After the recent arrests of Gerald and Alice Uden of Chadwick, Mo. – each charged with murdering their former spouses decades ago, and Gerald also charged and convicted with murdering his adopted sons – PEOPLE talks exclusively with Erica Hayes, the youngest of the couple's five surviving children, in this week's compelling new cover story.
With Gerald, 71, having recently admitted to the three slayings and Alice, 74, nearing trial for killing her former husband, Hayes, 41, recalled the shock of learning about her stepfather and mother's dark past in Wyoming.
"He finally admitted it," she tells PEOPLE of Gerald, who confessed to killing his ex-wife and two sons. "I sat there and thought, 'Son of a b––––.' "
It was a level of closure that was never extended to murder victim Virginia Uden's mother, Claire Martin, who died last April at age 92 – months before Gerald and Alice were arrested.
For decades Martin puzzled over the crime, certain that Gerald was to blame, but unsure what happened to her grandsons Richard, 11, and Reagan, 10, since only their mother's blood was found in her car, which was abandoned on a reservation.
"When it all came to light recently, I felt it's a little too little, too late," says Georgene Orth, 91, Martin's cousin and only known surviving relative.
Perhaps most shocking is Alice Uden, who is charged with murdering her previous husband Ronald Holtz, 25, and dumping his body in a mine shaft. Investigators say the crime occurred in late 1974 or early 1975. Alice married Gerald in 1976, and years later told her daughter that she killed Holtz because he was abusive.
At his sentencing Nov. 1, Gerald Uden explained that he could afford the child support. "We had money," he told the judge.
However, Virginia was an "intolerable" person who pressed him for child support while making it hard for him to see the boys, Gerald said. He added that Virginia tried to break up his marriage with Alice.
For those reasons, he said, he killed Virginia and her sons and dumped them in the 450-ft,-deep Fremont Lake, where authorities plan to exhume the bodies when the weather thaws.
"I knew that if I killed one, I was going to kill all of them," Uden explained. "I have no excuse."
For the complete story, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday