'Worst Roommate Ever': True crime docuseries dives into deadly living situations

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The second season of “Worst Roommate Ever,” released June 26 and garnering popularity on Netflix, delves into housing situations that reach their worst possible conclusion. 

A woman who poisoned her best friend for custody of her son; a terrifying tenant who murdered his elderly roommate after earning her trust; a woman who took out a life insurance policy on a roommate then left him with a traumatic brain injury; and a landlord who shot then disembodied his tenants are the subjects of the docuseries’ four episodes.

Who is Janie Ridd and where is she today? 

The first episode of the new season is centered around Janie Ridd, whose tumultuous 25-year friendship with a Salt Lake City woman began when the two moved in together and ended with a prison sentence for multiple poisoning attempts with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Ridd lived with a woman named Rachel, who was a single mother to a son named Ryder.

After Rachel fell ill, Ridd became the beneficiary of Rachel’s $500,000 life insurance policy. Rachel amended her will to give the woman custody of Ryder in the event of her death. With Rachel unable to work, she said, Ridd suddenly had “100% control” over her.

“I really have a hard time believing that the person I’ve known for 25 years, my best friend and roommate, could do what she did,” Rachel, identified only by her first name, said on the Netflix show. “But it was diabolical, it was evil. It was plotted and planned so perfectly.”

Rachel said she grew sicker. Meanwhile, Ridd “started letting people believe she was Ryder’s parent.”

Rachel developed a massive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in wounds tended to by Ridd, then was repeatedly hospitalized for unexplained severe hypoglycemic incidents.

Authorities with the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction program began investigating Ridd after she contacted a vendor selling Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) in October 2019, according to the documentary and an indictment filed in Utah’s Third District Court and reviewed by Fox News Digital.

Ridd communicated with the vendor for three months, telling them she was a biology teacher and needed the bacteria — which is more contagious and dangerous than MRSA, experts said — for science experiments with students. She was actually employed at a job assistance center, according to the indictment.

“It was plotted and planned so perfectly.”

— Janie Ridd’s roommate Rachel

FBI agents watched her pick up the package at a P.O. box in December 2019, then followed her back to her job to question her about its contents. Investigators searched the home Ridd and Rachel shared, ultimately finding used insulin needles with Rachel’s DNA on them that explained the earlier hospitalizations. 

Ridd was convicted on charges of attempted intentional abuse of a disabled or elderly adult and attempted possession or use of a weapon of mass destruction in August 2020. 

Ridd, now 55, was released in January 2022 after serving just 25 months, according to the documentary.

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Scott Pettigrew

Scott Edmund Pettigrew, now 58, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for beating his roommate Mimie Anita Cowen, 65, to death in their shared home. Pettigrew was a “charmer” who gained the elderly woman’s favor, Cowen’s friends said; she had been using Craigslist to find roommates to help her make ends meet. 

Cowen was not conducting background checks, and many of the roommates would stop paying rent or create problems in the household. Pettigrew, however, was initially her coworker at Walgreens and appeared to be put-together and personable. 

Shortly after he moved into Cowen’s Cathedral City, California, home in 2016, Pettigrew frequently stole items from the house, then blamed another roommate. That roommate, who spoke in the docuseries, spent time behind bars after Pettigrew convinced Cowen to concoct a story about him assaulting her to get him removed from the house without undergoing a formal process. 

At that point, Pettigrew stopped paying rent. Cowen, citing other problems, as well, sought a restraining order, and a judge ordered Pettigrew to stay five yards away from her, but he could still reside in the house. 

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In the court documents, Cowen said she was “scared to do anything except stay away” and that “Scott [was] intensifying this to keep me in constant fear of him and what he will do next time. I don’t want a next time.” 

After Pettigrew’s dogs were ordered out of the home, according to the docuseries, he disconnected the garage door opener and barricaded the front door. But after helping her inside, police left, saying that they could not intervene in the civil matter.

On June 14, 2019, Cowen’s family could not reach her and asked police in Cathedral City to conduct a welfare check. She was found dead in her pool with broken ribs and blunt force trauma to the head.

Pettigrew was still in the house, naked and bewildered. In conversations with police, he blamed the third roommate for the killing. 

But Cowen had hidden a recording device in her home, and her last moments were caught on tape, giving prosecutors ample evidence to secure a conviction. 

