Wife, Mother, Fugitive

May 26, 2002

It’s a secret her friends and family here can’t even conceive. They know Tonya McCartor as loyal wife and adoring mother, a finicky eater who loves ballroom dancing and can jitterbug like a pro.

— Reporter Clay Bailey in Ohio following the arrest of McCartor, aka Margo Freshwater, for 32 years a fugitive following her escape from a Tennessee prison. In 1969, Freshwater was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder of a Memphis liquor store owner during a robbery.

After a court battle, Freshwater was released from jail. She returned to her life as Tonya Hudkins McCartor.

Margo Freshwater sits in a hearing at the CJC Thursday. A judge Thursday denied the former fugitive's request to reopen her 1968 murder conviction, saying her issues should have been raised before she escaped and spent 32 years on the run. Freshwater, 54, was captured last May in Columbus, Ohio, where she was living as Tonya McCartor with her husband and three children. She has since been returned to Tennessee to resume serving a 99-year prison sentence for the first-degree murder of Hillman Robbins.

Inset: Margo Freshwater in 1967. (The Commercial Appeal)