A most-wanted murderer who has been on the run since he escaped a New Jersey prison and allegedly hijacked a plane from Detroit in the 1970s has been caught after an investigation that spanned four states, three continents and four decades. FBI and New Jersey officials tracked hunted killer George Wright to a town outside Lisbon, where Portuguese authorities arrested him last week.
Decades ago, Wright was in a New Jersey prison, serving a 30-year sentence for the 1962 robbing and killing of a war hero he had gunned down at an Esso gas station in Farmingdale, N.J. World War II Bronze Star recipient Walter Paterson was killed for the $70 in his pocket.
In August 1970, Wright and two others escaped from the Leesburg, N.J. facility, stole the warden’s car and headed to Atlantic City. From there they went to Detroit, where they joined up with the Black Liberation Army. He lived under an alias, working part-time as a model to pay bills.
Two years later, Wright and several others commandeered a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Miami — Wright boarded the flight dressed as a priest, with a gun hidden in the cut-out pages of a Bible. His fellow members of the Black Liberation Army also boarded with weapons, and 88 passengers were held hostage.
It was one of the most daring hijackings in history, and also one of the most humiliating for the FBI. Agents were forced to wear bathing suits to deliver a suitcase of cash to Wright and his fellow hijackers on a Miami runway. The hijackers wanted to be sure they weren’t carrying weapons.
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