Pettigrew was sentenced to 25 years to life at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California, for murder, elder abuse and violating a protective order, the Desert Sun reported. He will not be eligible for parole until April 2033.

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Tammy Fritz

After Tammy Fritz’s husband Rich died under mysterious circumstances, Fritz took Rich’s best friend from his time in the Army, James “Bo” Bowden, into her Fort Carson, Colorado, home with her young son, Christian.

Bowden decided to leave the military as soon as his friend died in June 2001. When he moved into the Fritz home, he became a father figure to Christian. 

In Bowden’s mind, Fritz was like family. But unbeknownst to Bowden, she had taken out a life insurance policy in his name. 

After living in the home for four years, Bowden got extremely sick while he and Fritz were drinking alcohol together. Later, Fritz’s brother would say in a recorded phone call that she mentioned spiking Bowden’s drink with GHB or another substance to collect on the life insurance policy. 

On another occasion, a fire began in Bowden’s room. The source was never found, and Fritz told her son that the fire had started with a game system left to overheat. 

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Meanwhile, Fritz was using drugs heavily by 2009, and was being investigated for identity theft, credit card fraud and check fraud, according to law enforcement sources interviewed in the docuseries.

Around that time, Michelle Kay Heaston and Sean Richard Lagoe moved into Fritz’s home, and she was fired for misappropriating funds at her job with a construction company. 

Unemployed and depressed, Bowden told the Fritz family of his intentions to move back to Alaska with his parents and go back to college. Fritz, Christian, Bowden, Heaston and Lagoe went out for a last hurrah before Bowden was scheduled to set off.

After her son never arrived back in Alaska, Bowden’s mother called his apartment manager — the veteran was found unconscious and bloodied. He had suffered a traumatic brain injury, and had no recollection of what had happened.  

Fritz was convicted of attempted murder, solicitation of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder, according to the documentary. She was sentenced to 48 years in prison, which she is still serving today. Her two accomplices, Heaston and Lagoe, were also charged in connection with Bowden’s attempted murder. 

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Michael Dudley

Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner were drug addicts down on their luck when they moved into 65-year-old Michael Dudley’s home in Burien, Washington. Although he seemed affable on first impression, Dudley was a paranoid drug addict who ultimately killed his own tenants, according to the docuseries.

In June 2020, a group of teenagers found human remains stuffed into a suitcase off Duwamish Head near Seattle. More remains were found in another duffel bag nearby, and a third bag was recovered four days later from the Duwamish River. 

Another tenant of Dudley’s initially told filmmakers that he seemed extraordinarily helpful, driving her to job interviews and taking care of her dogs. Things changed when, after she’d moved out of the house, she asked Dudley to take care of the animals. 

Both dogs disappeared. One dog was found, but when the former tenant came to pick up that dog, Dudley admitted that he’d killed the other after it allegedly killed one of his hen’s chicks. 

In the month they were last seen, Wenner’s mother said that her son called her to tell her that he’d seen “something he shouldn’t have” — Dudley accepting a shipment of weaponry to their shared home. Wenner and his girlfriend allegedly carried out many small crimes for their landlord, who kept cameras throughout the property and was paranoid about visitors.

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Lewis’ aunt, Gina Jaschke, described Dudley’s threatening behavior toward his tenants, both in “Worst Roommate Ever” and in interviews with Westside Seattle. He allegedly placed trackers on cars, killed animals to make threats and held people at gunpoint. 

Dudley shot Lewis and Wenner in the house that they shared, then left their bodies for several days before dismembering them. A statement from a witness, who was offered a room in Dudley’s home after Wenner and Lewis disappeared, was able to solidify the case against the landlord. She encountered bodies in one of the rooms of the house — Dudley told her that, in an altercation, “his gun went off and theirs didn’t,” according to the docuseries.

Neighbors called 911 after hearing gunshots and screaming on the night the couple were killed. But police that appeared at the home did not get a response at the door and were unable to investigate without further evidence. After arresting Dudley based on the witness statement, his phone records indicated that the only time he had left the home in the recent past was to visit locations that corresponded with the duffel bags of body parts.

Dudley was sentenced to 46 years in prison in April of last year on two counts of second-degree murder, the Seattle Times reported. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 104 years old. 



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