COSTA MESA, CA — On Thanksgiving Day 1991, Egyptian-born fashion model Omaima Nelson, 23, repeatedly plunged a pair of scissors into the chest and stomach of Bill Nelson, her 56-year-old pilot husband. Then she reached for a clothing iron.
As Bill flailed, Omaima pummeled him to death with the iron until the heavy object actually broke in her hand (imagine the force it takes to break an iron!).
Omaima unleashed her fury, she claimed, over the sexual terror and other abuses to which Bill had subjected her — acts that reportedly included him pimping out his glamorous bride to kinky old creeps in exchange for rent, cash, and, in one case, a car.
When Bill finally expired, Omaima butchered his body on the kitchen floor. She then boiled his hands in oil to remove fingerprints and stuck his head in the freezer so she could later break out his teeth. In symbolic revenge, Omaima made a point of castrating her husband, as well.
As Omaima stuffed some body parts into trash bags and fed others down her garbage disposal, it must have occurred to her that she hadn’t had anything to eat yet — and on Thanksgiving of all days!
According to court documents, Omaima told a psychiatrist she prepared Bill’s ribs with barbecue sauce, put them in the oven and, then, upon sinking her teeth into her dead husband’s glazed flesh, declared, “It’s so sweet!”
At the time of the alleged cannibalism, Omaima and Bill had been married for less than three weeks. They had known each other for a total of five.
Over the next few days, Omaima enlisted a pair of ex-boyfriends to help her get rid of Bill’s leftover remains. Their cover-up work did not prove to be impeccable.
On December 1, police got a tip about body parts being seen inside a parked car that belonged to Bill Nelson. The parts, of course, also belonged to Bill Nelson.
Officers dropped by Omaima’s home to inform her of the discovery and, once there, found still more newspaper-wrapped pieces of Bill in the refrigerator. They promptly arrested Omaima for first-degree murder.
Omaima immediately claimed self-defense. She said that, in addition to trading out her body, Bill was a BDSM enthusiast who routinely bound her against her will and raped her. She further claimed Bill had raped her on Thanksgiving morning and that she had feared he would kill her.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Randy Pawloski countered that Omaima was a scam artist who preyed on men, specifically using bondage sex games to rob them.
At the time of the slaying, in fact, she faced three felony charges regarding a 1990 incident in which she allegedly tied up an ex, slapped him around, and demanded money at gunpoint.
Remarkably, the Omaima Nelson saga grew increasingly more sordid once it got to trial. First, Omaima’s interview with a psychiatrist came to light, in which she detailed putting on “a red dress, red shoes, and a red hat” before prepping and cooking Bill’s rib-meat.
Upon digging in at the kitchen table, according to the doctor, Omaima declared:
“I did his ribs just like in a restaurant. It’s so sweet! It’s so delicious! I like mine tender!”
The psychiatrist asserted that Omaima was in a “psychotic state” when she offed and ate Bill, and added that, in 20 years of his practice, he had never experienced a conversation with a subject “so bizarre, so psychotic.”
In turn, defense attorneys painted a horrifying, heartbreaking portrait of Omaima’s ordeal growing up in Egypt. As a child, she had been subjected to female genital mutilation (clitoral circumcision) and submitted herself to loathsome sexual humiliations in order to survive.The defense also portrayed Bill Nelson as a sick sadist who tortured his wife sexually, physically, and psychologically. When she adopted a kitten, for example, Bill allegedly pulled the animal from Omaima’s lap in a moving car and tossed it out a window.
Adding to the sensationalism, the courtroom walls were lined with photos of Bill’s deep-fried hands, frozen head, and skinned torso.
Upping the tawdry atmosphere even further, the #1 movie dominating pop culture at the time was the cannibal shocker, Silence of the Lambs — a coincidence not lost on the media covering the case, who almost never failed to invoke the film’s flesh-eating anti-hero, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
The jury had much to consider, then, when deliberations commenced on January 4, 1993. Six days later, they came back and declared Omaima Nelson guilty of second-degree murder. Jury foreman Famous Hooks said afterward:
“It was really a tough, tough decision. We couldn’t come back [with a first-degree murder verdict] because we couldn’t find the evidence. It wasn’t there. It took us six days. We worked really hard.”
Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald sentenced Omaima to 27 years to life in prison.
Since going away, Omaima has vehemently denied eating Bill.
When she came up for parole in 2011, Omaima insisted she was “not a monster” and pointed out that she had never hurt the man she married while incarcerated, even though, in the trailer where the couple had conjugal visits, “there were knives in the kitchen.”
The parole board remained unimpressed. Omaima is expected to serve the remainder of her term.
To learn more about this case, watch the “Love You to Pieces” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Women on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Beef short ribs [WikiMedia Commons]