Skip to comments.Nation: Murder suspect hangs herself in Florida jail
Posted on 03/31/2002 3:35:29 PM PST by ATOMIC_PUNK
Nation: Murder suspect hangs herself in Florida jail
The Associated Press
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (March 31, 2002 6:27 p.m. EST) - A woman accused of poisoning her husband with a horse tranquilizer and burying his body in a California vineyard hanged herself in a jail cell Sunday, authorities said.
Laren Sims, 36, had been held without bail in the Hernando County jail since her arrest March 18 in Destin. She was found hanging from a braided bed sheet early Sunday in an apparent suicide, sheriff's Capt. Alan Arick said.
Several days before her death, Sims wrote a three-page confession detailing how she and a 21-year-old secretary from her husband's California law firm killed Larry McNabney and then buried his body last year, police said.
Sheriff's officials in California were seeking her extradition when she died.
McNabney, 53, was last seen alive Sept. 10 being pushed in a wheelchair by Sims at a Los Angeles horse show. A day later, authorities said, Sims started clearing out his office and sold his $110,000 horse trailer and truck. She shut down his law practice in January and disappeared with about $500,000 of his assets.
Police said Sims described in her confession how she and Sarah Dutra, a secretary in McNabney's office, gave McNabney horse tranquilizers at a Los Angeles hotel, then drove to Yosemite National Park to bury him.
When they discovered he was still alive, they took him back home to Woodbridge, in California's Central Valley, police said. McNabney died shortly afterward.
Sims said she kept the body in a refrigerator for several months before burying it in a San Joaquin County vineyard, police said. Farmworkers unearthed the body in February.
Dutra, the secretary, was arrested on murder and conspiracy charges a week ago in California.
Authorities say Sims had a 113-page criminal record, was wanted in Florida and Washington for credit card and grand theft charges, and had more than a dozen aliases and multiple Social Security numbers. Three Florida counties with charges against her dropped them last week to speed her return to California.
McNabney apparently never knew Sims' real name. When he met her in 1995, she had gone by Elisa Barasch, the last name of a former cellmate in Florida, where she served seven months for violating her parole for grand theft and fraud.
Her latest arrest records in Florida refer to her as Elisa McNabney, Arick said. He confirmed that her maiden name is Sims.
Sims had been married twice previously and had a 17-year-old daughter, Haylei Jordan, who was with her in Florida when she was arrested. San Joaquin County Sheriff Baxter Dunn said friends of the daughter turned her in, and the daughter was later turned over to Sims' parents, who had been estranged from Sims for a decade.
Sims' death early Sunday appeared to be well-planned, Hernando County Sheriff's Lt. Phillip Wood said. She had been in the jail's medical unit, and officers said they had been regularly checking on her every 15 minutes.
Her lawyer, Tom Hogan, didn't immediately return phone calls Sunday.
And she was not in jail. Hmmm....
There will be no closeure knowing that the whole story will not come out. There could have possibly been a third person involved that Lauren knew about. The family wants to know more about what happend.
I'm for giving every one 8' of rope upon intering the slammer, but in this case it is different.
Why? You think they'll try to bill her for it?
Slain lawyer's wife hangs herself
The prime suspect in the McNabney killing dies a day later in a Florida hospital.
By M.S. Enkoji and Ralph Montaño -- Bee Staff Writers
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Monday, April 1, 2002
Laren Sims Jordan left a suicide note, but officials refused to describe it.
Laren Sims Jordan, the woman accused of killing her husband, Sacramento lawyer Larry McNabney, died Sunday after hanging herself in a Florida jail cell using strips of her pillowcase braided into a rope.
Sims Jordan, 36, who had eluded authorities for months after her husband was reported missing in November, was pronounced dead at a Hernando County hospital shortly after 5 a.m. EST Sunday, a day after she was found hanging from a rope threaded through a ceiling air vent in the Hernando County jail.
She was found about 11:30 a.m. Saturday by deputies who were unable to revive her, said Hernando County Sheriff's Capt. Alan Arick, and was taken to Brooksville Regional Hospital where she was placed on life support.
A nursing supervisor at the hospital said Sims Jordan's family members, who live in Brooksville, about 45 miles from Tampa, went to the hospital and gave the order not to resuscitate her, but they left before she died.
At the jail, Sims Jordan was kept in a cell in the medical unit and away from other inmates because of the notoriety of her case, Arick said.
She occupied the cell alone and was checked every 15 minutes and was not considered a suicide risk, he said. He did not know how she was able to reach the air vent.
"We did find a note in her cell, but I can't discuss the details right now," Arick said.
If the note's contents are related to the murder investigation, the note will be turned over to California authorities, he said.
