The Man Who Died Twice – The mystery of the death of Clarence Roberts

May be an image of 2 people and text that says 'CLARENCE AND GENEVA ROBERTS'

On November 18, 1970, a fire destroyed a barn at the home of Clarence and Geneva Roberts. While sifting through the debris, the fireman found the remnants of a body burned beyond recognition. It was initially identified as that of Clarence Roberts.

Ten years later, on November 29, 1980, another fire destroyed the new home of Geneva Roberts. Two bodies were found amidst the debris; one was that of Geneva, and the second body was identified as Clarence Roberts.

Today, the small town of Nashville, Indiana, is still divided over the fate of the man who was twice declared dead. The official ruling is that Clarence killed an unidentified man who was found in the first fire only to himself be killed in the second fire ten years later. Some, despite the forensic evidence that says otherwise, still believe he perished in the first fire.
A select few others reject both scenarios; they believe Clarence Roberts did not die in either fire and lived the last years of his life in hiding.

Both lifelong residents of Brown County, Indiana, Clarence and Geneva married in 1941 and settled in rural Nashville, a town of 800 people 60 miles south of Indianapolis.

The Roberts had four sons.

Clarence was a respected member of the community, having served as Brown County Sheriff and as a board member of the town’s bank. He was also active in the local chapter of the Masons.

Clarence and his brother Carson had operated two successful Nashville businesses together, first a lumber company and then a hardware store.

Both Carson and Clarence were earning good livings and living comfortably. Carson was content, but Clarence was not.

Clarence’s financial success had gone to his head. He had a good amount of money but not enough to finance the lifestyle he was living in 1969.

Clarence was becoming an out-of-control spendthrift. He purchased three luxury cars as well as a fashionable and expensive home.

When asked about the lavish purchases, Clarence said he had made a windfall from investments. In reality, he had incurred a pitfall, having lost nearly all of his money in failed investments in an apartment complex and several grain elevators.

The 52-year-old Clarence had been raised in a low-income family but had worked himself from rags to riches. Now, he was returning to the rags, and that was only the beginning of his troubles.

By the fall of 1969, Clarence was in serious financial peril, and several lawsuits had been filed against him.

One bank had recently been granted a $45,000 judgment against Clarence, and another was alleging he had defaulted on his home’s mortgage. In addition, the Wabash Insurance Company, which had loaned Clarence money for building the apartment complex, also filed suit, claiming he had submitted to them altered and fictitious bills totaling between $131,000-$200,000.

In June 1970, Clarence and his attorney discussed his filing for bankruptcy. Against his lawyer’s advice, Clarence rejected the option. In October, two of his prized luxury cars were repossessed.

On the afternoon of November 18, a bank officer went to Clarence’s home to discuss a note on which the bank suspected Clarence had forged his brother’s signature. Clarence’s remaining cars were at the location, and the bank officer believed he saw him in the home. Clarence knew of the bank’s suspicions and did not answer the door. He may have seen only one way out of his predicaments.

At 6:15 p.m. on November 18, 1970, neighbor Ella Cummings reported a small fire on the Roberts property. Geneva and her kids were not at home at the time of the fire.

By the time the fireman arrived on the scene, the fire had engulfed the grain barn the Roberts had used as a garage and storage area. By the time the blaze was suppressed, the barn had been reduced to ashes.

Beneath the remnants, the fireman found a body next to a half-melted shotgun. The body was too charred to recognize, but it was presumed to be Clarence. Knowing he had been severely depressed, authorities initially believed he had committed suicide.

The gun had been recently fired, but no gunshot wounds were found on the burned body. In addition, the gun’s position over the body was not compatible with the recoil, which would have followed its firing.

Further questions were raised when a tooth discovered near the body was identified as a lower right second molar. Clarence had that same tooth removed several years before the fire.

Amidst the ashes, Clarence’s Masonic ring was also found, only slightly damaged.

Investigators believe the ring was planted after the fire because it was virtually unscathed.

Brown County Coroner Jack Bond found an absence of carbonous material and internal burning in the victim’s respiratory tract. Because of the large amounts of carbon monoxide in the blood, Dr. Bond believed the victim had died from carbon monoxide intoxication before the fire.

