GOLD BAR, Wash. -- In December of 1986 an inmate known as Dennis Lilly escaped from the limestone walls of the Missouri State Penitentiary. It was believed he wore a guard's uniform and walked out the front gates. Easy enough to do, it appears, as those uniforms were made inside by inmates.
Now police believe they've found Lilly with the medical examiner, having died of cancer in 2012. Snohomish County Sheriff's detectives found human remains buried in a backyard they believe to be Lilly's.
Residents of Gold Bar and Monroe, where Lilly ran a business called the Mail Station along with his wife, knew the couple as David and Amanda Murray, and nobody suspected a thing. Not customers and not their landlord Mitch Ruth who has only nice things to say.
"They were absolutely normal in every sense of the word," said Ruth.
A search warrant details some of the life Lilly and his wife were suspected of leading during three decades on the lam. They started as pen pals and were married while in prison. A wanted poster from the early 1990s said Lilly was likely to be with his wife. There were two children; one daughter between them and one from a previous marriage police said.
Neighbors confirmed the fact and are stunned at the couple's back story.
"They said they were from Texas," said Al White, who shared a fence with the "Murray's."
White and his family recalled that the couple moved in around 1993. But neighbors said there was police activity last week, an early morning "raid" as White called it, that seemed to focus on two storage sheds in the backyard.
Police suspect that Amanda Murray buried her husband after he died from cancer around June 20, 2012.
"Why would you bury your husband underneath the floor in a shed," asked White.
Time and technology were catching up with the couple. In 2013, police documents said the FBI was analyzing new information and pulled together a case after Amanda Murray was suspected of possible fraud by a brokerage. She allegedly filled out an application for a new account with a name, Social Security number and other data that didn't match.
But by that time, Dennis Lilly was already dead.