Uden, shot her in the back of the head, then shot Richard behind the ear.
"Reagan saw what was happening. He ran, tripped, and fell in the ditch," Uden said. "When he did, I walked up and shot him behind the ear."
Authorities later found the station wagon with blood in it, but no sign of the victims.
Uden said he disposed of the bodies in an old mine but went back a couple months later and retrieved them.
He put Virginia's body in a 55-gallon steel drum and sealed it, he said, then put the boys' bodies in a 30-gallon drum and sealed it, too. He said he took his boat to Fremont Lake and dumped the drums.
The bodies have not been found.