Woman Who Escaped 35 Years Ago Back In Indiana Prison

Linda Darby, 64, Convicted Of Murder After Husband's 1970 Death

An escaped inmate arrested earlier this month in a small Tennessee town where she had lived for more than 30 years has been returned to Indiana, officials said.

Linda Darby, a convicted murderer, was returned to Indiana on Friday after waiving extradition, said Karen Cantou Grubbs, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Correction.

Darby, 64, was convicted in the 1970 shooting death of her husband and sentenced to life in prison. In March 1972, she escaped from the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis by climbing over a barbed-wire fence.

She was arrested Oct. 12 in Pulaski, Tenn., a small town near the Alabama state line where she had been living under the name Linda Joe McElroy and worked as a cleaning lady. Authorities said Darby had raised a family and apparently led a quiet, crime-free life there.

Grubbs said Darby was at Indiana's Rockville Correctional Facility on Tuesday undergoing assessments that could determine where she will be placed in the state's prison system. The processing and assessments could take about two weeks.

Because Darby's case falls under Indiana code prior to 1977, she would not be eligible for clemency until she serves 10 years in prison, officials said. Since Darby only served two years before escaping, she would not be eligible for clemency for another 8 years.

Charges relating to her 1972 escape are a separate matter, Grubbs said. The Department of Correction's Internal Affairs Division will work with the Indiana State Police to put together a case and present it to prosecutors, who will determine whether additional charges will be filed.

Darby was convicted of fatally shooting her second husband, Charles R. Darby in 1970. His body was found at the couple's Hammond, Ind., home in the bedroom, which had been set on fire and reeked of kerosene and gasoline.

After escaping from prison, Linda Darby knocked on a stranger's door in Indianapolis, telling the woman who answered that her cuts and scratches were from a fight with her boyfriend. It was there that she met Willie McElroy. They became romantically involved and she eventually took his last name.

Later, the couple moved to his hometown of Pulaski where they raised their two children and watched eight grandchildren grow up.

In a jailhouse interview last week, Darby denied being involved in her husband's death and said she wants her husband's true killer found and punished.

Her arrest came two weeks after the start of the Indiana Department of Correction's new fugitive apprehension unit.

Print this article Back to Top