Killer Is Caught 32 Years After Escape

From Associated Press

A convicted murderer has been captured nearly 32 years after she escaped from a Tennessee prison and assumed a new identity and life in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, 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 with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

While a fugitive, Freshwater married several times, had three children and kept her criminal record clean except for minor auto 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, bureau director.

Freshwater was denied bail at an extradition hearing Monday in Franklin County, Ohio.

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

She had served just one year 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, corrections spokesman Steve Hayes said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which for years traced women of similar age and physical description, got a break last month when their research led to Tonya Hudkins, the name Freshwater was using before her most recent marriage, Wallace said.