Dr. Bond refused to sign the death certificate for Clarence Roberts and deemed definitive identification of the body impossible.

The Indiana State Medical Examiner, however, did rule the remains to be those of Clarence Roberts.

Geneva and her children, along with other family members, were certain it was Clarence found in the barn.

Clarence’s nephew Bob White surmised that Clarence had accidentally set the barn afire while shooting himself. Bob said his uncle kept gasoline for his lawnmower in the barn, which may explain the barn’s rapid burning.

The declared remains of Clarence Roberts were buried at the local cemetery.

Because the fire investigation produced a growing list of perplexing questions, the remains were exhumed on December 21, 1970. The findings raised additional red flags when the victim had type AB blood. Clarence’s military records showed his blood type was B.

Clarence’s family countered that the military records of servicemen’s blood type were often inaccurate. They still believed he died in the fire.

Two days before the fire, Clarence had been seen at a bar in Morgantown, 13 miles south of Nashville, in the company of a man who appeared to be a vagrant. He was about the same age and height as Clarence and bore a physical resemblance to him. No one recognized the man.

As the men left the bar together, the vagrant nearly collapsed outside the bar. He had been drinking heavily, and some patrons believed he was excessively drunk; others thought he appeared to suffer a small seizure. Clarence said he would take the man to a hospital.

Police checked all the hospitals within a 300-mile radius. They determined the vagrant had not been admitted to any of them. He has never been identified and, because of his resemblance to Clearance, some believe he may have been the man found burned to death in the Roberts barn.

Several years after Clarence supposedly died in the fire, a dead man walking was reportedly sighted.

An acquaintance believed he had seen Clearance and an unknown woman in his tavern in April 1972. Other acquaintances think they saw him in 1974 and 1975.

An insurance investigator said he received reports of Clarence’s living in New Mexico and abroad in Mexico and West Germany.

In 1975, based on the alleged sightings and the forensic evidence suggesting he had not perished in the fire, a grand jury indicted Clearance Roberts for the murder of the now declared “John Doe” found burned to death on his property November 1970. The grand jury found the fire was an attempt to make the vagrant appear to be Roberts and that he had committed suicide.

Clarence had purchased several life insurance policies in the months before the fire, nearly $640,000 (although some sources say the amount was close to $1 million). He was ruled to have orchestrated the scheme to avoid paying his debts by having the insurance companies award Geneva his life insurance proceeds.

Geneva insisted her husband had died in the fire. Still, the Wabash Live Insurance and Modern Woodmen of America challenged her claims, saying the evidence was insufficient to declare Clarence dead.

Geneva filed an action against the insurance companies. The case dragged for several years. When it finally came to trial in 1978, a judge ruled in favor of the insurance companies, concurring that insufficient evidence existed to prove that Clarence Roberts was deceased.

Geneva’s claims to the life insurance money were denied.

Devastated by the ruling, both financially and mentally, Geneva had to move to a smaller home on the outskirts of Nashville. She became a recluse; when people arrived at her home, she would always greet them outside at the back door. She never let anyone, including family members, into the house.

After taking a kitchen job at a local Howard Johnson’s motel, Geneva began buying large cases of beer from local shopkeepers. Strangely, she was a diabetic who rarely drank. Geneva’s late husband, however, like to sip the suds, and the brand of beer she purchased just happened to be Clarence’s favorite.

When neighbors reported seeing a man on the grounds of Geneva’s home, rumors began to swirl. The man never let anyone get close to him. Police set up surveillance on her home, but they never saw him.

Geneva’s sister, who lived on an adjacent lot, said she could hear Geneva talking to the man but was certain the man’s voice was not Clarence’s.

Some believed Clarence Roberts had returned to Nashville. Soon, coincidence or not, a second catastrophic fire came.

On the evening of November 29, 1980, just over ten years after Clarence had supposedly perished in a fire, another inferno broke out at Geneva’s new home. After it was extinguished, firefighters found her body in the ashes.

Several hours later, a second body was found in another part of the house. It was identified as that of Clarence Roberts.

The second fire was a clear case of arson, and police determined Geneva had been murdered. The burn patterns from her bed led to the adjacent room where the second body was found, then down a hallway and out the home’s back door.

Turpentine was used to start the fire, placed from the bedroom to the back door, but it could not be determined whether it had been started by the man identified as Clarence or by a third party.

