It’s been said that it’s a shame that only people to win the lottery are people who buy lottery tickets in the first place. When new millionaires blow threw their windfall in a tornado of cocaine, fast cars, and prostitutes, we say, “oh, I would never do that.” Which is true, but you’d never spend a third of your paycheck on scratch-off lottery tickets, you timid spendthrift, and as a result will never win those millions.
Willa Blanc didn’t play the lottery, but was a maid for a reclusive millionaire. Her charge was Walter Sartory, a retired scientist who his entire life struggled with paranoid delusions. “He believed the CIA trained ants to spy on him,” writes the Los Angeles Times. He avoided all social interaction, and was living off millions he skimmed off the stock market making day trades. He now lived alone, and saw few people with the exception of Blanc, who ironically he placed some trust in. Which is to say, he was an easy mark.
Blanc did the sensible thing, and killed the guy for his money February of 2009.
It started with some mild bank fraud. Blanc forged documents to give herself power of attorney and take huge sums of money from Sartory. Which, as far as I’m concerned, shouldn’t even be considered a crime.
Here was a 50 year old woman, hopelessly poor, with no hope of her predicament changing anywhere in sight. Fifty is a rough age to be poor at. Ten years younger, and there’s still some remote chance of changing your fate. Ten years older, you can see the specter of death peaking over the horizon, the great equalizer coming to remove you from the misery of being everyday broke. Blanc took the money because the other option was unendurable to pretty much anybody alive.
Things started to get worse when Sartory started communicating to relatives that he suspected Blanc was robbing him. But they had learned to not take him particularly seriously, after his assertion the government trained insects to watch him.
Blanc knew it was only a matter of time before the family would investigate, so she took the inexplicable step of kidnapping him the day before her shift. To make matters worse, she decided to get her adult son involved in the proceedings, who helped transport him back to her house in Union.
They might have benefited from a plan. Sadly, they had none. They just let Sartory rot in their basement, tied to a chair. He must have stunk terribly by the time he died a week later, covered in his own shit and piss. Blanc kept a clean home, but one wondered if his decaying body attracted ants, which he would surely recognize as government agents.
She burned the house to the ground, probably just as interested in cleaning up the mess as getting rid of evidence. The police caught up with her when they finally checked in at the Sartory home when nobody had heard from him in a week. When they found her, she was driving a red corvette and wearing designer clothes.
The media told the story like one of Aesop’s fables. Sartory was the ant, prudently invested his earnings. Blanc, who was lazy (the fact she was black seldom overtly mentioned in reports, but you can find the nerve it struck in the comment sections), was like the grasshopper. That narrative falls apart when you learn he made most of his money day trading in a period of about a year, and that he raised his capital by doing research used in nuclear weapons. The government had trained an ant, and it was him.
After a brief trial, Blanc was sentenced to life without parole. Which is to say, her life hasn’t changed much since going to prison.