Woman accused of murdering husband hangs herself in jail

Monday, April 1, 2002

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. -- A woman accused of poisoning her husband with a horse tranquilizer last year and burying his body in a California vineyard hanged herself in a jail cell, authorities said Sunday.

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 Saturday morning in an apparent suicide, and died Sunday, Hernando County 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, 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. She has not yet entered a plea and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Attorney Kevin Clymo, who represented Dutra at a recent hearing, said Sims' flight from California and suicide suggested she was feeling "consciousness of guilt."

"I don't think it really affects Sarah's case one way or the other," he said.

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