Investigators say they are 100% certain the male body found in the second fire’s debris is that of Clarence Roberts.

However, they cannot determine whether Clarence had murdered Geneva, died accidentally, or if he, too, had been murdered.

Some believe an unknown third party murdered both Clearance and Geneva. Others theorize that Clarence and Geneva committed suicide together so their children could collect on their life insurance policies.

A few believe a more sensationalized story: That a desperate Clarence, wanted for murder, out of money, and with nowhere else to go, returned to Nashville after living in hiding for a decade, only to find Geneva with another man and murdered her in a jealous rage before again setting the home on fire.

The Roberts children still believe, despite the forensic evidence, that their father was killed in the first fire in 1970.

Although investigators are certain the second body found in the second fire is Clarence Roberts, exactly who lies beneath this grave, however, is still the subject of local gossip.

The headstone for Clarence Roberts reads that he died on November 29, 1980. The Roberts children, however, still believe his death occurred on November 10, 1970.

I could not find anything stating where the remains of the still-unidentified man killed in the first fire are now buried.

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Further Reading:
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• Terre Haute Tribune
• Unsolved Mysteries
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Lost in Paradise – The Claudia Kirschhoch Story


When 29-year-old Claudia Kirschhoch told her parents a work assignment was taking her to Cuba, they were far from thrilled. Although relations were improving between the communist country and the United States, the red island was not yet rolling out the red carpet for American tourists.

When Claudia called the following day, saying the Cuba trip had been canceled and she was re-routed to Jamaica, her parents were relieved, believing Cuba was dangerous, Jamaica was divine. But for Claudia, paradise was short-lived; for her parents, the purgatory continues.

Although Claudia coveted Cuba, she was cool with a Jamaican jamboree– and jam she did. For two evenings, the bubbly brunette danced at a reggae club, went skinny dipping, and smoked a little weed.

Claudia did not return home when scheduled, and no one has heard from her in twenty years. Her parents believe employees of a Jamaican inn know more than they are saying about her disappearance.

Raised in New Jersey, Claudia was an assistant editor for the New York City-based Frommer’s Travel Guide and was part of a travel junket sent to the new Sandals Resort in Havana, Cuba.

On May 24, 2000, Claudia and three other travel journalists flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica. From there, the group was scheduled to fly to Havana. But they were denied entry into Cuba due to increasing tensions with the United States over the ongoing Elian Gonzalez affair.

To placate the writers, Sandals Resorts offered a complimentary week at several resorts throughout Jamaica. Claudia and fellow travel journalist Tania Grossinger were given one in Negril.

The women eagerly accepted and were re-routed to Negril, where they planned to stay until they could book return flights to New York.

Negril is on the western edge of Jamaica, 135 miles from the capital of Kingston. Its population was between 3,000-4,000, but plenty of tourists were in the town year-round.

Claudia and Tania made the most of their Jamaican layover, as they partied through the evenings of May 25 and 26. Tania could book a flight back to New York on May 27, but issues with Claudia’s visa prevented her from booking a flight home. She planned to continue to stay at the Negril resort until more flights became available.

The two women had breakfast together the morning before Tania returned home. That afternoon, a lifeguard saw Claudia walking along the Negril beach away from the resort. She was wearing a t-shirt over a bikini and carrying a portable radio.

Her visa hang-up was resolved, and Claudia was scheduled to return home five days later, on June 2. When she failed to arrive at work, Frommers contacted her parents, Fred and Mary Ann, in New Jersey. After learning their daughter had not been on any flights entering the United States, they reported her missing.

Sandals Resorts had also reported Claudia missing after the hotel’s maids found she had not slept in her bed for several days. Everything in her room seemed normal when searched by hotel security. Most of her clothes were neatly folded in her suitcase, the only exceptions being a white t-shirt and bikini, the outfit consistent with the clothing she was last seen wearing by the lifeguard.

Claudia’s passport, return plane ticket, credit and ATM cards, cell phone, camera, and $180 in cash were recovered from the hotel safe. All of the items were taken to the Sandals Resort manager’s office.

Claudia’s parents traveled to Jamaica and soon grew suspicious of Sandals Resorts.

