The murder of Larry McNabney by his con-artist wife Laren Renee Sims — who used the alias Elisa McNabney — features on the latest episode of Investigation Discovery’s Secrets of the Morgue.
When workers at the San Joaquin vineyard in Madera, California, stumbled upon a leg sticking out of the ground on February 5, 2002, they immediately alerted police.
Responding officers pulled a male’s decomposed body out of the shallow grave.
The body was later identified as McNabney, a successful personal injury attorney.
An autopsy revealed McNabney was killed several months before his body was found, and the cause of death was a lethal dose of horse tranquilizers.
McNabney was reported missing in September 2001.
He was last seen being pushed in a wheelchair by his wife after falling ill and collapsing at a horse show in Susanville, California.
When McNabney’s co-workers, friends, and family questioned her about his whereabouts, she told them that he moved to another area after filing for a divorce.
An acquaintance of the couple, Evan Rees, told police that while she was at the horse show, McNabney’s wife asked her if horse tranquilizers could kill a person.
His wife later became the primary murder suspect when police learned she sold her husband’s assets and fled town in a luxury vehicle.
When police conducted an investigation, they uncovered that the name Elisa McNabney did not exist.
Her real name was Laren Renee Sims, and she had a 113-page rap sheet.
Throughout the years, she used 38 alias, including Melissa Godwin, Tammy Keelin, and Elizabeth Barasch.
Police said she used her beauty to get money, checkbooks, and credit cards from men.
The San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for her arrest and offered $10,000 to anyone with information about her whereabouts.
On March 18, 2002, police found Sims in Destin, Florida, where she was working two jobs and going by the name Shane Ivaroni. She was arrested and charged with McNabney’s murder.
In a three-page letter, Sims confessed to murdering McNabney with the help of Sarah Dutra.
She told police that on the morning of the horse show, she and Dutra put a high-power horse tranquilizer in her husband’s drink.
When he collapsed, they brought him back to their hotel and gave him another dose of horse tranquilizer.
Sims said they arranged to bury McNabney in the desert, but he was still alive so they took him home and he died there.
His body was kept in a refrigerator in McNabney’s garage until December 2001 when Sims buried him in the vineyard.
After Sims’ confession, she hung herself in her cell, leaving behind a suicide note.
Dutra was arrested and later went to trial for her part in McNabney’s murder. A jury found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter and accessory to murder, and she was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
On August 26, 2011, Dutra was released from the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
The case previously featured on ID’s Evil Stepmothers.
Secrets of the Morgue — The Cowboy And The Killer, airs at 10pm on Investigation Discovery.