Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marie Hilley

Robbi

It is frustratingly unclear whether Marie Hilley knew John Homan before she claimed to have met him in Fort Lauderdale in 1980. She had taunted both Harold Dillard and Calvin Robertson with tales of a John Romans, whom she claimed she would marry, though she didn't love him. Carol remembered that her mother had mentioned a John Ronin who taught at Emory University in Decatur, Georgia. But according to both Marie and John, they met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in February of 1980. Marie was now going by an alias—she called herself Lindsay Robbi Hannon, and she hinted to John, the 33-year-old owner of a boat building business, that her past was tragic. She was 35 and from Texas, she told him, and she'd lost both her children in a car accident. John Homan's own life was no picnic—his alcoholic mother died when he was young, and he was an awkward, shy man. He was recently divorced, and Marie's solicitous attentions soothed him. By March they had moved in together. Using a fictitious resume, Marie got a job as a secretary at an accounting firm in West Palm Beach. She didn't stay long, though—in October she and John left Florida for New Hampshire, where John's brother Peter lived.

Marie and John rented a tiny house in Marlow, New Hampshire. John found work at Findings, Inc., which made small parts for jewelry. Marie got a customer service job at Central Screw Corporation in nearby Keene, New Hampshire, where her efficiency and Southern charm enabled her to excel. Her co-workers found her fascinating. As Robbi, she told them of her children's' tragic death, of life in a wealthy Texas family, and of an inheritance which she would eventually claim. And she seemed rather frail—she complained of severe headaches and said she'd been to many doctors to try and find relief, but to no avail. Though some of her coworkers found her abrasive and pushy, most considered her a sympathetic figure. The men, especially, found the woman they knew as Robbi Homan to be earthy and fun to be with.

As her tenure at Central Screw lengthened, Marie's stories grew more involved. She was dying, she told those around her, of a rare blood disease that caused her body to make too many red blood cells. Though she and John were now married, she left her husband alone from time to time, telling her coworkers she was seeking treatment out of town from various specialists. She began to speak in detail of a sister, her twin whom she called Teri Martin. Occasionally she would shut herself into an office at work, saying she was phoning Teri, who was having marriage problems and needed her. It was Teri, she said, who would take care of her during her upcoming trip to Texas. She was making one last attempt to find a treatment for the illness that appeared to be making her increasingly more ill. Her husband would remain in New Hampshire and work. Teri would see to her needs.

Marie Hilley with bleached hair (Anniston Star)
Marie Hilley with bleached hair
(Anniston Star)

Marie left Marlow in September, 1982 and only stayed in Texas a few days. On September 23 she arrived in Pompano Beach, Florida. That day she had her hair bleached, then went to an employment agency seeking work under the name Teri Martin. By the end of the day she had secured a secretarial position at Solar Testing Service. She worked there for six weeks, telling her new boss Jack McKenzie about her twin sister Robbi, who was gravely ill. Her sister had recently suffered a stroke and developed cancer, she claimed, and Teri felt responsible for her. When McKenzie received a call in mid-November from his secretary claiming that she was in New Hampshire and her sister had died, he wasn't surprised. She told him she'd be remaining in New Hampshire and thanked him for his kindness. On November 10, Marie (now assuming the role of Teri) called John Homan to break the news that his wife Robbi had died. The next day she flew to New Hampshire.

 

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