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Husband-Killer Dies of Exposure After Escape : 'Black Widow' Caught in Her Own Web

February 27, 1987|Associated Press

ANNISTON, Ala. — A woman dubbed the "Black Widow" after she was convicted of poisoning her husband and who once faked her own death has died of exposure while trying to elude authorities.

"It seems to be an anticlimactic way for someone who was the great escape artist" to die, Calhoun County Dist. Atty. Bob Field said today.

Audrey Marie Hilley, who had received a three-day pass from prison to visit her second husband at a hotel, was muddy and incoherent when she was found Thursday on a porch in a rural area.

Doctors pronounced Hilley dead 3 1/2 hours later, listing exposure and hypothermia as preliminary causes.

Hilley, 53, had failed to return after being furloughed Sunday from a prison near Wetumpka.

She was sentenced to life in prison in 1983 for the 1975 murder of her first husband, Frank Hilley. She also was convicted of attempted murder in the 1979 arsenic poisoning of her 19-year-old daughter, who recovered.

Federal authorities say she was living under a false identity when she met her second husband, John Homan, while a fugitive between 1979 and 1983.

She married Homan, but faked her own death while on a trip to Texas. She returned to Homan in New Hampshire after losing weight, dyeing her hair and posing as her sister.

Prison spokesman John Hale, quoting investigators on the case, said she told Homan in a note that she hoped "he would understand and forgive her for leaving."

"She did not want to go back to prison," Hale said. "She wanted to be given a chance to get her life started over."

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