Widow Arrested in Horse World Slaying

ByABC News
April 17, 2002, 6:29 PM

April 17 -- Larry McNabney was a successful attorney, with an attractive younger wife, three grown children, and a growing national reputation in his new hobby, quarter horse showing.

So when the 52-year-old disappeared last fall, his friends and family thought it was strange. For the next four months, his wife Elisa gave his family and colleagues varying accounts of where he was: that he was vacationing in Puerto Rico, or partying in Las Vegas, or in a rehab center in Florida or Washington even that he had joined a cult.

In November, suspicious employees at McNabney's Sacramento law practice contacted police. They tried to locate his wife, but she was often out of town, attending horse competitions around the country. Then, in January, she disappeared too, taking off in her red Jaguar.

A month later, on Feb. 5, McNabney's body was found in a shallow grave in a California vineyard, one leg sticking out of the ground. Police at first thought it was possible Elisa was also a victim, but then they found McNabney's horse trailer loaded with Elisa's belongings, including documents that would lead them to her mysterious past.

Friend: He Was 'Obsessed'

McNabney met Elisa in 1995, when she started to work at his law practice, then located in Nevada. The couple married in January 1996, when he was 47 and she was just about to turn 30. Friends said he knew little about his new wife's past, but did not seem to care. They noted that she always changed the subject when asked about her past, but he told them, "I've got everything under control."

But the following year McNabney was censured by the Nevada State Bar after his wife was accused of embezzling money from his clients. But he did not leave her. "He was obsessed with her for whatever reason," said Tom Mitchell, one of McNabney's three closest friends in Nevada. "He knew what she had done, and he knew that he would constantly have to worry about her, that he couldn't trust her. But he wanted to be with her."