Escaped killer is caught after 41 years
A convicted killer who escaped prison in 1970 and then joined with other members of a militant group in hijacking a Delta Airlines jet to Algeria has been arrested in Portugal after 41 years on the lam, the FBI announced Tuesday.
U.S. officials have asked for fugitive George Wright's extradition to New Jersey, where he was imprisoned on a murder conviction when he broke out of prison with three other men on Aug. 19, 1970. Two years later, authorities say Wright surfaced again when five members of the Black Liberation Army, a militant black nationalist group, commandeered a Delta Airlines flight en route to Miami from Detroit.
The jet landed in Miami, where the hijackers demanded $1 million ransom to free the passengers. After the money was handed over and the passengers released, the jet was forced to fly to Algeria. The group sought political aslyum there, and most dropped from sight after being briefly detained by Algerian authorities.
A statement from the FBI said that four of the five hijackers were caught in Paris in 1976 but that Wright remained free. The initial FBI announcement did not give details of his arrest beyond saying he was caught in Portugal on Monday and was expected to be returned to New Jersey to serve the remainder of his 30-year prison term for having shot and killed a man during a gas station robbery.
"The crime left two young girls without a father. Despite the passage of time, justice has been served, and George Wright will pay for his crime," said Gary M. Lanigan of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: This arrest photo taken Feb. 15, 1963 and provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections swows George Wright while in custody for the 1962 murder of a gas station owner in Wall, N.J. Wright was arrested Sept. 26, 2011, by Portuguese authorities at the request of the U.S. government after more than 40 years as a fugitive, authorities said Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011. Credit: Associated Press