A convicted murderer who escaped from an Ohio prison in 1978 by cutting through cell bars and a fence was captured in Minnesota’s capital, where he had a job delivering newspapers, the U.S. Marshals Service said Friday.
Oscar Juarez, 66, was among Ohio’s most wanted fugitives and evaded being caught while on the run despite being arrested but let go at least seven times in the 1980s.
He was taken into custody Thursday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, at an apartment building on a tree-lined street, said Pete Elliott, the U.S. marshal for northern Ohio. It wasn’t clear how long he had been in Minnesota.
He was living alone in St. Paul under a different name, said Chris Clifford, the supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in Minneapolis. Juarez told authorities he’d been living in Minnesota for 20 years, but “we are finding that hard to believe,” Clifford said.
Juarez made an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate in St. Paul on Friday. He will be held until a hearing next week to determine his identity and argue detention.
He gave the magistrate a different name when he was asked if he understood his rights. But Elliott said there was no doubt it was Juarez, noting his fingerprints were a match and the name he gave was that of a deceased person.
Juarez was arrested at least six times on minor charges in California and once in 1988 in Texas, but he went undetected because he was using fake identities, Elliott said.
“We know if he was in several different states over the years,” Elliott said. “It wasn’t one thing that led us to his doorstep. It was a number of things and good old-fashioned police work.”
He apparently worked as a welder and machine operator, the FBI said in a most wanted advisory.
It appears that Juarez had family in Texas and Ohio and may have picked Minnesota at random, Clifford said.
Juarez was serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a Toledo man after a bar fight in 1975.
He escaped from a state prison in Marion three years later by sawing through prison bars and cutting through a fence, according to the marshals. They say he also put a dummy in his bed and covered it with blankets.