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Betty Neumar, who survived 5 spouses, dies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An elderly grandmother who left a trail of five dead husbands in five states over decades has died, leaving a longer trail of questions for survivors of her spouses that might never be answered.

Betty Neumar, 79, died late Sunday or early Monday in a hospital in Louisiana after an illness, her son-in-law Terry Sanders told The Associated Press.

"She was tough country girl and fought through a lot of pain," said Sanders, who has been married 38 years to Neumar's daughter.

Authorities in North Carolina said they planned to look into her death. She was free on $300,000 bond on three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the 1986 death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry.

Her trial was postponed numerous times since her arrest in 2008.

"We're going to make sure we examine the death certificate," said Sheriff Rick Burris.

While investigating Gentry's death, authorities discovered Neumar had been married five times since the 1950s and each union ended in her husband's death. Investigators in three states reopened several of the cases, but have since closed them.

Neumar's death is bittersweet for Gentry's brother, Al Gentry, 65.

For two decades, he pressed investigators in vain to re-examine his brother's shooting death. The case was finally reopened in January 2008 after he asked Burris, then the newly elected sheriff, to look into it.

"I'm numb," Al Gentry said. "I wanted justice and we're not going to get it."

He said there were too many delays: the first was in the initial police investigation in 1986 and later with prosecutors. Her trial was supposed to have started this February, but was postponed to give a newly elected prosecutor more time to prepare "We still haven't answered the question: Who actually killed my brother?" The mysteries in Neumar's past may never be solved.

From the beginning, law enforcement authorities told The Associated Press they had struggled to piece together details of Neumar's life because her story kept changing. But interviews, documents and court records provided an outline of her history in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and Georgia, the states where she was married.

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