Real Name: Audrey Marie Hilley
Location: Anniston, Alabama
Details: Frank and Marie Hilley of Anniston, Alabama, had been high school sweethearts, with Frank romantically writing letters to Marie while he did an enlistment in the US Navy. They married in 1950 and had two children, Mike and Carol. The Hilleys worked together at a local foundry, where Frank was a foreman and Marie a secretary. By outward appearances, their marriage seemed to be the embodiment of the loving American couple. Everything changed when Frank, Mike, and Carol became sick with stomach problems. Mike was eighteen at the time; he recalled that the illnesses began just a few months after life insurance policies were purchased on him and his daughter, as well as his father subscribing to a life insurance policy sponsored by his employer.
Doctors were unable to diagnose the stomach problems. However, when Mike went off to college, his illness immediately vanished. After that, Frank's became worse. During this time, the Hilleys' marriage was falling apart. Much of the tension was due to money, with Frank being hounded by creditors, much of these debts being his wife's responsibility. One day, Frank came home from work to find Marie in bed with one of her bosses. Mike believes that Frank was planning on divorcing her.
Frank was constantly seeing his doctor, who kept prescribing more potent drugs. Marie rarely left his side, continuing to feed him her own meals. In the middle of the night on May 25, 1975, he was found prancing around the front yard in a state of confusion. He was rushed to the local hospital, where he showed signs on paranoia and jaundice. He passed away within a couple of hours of his admission to the hospital. The official cause of death was hepatitis. Marie spent little time mourning. The proceeds from his life insurance totaled more than $30,000. With that money, she refurnished the house, bought a new car, along with new clothing and jewelry. She also gave her mother and daughter gifts, and her recently married son furniture as a wedding present. Even after the money ran out, she continued buying.
Mike received phone calls from creditors, wanting money from him. Marie had promised her creditors that Mike would pay her debts. Four years after Frank's death, Carol, then eighteen, began suffering from similar symptoms that he and Mike had suffered from. At the time, nobody knew that Marie had purchased a life insurance policy on her.
Shortly after Carol became ill, Mike returned to Alabama to confront Marie about her overspending. That morning, she cooked him breakfast. Once again, he fell ill. He recovered and returned to his home in Florida. However, Carol's condition worsened and she was taken to the hospital. She eventually became paralyzed from the waist down. Marie injected her with something in the hip, claiming that it would help her. However, it only made things worse.
On September 20, 1979, Marie was arrested for passing bad checks and was bailed out by extended family members. The hospital staff re-examined Carol and found evidence that she had been poisoned with arsenic. In October 1979, Frank's body was exhumed for a second autopsy. He was found to have striped fingernails, known as Aldrich-Mees lines, which are telltale signs of arsenic in the body. Carol was also found to have Aldrich-Mees lines under her fingernails when admitted to the hospital. On January 11, 1980, an arrest warrant was issued, charging Marie with his murder. However, she had already vanished. Within the scope of two years, both Marie's mother and mother-in-law had died of similar circumstances to Frank's. Marie was now suspected of poisoning four people. Carol's maternal and paternal grandmother also had autopsies where arsenic was found, but concluded that both women had died of cancer.
Extra Notes: This case first aired as part of the "Diabolical Minds" episode on November 3, 1991. It was an unusual one as it had already been solved before being broadcast; rather the focus was on the diabolical mind. Others profiled in this episode were those of G. Daniel Walker, Ted Bundy, and Saddam Hussein. As they were all male, Marie was profiled for being a rare case of a female having a diabolical mind. It was also documented on The New Detectives, Deadly Women, Southern Fried Homicide, and American Monster.
Results: Solved. In 1980, Marie resurfaced in Florida under the name Lindsey Robbie Hannen and met a man named John Homan. She claimed that she was a widow with two children who died in a school bus accident, and that was about to inherit a large estate in Texas. She also claimed that she had advanced brain cancer and a rare disease where her body made too many red cells. They began dating and got married in May 1981. She soon found a job as a secretary. In September 1982, she claimed that her cancer had worsened, so she had to go to Texas for treatment. A short time later, John got a call from Teri Martin, Robbie's purported twin sister, informing her that he had died. A distraught John offered to travel to Texas to make funeral arrangements for his wife, but Teri informed him that it was Robbie's last wish to have her body be studied, and she handed over her sister's earthly remains to a university. No trip to Texas was necessary. She kept in touch with John, and after some time of getting to know him through the phone, he wished to meet her. She approved and suggested they have their first date in Florida. In actuality, Marie had once again reinvented herself as Teri, getting in shape and dyeing her hair blonde. John was taken with his "sister-in-law" and started dating her.
However, when Teri took a job as a secretary at the very same employer she previously worked for as Robbie, some coworkers immediately saw through this ruse. John's friends and family were also concerned, figuring he may have fallen for a con woman, and warned him about his relationship with "Teri", who was unable to produce a death certificate for "Robbie". Their suspicions proved right, and local police got involved. Police research failed to find an obituary for Lindsay Homan in any newspaper in Texas in the timeframe of her purported death, and the place where "Robbie's" body was donated, Texas Medical Research, did not exist. When "Teri" was taken in on suspicion, she was positively identified as Audrey Hilley, who was wanted for murder and writing bad checks.
In January 1983, Marie was arrested and returned to Alabama. She was sentenced to life in prison for Frank's murder. In 1987, she escaped. However, her freedom was short-lived as she developed hypothermia in the wild back-country during the winter months. One week after her escape, she made her way to Blue Mountain, Alabama, the town she was born in, and attempted to enlist the aid of a schoolfriend to harbor her as a fugitive. However, the woman Marie thought was her friend had not seen her since grade school and had failed to identify her as Marie, instead believing her to be a transient woman suffering from hypothermia, and called 911. Marie died shortly afterwards from prolonged exposure to the cold. She is buried in Alabama alongside Frank.
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