Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What’s Next For A Fugitive Recaptured After 35 Years?

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.


Anonymous said...

i saw the same for Sara jane Olsen

Unknown said...

So if you're convicted of murder (violent crime) and escape prison (crime) but don't commit anymore crimes you should be forgiven of KILLING SOMEONE? So how exactly was she punished, and what message does this send to convicted killers and/or felons? That if you escape and do good you don't have to serve time?

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

The purpose of prison is:
1. Public safety
2. Rehabilitation
3. Punishment.
1 & 2 have been covered well with 35 years good behavior. As for punishment this woman served about three years behind bars. 35 years on the run with no citizenship, friends or relatives in your past is hardly a cake walk. I say let’s revisit the crime and her reasoning, cruelty and deeds beyond the killing. I say she was redeemed.

If she was a career criminal killing for monetary gain I’d not be so kind. Stand by for more information.

Unknown said...

I don't disagree with some of your arguments and logic, but serving just two years for murder and escaping from prison is not right. She should not be rewarded simply because she lived a crime free life since her escape.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree on your definition of the purpose of prisons. The original intent, I believe, was to rehabilitate, as well as punish. But over the years, that aspect has been all but forgotten. Prisons today are nothing more than places to hold the bad guys until their time is up. Unfortunately, they have had all those years to brush up on their criminal crafts and come out even worse than they went in. Sure, there are exceptions, but this is generally true for the most part.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

What purpose does it serve to keep this old lady behind bars now? She’s not going to repeat her crime or going to become a tax burden on society. Retribution for the sake of retribution is never a good idea. Jail space is needed for those who are a threat to public safety. Compassion belongs in our criminal justice system. If we can’t be compassionate we’re no better than the criminals we seek to control.

Escape from captivity is a human instinct and is in conflict with our laws. If a person is innocent and escapes from custody it’s still a crime and that’s just not right.

Our famous fictional fugitive, Dr. Richard Kimball would face a lifetime felony conviction and prison term after finding the elusive one-armed man. Imagine the ending to that story being that Dr. Kimball is sent back to custody for five years and is barred from practicing medicine because of that escape conviction. Yikes!

Unknown said...

The purpose of putting her behind bars is to punish her for murdering someone. Obviously murder is the most serious crime, so letting someone off without punishment is just not right.

Unfortunately this isn't the movies, and she was adjudicated guilty by her peers. You can't use the innocent defense when she was found guilty. I also haven't seen any evidence indicating that she didn't commit the crime.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

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 is innocent. We all know that the state of forensic examination was anything but terrific in the early 1970’s when a jury convicted her.

When you escape your normal court appeals end. We will never know what may have been.

Unknown said...

The argument that because she was convicted 30+ years ago she should be released isn't a valid one. You're trying everything you can to give a convicted murderer a get out of jail free card: Conviction was a long time ago, she lived a crime free life since escape, living 35 years without seeing family, she's an "old lady", etc etc. If there is evidence that she didn't commit the murder then someone needs to come out with it. Otherwise, the FACTS in this case are that she murdered someone and hasn't been adequately punished. I wonder if you would feel the same way if it was your mom or dad that was killed and the killer was in the same circumstances.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

B, you are a big part of the eye for an eye retribution society blindly accepting our very flawed criminal justice system. You don’t take into account the millions of murders that have gone unsolved of the faulty convictions of the innocent since this country began. In case you haven’t noticed we are not in a fair world.

We are not in a perfect world any more than this woman has gotten a free ride for a murder. Three years behind bars and decades in hiding was real punishment.

Perhaps our maker should be the one to decide her ultimate guilt and punishment.

Anonymous said...

Here's another point of view. We have too many important needs in society and too little government funding for them. What could be the possible balance between spending a fortune (her public defender, her right to fight extradition, her possible right to habeas corpus and a new trial) and, on the other hand, working out a compromise from which she can move on?

Gary Avery, prosecutor (retired)

Anonymous said...


Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

I always wondered what my attitude might be if I was killed by my wife. I know I have pissed her off no end. I have been hurtful and just plain thoughtless at times but never physically aggressive. Women are more emotional and prone to aggression then men. Women kill their mates ever bit as often as men do.

If my wife killed me for being a jerk I’d never want her life destroyed by a criminal prosecution. I made the choice good or bad to live under the same roof with my killer. Perhaps I should have not been a jerk!

If my death were arranged for financial gain my reaction would be different.

In this case I say let Linda Darby go.

To my pal the "Old Copper" you're right, I have gone soft in my old age.

Anonymous said...

Was the victim Charles Darby a black man?

Anonymous said...

why are most of you so intend on the punishment part of a sentence where public safety and rehabilitation should be the most important factors.As an example in holland where i'm from we dont have capitol punishment and life sentences are verey rare ,yet our crime and specially murder rates are very low and incomparable to the states even though holland could be considered a very big crowded city which would normally show a higher crime rate due to to the concentration of people.
So please people show some considaration and lenancy towards your offenders and treat them as humans .It will in the long run be benificial to them yourself and society in general.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you guys forget another purpose of the criminal justice system: Deterrence

Using this as a basis, Linda Darby darby may be deterred now (specific deterrence theory), but someone brought up a good point. What about the message this sends to others. They must be deterred from committing crimes like this as well. If we don't make her finish her sentence then others won't be deterred from such behavior (general deterrence theory). Punishment is not the only reason she should finish out her sentence.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

Specific deterrence theory? Did you pull that out of your butt? Punishment for crime has no deterrent value beyond the concept of not getting caught. Today only 35% of killers are ever caught or convicted. There are two real laws about crime in any society. Crime pays sometimes and only some people are caught.

Getting a pound of flesh for this woman now is just plain dumb. Let’s spend the money locking up a young and violent criminal instead of this old lady.

Anonymous said...

I'm not talking about individuals here. Sure Linda Darby may be "self-rahabilitated", but studies suggest that so are all (98 %) the violent criminals very soon after their offenses. The others are violent habitual offenders. There has to be a standard in all of this. When do you start "picking and choosing" who should be responsible for their crimes YOU DON'T! (assuming mens rea (culpability) and the omission is evident)? It's a standard that large civilizations like ours must have to keep social order and control. It may not serve the purpose in your mind, but it's there to remind the public that we have laws and standards, and you will have to abide by them.

Paul Huebl Crimefile News said...

Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot just like you LOVED social control.

There comes a time when common sense, and compassion are more important than your “social control”. Had this woman been out doing bad things for the more than three decades she spent out on the lam I’d not be asking for a little mercy for the woman.

Anonymous said...

forensics have come a long way, hopefully they can figure out the truth, then i think it would be easier for people to pass judgement, i know i would hate to have been convicted of a crime i didnt commit back then, chance are you`re screwed

Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly believe in her innocence I base my belief on having served 5 years in prison for a crime I DID NOT commit. My original time card from my place of employment was produced at trial and as well as my boss and.payroll dept. It placed me 25 miles from where the crime took place. It was a drug charge I was sentenced to 30 years. The jury did not obey the judges instructions when they refused to look at my alibi. When they captured Linda Darby she was brought to the same prison I was at. We became good friends and I heard the WHOLE version about the case. THE SYSTEM FAILED ME and it has many others as well, just as I believe it failed her to. The news reports fail to mention all the death threats that had been made and reported on her husband. Her conviction came about because the cops were to Damn lazy to do what they get paid to do. Knowing how the system failed me and took a mother from her 2 children makes me mad as hell. I'm very honored to say their tax paying paid for my 4 years of college having earned a bachelor degree in human resources and graduating valedictorian. It really pleases me to know that any juror that was educated and prosecutor and judge, they all paid cash themselves for their education and paid for mine as well. ����. FUCK THE SYSTEM. A system that's ran by humans. And we all know HUMANS make mistakes. You better pray your life is never placed in the hands of 12 jurors who have no degree in law and have a deaf ear to the evidence.