Marie was more than a wife and mother. She was a heartless, calculating, poisoning black widow who also attempted to kill her own child. Here is the story of Marie Hilley.
In Anniston Alabama, Audrey Frazier was born in 1933. She married Frank Hilley in 1951 and they had two children, Mike and Carol. Marie, as she preferred to go by, like to spend sometimes in excess and the family didn’t always have money saved due to her spending habits. One way that Marie earned extra money was by having sex with her bosses.
In 1975, Frank was still not feeling well, and returned home from work early to find his wife in bed with her boss. Frank went to visit Mike, who was an ordained minister at the time and after returning home Frank went to visit his doctor again. His symptoms were now including nausea and tenderness in his abdomen. When the condition persisted, he was admitted to the hospital and tests showed he had a malfunction of his liver, doctors diagnosed him with hepatitis. Frank would pass away on May 25, 1975.
Frank’s widow had given permission for an autopsy, and he had swelling of the kidneys and lung, bilateral pneumonia and inflammation of the stomach. Since these same symptoms were similar to hepatitis, that was what was listed as his cause of death. Marie had secretly taken out a life insurance plan on her husband and was able to collect over $31,000 on it.
In 1978, another life insurance plan was taken out for Carol Hilley. It wasn’t long after that Carol began to feel ill, similar to her father and she was taken to the emergency room several times. Her doctor didn’t see any cause for the symptoms and had her undergo psychiatric testing. What the doctors didn’t know was that Marie was also injecting her daughter with syringes to help alleviate her illness, but they only made her feel worse, and she was advised to not tell anyone about them.
Shortly after she arrived at the hospital, doctors began to suspect heavy metal poisoning. Marie immediately had Carol discharged from the hospital and the next day she was admitted to another hospital. Perhaps what saved Carol as well was that the life insurance policy lapsed as her mother had written bad checks for the policy. And her mother was arrested.
Carol was suffering from numb extremities, nerve palsy, and foot drop. She had also lost most of her deep tendon reflexes. Doctors again suspected poisoning. Thankfully an astute doctor noticed Aldrich-Mees’ lines on Carol’s nails. These are typically white lines going across the nail and appear after being poisoned by heavy metals like arsenic.
When the lines were noticed, tests were conducted on her hair and the arsenic levels were over 100 times higher than the normal level closer to her scalp. This indicated that Carol had gotten larger doses, increasingly over the last four to eight months. Investigators also exhumed Frank Hilley’s body and examined it further. His arsenic levels were up to 100 times the normal level as well.
Marie, being incarcerated for the bad checks, was arrested again for the attempted murder of her daughter. In her purse was a vial of arsenic. One month after being charged with the attempted murder of her daughter, Marie was released on bail. She checked into a local motel, and then disappeared.
January 11, 1980, Marie Hilley was indicted for Frank’s murder, in absentia. A massive manhunt was launched but Marie would remain a fugitive for more than three years. And when she was found she was remarried and using a different name.
After leaving Alabama, Marie went to Florida where she met John Greenleaf Homan III. At this time, she was known as Robbi Hannon. The couple lived together for over a year before marrying and moving to New Hampshire. Robbi often talked about her twin sister, Teri, who lived in Texas.
In 1982, Robbi told John that she needed to attend to some family business and visit a doctor about an illness. She went to both Texas and Florida, but this time she was using the name Teri Martin. Teri called John Homan, and told him that his wife, Robbi, had died while in Texas but her body was donated to medical science.
John stated that he was interested in meeting Teri, and she agreed to meet him, stating that he needed to put the death of Robbi behind him. A couple months later, Teri arrived in New Hampshire, she was thinner than Robbi and her hair was lighter.
The police began to get suspicious when the obituary for Robbi was printed and the information could not be verified. John’s coworkers were also suspicious about Teri and were concerned that defalcation, a misappropriation of funds, was at play. The company was audited, and no charges were filed as there was no misappropriation.
Teri was arrested at her secretarial job and when questioned she confessed that she was wanted in Alabama for bad check charges and that her name was Audrey Hilley. When Alabama state police were called, they confirmed she was wanted, and on more serious charges. She was extradited to Alabama, and quickly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for Frank’s murder plus 20 years for the attempted murder of Carol.
Marie began her sentence in 1983 at the Tutweiler Women’s Institute. She got assigned to doing paperwork and was considered a model prisoner. She often was able to earn one day passes from the prison and she would return on schedule.
John Homan moved to Alabama to be closer to his wife, and she was given a three-day pass in February 1987. They spent a day at a motel, and when John left for a few hours, Marie disappeared again. She left John a note asking his forgiveness. John was responsible and alerted the police
She wouldn’t be gone long this time. For four days it was raining in Alabama and the temperature had dropped to around freezing. Marie was found in the four days after she vanished, she had been hiding in the woods, she was drenched and numb. Marie stumbled onto the back porch of a childhood friend, but not recognizing her she called the police and paramedics were dispatched.
The EMT’s determined she had hypothermia and took her to the hospital for treatment. Marie didn’t make it to the hospital, she suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and died. Marie Hilley is buried in Forest Lawn Gardens in Anniston.
Be strong, make good choices, stay safe