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Iva Kroeger Conned Her Way Through Life

San Francisco Chronicle looks at the life of a killer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2021 2:00 PM CST
Iva Kroeger Conned Her Way Through Life
A screen shot of Iva Kroeger.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – She was, as the San Francisco Chronicle declares in its headline, "the most dangerous woman in San Francisco." The story by Katie Dowd tracks the story of lifelong con artist Iva Kroeger, born Lucy Cooper, whose first arrest came in Chicago in 1945 after she went around pretending to be a war-hero nurse. (The offense was illegally wearing the uniform.) The most sensational part of her life of crime, however, may be familiar to true-crime buffs. In the 1960s, she conned and murdered an older couple who ran a cheap motel in Santa Rosa, California, then buried their bodies under the garage floor of her home in San Francisco. She took over their motel before police unraveled what happened and closed in. Kroeger was on the lam for a while, her photo plastered on newspapers as a wanted killer. (In this wild stretch, she managed to con her own son and kidnap two grandsons.)

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She finally got caught, and at the strange murder trial, she played the I'm-crazy card but got convicted anyway. She was released after 13 years because of good behavior and because she was practically blind. Or so authorities thought. When she came to police attention again in 1987 after threatening to kill a man in Florida, police say she had no vision trouble. The best guess is she faked it to dupe the parole board and to collect benefits. Kroeger's trail runs cold after that. It's not clear whether she was arrested for the Florida threat, but Dowd provides the ultimate coda. A public-records search turned up a gravestone with her name in Boston, and the city provided a death certificate. She was living alone in public housing when she died of cervical cancer in 2000. Her occupation was "homemaker," and the only "next of kin" was a social worker. (Read the full tale.)

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