WILKES-BARRE (WBRE/WYOU) — Twenty years after spiking her husband’s iced tea with rat poison, Joann Curley walked free of prison on Monday. She was released just after midnight from the State Correctional Institute at Cambridge Springs. Curley admitted killing Robert Curley in September of 1991 a year after they married. She said she was greedy for his $300,000 life insurance. She was also worried he would spend the $1.7 million he won in a lawsuit she settled.
When Bob Curley went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms, he started vomiting and losing his hair. Then, his wife visited and brought him pizza and thallium-spiked iced tea. The poison thins the blood and causes internal bleeding. It’s considered a slow-acting poison and takes up to five days for death to occur.
After he died, lab tests on his blood and those of Joann Curley’s 4-year-old daughter revealed traces of thallium. Investigators initially believed he had been exposed to the metal at his workplace, Wilkes University. But the tests showed he had 900 times more than the lethal dose.
During her time in prison, Curley has applied for parole eight times. She was denied each time. The family of the victim fought to make sure she served her entire sentence. They say they hope she has learned her lesson. She is 53 now and it’s not clear where she plans to live or if she will return to Luzerne County. She’s already missed her fuschia Harley Davidson and helping to rescue animals.