Woman Caught 35 Years After Escape Speaks Out

Linda Darby Denies Killing Husband 37 Years Ago

A woman who was apprehended 35 years after she escaped from an Indiana prison, where she was serving a life sentence for murdering her husband, said she didn't kill the man, and that's why she's been on the run for so long.

Linda Darby, 64, previously of Hammond, was apprehended in Pulaski, Tenn., a small town about 75 miles south of Nashville, Tenn., where she had taken on a new name and was working as a cleaning lady.

In 1972, Darby escaped from the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis by climbing over a barbed-wire fence.

For 35 years, she was known as Linda Joe McElroy, a grandmother who baby-sat children and cleaned homes.

"Are y'all sure you have the right lady? It's just hard to believe," said Paula Smith, Darby's neighbor.

Despite her conviction decades ago, Darby denied being involved in her husband's death in 1970 during a jailhouse interview in Tennessee. Authorities said her husband was shot and stuffed into a bag. The house was set on fire to cover up the crime.

"In court, they said he was burned and they said something about Molotov cocktails, and that's something I never even knew how to do," Darby told Nashville TV station WSMV. "I didn't mean to mislead anybody, but I didn't want to pay for someone else's crime.

Police credited Darby's arrest to Indiana's recently formed fugitive task force. Even though Darby had no driver's license, authorities tracked her to Tennessee, where she was living a quiet, normal life.

"It's actually quite easy to be absorbed if they cut all ties from their previous life, which appears the case in this situation," said Brad Garrett of the FBI.

The revelation puts the family of Darby's current husband in a situation they never dreamed they would face. She has two children and eight grandchildren. They are now pleading for mercy in her case.

"Let her out and go home to her family," said Tina McElroy.

Darby is awaiting extradition to Indiana to serve the rest of her sentence.

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