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