As a security precaution, the license plates of all vehicles entering and leaving the resort were recorded; the logbook for May, however, was inexplicably missing. A videotape from a surveillance camera mounted near Claudia’s room had been recorded over before being viewed. Furthermore, Claudia’s room had been cleaned by housekeeping, cleared by security, and rented out to other guests before the potential crime scene could be processed for clues.

Capping off the series of unfortunate events, Claudia’s cell phone was missing when Fred and Mary Ann tried to claim it.

Aided by an American search and rescue team including FBI agents, Jamaican police scoured the island for Claudia. A search dog tracked her scent to the home of Anthony Grant, a bartender at the Sandals Resort. At the house, the dog hit on a pair of boots, gloves, and a knife.

While searching Grant’s Toyota Corolla, the dog also seemed to hit on Claudia’s scent in the back seat and trunk. A strand of hair in the back seat was later identified as Claudia’s. Also, police learned Grant had recently changed his car’s seat covers.

The boots, knife, and mat from Grant’s car were sent to the FBI Laboratory in Washington, D.C. A minute amount of blood on the knife’s blade was recovered, but it was too small to b helpful.

Grant and Claudia had been seen partying together at the clubs in the evenings before her disappearance. He admitted taking her to his home but denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Grant had called in sick for work on May 28, the day after Claudia was last seen, and did not show up for work after being questioned by the police. Shortly after that, he was fired from Sandals Resort.

Jamaican police administered a polygraph test to Grant, but the results were inconclusive. They could find no evidence tying him to Claudia’s disappearance, and he has never been charged with any crime. Claudia’s parents, however, believe he knows what happened to their daughter.

Because Claudia was last seen on the beach and in a bathing suit and t-shirt, police investigated the possibility that she had drowned. The water where she was last seen was not deep, and the current was weak. Authorities believe if Claudia had drowned in that area, her body would have surfaced. They do not dismiss the possibility that she drowned but consider it unlikely.

After Claudia was reported missing and news of her disappearance spread through the area, several Negril residents reported seeing a woman resembling her living in the hills with a Rastafarian man. Jamaican police investigated the reported sightings but said there is no information indicating the woman was Claudia.

Claudia’s parents believe Sandals Resort employees hindered the investigation into their daughter’s disappearance. In 2002, they filed a lawsuit against the resort, charging it with willfully destroying evidence and causing emotional stress. The two sides settled out of court in 2005.

Fred and Mary Ann Kirschhoch also claim the Jamaican police did not cooperate with them and would not let them examine the investigative file.

Claudia’s disappearance is sandwiched between the noted disappearances of two other American women from the Caribbean. Twenty-three-year-old Amy Bradley disappeared in Curacao in 1998, and 18-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared in from Aruba in 2005.

Investigations into Amy’s disappearance have uncovered evidence suggesting she may have been kidnapped and forced into the Caribbean sex industry; those into Natalie’s disappearance show that she likely met with foul play, and she was declared “dead in absentia” in 2012.

No evidence has been found indicating if Claudia Kirschhoch has met with either scenario.

Claudia Ann Kirschhoch was last seen in Negril, Jamaica, on May 27, 2000. At the time of her disappearance, she was 29-years-old, 5’2″ tall, and weighed 105 lbs. Her hair and eyes were brown, and she had a tattoo of a phoenix on her right hip.

In May of 2002, a judge ruled Claudia legally dead, saying it was unlikely she disappeared of her own accord.

A $50,000 reward is offered for information leading to her whereabouts. If you have any information, please contact any of the phone numbers on the poster.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


More Info:

• Reddit

• Charley Project

• Unsolved Mysteries


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Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


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Where’s the Line of Culpability? The Margo Freshwater Story


Carrying her young grandchild, Tonya McCarter walked through the parking lot of a local gym in Columbus, Ohio, on the morning of August 13, 2002. Her husband, Daryl, her adult grandson, and his fiance were all there when two men approached the group and asked Tonya for her name. She replied, “Tonya McCarter.” But one of the men, an undercover policeman, replied he had reason to believe she was a woman who had escaped prison over thirty years earlier. Daryl and his son laughed at the question; Tonya, however, remained stoic. Her past had finally caught up with her.

