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More Than 40 Years After Escaping, Convicted Killer From NJ Captured

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George Wright

George Wright (credit: CBS 2/File)

Alex Silverman Alex Silverman
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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A convicted killer who escaped from a New Jersey prison and then hijacked a plane has been captured in Portugal after four decades on the run.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman On The Story

According to the FBI, George Wright, 68, was arrested Monday by Portuguese authorities in a town near Lisbon at the request of the U.S. government.

Wright was convicted of fatally shooting Walter Patterson, a World War II veteran, Bronze Star recipient and father of two, at the Collingswood Esso gas station during a  November1962 robbery in Wall Township.

1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer with the details

On Aug. 19, 1970, while serving a 30-year sentence for the murder, he and three other inmates escaped from the Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, N.J.

Two years later, Wright and other members of the Black Liberation Army hijacked a Delta flight that was on its way from Detroit to Miami.

Wright apparently had dressed as a priest and used the alias the Rev. L. Burgess to board the flight.

After landing in Miami, the hijackers demanded a $1 million ransom — the highest of its kind at the time — in exchange for the passengers. After releasing the hostages, they forced the plane to fly to Boston to refuel before leaving for Algeria.

Wright was briefly detained but released and has been in the wind ever since.

His four associates were arrested, tried and convicted in Paris in 1976. Wright was the last remaining fugitive.

It is unclear how Wright was tracked down. The U.S. is seeking his extradition.

“The cold cases, as they are known, really are not cold. They don’t fall off the radar because if an inmate owes us time, as this inmate did, we will pursue them and we will find them,” Deirdre Fedkinheuer, with the New Jersey Department of Corrections, told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.

“Even after 40 years, the commitment of law enforcement is unwavering,” Michael Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark Division, said. “This case should — serve notice that the FBI’s determination in pursuing subjects will not diminish over time or distance.”

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