Last MSP escapee may have been found

Sunday marks the 27th anniversary of a warrant being issued for the last man to have successfully escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

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Dennis Lilly

But, it appears Dennis Lilly may have died two years ago while living on the West Coast.

The Daily Herald in Everett, Wash., reports the 64-year-old Lilly was apparently living under the alias Dave Murray.

His wife told detectives that Lilly died from pancreatic cancer in 2012. She admitted to burying him in the backyard.

Earlier this month, authorities found human remains under a woodshed behind the woman’s home. DNA testing will confirm if it is Lilly.

On Dec. 13, 1986, Lilly disguised himself in a corrections officer uniform and advanced through checkpoints, eventually going out the front door of the old prison on State Street in Jefferson City.

Somewhere between the states of Missouri and Washington, Dennis and Mary Lilly became Dave and Amanda Murray, settled into a home in 1993 and became respected business owners.

At the time of his escape, Lilly was serving a sentence for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, burglary, robbery and aggravated escape.

Lilly’s escape had been featured on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” several times, and calls came in, but none of the information helped authorities find Lilly.

After his escape, Dennis met up with Mary, whom he had met as a pen pal. They wed while he was still behind bars.

To start new lives, they used Social Security numbers of people who had died, but it wasn’t until October that authorities got wind of where they might be.

That’s when Amanda Murray filed an application with an online stock trading firm. The application was denied because her birth date and Social Security number didn’t match the name Amanda Murray.

A compliance officer at the brokerage firm contacted the FBI, whose online research turned up evidence that Amanda Murray is Mary Lilly and that Dennis Lilly had assumed the name David Murray.

Earlier this month, an FBI agent visited the couple’s store, and Amanda was behind the counter. He confronted her, calling her Mary. She told the federal agent she hadn’t been called that name in years.

He asked her where he could find Dennis Lilly. She told him that she thought he was dead and said she didn’t want to get in trouble.

Mary said she and Dennis had separated about nine years ago, and he had moved to California. He returned to Washington around 2009 with the news that he was dying from pancreatic cancer. He said he wanted to be with his family. The couple has an adult daughter.

Records show Dennis was treated for cancer in Seattle.

Mary said Dennis didn’t want law enforcement to know about his death, which could lead to her being held accountable for helping him elude capture. She claimed her daughter was there when Dennis died. Mary dug a hole in the back yard and buried Dennis after her daughter and others had departed the house.

The daughter told authorities she wasn’t there when Dennis died and that her mother said her father’s body was taken from their home to a funeral home.

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