Black Liberation Army leader captured after 41 years


 After 41 years on the run, George Wright was apprehended in Portugal.

After 41 years on the run, George Wright was apprehended in Portugal.

 

An escaped killer and airline hijacker – who once famously forced FBI agents to bring him $1 million wearing only swimsuits – was nabbed in Portugal after 41 years on the lam, the FBI said Tuesday.

George Wright, 68, who escaped from a New Jersey prison in 1970 and hijacked a Delta Airlines flight, was arrested Monday after the FBI tracked him down near Lisbon.

The manhunt spanned three continents and four decades. But the FBI – humiliated by the bathing suit incident – never quit looking.

“This case should serve notice that the FBI’s determination in pursuing subjects will not diminish over time or distance,” said Michael Ward, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark office.


George Wright and his fellow hijackers flew to Algeria by way of Boston.  They released passengers in Miami after demanding a $1 million ransom. (NBC New York)

Wright’s wild tale dates to 1962, when he and three others ended a string of armed robberies with the fatal shooting of decorated World War II veteran Walter Patterson, who was manning a gas station in Farmingdale, N.J.

Wright was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 1970, he escaped from Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, N.J., and fled to Detroit, where he joined up with the Black Liberation Army and lived under an assumed name.

In 1972, Wright dressed as a priest and carried a gun hidden inside a Bible onto a Delta flight from Detroit to Miami. Four other members of the Black Liberation Army boarded with him, along with three kids.

When they landed in Miami, they demanded a $1 million ransom for the passengers’ lives – the largest demand of its kind at the time.

The hijackers insisted that agents bringing the suitcase of cash wear only bathing suits, so they could not conceal any hidden weapons.

Wright and the others got the money, released the 88 passengers, and forced the pilot to fly them to Algeria.

The money and plane were eventually seized and returned by Algeria, and French police captured Wright’s accomplices in Paris.

Wright slipped the net and apparently had lived quietly in Portugal ever since.

 


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