McNabney was last seen in public in September. After his body was found in a San Joaquin County vineyard in February, Sims Jordan was suspected of poisoning him with horse tranquilizer for financial gain. A warrant for her arrest was issued March 1.
She had been missing since January, and authorities finally tracked her to the Florida Panhandle beach resort of Destin where she was captured on March 18.
She had been accompanied by her 17-year-old daughter, Haylei Jordan, who has since been returned to her grandparents in Brooksville.
Sims Jordan's parents have declined to comment on their daughter, except to say through her attorney that they had "unconditional love" for her and their granddaughter, and were glad to be reunited with them after a 10-year estrangement.
After Sims Jordan's capture, San Joaquin authorities quickly arrested an alleged accomplice, 21-year-old Sarah Dutra, a college student from Vacaville who had worked in McNabney's law firm since 2000.
In a three-page written account Sims Jordan gave the night she was arrested, she claimed that Dutra helped her plan and carry out the slaying.
Sims Jordan, who grew up in Florida, had fled that state nearly a decade ago, escaping arrest warrants for probation violations related to burglary and credit card charges. Since then, authorities say, she had used nearly 40 aliases, masked her past with varied and conflicting stories and used her natural charm to gain trust from the unsuspecting.
Hernando County authorities quickly moved her from Destin to a Tampa Bay-area jail after she was captured because of the old warrants. But Hernando County and two other Florida counties immediately dropped the old charges to speed up her return to California.
San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies had filed papers Friday with Gov. Gray Davis to start extradition, which she chose to fight on her lawyer's advice.
Sims Jordan's suicide won't derail the investigation, said Nelida Stone, a San Joaquin County sheriff's spokeswoman.
"We still have a lot of unanswered questions and there is another person accused in this crime," she said.
Sims Jordan went to work in Larry McNabney's Las Vegas law practice in 1995. They married a year later. McNabney knew her as Elisa, a name she lifted from a Florida ex-convict she once served time with, authorities say. McNabney's daughter from another marriage has said that her father knew nothing about his wife's reported criminal past.
The couple moved from Nevada several years ago and he opened a personal-injury practice in Sacramento.
Sims Jordan's attorney, Tom Hogan, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
But he has said that on previous visits with Sims Jordan, she seemed tired. He said she told him her main goal was to get her daughter back to Florida so she could be reunited with her grandparents.
Details about Sims Jordan's elusive trek across the country may never be known, but authorities are sure she went to Destin by the end of January on the invitation of a man she met at a Biloxi, Miss., golf tournament.
The two had admired each other's Jaguars.
Sims Jordan and Dutra are suspected of plotting the killing so they could sell off McNabney's property and forge checks and empty client accounts at his Howe Avenue law practice.
Authorities had estimated the two had at least $500,000 in cash by the time Sims Jordan drove away from the couple's rented Lodi-area home in January.
Though she leased a red convertible Jaguar for $30,000 in Dutra's name, Sims Jordan gave no sign of wealth on the lam, staying in homeless shelters and applying for jobs under new aliases for her and her daughter.
She first aroused suspicion in her new life in Florida in March, when her Social Security number came up false at a law firm where she was working and a man whom she had befriended discovered $1,000 in charges on his credit card.
She and her daughter took off in a pickup she took from another acquaintance, heading for South Carolina. But Sims Jordan told Destin authorities she returned to Destin within days because her daughter was tired of running and wanted to be with newfound friends.
So she came back and was captured that night.
An arraignment for Dutra, an art major at California State University, Sacramento, is scheduled for Wednesday in Stockton.
Her attorney couldn't be reached for comment.
About the Writer
The Bee's M.S. Enkoji can be reached at (916) 321-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
The McNabney saga
-- Sept. 10: Larry McNabney is last seen by friends at a City of Industry horse show.
-- Feb. 5: Fieldworkers find McNabney's body buried in a San Joaquin County vineyard.
-- March 15: McNabney's wife, Elisa McNabney (whose real name was Laren Sims Jordan) is traced to Destin, on Florida's Gulf Coast, where she and her daughter had been living for several weeks.
-- March 18: Sims Jordan is arrested in Destin as a suspect in McNabney's death.
-- March 19: Sims Jordan signs a written confession. Sarah Dutra, 21, a Sacramento college student, is arrested as a suspected accomplice.
-- Tuesday: Sims Jordan declines to return voluntarily to California to face murder charges.
-- Saturday: Sims Jordan is found hanging in a Brooksville, Fla., jail cell in an apparent suicide.
-- Sunday: Sims Jordan dies of her injuries.
-- Wednesday: Dutra is scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges in San Joaquin Superior Court.
St. Petersburg Times
April 1, 2002: Suspect dies after hanging
Her death in Hernando prevents California officials from extraditing her in the slaying of her husband.