DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla.
In the nearly 40 years after he escaped from the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, convicted killer James Robert Jones carved out a new life for himself in Florida, living under an assumed name, getting married and working for an air-conditioning company.
It all came to an end this week when Jones — or Bruce Walter Keith, as the former Army private was known in Florida — was recaptured with the help of technology that was more sci-fi than reality when he broke out during the disco era: facial-recognition software.
“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘I knew this would catch up with me someday,’” Barry Golden, a senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service, said Friday.
Jones, 59, was one of the Army’s 15 most-wanted fugitives after his 1977 escape from the Kansas prison dubbed “The Castle” for its large walls and tower keeps.
He was convicted of murder and assault in the 1974 killing of a fellow soldier at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
According to the archives of The Times of Trenton, Jones, who is originally from Ontario, Calif., was found guilty in the stabbing death of Lonnie Eaton, 18, and the wounding of another man. Police at the time said Eaton and a friend were walking back to the base from a bar when they were attacked by three men with knives after one approached and asked if they had any marijuana to sell.
Jones was serving a 23-year sentence when he escaped.
The marshals caught up with Jones on Thursday after using facial-recognition technology to match a Florida driver’s license he was issued in 1981 in Keith’s name with his old military photograph. Jones was arrested outside the Pompano Beach business where he worked.
He admitted his real identity as he was being fingerprinted, and the prints confirmed it. He was being held without bail at the Broward County jail, awaiting transfer back to Fort Leavenworth.
Susan Keith, 56, who married Bruce Keith in 1983, told investigators she had no idea her husband was living under an assumed name, Golden said.