Prisoner in S. D. Is Identified as One of FBI’s Most Wanted
A man being held in San Diego County Jail was identified Thursday as one of the country’s 10 most-wanted fugitives, a convicted murderer from Alabama who twice escaped detention, FBI officials said.
Terry Lee Johnson, 39, escaped from Limestone prison in Athens, Ala., in 1986 while serving a life sentence for murder, said James Bolenbach, spokesman for the FBI in San Diego.
Johnson, who was using the name David Roy Moore, allegedly brandished a gun at a Pacific Beach man Aug. 17, Bolenbach said, then led police on a car chase that ended when Johnson crashed.
Johnson was booked into County Jail downtown on suspicion of possessing a concealed weapon, reckless driving and possessing controlled substances, Bolenbach said.
On Thursday, the prisoner’s fingerprints were matched to those of Johnson, and he was served a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid confinement for murder, Bolenbach said.
“He’s one of the most dangerous people around, and is on the FBI’s Top 10 most-wanted list,” the spokesman said, adding that Johnson was heavily armed when taken into custody by police.
Extradition proceedings probably will begin today, Bolenbach said.
FBI Special Agent Tom Moore in Birmingham, Ala., said the FBI learned Johnson was in California after a June 12 broadcast of the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”
Johnson, originally of Madison County, Ala., was first arrested in 1981 in connection with the 1976 murder of his former neighbor, James J. Crowson.
“His former neighbor refused to let Johnson hunt on his land, and Johnson came back later in the day with a high-powered rifle and shot the man in the head,” Bolenbach said.
Escaped Before Trial
Alabama authorities believed Johnson fled the state after the killing, and a federal warrant was issued for his arrest. He was captured in 1981 in South Pittsburgh, Tenn., and extradited to Alabama for trial, Bolenbach said.
Johnson escaped before the trial began, however, but was captured by FBI agents later that year in Blountsville, Ala., the spokesman said. He was heavily armed in both arrests.
Johnson was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, but in 1986 escaped and remained at large until Thursday, Bolenbach said.
“He wasn’t fingerprinted right away (on Aug. 17) because he was injured in the crash and taken to the University of California San Diego Medical Center for treatment,” he said.
When Johnson fled Alabama in 1986, he went to Montana, where he supported himself by growing marijuana, said Bolenbach.
“He was arrested and convicted for cultivating marijuana, and even spent two weeks in jail” without authorities discovering his true identity, the spokesman said.