Tonya McCarter’s real name was Margo Freshwater. For 32 years, she had been living a lie, unbeknownst to her friends and family. She was a convicted murderer who had escaped a Tennessee prison after serving only eighteen months of a 99-year sentence.

Margo Freshwater’s life, from naive teenager to escaped inmate to fugitive mother and grandmother, had come full circle.

In the fall of 1966, 18-year-old Margo Freshwater’s world was crumbling. A native of Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, she had dropped out of high school after becoming pregnant. After being dumped by her boyfriend, the penniless Margo gave her son up for adoption and, shortly after that, attempted suicide.

Margo soon had another boyfriend, Al Schlereth, but he had his problems. After several minor brushes with the law, he was arrested for armed robbery in Memphis, Tennessee.

Desperate to free her new beau, Margo traveled to Memphis, where she sought the help of attorney Glenn Nash.

Margo had no money to pay Nash and couldn’t even afford a place to stay. Although he was also broke, Nash agreed to take the case pro-bono and put Freshwater up at a local boarding house.

Glenn Nash had once been a respected attorney. Friends and colleagues described him as extremely bright, and tests would later show he had a genius-level I.Q. Nash, however, was also tormented as his alcoholism was out of control. Although he had been cleared the year before of two federal charges involving theft of money orders and treasury bonds, he was still under investigation by the Memphis Bar Association for other instances of misconduct. Paranoia had overtaken him, and he believed agents from the bar were conspiring against him. Nash’s marriage was crumbling as he descended into perpetual drunkenness, and, many believed, he was losing his grip on reality.

Had Margo Freshwater visited Glenn Nash several years earlier, all would likely have been fine. But when the attractive but troubled teen walked into the equally troubled lawyer’s office in the fall of 1966, it was a recipe for disaster. An immediate spark ignited between the two tormented souls, which soon exploded into a fire that raged out of control. The 18-year-old high school dropout and the married 41-year-old paranoid and alcoholic lawyer began an affair.

Margo’s first boyfriend had left her with an illegitimate child; her second lover was imprisoned, but the third man in Margo’s quest for love was not the charm as he would lead her imprisonment.

On December 6, 1966, Nash told Margo’s landlady the couple was going bowling; they instead went on a killing spree, striking in three states.

The first stop was the Square Deal liquor store in Memphis. After entering the store, Nash pointed a gun at the store clerk, 60-year-old Hillman Robbins, and ordered him to give him the money from the cash register, approximately $600.

Nash then ordered Margo to stay behind the cash register while he took Hillman into the back room. During that time, a customer came into the store and later told investigators that a friendly Margo waited on him and gave no indication that she was in trouble.

As Margo waited on the customer, Nash tied up Hillman with rope in the backroom. He then shot him five times in the head, using two guns, a .22 caliber and a .38 caliber.

Witnesses saw a man and a woman fleeing the liquor store and get into a white Ford Fairlane. Glenn Nash owned such a vehicle.

Whether Margo knew of Nash’s intentions to rob the liquor store and to kill the clerk is still debated, as is her culpability in the subsequent events.

Twelve days later, on December 18, a nearly identical crime occurred over 1,000 miles away at the Jackson Mini Market convenience store in Oakland Park, Florida, a part of metropolitan Fort Lauderdale.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and seeing a man and woman fleeing the store and getting into a white Ford Fairlane. When police arrived at the store, they found the body of 44-year-old clerk Esther Bouryea. She had been shot multiple times in the neck and had been bound with a rope just like Hillman Robbins.

Nearby, an abandoned Ford Fairlane was found along a highway shoulder. It was registered to Glenn Nash of Memphis, Tennessee. Inside, police found ropes and shell casings matching those used in the murder of Hillman Robbins. Margo was identified as Nash’s companion, and an All Points Bulletin (APB) was issued for the pair’s arrest.

On December 28, ten days later, the body of 55-year-old cab driver C.C. Suratt was found in a ditch in Mississippi. He had been shot twice in the back of the head. Shell casings matched those used in the murders of Hillman Robbins and Esther Bouyea.

Nash and Freshwater had returned home and resumed killing. Surratt is believed to have been shot after picking up the pair just across the state line in Millington, Tennessee.

After staking out bus stations throughout Tennessee and Mississippi, police spotted Nash and Freshwater at a Greenville, Mississippi station, 150 miles south of Memphis near the southeastern Arkansas border.

