PROVIDENCE - They said they were fleeing the Northwest, which was true. And they said they took a Greyhound from the West Coast to as far as their savings would take them, which might have been the case.
But Tracey Lee Poirer and Pamela Kay Trimble lied about what little else they said: Poirer wasn't fleeing from an abusive husband; she was escaping prison.
In the three weeks the pair lived in Rhode Island, they managed to charm their colleagues with fine manners, please their bosses with hard work and spread an entirely false explanation of their presence in Providence.
Yet even as they were settling into a single-room, $65-a-week apartment in South Providence, even as they snapped up jobs and found nightclubs where they could drink and play pool, the tale they told was unraveling.
The same people they befriended at their jobs at an Italian bakery and in a sausage-making plant saw their likenesses on "America's Most Wanted" and the television show received two tips that led to the pair's arrest two weeks ago.
Poirer, 36, is a murderer. She stoned to death a 4-foot-4, 100-pound man whom she met at an Oregon billiards hall eight years ago and then dumped his naked body into a river. She was serving life without parole for the killing.
Trimble, 36, was her former jail guard. After quitting her job as a corrections deputy, police believe Trimble cut a hole in the perimeter fence Poirer squeezed through Aug. 28.
Police arrested Poirer while she was taking orders at an Italian bakery in Cranston and Trimble while she was cutting meat at a sausage plant in Federal Hill. They were charged with second-degree escape.
During the proceedings in District Court, Providence, they whispered that they wanted to challenge their extradition to Oregon. "I'd like to fight," a resolute Trimble said. "The same," a tearful Poirer followed.
They are being held without bail. Prosecutors have 90 days to persuade a judge to extradite them to Oregon.
According to police, the pair arrived by Greyhound bus in Providence on Sept. 3. And during the following weeks, colleagues said, they found jobs, got a third-floor apartment and told all inquirers similar stories.
No bathroom, no kitchen
John Velez manages the apartment house where they rented a single room on the third floor that came furnished with a double bed, bureau and sink but no bathroom or kitchen.
Velez said the pair inquired about moving in three or four weeks ago. He asked them what they were doing in Providence and he said they told him they were former college roommates fleeing abusive husbands whom they were divorcing.
They told Velez they were from Washington state, that they had taken a two-day bus ride to Providence to live here for at least a year and see what life on the East Coast was like. He agreed to rent them an apartment.
Velez said they paid their $65 weekly rent in cash - and always on time. He said they always said hello, never argued and refrained from drinking with other tenants in the 11-unit house.
"Usually when you get to questioning somebody, anything bad usually slips," Velez said, "but not with them. I got to say, I'm going to miss them. They were good tenants."
Also snowed by the couple was Patricia Romeo of Johnston, R.I. Each morning on her way to work caring for the elderly, she would visit her mother at Crugnale Bakery in Cranston, R.I.
Her mother managed the store and she introduced Romeo to a new worker two weeks ago: "Ciara Capri." Capri had come to the bakery via a temporary employment agency, Labor Ready, of Providence. She worked three days a week.
Romeo said Capri was well-mannered, always saying hello when she walked in, always getting Romeo's mother for her. And her mother, Annie Romeo, described her new employee as a "very good worker."
Just last week, Capri told the elder Romeo she would get a peacock tattoo on her left forearm removed because it gave the wrong impression to customers. Romeo said she appreciated the gesture, although she also found it suspicious.
Capri told the Romeos she had fled an abusive husband with her friend "Robin." She told them that they had asked the bus company to take them as far away from their home in Washington state as their money would allow.
On Sept. 12, the younger Romeo saw a photograph of Poirer on "America's Most Wanted," one of her favorite television shows. She wasn't certain it was Capri but she had her roommate call the show and report the similarity.
"I thought my mother's life was in danger," she said.
Boss wouldn't believe it
Despite her daughter's warnings, the elder Romeo said she couldn't believe well-mannered Capri was a killer. She said she was going to offer Capri a full-time job.
When Capri told the elder Romeo about her abusive husband, Romeo said she sympathized with her. "I hate men like that," Romeo said she told her. "They should be killed."
The Romeos weren't the only ones taken by one of the fugitive's pleasant disposition. So were Trimble's superiors at the sausage plant, Anthony's Sausage Emporium in Providence.
Trimble began working at the plant about a week ago under the name Robin Marcel. The plant's owner, Richard Danielo, said she was an "excellent worker," always on time.
Her supervisor, Debra Hartley, said Marcel told her she had fled Washington state with her "wife," Ciara, because Ciara wanted to get away from an abusive boyfriend who was a policeman.
In her apartment either Sept. 12 or 19, Hartley was flipping through television channels when the phone rang. As she chatted, she watched "America's Most Wanted" broadcast a photograph of Marcel.
Hartley said she immediately recognized Marcel but she had the volume down so she wasn't sure whether Marcel was in trouble. She mentioned Marcel's appearance on the show to Danielo but he said they "kind of just passed it off."
"I wasn't going to play 100 questions," Hartley said.
Neither Hartley nor Danielo telephoned "America's Most Wanted" with a tip but many others did. From its broadcasts Sept. 12 and 19, the television show received 191 tips, two of which placed Poirer at Crugnale's Bakery, a show spokesman said.
As Oregon State Police sorted through the tips, Poirer and Trimble told acquaintances they were settling in Providence.
Poirer told the Romeos she had brought little with her to Providence and had to go to the Salvation Army to get utensils and dishes; they told her they would bring her their surplus plate ware.
Wanted names of bars, clubs
Trimble asked Hartley for the name of a video store where she could rent Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and of bars and nightclubs where Trimble and Poirer could go on weekends.
On a Monday morning, Hartley and Trimble took a break from work. Hartley said Trimble recounted she and Poirer had had a "really great" weekend: Poirer had gotten drunk at a downtown club, won several pool games and then was thrown out, she said.
Then they returned to work. Trimble began cutting up pork and trimming fat at a stainless steel table, Danielo said. A few minutes later, police entered the building, asking for Robin.
Police had been looking for Poirer and Trimble around the clock since Friday, Sept. 25. They walked up to Trimble and surrounded her, Danielo said. They pointed their guns and she dropped her knife.
"She apologized to me while she was handcuffed," Danielo said.