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Prison Escapee Found--19 Years Later

A Virginia man who escaped from prison 19 years ago and made his home in San Diego for the past 10 years was arrested Monday as he waited for his Social Security check in the federal building in downtown San Diego, police said.

William Lee Caniford, 67, escaped from the Baskerville Prison Farm in Virginia on June 9, 1966, by sawing through the bars of the prison, police spokesman Bill Robinson said.

At the time of his escape, Caniford had served 40 days of a 17-year sentence for forging signatures on credit cards, Robinson said.

Caniford told police he stayed in Norfolk for some time before coming to San Diego and settling in the North Park area, where he lived peacefully, Robinson said.

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Virginia corrections authorities last week notified the police Special Investigations Unit that Caniford could be in San Diego, Robinson said.

Caniford had worked as a cook in the prison, and he had listed his occupation as unemployed cook with the Social Security office, Robinson said.

“The guy used his real name,” Robinson said. “Once we knew who we were looking for, it didn’t take long to find him.”


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