Murder of Larry McNabney

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Larry McNabney (born December 19, 1948) was a Sacramento, California attorney whose body was found buried in a vineyard on March 5, 2002.[1] The case made national headlines when police learned that his wife, Elisa McNabney, was actually Laren Sims who had served time in a Florida prison for fraud and identity theft.[2] After a nationwide manhunt, Elisa was captured in Florida and arraigned for first-degree murder. Before Elisa could stand trial however, she hanged herself in her jail cell. Elisa's friend Sarah Dutra was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 11 years in prison for murdering Larry McNabney.[3]

Elisa McNabney was born Laren Renee Sims to parents Jesse and Jackie Sims[4] on January 3, 1967 in Brooksville, Florida. Laren was a cheerleader and excellent student at Hernando High School; she had an IQ of 140.[4] Despite her intelligence, she dropped out of high school, had two children with two different fathers, and started stealing. Laren was arrested for stealing L'Oreal hair color kit from Woolworth's in Tampa, Florida. After being released on that charge, she violated her probation by illegally using a credit card. She cut off her ankle monitor and headed to Las Vegas, Nevada with her daughter Haylei.[4]

Laren Renee Sims
Born (1967-01-03)January 3, 1967
Brooksville, Florida, United States
Died March 31, 2002(2002-03-31) (aged 35)
Hernando County Jail
Other names Elisa Mcnabney, Tammy Keelin, Elizabeth Barasch
Occupation Secretary
Criminal status Deceased
Spouse(s) Larry McNabney (deceased)
Children Tavia Williams
Haylei Jordan
Joe McNabney
Parents Jesse Sims
Jackie Sims
Sarah Dutra
Born 1980
Occupation Student
Criminal penalty
11 years in prison
Criminal status Active
Conviction(s) Voluntary manslaughter

Aliases[edit]

Over the years, Laren Sims had a total of 38 aliases,[4] including:

  • Melissa Godwin
  • Tammy Keelin
  • Elizabeth Barasch – a woman she met in Florida prison
  • Elisa Redelsperger – the name she used when she met Larry McNabney
  • Shane Ivaroni – the name she used while she was on the run

Marriage to Larry McNabney[edit]

Elisa Redelsperger met Larry McNabney in 1995 when she applied for a job at his Las Vegas law office. She worked as his office manager and settled large cases.[4] However, in late 1995, Larry's law firm was investigated by the Nevada State Bar, which determined that Elisa embezzled more than $74,000 from clients. Larry closed his office in Nevada and moved to Sacramento, California.[1] Despite this, Elisa became McNabney's fifth wife in 1996.[1]

Murder[edit]

On September 10, 2001, following a horse show, Elisa McNabney and her friend Sarah Dutra, with whom she worked at the law office, injected Larry with the horse tranquilizer drug acepromazine at a Los Angeles hotel. McNabney, 53, was last seen alive being pushed in a wheelchair by Sims at a Los Angeles horse show September 10. A day later, authorities said, Elisa (or Sims) started clearing out his office and sold his $110,000 horse trailer and truck. According to her later confession, Elisa drove to Yosemite National Park to bury Larry, but he was still alive and she returned with the unconscious Larry McNabney in the back seat to Sacramento.[5] After his death the next day, September 12, from receiving the initial tranquilizer injection along with numerous later doses of other tranquilizer injections and mouth drops, it was estimated by the forensic examiners that Elisa and Sarah presumably had kept McNabney's body in the refrigerator in the McNabney garage for months.[1] His body was later moved to the nearby winery near where it was finally discovered by Sacramento Police detectives in a shallow ditch near Sacramento on February 5, 2002. By that time however, Elisa liquidated the couple's assets, totaling more than $500,000, and disappeared.[1]

Manhunt[edit]

After the discovery of Larry's body, Elisa was the subject of a nationwide manhunt. She was going by the alias Shane Ivaroni and was hiding out in Destin, Florida.[4] On March 20, 2002, Elisa was staying at her daughter Haylei's friend's house in Fort Walton Beach when she turned herself in.[4]

Confession[edit]

She was booked into the Hernando County Jail and was to be extradited to California. While awaiting extradition, Elisa gave a full confession to law enforcement while in custody at the Okaloosa County, Florida Sheriff's Department.[5] One week later, on Easter Sunday 2002, Elisa hanged herself in her jail cell.

Trial of Sarah Dutra[edit]

Sarah Dutra went on trial for the murder of Larry McNabney in 2003. She faced life imprisonment without parole if convicted of first-degree murder, but she was only found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to the maximum of 11 years in prison.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

In Elisa McNabney's suicide note, she asked her lawyer to sue the Hernando County Jail for not preventing her suicide. She also asked that her children receive any funds raised from the lawsuit. "This is all I can give to my children... My actions now will allow them to move into the future without this heavy burden. They won't have to watch my trial on Court TV. It should all die with me," she wrote in the note. She also claims that she was not checked regularly in her cell, but an investigation has since disputed the charge.[6]

Sarah Dutra was released from the Central California Women's Facility on August 26, 2011, after serving eighty-five percent of her eleven-year sentence.[3]

This case was the basis for the made-for-TV movie Lies My Mother Told Me which aired on Lifetime in 2005. The film starred Joely Richardson as Elisa, Kailin See as Sarah, and Hayden Panettiere as Haylei.The case is also the basis for the True-Crime novel, "Marked for Death," Avon Books, 2005 by Brian J. Karem

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Gonzales, Neil; Hood, Jeff (March 2, 2002). "Lawyer's body likely refrigerated for months". Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Dutra Sentenced In McNabney Murder". April 21, 2003. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Johnson, C. (August 26, 2011). "Sarah Dutra, convicted of poisoning boss, released from prison". Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Jamie (May 19, 2002). "The Chameleon comes home". St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida). Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Frith, Stefanie (March 22, 2002). "Lawyer allegedly killed by wife who hid criminal past". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  6. ^ "Stupid lawsuits by prisoners", rantnroll.com (Harris Creative Group), retrieved September 22, 2014