The Saga of Audrey Marie Hilley
The End at the Beginning
Thursday, February 26, 1987 had been a nasty weather day in Anniston, Alabama. It had started raining on Saturday the 21st, raining solidly through Tuesday, leaving everything soggy and bitterly cold. The rain had picked up again that Thursday, accompanied by gusty winds that blew as hard as 17 miles per hour and with temperatures that hovered in the forties.
Sue Craft was driving home, hoping to be safely inside on this gloomy day, when she spotted . . . something on her neighbor’s patio. It was crawling across the patio deck and it alarmed Sue enough that she called another neighbor, Janice Hinds. Janice was horrified to discover that the something Sue had seen was in fact a woman, wearing dirty clothing soaked through from the rain. She told Janice that her car had quit running a few miles away and she had alternately walked and crawled to where she was. . When asked her name, she either couldn’t or wouldn’t say but was in agreement with both Janice and Sue, who had come over to offer assistance, calling for the police and an ambulance. In an abundance of caution, Janice and Sue left the woman on the patio but covered her with a plastic sheet and stayed with her until authorities could arrive.
Neither of them had any idea that the hottest news story in town had not only just been resolved but would very soon add yet another mysterious layer to an already incomprehensible tale.
An Unexpected Death
Frank Hilley was 45 years old in the spring of 1975. A native of Alabama, he had served his country in the Navy before returning to Anniston to work at the Standard Foundry. He had married Audrey Marie Frazier during one of his Navy leaves in 1950, while Marie was still a junior in high school. The couple had two children, Mike and Carol, and seemed to lead a secure, happy life that was the essence of the American dream. Frank was a reliable employee and a steady, easygoing man, at least up until 1974, when his previously robust health began to take a turn for the worse.