TV Show, Woman End Run of Fugitive : Crime: Murder suspect in Glendale insurance scheme is tracked after ‘Oprah’ is aired in Europe. Police say man traveled the world last three years.
The power of television and the anger of a Dutch woman finally led authorities to a 28-year-old fugitive who moved around the world for three years, dodging arrest on suspicion of a 1988 murder plot to collect $1.5 million in insurance money, Glendale police officials said Monday.
The arrest of John Barrett Hawkins on the Italian island of Sardinia ended the hunt for the last of three alleged participants in the scheme, including Glendale physician Dr. Richard Boggs, who was convicted of murder and is awaiting sentencing.
Hawkins traveled under at least two aliases through Canada, the West Indies, Britain, Italy, France, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands and possibly Mexico, said Sgt. Jon Perkins, the Glendale police investigator who has pursued the case for three years.
Hawkins seduced men and women along the way, but most were loyal to him and would not cooperate with authorities, Perkins told a news conference. However, some contributed photos of themselves that were included in a profile of Hawkins on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted,” Perkins said.
The trail heated up when the “Oprah Winfrey Show"--which unlike “Most Wanted” is aired in Europe--rebroadcast the Hawkins profile. An Amsterdam woman whom Hawkins had befriended in Spain saw the broadcast and was angered to learn Hawkins is bisexual, Perkins said.
She notified the station and Glendale police were contacted. The woman told Perkins she had met Hawkins, under the name Bradley Bryant, on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Ibiza. He was sailing the Mediterranean aboard a red catamaran under Dutch or British flag, she said.
Jerry Treadway, supervising investigator for the California Department of Insurance, requested assistance from the U.S. Naval Investigative Service through its Los Angeles head, Rod Miller.
An officer with the service tracked the catamaran from Ibiza to Sardinia, spotted Hawkins aboard, and notified Italian police, who made the arrest on an international fugitive warrant, Miller told the news conference.
Hawkins initially showed authorities a British passport giving his name as Gregory Donald Henson, which was determined to be a forgery, Perkins said.
Hawkins remains in custody in Italy pending extradition to California, where he faces murder and insurance fraud charges. Hawkins is a suspect in the April 16, 1988, murder of Ellis H. Greene, a North Hollywood bookkeeper.
Hawkins, his former business partner Melvin Hanson and Boggs allegedly conspired to kill Greene to obtain a body that could be used as part of a scam to collect $2 million in life insurance. Boggs misidentified the body of Greene as that of Hanson, whose life insurance named Hawkins as beneficiary.
After police began investigating, Hawkins fled in July, 1988, without collecting the final $500,000 due.
Hanson also fled and underwent plastic surgery in Mexico but was arrested in January, 1989, while returning to the United States and is awaiting trial. Boggs was convicted in December of murder and eight related counts of fraud and assault.