Police in Bakersfield, Calif., caught an escaped murderer from an Erie County (Pa.) prison Saturday after he bragged to a passer-by that he had been featured on "America's Most Wanted."
Malcolm E. Kysor, 53, had been on the run from the State Correctional Institution Albion since Nov. 25. He was on a work detail at the prison delicatessen that day and slipped out of the facility by hiding with food scraps in an oversized garbage can.
He rode out on a pickup truck carrying containers of "pig slop" to a farm. When the truck parked near a prison maintenance facility, he made his escape, according to an FBI account.
A state corrections report filed after the escape says the prison sergeant failed to hook up "a heartbeat detector" that would have pinpointed living cargo riding with the slop cans and failed to poke the garbage cans with a metal rod, as regulations require.
Mr. Kysor, a career criminal, had been serving a life sentence at the medium security facility for beating an Ohio man to death with a golf club in 1981.
Pennsylvania state police, FBI agents and Crimestoppers had conducted a massive operation tracking his whereabouts, including field work in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Las Vegas after credible reports of sightings in both locations, said Trooper Donald Claypoole of Girard Troop E in Erie County.
On Saturday afternoon, however, Mr. Kysor's bravado finally caught up with him.
A leaner and slightly older-looking Mr. Kysor, who was known to frequent Saunders Park in downtown Bakersfield, began chatting with others there and mentioned that he was a wanted fugitive from Pennsylvania. Mr. Kysor, who witnesses said looked like a vagrant, threw in the fact that his story had aired on Fox TV's "America's Most Wanted."
An unidentified person listening to what must have sounded like a tall tale then went across the street and into a fire station and relayed the vagrant's story to the on-call firefighters.
At 6:19 p.m., Officer Amy Davis and Officer Claude Brooks of the Bakersfield Police Department responded to a fire official's call regarding a suspicious person in Saunders Park.
They located a man in the park fitting the tipster's description. The man gave the officers a family member's name and Social Security number, which came up in the National Crime Information Center database as an alias used previously by Malcolm E. Kysor, Trooper Claypoole said.
Tattoos of a flower and an eagle on the man's right arm, a rose with hearts and a flower on his left arm, a devil, heart and snake on his chest, and a devil with women and an angel on a horse on his abdomen matched those on Mr. Kysor's FBI photo.
The officers arrested Mr. Kysor without incident and notified the state police barracks in Girard.
"It was a big snag," said Trooper Claypoole, one of several detectives on the case. "The kudos really go to the local officers. The investigative effort was really good."
Mr. Kysor was in Kern County Jail in California, where he was being held without bond yesterday. He is charged with escape and also faces a federal complaint and an arrest warrant charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Members of the Pennsylvania State Police fugitive unit and the U.S. Marshal's Service may travel to California to extradite him.
Less than a week before this arrest, the U.S. Marshal's Service captured another fugitive from "America's Most Wanted" at a Bakersfield Greyhound station less than two miles from the park where Mr. Kysor was arrested, according to Lt. Mitch Willoughby of the Bakersfield police.
Frankie Tucker, a former police officer and Marine, was wanted in Texas for a sex crime involving a child.
Lt. Willoughby laughed when asked whether Bakersfield, a mid-sized city surrounded by farmland in the San Joaquin Valley, had become a magnet for wanted fugitives.
"It was very good police work," he said. "I think it's just coincidental."Gabrielle Banks can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1370.