Judy Lynn Hayman, in photo provided by the Michigan Department of Corrections

A 1977 photo shows Judy Lynn Hayman, who authorities say escaped from a Michigan prison in 1977. She had apparently been living in San Diego for several years. (Michigan Department of Corrections)

SAN DIEGO — She was older than the woman in the pictures — 38 years older. And she was using a different name, with government documents as proof.

But those eyes seemed to fit the 1976 mug shots, leaving San Diego police convinced they had found Judy Lynn Hayman, wanted by Michigan authorities for a 1977 prison escape.

When police indicated that they were not buying her denial, Hayman confessed that she was the woman in the mug shots, police officials said Tuesday.

Hayman, 60, is now in the women's jail in Santee awaiting an extradition hearing in San Diego County Superior Court. If she opposes extradition, additional hearings will be needed.

Once back in Michigan, she will need to serve the remaining months of a sentence imposed for shoplifting at several stores in Detroit. She may also face a felony charge of prison escape, depending on the local prosecutor.

Acting on a request from the Michigan Department of Corrections, three San Diego police officers went to the modest apartment in the Hillcrest neighborhood Monday afternoon, armed with the mug shots.

Hayman insisted that she was Amie Lewis, one of several aliases that she has used, according to Michigan authorities.

The lead officer knew he had found Hayman, said Lt. Kevin Mayer: "To him, the eyes looked like the suspect."

When she was convicted of larceny in 1976, Hayman already had convictions for disorderly conduct, drug use and theft. She was sentenced to 16 to 24 months at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Mich.

She escaped after 10 months, probably by walking away from the unfenced facility, authorities said.

Her capture might be attributed to the snowstorms that have gripped Michigan and much of the country. Unable to do street-level investigations, an officer in the Department of Corrections apprehensions unit selected the records of about 40 escapees from the 1960s and 1970s.

Fingerprint cards were sent to the FBI, Social Security records were checked, and the Internet was scoured. Michigan officials say she was tracked to California by fingerprints from arrests in San Diego, where Hayman had apparently lived for several years.

When the three officers came to the apartment, Hayman's 32-year-old son was visiting. He was unaware that his mother was a fugitive, San Diego police said.

Like California, Michigan has a problem with prison overcrowding. But escapees, once captured, are required to serve their sentences.

Said Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections: "We have room for her for a few months."

tony.perry@latimes.com