What We Know About The Chilling Murder Of Larry McNabney

Laren Sims went by many names (via Oxygen). But her husband Larry McNabney only knew her by one name: Elisa.

Per ABC7 News, Laren Sims and her daughter, Haylei Jordan, moved around constantly, dodging eviction notices and shoplifting charges. In 1995, Sims relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she began working at the law offices of Larry McNabney. Even when Sims first met McNabney, there were warning signs: She stole money from his wallet, and then McNabney's law office got in trouble for embezzlement charges (via the St. Petersburg Times). It turned out that Sims had stolen $74,000 from McNabney's clients. But that didn't seem to matter — they fell in love fast and got married soon afterward.

But their relationship soured. Sims' daughter said that she watched McNabney physically abuse her mother and says his behavior was influenced by drugs and alcohol. Sims even tried to run away a few times, but McNabney always found her and threatened her into returning to him. Still, Sims had no way to report this spousal abuse because she was always on the run from the law. She felt that she had no other way to escape — except to murder her husband.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Suspicious questions

Laren Sims and Larry McNabney had shared hobbies; they both loved caring for horses and trying different wines (via the St. Petersburg Times). While working in a horse stable one day, Sims had an intriguing question — she asked one of her husband's horse trainers if a particular horse tranquilizer could kill a person. The trainer replied that if it could put a huge animal like a horse to sleep, it could probably harm a human being who was a fraction of the horses' weight.

Oxygen reports that McNabney attended a Los Angeles horse show on September 10, 2001. But when he arrived there, he told friends that he was feeling ill and confused and headed back to his hotel room. Sims claimed that she and McNabney had a fight after that. Witnesses then spotted Sims pushing McNabney in a wheelchair (via Seattle PI).

In a brief confession that she wrote later on, Sims revealed the chilling details of what happened on McNabney's last day.

McNabney's final hours

Laren Sims and Sarah Dutra, a young woman who worked in the law office, secretly gave horse tranquilizer to Larry McNabney in the hotel room, reports Seattle PI. Dutra went to Yosemite National Park and began to dig a grave. But there was a problem ⁠— McNabney hadn't actually died by the time Dutra finished digging. Sims recalled that her husband's face was drooping, and he seemed sleepy.

Larry McNabney died the next day, but Dutra and Sims didn't try to bury his body again for some time. Instead, they cocooned him in plastic and duct tape and placed his body in a freezer. St. Petersburg Times reports that his body barely fit, so the women had to wrap duct tape around the fridge, too. By September 11, Sims had completely cleared out the McNabney law office (via Seattle PI). She sold her husband's horse trailer and truck and quickly gave away his expensive belongings.

'He'll never want these again'

Friends noticed Laren Sims was wearing a flashy Rolex watch and a diamond ring. Per the St. Petersburg Times, she even told those around her that Larry McNabney would never return, adding, "Believe me, where he is, he'll never want these again."

According to Seattle PI, Sims continued to operate McNabney's law firm in his absence. And for months afterward, Sims avoided McNabney's family, reports Oxygen. She first told people that McNabney was too sick for visitors, and after a month went by, she said that he had actually divorced her. But she also made up other dubious alibis, saying that McNabney joined a religious cult or went to rehab. McNabney's kids became increasingly more worried, and they eventually hired a private investigator.

In December, Sims finally buried Larry McNabney. Per the St. Petersburg Times, when McNabney's body was finally found, he had a large amount of horse tranquilizer in his blood.

The body at the vineyard

Larry McNabney was discovered in a vineyard in a shallow grave, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Sims had cut his clothes off and threw them away in a few different locations. He never knew the true Laren Sims, who had nearly 40 aliases and was dubbed "The Chameleon" by St. Petersburg Times. When she and Larry McNabney met in 1995, she was going by the name Elisa Redelsperger, but her previous names included Melissa Godwin and Shane Ivaroni. Oxygen reports that even Sims' closest friends didn't know much about her life.

Sims had a criminal record that filled more than 110 pages, including grand theft and credit card fraud, not to mention numerous parole violations that accumulated after years of running from the law (via Seattle PI). The crafty con artist avoided being sent back to prison by constantly changing her appearance and name — she frequently dyed her hair, switched her clothing type, and gained or lost weight to change up her appearance.

Sims confesses

Oxygen reports that in March 2002, Laren Sims was finally caught by police. She wrote a three-page long confession, detailing the murder of her husband with help from Sarah Dutra — saying that they had spiked his drink — and outlining their plan to kill him and dispose of the body. 

On March 31, 2002, Sims died by suicide in the Hernando County Jail, writing in her final letter that she wanted to spare her family from having to endure her trial. She asked that her family sue the jail on her behalf for allowing her to take her own life (via the St. Petersburg Times). Her accomplice Sarah Dutra was convicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter and accessory to murder and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. However, she was released in 2011.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.