The couple was arrested and charged with the murders of Hillman Robbins and C.C. Suratt; only Nash was charged with the murder of Esther Bouyea.

After a psychiatric examination, however, Nash was declared insane and incompetent to stand trial. He was instead sentenced to incarceration in a mental hospital.

Despite never having fired a shot, Freshwater stood trial twice for the murder of C.C. Surratt. She claimed Nash was violent and out of control, believing all three victims were members of the bar association who were “out to get him.” She insisted she was fearful of Nash and participated in the crimes out of fear for her own life.

Both trials resulted in hung juries, and mistrials were declared. The state declined to try her a third time for the murder of C.C. Surratt.

Three years later, in 1969, Margo was tried for the murder of the first victim, Hillman Robbins. Nash was still deemed insane and would not stand trial in the courtroom where he had tried several cases before his descent into madness.

Freshwater again claimed that Nash was holding her prisoner, and she was terrified of him. She testified she had no idea he planned to kill Hillman Robbins when they robbed the liquor store in Memphis and that Nash forced her to participate in the subsequent robbery and murders of Esther Bouyea C.C. Surratt.

Freshwater, however, was fresh out of luck with the Memphis jury. They did not believe her claims of captivity and, although she had not pulled the trigger, found her guilty of the murder of Hillman Robbins. She was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The state of Florida sought to charge Nash, alone, for the murder of Esther Bouyea, but the insanity ruling prevented them from doing so. Freshwater was never charged in connection with her murder.

Freshwater was incarcerated at the Tennessee State Prison for Women in Nashville. After serving only 18 months of her 99-year sentence, she took it upon herself to make a fresh start.

On October 4, 1970, she and several other inmates were being escorted by an unarmed guard outside the prison. Freshwater and another inmate, Faye Fairchild, scaled the prison’s barbed-wire fence and made a run for freedom. Both women were young and fit; Margo had run track in high school. In contrast, the guard was older and not in good shape. The women quickly ran out of his view and hitched a ride to freedom.

The women made their way to Baltimore, Maryland, where Fairchild had a family. After laying low for several weeks, they were seen on the street saying goodbye to each other.

Fairchild was apprehended; several sources say she was captured two years later in Chicago, but another says it was only a couple of days after being last seen in Baltimore. Yet another source says she stayed at large for over 20 years, not being captured until the early 1990s.

Margo Freshwater stayed off the radar for over three decades.

Authorities eventually came to believe Freshwater was using the names “Tonya” and “Tanya.” In 2002, investigators used police computer databases to check nationwide for anyone named “Tonya” or “Tanya” with Freshwater’s birth date of June 4, 1948.

They found that a woman named Tonya McCarter had the same date of birth. What caught investigators’ eyes was that the woman lived in Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, where Margo Freshwater had been born and lived before her life of crime. Employment records showed the woman had not worked from 1966-70, the same time Margo Freshwater was jailed and then imprisoned.

When investigators obtained a copy of Tonya McCartor’s driver’s license, they were astounded by the similarities between the woman and an old photo of a young Margo Freshwater.

Tonya McCarter was arrested as she was leaving the Columbus health club on May 19, 2002. Fingerprints confirmed she was Margo Freshwater.

With her true identity uncovered, Freshwater revealed the details of her three-plus decades as a fugitive. She had avoided detection by not resuming her criminal career and by living a simple life.

Amazingly, Margo Freshwater lived many years undetected in the town where she had grown up.

After escaping prison, Freshwater told investigators she and Fairchild hitched a ride with a trucker to Baltimore. From there, Fairchild took a train to Chicago; Freshwater went to Ashland, Ohio, 80 miles southwest of Columbus. She obtained a driver’s license and social security number under the name Tonya Myers. She found work as a waitress and lived at a boarding house.

Freshwater soon gave birth to a son. She said she was pregnant when she escaped from prison but refused to divulge the father; he is believed to have been a prison guard. She had been imprisoned for 18 months, so Nash could not be the father.

Freshwater began dating Phillip Zimmerman, a man she had met at the Ashland boarding house. She told him she had been raped in a juvenile jail while serving time for petty theft. Although they were never married, Freshwater and Zimmerman raised her son and had a daughter together before parting ways after seven years.

