LISBON, Portugal — A convicted murderer and “most wanted” fugitive who has been on the run since he escaped a New Jersey prison and hijacked a plane from Detroit in the 1970s has been caught after an investigation that spanned four states, three continents and four decades, NBC New York has learned.
FBI and New Jersey officials tracked hunted convicted killer George Wright to a town outside Lisbon, where Portuguese authorities arrested him Monday.
Decades ago, Wright was in a New Jersey prison, serving a 30-year sentence for the 1962 robbery and murder of a war hero whom Wright gunned down at an Esso gas station in Farmingdale. World War II Bronze Star recipient Walter Paterson was killed for the $70 in his pocket.
WATCH: FUGITIVE AND MURDER GEORGE WRIGHT FOUND 41 YEARS LATER
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.
In August 1970, Wright and two others escaped from the Leesburg, N.J. facility, stole the warden’s car and headed to Atlantic City. From there they went to Detroit, where they joined up with the Black Liberation Army. Wright lived under an alias, working part-time as a model to pay bills.
Two years later, Wright and several others commandeered a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Miami — Wright boarded the flight dressed as a priest, with a gun hidden in the cut-out pages of a Bible.
His fellow members of the Black Liberation Army also boarded with weapons, and 88 passengers were held hostage. It was one of the most daring hijackings in U.S. history, and also one of the most humiliating for the FBI.
Agents were forced to wear bathing suits to deliver a suitcase of cash to Wright and his fellow hijackers on a Miami runway. The hijackers wanted to be sure they weren’t carrying weapons.
Tower recordings at the time captured their negotiations.
“Follow my instructions to the letter or someone will get hurt,” one of the hijackers said.
“We will follow your instructions explicitly. The money’s being packed in suitcases right now,” was the reply from the tower.
“The money comes on first before any passenger gets off,” the hijacker said.
“The men are putting on their bathing suits and going over with the money now,” replied the tower.
After Wright and the others got their money, they let the passengers go but kept the crew hostage. They then flew to Boston, where they refueled before heading to Algeria.
Capt. William May, a pilot who was held hostage by the men, said after the ordeal was over that the hijackers told them “we were the pawns in this game and we’d be the first to go if anything went wrong.”
Click here to read the rest of the story.