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Cold Case Slayings

Alice Uden listens to the judge during jury selection in April 2014 at Laramie County District Court. A jury later convicted her of second-degree murder. She died Wednesday after serving five years of a life sentence.

A woman who murdered her husband, threw his body in a well and was convicted nearly four decades later died June 12 after serving five years of a life sentence. She was 80.

Alice Louise Uden died from chronic health issues at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. An autopsy will be performed.

On Tuesday, authorities transported Uden to the hospital, according to a Wyoming Department of Corrections statement. She had been serving a life sentence for second-degree murder in Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington.

A Corrections Department spokesman declined Wednesday to provide further details about Uden’s medical care or cause of death.

Her adult daughter, Erica Hayes, however, told the Star-Tribune by phone Wednesday afternoon that Uden went into renal failure Tuesday night. She was taken to the Torrington hospital before being transported to Scottsbluff, where she died Wednesday morning.

Uden also suffered from memory loss, said Hayes, who in 2014 told the Associated Press in an emailed statement that Uden saved her life with the killing. Hayes said she remained close to her mother until Uden’s medical condition worsened in the weeks preceding her death. She said she was grateful to Uden for teaching her how to navigate the world and to drive a truck.

“I remember a lot of really great things about my mom,” Hayes said. “And I know all the bad.”

Other family members have expressed anger at Uden. Todd Scott, her son, testified at trial that after his mother told him about the killing, it haunted him for years.

“I hate you,” he told her from the witness stand, according to an Associated Press account of the trial.

Scott could not be reached Wednesday afternoon to comment for this story.

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In 2014, jurors convicted Uden of murdering her third husband, Ronald Holtz, in the mid-1970s in Cheyenne by shooting him in the head with a rifle and throwing his body down an abandoned Wyoming mine shaft.

She told jurors at trial she was defending herself and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter from Holtz, then 25. Then-Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar described Uden as a cold, calculating killer who shot Holtz in his sleep.

Jurors deliberated for 13 hours over the course of two days before delivering an acquittal on first-degree murder and convicting Uden of the second-degree charge.

Police didn’t arrest Uden for the crime until 2013 in southwest Missouri. That fall, investigators recovered Holtz’s remains in an abandoned gold mine on a cattle ranch in southeastern Wyoming. He had a bullet hole in his skull.

Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe sentenced Uden to life behind bars in August 2014. Although she began serving the sentence at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk, she was transferred to Torrington’s geriatric facility as age caught up with her, said Ron Franscell, who earlier this year published a book about Uden and her new husband, Gerald.

The true-crime writer said Uden’s health issues included diabetes and — at one point — a battle with breast cancer.

“Alice Uden was a hard person to love, except to Gerald. Every person in her life fulfilled some narcissistic purpose, especially men,” Franscell said in an emailed statement. “She needed to control everything around her at any cost — even by murder. I don’t celebrate the death of any human being, but I won’t spend a lot of time mourning Alice.”

Gerald Uden was arrested alongside his wife near Springfield, Missouri. Uden, 76, pleaded guilty in 2013 to killing his ex-wife and two of her children in 1980 in rural Fremont County. He remains incarcerated in the Torrington prison on three life sentences corresponding to the first-degree murder convictions.

Homar did not immediately respond to Wednesday afternoon phone messages seeking comment for this story.

Star-Tribune Editor Joshua Wolfson contributed to this story.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

Editor

Joshua Wolfson joined the Star-Tribune in 2007, covering crime and health before taking over the arts section in 2013. He also served as managing editor before being named editor in June 2017. He lives in Casper with his wife and their two kids.

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