Wednesday, September 28, 2011


A MURDERING militant who killed a war hero, escaped from prison and went on to carry out one of the most brazen hijackings in US history, has been captured after more than 40-years in Portugal. 
George Wright's run from the law began in November, 1962, when he killed gas station attendant and father of two, Walter Paterson, in Wall, NJ. 
But eight years into his 15 to 30 years sentence, for killing the decorated World War Two veteran, in 1970, he manged to escape with three other men from the Bayside State Prison. 
The FBI said he hooked up with the Black Liberation Army in Detroit, living in a "communal family" with several member.
It was with them that he hatched a daring plan to hijack a plane. 
Dressed as a priest, and using the alias Rev L. Burgess,  in July 1972, Wright boarded a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Miami.        Together with three men  two women and three small children from his communal group, including Wright's companion and their 2-year-old daughter, they took the 86 passengers hostage. 
Then they demanded a whopping $1million ransom - the highest of it's kind at the time - to free them. 
With little choice an FBI agent delivered a 70-pound satchel full of money — wearing only a pair of swim trunks, per the hijacker's instructions — and the passengers were released.
Then the hijackers  forced the plane to Boston, where an international navigator was taken aboard, and the group flew on to Algeria, where they sought asylum.
But although they were taken in by Eldridge Cleaver, the American writer and activist, who had been permitted by Algeria's Socialist government to open an office of the Black Panther Movement in that country in 1970, things did not got well for the group.
 Algerian officials returned the plane and the money to the U.S. at the request of the American government, and briefly detained the hijackers before letting them stay. 
Their stay in Algeria said their movements were restricted, and the president ignored their calls for asylum and requests to return them the ransom money.
The group eventually made its way to France, where Wright's associates were tracked down, arrested, tried and convicted in Paris in 1976. 
But the French refused to extradite them to the U.S. 
Wright however remained at large and his case was among the top priorities when the New York-New Jersey Fugitive Task Force was formed in 2002.
Michael Schroeder, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said the address in Portugal was one of several on a list of places they wanted to check out. 
He added: "It was another box to get checked, so to speak."
But when they pulled his details on the national ID registry they found his fingerprints matched with Wrights. 
The news will no doubt come as a relief for Patterson's family who have previously told the Star Ledger that his evasion from capture had left their psychological wounds unhealed.

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