Pulaski, Tenn—38 years ago Linda Darby, then just 27 years-old apparently murdered her husband. She was sentenced to life in prison for her crime.
Fate had another plan for Darby when she jumped at an opportunity for freedom by
scaling a barbed-wire fence at the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis in March 1972. The manhunt for the fugitive came up empty handed for no less then 35 years.
New computer technology was put to use as the Indiana Department of Corrections began a new Fugitive Apprehension Unit provided the resources to find Darby quietly living a law-abiding life under the name, Linda Joe McElroy in Tennessee.
Darby spent more than half of her life looking over her shoulder while reliving the event that suddenly changed her life forever.
As for the crime of killing a spouse we all know there is nobody on earth more capable of evoking emotion or pushing our buttons more than a spouse.
Darby was convicted in a Lake County, Indiana court of shooting her husband in their Hammond home. Additionally a kerosene fire was started. Darby has steadfastly said she was innocent. We all know that the state of forensic examination was anything but terrific in the early 1970’s when a jury convicted her.
You can say she beat the system to be living free all these years. I don’t think living the life of the fictional character Jean Valjean was not a huge price to pay for this crime.
Long time neighbors and local cops were shocked to learn of Darby’s status as a fugitive and convicted murderer.
Okay, I’ve grown soft in my old age and would love to see this woman’s sentence commuted if for no other reason then her serving nearly three years behind bars and her obvious rehabilitation.
Here are some “facts” about Linda Darby’s murder conviction:
1. Linda and Charles Darby were estranged at the time of the killing.
2. Charles was hit with a shotgun blast, wrapped in garment bags and set on fire.
3. On the night of the killing Linda Darby stayed in a Valparasio motel where police found a similar shotgun hidden behind a nearby soda machine.
4. Gas station attendant claimed to have sold Linda Darby Gasoline that night.
5. Darby’s 9 year-old daughter, Terri Dixon claimed that her mother warned her about talking with police.
6. The couple had financial problems that led to the break-up.
7. There was no surveillance video, DNA evidence or witnesses to the killing.