Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Matter of the Heart

by Pat Brown

A love story, perfect for a made-for-television movie of the week, is rapidly becoming more suited for an HBO murder mystery special. Cheryl Cottle married Sonny Graham, the recipient of her previous husband's heart, and with this wonderful gift carried from one husband to the next, the story should have ended with some cloyingly sweet song about "Hearts that Bind Us Together in Love, " or some such drivel. Even the fact that Cheryl's first husband shot himself to death shouldn't ruin this endearing story, for from the sad end of one marriage came the happy start of another.

Unfortunately, her marriage to Sonny ended the same way with something equally as nasty in the woodshed. Sonny was found with a shotgun wound to the throat, a scenario eerily similar to the untimely death of the earlier husband/heart donor. Originally Sonny's death by gunshot was ruled self-inflicted, but now the police are having second thoughts about the manner of death. I would have to believe commonsense stepped in when they started checking out the circumstances of this not-s0-fairy-tale ending.

It turns out Sonny is Husband Number Five for Cheryl (pictured right with Sonny). She runs though them rather quickly, one way or the other. At the time she married the sixty-five-year-old Sonny, Cottle was thirty-eight years old. I guess it doesn't much matter about age when you know your husband isn't going to be hanging around that long anyway, regardless of how he makes his exit. However, I think the police are going to be looking mighty closely at just how the two dead husbands enriched Cheryl's life. Sonny was surely a generous fellow; he bought Cheryl and her kids a nice house before they were even married, and somewhere around that time, or shortly thereafter, she married Husband Number Four. That marriage lasted but a short time and as soon as it ended, Cheryl hurried on to marry Sonny. Then, after four years of wedded bliss, the always optimistic and cheerful Sonny "ends his life." Does Cheryl stand to inherit a whole lot of money upon Sonny's death, or is there a hefty life insurance policy on Husband Number Five? Or does she simply have another man waiting in the wings? Or is Cheryl truly a grieving widow?

While there is not yet any evidence of any wrongdoing and Cheryl Cottle may simply be a woman burdened with incredibly bad luck, there are enough red flags to make one want to investigate the death of Sonny and the previous "suicide" of Terry Cottle a bit more thoroughly.

What comes quickly to mind is the possibility Cheryl Cottle is a "black widow." She is in a very common profession for female serial killers - nursing. Cheryl is a licensed practical nurse who has worked in a prison infirmary and for hospices (one of which is involved in a lawsuit with Cheryl). The Georgia investigators no doubt will be doing a check of deaths in these hospices to see if any of the patients died of an earlier and odder death than was expected, even for one terminally ill. They will also want to know if Cheryl "befriended" any of these dying people and, if in doing so, she walked away with some financial gain that may have been intended for family members (cash, jewelry, etc.).

It is rare for lightening to strike twice in the same place, and for Cheryl Cottle to lose two out of five husbands in the very same way makes one just a little more than suspicious. I would be very surprised indeed to find out that both these men committed suicide and that Cheryl had no hand in their deaths. I look forward to the results of the police investigation.


Kathryn Casey said...

Fascinating case, Pat. Keep us informed, please.

Anonymous said...

my boyfriend was cheryl's 4th husband. he's talked to several news outlets, but none of them have published any of the stories that he told them. i guess the media wants to keep this story as a love story gone bad or some kind of tragic love story. they won't repeat his stories of her wicked ways. her conniving and lying. her cheating. her threats to have him killed by the end of the day. he has stories on this woman that does not paint her as a pretty picture. i think if she had killed them and was arrested, they would have wrote everything about her that they told them..but since she's not been charged yet..i guess it's still a sad story of a poor woman who lost two husbands. people magazine, ny post, and ap have talked to him about her and he talked for hours about things he went through with her in the past, but none of them want to portray her as bad as what she really is. as a criminal profiler you would be VERY interested to hear some of these stories about her past. he actually FEARED for his life around this woman and was fortunate enough to get away from her. he lost EVERYTHING in the process..but escaped with his life. there was a time she was depressed and went into the bathroom..he was concerned that she shut the door..which she never did. he went in there to find her pulling down his pistol. they struggled over it and her kids pulled her off of him. he didn't know if she was going to kill him or herself! see?? as a criminal profiler, YOU KNOW this type of woman so much better than the typical reader of such a 'tragic love story' .. i just wished someone had the kiwis to expose this woman for who she REALLY is.

Pat Brown said...

Now that IS interesting information, Connie! I can't say I am a bit surprised because behavior tends to be pretty consistent throughout one's life. The fact Cheryl Cottle marries again and again and has husbands ended up shot to death has to be just the tip of the iceberg. I DO hope, like you, that the investigators are rounding up evidence in this case. I am not surprised that the newspapers prefer a human interest story at this point; sadly, much news isn't about reporting the facts but creating the story that sells papers. Right now that story is this romantic melodrama. If the police end up charging her, then, of course, we will suddenly see the other information come to light.

Thanks so much for writing with this information. I feel strongly, even with the limited information I have, that these two deaths were not suicides. Your boyfriend's experiences with Cheryl Cottle lend weight to the woman being a black widow and not a grieving one.


Anonymous said...

You might find it interesting to know that Cheryl is now engaged to what will soon be her sixth husband at the age of 42. She is already living with him in Macon, Georgia. All I know is that he must have idiot stamped on his forehead or something. She truly is a menace to society!!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the status of the investigation of Cheryl Cottle?

Unknown said...

I was a neighbor and friend of Cheryl and Terry Cottle. Terry Cottle was a kind man who loved his family. I will never forget the morning I heard their son Chris screaming in the driveway that his daddy had shot himself.
After Terry was taken by helicopter to MUSC in Charleston, another neighbor and I cleaned up the bathroom where it happened. I was trying to be a good friend and keep Cheryl from coming home to that horror, but it has haunted me all these years.
I remember many of the statements that Cheryl made at that time, so I was not surprised when she remarried so quickly to a much younger man. Then when I learned she had divorced and remarried Terry's heart recipient, I was floored, but I honestly was not surprised to learn of his suspicious death.