Freshwater then married and had a son with Joseph Hudkins, a railroad worker from Columbus. After he died in 1988, Freshwater, under the name Tonya Hudkins, began working as an administrative assistant for MetLife Insurance. Through her job, she came in contact with many people in her hometown, but she never “met” anyone who recognized her.

Freshwater had cut off all contact with her family. She said she had encountered an aunt and a high school classmate while in public, but neither recognized her.

Freshwater met Daryl McCarter, a long-haul trucker, through a telephone dating service in 1998. When they married within a few months, she quit her job with MetLife Insurance to travel the country together.

Freshwater was returned to the Tennessee State Prison for women, the same prison she had escaped from 31 1/2 years earlier to serve her 99-year sentence. After having served nine years, however, Freshwater’s conviction for the murder of Hillman Robbins was overturned.

Johnny Box, a cellmate of Glenn Nash, wrote a letter in 1969 to the district attorney prosecuting Freshwater. He said Nash told him that he alone had killed Hillman Robbins and confirmed Margo’s claims of being controlled. However, it was learned that the district attorney provided only one page of the letter to Freshwater’s lawyers.

A Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled the full letter should have been turned over to the defense team, and Freshwater was given a new trial. In October 2011, the court accepted Freshwater’s best interest guilty plea, allowing her to plead guilty to the murder of Hillman Robbins while maintaining her innocence.

Margo Freshwater had spent, in total, approximately 10 1/2 years in prison and was given credit for time served. She was released from prison in November 2011. Daryl McCarter took his wife back after her release from prison.

Now 71-years-old and legally named Tonya McCarter, Margo Freshwater lives in Worthington, Ohio, where she was born.

Glenn Nash was released from the mental hospital in 1983, declared fit to re-enter society. Despite efforts to try him for the murders, he was still ruled to have been insane at the time, and the courts have not allowed his prosecution.

Nash returned to his wife, to whom he was married when he had the affair with Freshwater. A 2011 article states he was living in West Memphis, Arkansas. He appears to have stayed out of further trouble.

Freshwater and Nash both say they had no contact with each other after Freshwater’s escape from prison. The 2011 article said Nash was contacted after Freshwater’s release from prison that year, but he refused to comment.

As far as I can tell, Glenn Nash is still alive at age 93-94.

The saga of Margo Freshwater has been compared to that of Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and subsequently committed several crimes in conjunction with group members. Both women claimed to have committed their crimes out of fear and manipulation.

It is interesting that Freshwater lived as a fugitive under the name “Tonya” and that Patty Hearst went by the name “Tanya” while an SLA member.

Hillman Robbins Jr., whose father was the first person killed by Nash, was a professional golfer who had a successful amateur career, highlighted by winning the 1957 U.S. Amateur. Hillman Jr. died at age 49 in 1981.


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Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Missouri Missing: Angie Yarnell Case

“Seek, and you shall find”

Marianne Asher-Chapman depends on that. She has been searching for her daughter Angie Yarnell for nearly 15 years. She carries a shovel in the trunk of her car, so she is ready to dig at a moment’s notice. Why would this poor mother still be searching after a man has confessed to killing Angie Yarnell? Why is the killer out of jail? How could our justice system fail so miserably? This is the story of a mother’s quest to find her daughter and help others who are suffering through a tragedy.


Michelle Angela “Angie” Yarnell was last seen on October 25, 2003, in the 3900 block of Ozark View Rd in Ivy Bend, Missouri. Her mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman lived an hour and a half away in Holts Summit, MO. Although they were separated by a 90 min drive the two women were more than family; they were best friends. Marianne heard from her daughter regularly and was expecting to see her beautiful baby girl that day for a birthday party. Angie’s niece was having a party at grandma Marianne’s house. The party was scheduled for 1 pm, but it was after 5 o’clock and Marianne was getting upset. This wasn’t like Angie. Something was wrong. Marianne hadn’t gotten Angie to answer her calls for a few days. She had assumed Angie was out job hunting and would call later, but now after missing a birthday party, Marianne was worried. She called her daughter’s number again, but this time she left a message that would start a bizarre chain of events.

