Springfield, Mo., mom and daughter accused of poisoning family with antifreeze

Antifreeze in the Gatorade was the preferred method by a Springfield, Mo., woman who fatally poisoned her husband and son and almost killed a daughter as well, Greene County authorities say.

Diane Staudte, 51, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault and one count of armed criminal action. A 22-year-old daughter, Rachel Staudte, also of Springfield, was charged Saturday with the same offenses.

Diane Staudte admitted Thursday to poisoning all three with antifreeze over a 14-month period, according to a probable cause statement.

She told investigators that she killed her husband because she hated him and her son because he was “worse than a pest.” She said she wanted to kill her 24-year-old daughter, Sarah Staudte, because the young woman “would not get a job and had student loans that had to be paid,” the probable cause statement said.

Her earlier story was that her husband, Mark Staudte, 61, hadn’t been feeling well and suffered from seizures before his April 2012 death, the probable cause statement said. And she said her son, Shawn Staudte, 26, had been sick with flu-like symptoms before his death in September.

The medical examiner in Greene County at first ruled that the husband died of natural causes and the son as a result of prior medical issues. But an anonymous tip led authorities to re-examine the deaths after Sarah was hospitalized earlier this month, the statement said.

A detective wrote that a nurse told him that although Sarah’s condition was potentially fatal, Staudte had visited only a couple of times and not stayed long. The nurse described Staudte’s actions as “inappropriate,” saying she joked and laughed with hospital personnel.

The nurse also told the detective that Staudte told her she planned to go on a vacation to Florida regardless of her daughter’s status.

A doctor told the detective that Sarah’s condition was “very suspicious” and said he suspected the young woman had been poisoned. The young woman, in intensive care at Cox Hospital, is expected to live. However, consumption of ethylene glycol, the key ingredient in antifreeze, can be devastating to the kidneys.

Staudte had asked friends on social media to pray for her daughter’s health a few days before police say she admitted to the deaths Thursday. She was charged Friday.

The Springfield News-Leader, citing the probable cause statement in Rachel Staudte’s case, said Diane Staudte originally told police she was the only one involved. But the statement said that when Rachel Staudte was confronted with evidence, she admitted to taking part in the deaths and assault.

During a subsequent interview, Diane Staudte then admitted that the two had planned, researched and committed the crimes together, putting the antifreeze into their family members’ soda or Gatorade, the statement said. Both are being held without bond.