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Marie Hilley murdered her husband and poisoned her daughter before escaping prison

Mugshot of Marie Hilley
Marie Hilley had a lengthy criminal record that included murder and identity theft; she managed to avoid capture for years. Pic credit: Alabama Dept. of Corrections

This week the team at Snapped examines the case of devious criminal Marie Hilley, who murdered her first husband, poisoned her daughter, and stole someone’s identity while managing to evade the authorities for years.

In 1975 Hilley, from Anniston in Alabama, decided to murder her husband. The housewife began lacing his food with arsenic, and when he eventually died, she claimed a large life insurance payment.

Three years later, Hilley attempted the same deadly ploy when she took out a significant life insurance policy on her 19-year-old daughter and began poisoning her too. Thankfully this time, her crimes were uncovered by a diligent doctor who was able to diagnose the daughter’s mysterious illness as being the result of high levels of arsenic.

When her husband’s remains were exhumed, he was found to have suffered from similar levels of arsenic poisoning.

She was arrested in 1979 but fled while out on bond, she then managed to elude authorities for three years while she traveled to Florida, Texas, and up to New England.

She eventually met and married a man named John Homan and moved with him to New Hampshire. This was when her devious machinations took on a bizarre twist.

Marie Hilley personated another woman

After her second marriage, she then traveled alone to Texas, where she first faked her death before returning to Homan and pretended to be his late wife’s sister. Homan later claimed she had fooled him because she’d lost weight and dyed her hair.

However, local New Hampshire detectives weren’t as easily fooled; a little digging revealed Hilley’s true identity. She was rearrested and extradited to Alabama.

In June 1983, she was given a life sentence for murdering her husband and another 20 years for attempting to kill her daughter.

Incredibly, in February 1987, the Alabama prison granted the woman who’d become known as the Black Widow a three-day weekend furlough from which she did not return.

She was found a few days later, wet, muddy, and delirious sprawled out on a rural porch. An ambulance took her to a hospital where she went into cardiac arrest and died on February 26, 1987. Her cause of death was ruled as hypothermia.

More murders and murderers profiled on Snapped

Follow the links to read about more chilling true-life crimes profiled on Snapped.

Carmine Bruno was beaten to death with a baseball at his home in North Carolina. The killer wielding the bat was his lodger Dennis Roy, who had sprung into action when Carmine’s wife Mary Bruno had given him the nod.

Dominic Whitaker and Kayla Nelson had been childhood sweethearts from Arkansas who had appeared to have a bright future ahead of them. However, their relationship began to sour, and it eventually ended in murder when Kayla opened fire on her former beau.

Snapped: Marie Hilley airs at 6/5c on Oxygn. 

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