“If you don’t call back, I’m going to drive down and check on you,” was the message the worried mother left on Angie’s voicemail. She would receive a response two hours later, but it wasn’t the one she hoped for. Around 7 pm, Angie’s car pulled up in the driveway and out stepped Michael Yarnell. When Marianne asked about her daughter, he simply replied, “she’s gone.” The man walked in and sat down without saying much of anything. Finally, he told Marianne that he thought Angie had run off with another man. No one believed his story, but no one challenged him either.

Marianne couldn’t believe her daughter would leave without telling her something about this new man, and to make matters even worse, Marianne was battling throat cancer at the time. Angie was helping her mother through this journey. Why would a beloved daughter leave her mother in such a state? Angie wouldn’t. That was the conclusion her family came up with. Something was terribly wrong. Marianne went the next day and filed a missing persons report expecting to find compassion and assistance but found very little.

Initially, the investigators believed that the 28-yr-old was frustrated with her verbally abusive marriage and took off. No one seemed to understand the bond between mother and daughter in this case. Angie had spoken to her mother about the problems with her short marriage to Yarnell. She had been wrongly accused of infidelity by Michael when in fact Michael was having an extra-marital affair. The relationship had broken down to the point that Angie confessed to her mother that Michael was going to leave her. Marianne had this conversation with her daughter several days before Michael’s strange visit.

A week after the missing person’s report was filed, Marianne received a postcard from her daughter. It was posted from Arkansas. Strangely it said Angie was traveling with some guy named Gary and when they got settled in Texas she would call. Investigators immediately took the postcard at face value and stopped looking into the case, but Marianne still had her doubts. Why didn’t her daughter call?

Marianne eagerly awaits the Thanksgiving holiday. Surely her daughter would come by, but Angie didn’t show. After this, Marianne knew Angie wasn’t coming home. She wouldn’t miss the holidays with family. It was a long-standing tradition. Marianne began to examine the postcard and noticed some strange discrepancies in the handwriting. In 2008, a forensic handwriting specialist would confirm that not only did Angie not write the note but that Michael Yarnell was the author of the postcard. They sent these findings to the detectives in hopes of getting the ball rolling on Angie’s case.

A few months later Michael Yarnell was arrested in Biloxi, Mississippi and extradited back to the Show-Me state. He surprised everyone by confessing to killing Angie at their home in 2003. He told investigators that they were having a fight and he accidentally pushed her, and she fell off the deck hitting her head. He said that he sat with her for a while trying to figure out what to do, then he picked her up into a canoe and drove down the road to the boat ramp. He rowed out onto the Lake of the Ozarks and found a small island. He said he planned to bury her on the island. In the process of removing her body from the boat, she slipped and fell beneath the waves. He left her there, rowed back to the boat ramp, and went home.

Yarnell also admitted to forging the postcard and claimed he did it just to give Marianne some peace. In the end, he was given a plea deal that no one could believe. If he would show investigators where the body was dropped in the water, then he could plead to a lesser charge of manslaughter. Even though the investigators couldn’t find Angie’s remains, they still gave her killer the plea deal. Michael Shane Yarnell pled guilty of manslaughter and was given a paltry seven years. He served only four and was released in July of 2013.

To say the family was devastated doesn’t begin to describe the disbelief and the pain caused by such a sentence. It’s a slap in the face to the victim’s family for the killer to walk free. Still, no one knows where to find Angie. Marianne believes Michael is lying about her daughter’s cause of death and that’s the reason why he refuses to disclose the true location of Angie’s remains.

Due to Double Jeopardy laws, Michael Yarnell won’t face another trial even if those remains are found. At this point, Marianne just wants to give her daughter a proper burial. As always, if you have any information about this case, please contact the police. This mother needs to lay her daughter to rest.

In the wake of this painful journey, Marianne has co-founded Missouri Missing. Missouri Missing is a non-profit organization to help support victim’s families and to raise awareness about Missouri’s missing people. Check out their website for more information. Like and share their missing person’s flyers on Facebook and donate if you can.

If you have any information on this case, please contact Missouri Missing. 


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation, or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of this page. By purchasing one of her books or using these links, you will be supporting Synova’s work on cold cases and will ensure her ability to continue to give a voice to the victim’s family. Thank you.

Self-Defense for Women: Fight Back


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angie yarnell