Police in a small Detroit suburb stumbled onto the discovery of a lifetime recently when they charged a man for stealing hydrocodone pills from the local CVS pharmacy where he worked. After fingerprinting the man, a licensed traveling pharmacist by the name of Paul Dickson, authorities learned they had much more on their hands than a case of petty theft: Paul Dickson was in fact Leonard Rayne Moses, a convicted killer who’d been on the lam for nearly five decades.
“We’ve never forgotten about this case,” Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen said at a Friday news conference announcing Moses’ capture, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Moses was just 16 when he was convicted of murder for the 1968 killing of 72-year-old Mary Amplo. Moses and his friends used Molotov cocktails to set fire to Amplo’s house amid rioting in Pittsburgh in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Amplo was left with third-degree burns on more than half of her body, and she died several months later of pneumonia, which doctors believed had resulted from her being confined to a bed.
“The arrest of Leonard Moses brings a measure of closure to the family of the victim, Mary Amplo,” Mullen said, adding that the arrest “proves the axiom that you cannot outrun your past.”
Moses was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in 1969. But just a few years into his sentence, he was granted a temporary release to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Pittsburgh—and that’s where he made his escape.
Authorities spent years following up on tips about Moses’ whereabouts and traveling around the country in the hopes of finding him. In addition to being placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, Moses’ face was also featured on billboards erected as part of the search in Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
But it was the combination of new technology and the attentive eye of a loss prevention manager at the CVS store that sealed his fate.
Known as Paul Dickson among co-workers at the CVS store in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan where he worked, Moses had allegedly been caught pocketing pills. Though Moses offered to repay the store for them, the unnamed loss prevention manager contacted police instead.
And as soon as law enforcement entered Moses’ fingerprints into the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system, federal agents moved to finally arrest him on a federal unauthorized flight to avoid confinement warrant issued out of the Western District of Pennsylvania way back in 1971. The fugitive task force took him into custody in Grand Blanc, Michigan, on Thursday.
Michael Christman, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh FBI, credited “new advances in technology” for Moses’ arrest.
“I hope this arrest brings some closure to the family members of Mary Amplo, who was killed back in 1968,” he said in a statement. “Mr. Moses will now have to face justice for her murder.”
Though few details about the arrest were disclosed, Christman told reporters, “The arresting officers yelled the name ‘Moses’ and they got a response.”