ANNISTON, Ala. -- In life and death, Audrey Marie Hilley was a mystery.
Two months after her death, authorities have yet to uncover a single clue as to why a conniving criminal who escaped on a prison furlough died a short distance from her birthplace.
Hilley, who was given the nickname 'Black Widow' for the arsenic poisoning of her husband and attempted poisoning of her daughter, led police on a four-day search, before turning up in their backyard suffering from hypothermia.
Theories abound, but few clues exist, said Calhoun County Sheriff Roy Snead.
'We still have a period from Sunday until she was found on Thursday where we cannot place her,' Snead said. 'We do not know where she was. At this point we've had nothing come to life that would help us in any way.'
For the record books, one case and one body have closed the file of Hilley in Anniston. But for some, the case will always remain open.
'As far as closed, it more or less closed itself,' Snead said. 'As far as having all the answers, I doubt if we'll ever know what happened. Whether there's anything to turn up or not, that is a mystery.'
Hilley died Feb. 26. She was brought unconcious to the Northeast Medical Center, but efforts to revive her failed three hours after she was found.
On the last day of her furlough, Hilley left her husband a note saying she was going to Canada. Police feared she would disappear and assume a new identity as she had in the past, leaving a longer trail of deceit.
Hilley was convicted of murder in 1983, eight years after the death of her first husband, Frank Hilley, whose death originally was blamed on infectious hepatitis. But when her daughter, Carol Hilley, showed traces of arsenic poisoning in 1979, his body was exhumed and traces of arsenic were found.
Hilley was arrested and charged with murder, but she skipped bond and disappeared for four years, until lawmen stumbled onto her in New England.
She first moved to Florida, where she married John Homan under the name Robbi Hannon. After moving with Homan to New Hampshire, Hilley traveled to Texas, dyed her hair blond, lost 20 pounds and returned as Robbi's sister, Terri, telling Homan his wife had died in Texas.
Homan fell for the story, as did friends. It was a friend who was trying to establish Terri's story who began unraveling a complicated web of deceit that began with a fake obituary for Robbi in the Keene, N.H., newspaper.
Authorities thinking she was a wanted bank robber questioned Terri. At that point Hilley thought the gig was up and confessed as to who she really was.
Hilley's 20-year sentence for murder and good behavior in prison made her eligible for several eight-hour passes. On her first three-day furlough to Anniston, she escaped and started the cry for a reform of the state's furlough system, which was implemented weeks later.
Homan still lives in Anniston and works for a local manufacturing company.
Calhoun County District Attorney Joe Hubbard tried her case and labled her with the deadly moniker 'Black Widow.' He also has many unanswered questions.
'As far as I know at this point, we don't have any answers to the questions we were posing two months ago. It's very much still a mystery,' Hubbard said. 'Since it's been this long, it seems doubtful we'll ever know the full story. I am hopeful we'll gather some information that will tell us at least what she was doing in that part of the county.'
Hubbard said he has been asked several times if the woman he tried was the the same person he saw dead on an operating room table. He said fingerprints and his own eyesight convinces him Hilley is dead.
'I investigated the case and I've know her for many years,' said Anniston Police Lt. Gary Carroll. 'There's no question at all, that's who she was. I would love to have all of the pieces to the puzzle. Any investigator worth his salt would like to get his answers. We've pretty well exhausted all we have.
'A lot of things in the whole case don't make sense, but she didn't make sense as a person really,' Carroll said.