Real Name: Margo Freshwater
Aliases: Tanya Marie Randall
Wanted For: Murder, Escape
Missing Since: October 4, 1970
Details: In 1970, a blond, wide-eyed teenager from Columbus, Ohio named Margo Freshwater was in the Tennessee State Prison for Women. She had just been convicted for first-degree murder, but would not remain there for long. On October 4, she and another inmate, Faye Fairchild, escaped by scaling a fence while being escorted by an unarmed guard. She has now been on the run for over thirty years, which is the longest in Tennessee state history. Police believe that she has blended into society, as a mother, and possibly even a grandmother and well-abided citizen.
Her story began in 1966 when she met forty-one-year-old Glenn Nash, a lawyer who was being investigated by the Memphis Bar Association for legal misconduct. He was apparently suffering from mental illness and felt that agents from the association were plotting against him. Margo met with him in order to get her boyfriend out of jail. She had no money to pay him, so he took the case pro bono. He also got her a room at a local boarding house. The two began an affair. Nash felt that the bar association was out to get him; on December 6, 1966, he and Margo left and told her landlady that they were going bowling. In reality, they went on a three-state crime spree.
During a liquor store holdup, Nash took the cashier, Hillman Robbins, into the backroom. Margo waited on a customer as Nash accused Hillman of being an agent for the bar association. He then tied up, shot, and killed Hillman, who left behind a wife and two children. A .22 and a .38 were both used in the murder. A witness saw Margo and Glenn fleeing the store in a white Ford Fairlane.
Twelve days later on December 18, a witness saw an almost identical scene: a couple fleeing a Florida convenience store in the same car; inside the store was the body of Esther Bouyea. She had been shot in the neck. Police at first did not connect the two murders until they found Nash's car abandoned on a highway shoulder. In the trunk, they found rope and shell casings that matched those used in Hillman's murder. The car was traced to Nash and an A.P.B. was issued. Then, on December 27, a cab driver named C.C. Surratt picked up the couple, and was then found shot to death.
The police staked out the nearby bus stations and their efforts soon payed off. Nash and Freshwater were arrested at one of the stations, were taken to Mississippi, and charged with Surratt's murder. However, Nash was declared mentally insane, incompetent to stand trial, and was taken to a mental hospital. He was later released and is still married to his wife, whom he had been married to during his affair with Margo.
Margo stood trial for the murder but she said that Nash had imprisoned her. She claimed that he said that he would kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Authorities were uncertain of her involvement in the murders. The jury was unable to decide and failed to reach a verdict twice. Three years later, she was tried for the murder of Hillman Robbins, convicted by the jury, and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison.
Eighteen months later, she and another inmate, Faye Fairchild, scaled a barbed wire fence, hitched a ride, and vanished. From Tennessee, the two women went to Baltimore, where they said their goodbyes. In the early 1990s, Faye was arrested in Chicago, but Margo Freshwater has never been found.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the August 26, 2002 episode. Freshwater was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Captured. Margo Freshwater was arrested in May of 2002, shortly after her story was filmed. She was living under the name Tonya McCartor, a married mother of three, in Columbus, Ohio. She was taken into custody outside of an athletic club by Ohio investigators. None of her family members were aware of her criminal past. Tennesee investigators were able to find her after determining that she had also used the name "Tonya Hudkins" before her most recent marriage. She has since been returned to the same Tennessee prison she escaped from thirty-two years earlier.
However, in May of 2011, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed her conviction and a new trial was ordered. An informant that had spent time in jail with Nash had given prosecutors a four-page letter, describing how Nash confessed to killing Hillman Robbins alone. However, prosecutors only gave Freshwater's attorneys one page of the letter. In November, she entered a special guilty plea and was released from prison.
- Margo Freshwater at Unsolved.com
- Margo Freshwater at Orton's Crime Blog
- Lawman won't call off the hunt
- Fugitive Tennessee murderer caught in Ohio 32 years after her escape
- Tennessee fugitive, wanted for 32 years, caught in Ohio
- Caught by Internet's Long Arm
- (2002 Memphis Flyer Article) The Fugitive
- Freshwater v. Tennessee
- Ex-fugitive Freshwater pleads guilty to '66 murder
- Tennessee frees Margo Freshwater
- Ohio grandmother who spent 32 years as fugitive freed from jail