Marie Hilley, Frank Hilley: Alabama’s ‘Wife, Mother, Murderer’ True-Story Movie Revisited

Marie Hilley, Frank Hilley: Alabama’s ‘Wife, Mother, Murderer’ True-Story Movie Revisited

Remember that Marie Hilley, Frank Hilley true-story movie called Wife, Mother, Murderer: The Marie Hilley Story? It was based on the 1975 Anniston, Alabama murder of Frank Hilley. Investigation Discovery recently aired the black widow’s crime on the American Monster documentary. The movie, Wife, Mother, Murderer: The Marie Hilley Story premiered as an ABC made-for-television movie of the week on Sunday, November 10, 1991. It was a hit because, at the time, Judith Light, the actress who played Audrey Marie Hilley, was known for her role on the comedic sitcom Who’s The Boss?

Wife, Mother, Murderer: The Marie Hilley Story is directed by Mel Damski and written by David Eyre Jr. The true-story crime family drama aired for years on Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network (LMN). Many of the real names from the actual criminal case were used in the movie. Wilshire Court Productions produced the movie and filmed it in Atlanta, Georgia.

Audrey Marie Hilley Timeline Brief

1960s: Frank and Marie Hilley seemed like a loving couple with a nice church-going family. They eventually moved to a new home in a good neighborhood. The move made Marie Hilley happy because she wanted to elevate their status in life and impress the neighbors. The suburban housewife, who often wore a fancy red coat, was a highly respected socialite. Frank was a tough but gentle father who worried about keeping the bills paid. On the weekends, the Hilley family often attended backyard barbecues and country cookouts. Sometimes, they just watched television as a family and ate doughnuts. However, wholesome family life for the Hilleys began to erode, and before long, Carol and Mike Hilley began hearing domestic arguments between their parents.

May 19, 1975: Frank Hilley arrives at UAB with nausea and pain in his abdomen. He suffers from stomach pains for months while Marie Hilley cares for him. His medical doctor never pinpoints what is wrong. Frank Hilley dies on May 25, 1975. The cause of death is listed as hepatitis. Audrey Marie Hilley cashes in on a lucrative life insurance policy, which she spends fast.

July 1978: Marie Hilley needs more money and decides to obtain an insurance policy on her teenage daughter, Carol Hilley, for $25,000 and decides to kill her.

1979: Carol Hilley presents with strange symptoms, such as numbness, nausea, and abdominal pains. She becomes sicker as time passes. Marie Hilley continues giving her daughter the deadly injections. Carol doesn’t mention this right away because Marie Hilley told her to keep a secret.

  • Dr. Brian Thompson, a University of Alabama at Birmingham doctor, tells Carol Hilley she has tested positive for arsenic poisoning. Her mother, Marie Hilley, is arrested for writing bad checks and is jailed for two months. Anniston, Alabama police want to charge her with the murder of Frank Hilley. To do that, they try to get evidence against her. After an exhumation of Frank Hilley’s body, a test result confirms the husband was given arsenic.

November 1979: Marie Hilley bonds out of jail and then vanishes from a Birmingham hotel.

1980: Marie Hilley is indicted.

1981: Robbie, aka Marie Hilley, marries a gullible man named John Homan.

1982: Robbi suddenly disappears. John is heartbroken until a strange woman claiming to be Robbi’s twin sister, Terri, calls to inform him that Robbi, the love of his life, had died. To console her brother-in-law, Teri visits John and seduces him. They fall in love and begin living together. An obituary appears in the paper for Robbi Homan, which raises detectives’ suspicions.

January 14 1983: The police arrest Audrey Marie Hilley, who has changed her appearance. Marie Hilley is sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison. While incarcerated, she admits everything to a prison inmate.

June 8, 1983: Carol Hilley recuperates, and Marie Hilley is finally convicted. In prison, Marie Hilley is considered a model prisoner and is given a one day pass in February of 1987. The infamous black widow escapes and spends several days in a heavily wooded area in the rain and cold. Officers find Marie Hilley, suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion, in the woods. She later dies of a heart attack and a hospital.

October 1989: John Homan learns Marie Hilley duped him. He is found murdered in a motel in Anniston, Alabama, as he tried to stop an altercation between two men.

1991: Wife, Mother, Murderer, the true-story movie based on the case, debuts on ABC.

Where Marie Hilley’s Daughter, Carol Hilley?

Years ago, it was said that Carol Hilley was living with a domestic, female partner. A photo of her surfaced on Facebook some years ago. Today, Carol Hilley should be in her fifties.

You can watch the episode, “Alabama Murder Mystery,” on American Monster at ID’s website. The story is told by Marie Hilley’s son, Mike Hilley, and his aunt, Freeda Burns. The documentary includes rare archival footage and photos. Be sure to visit our Movies Based On True Stories section here.

Traciy Curry-Reyes