Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Killer caught in Columbus 31 years after her escape




The Associated Press

        NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A convicted murderer has been captured more than 31 years after she escaped from a Tennessee prison and assumed a new identity and life in her hometown of Columbus, authorities said Monday.

        Margo Freshwater, 53, was arrested Sunday by state and local authorities. Using the name Tonya McCartor, she and her husband worked there as truck drivers, said Brooks Wilkins, a special agent in charge with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

        While a fugitive, Mrs. Freshwater married several times, had three children and kept her record clean except for parking and traffic violations, authorities said.

        “We don't believe her current husband or the son who was with her at the time of her arrest knew anything about her past,” said Larry Wallace, director of the TBI.

        Mrs. Freshwater was denied bail at an extradition hearing Monday in Franklin County. Tennessee Correction Department Commissioner Donal Campbell said Mrs. Freshwater may not return to Tennessee for several weeks.

        Mrs. Freshwater escaped from the Tennessee Prison for Women on Oct. 4, 1970, when she and another woman “broke formation” and scaled a single perimeter fence.

        She had served just 1 1/2 years of a 99-year sentence for the first-degree murder of a Memphis liquor store clerk. The other woman was recaptured in the early 1990s.

        Police arrested her Sunday at a hotel whose health club she was using, said Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien. He said she embraced family members who were with her and did not act surprised.

       



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