NEWS ON 6 EXCLUSIVE: After 12 years on the run, fugitive couple arrested in Tulsa

Tuesday, October 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Mug photos of Ernest S. Jackson and Kaia Jackson as they were booked into the Tulsa Jail Monday night. The couple is wanted by authorities in Teaneck, New Jersey for aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of his son, Cymande Jackson. Photo courtesy: KOTV - The News on Six.

TULSA, OK -- Two of America's most wanted criminals were arrested in Tulsa Monday night. Kaia Jackson and Ernest S. Jackson were arrested at their Tulsa home after being featured on the television show “America's Most Wanted.” The couple is accused of torturing one of their own children in New Jersey 12 years ago. They had been living near 41st Street and Mingo Road, since moving to Tulsa within the past two years. Law enforcement officers with the Northeastern Oklahoma Fugitive Task Force made the arrest. Tulsa Police say the Jacksons were known to their neighbors as Butch and Naomi Hill.

The couple are wanted by authorities in Teaneck, New Jersey for aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of their step-son, Cymande Jackson. On June 24, 1988, Cymande escaped from his family residence and wandered into Ann's Gourmet Restaurant in Teaneck. Patrons in the establishment were horrified at the scars, burns and unhealed injuries that covered virtually every inch of the eight-year-old boy's body. His clothes were filthy and tattered.

Cymande told police that he'd been beaten repeatedly since the age of five and kept in a closet without food for long periods of time by his father and mother. Eleven years later, Cymande's case is considered the worse case of child abuse investigators have ever seen in Bergen County. The revelation of torture led to the aforementioned charges being filed against Ernest Jackson and Cymande's mother, Kaia Jackson.

The couple was arrested, but posted bail and fled with their four other young children, Jabari (a.k.a. Imani),14, Ashani (a.k.a Nia) 13, Sundiata, 11, and Khari, 5. The couple also has a grandchild with them, six-year-old Ashani Creighton. For eleven years, the Jackson's have systematically moved around the country eluding police.

The Jacksons were spotted in New Orleans, Thibodeaux, Louisiana, Atlanta and Las Vegas. The police just missed them in Orlando, Florida in September 1998. This June Detective Flynn uncovered several recent photographs of the couple. This included a 1990 photo of Ernest Jackson and a 1997 photo of Kaia Jackson.

The couple's other four children were wearing baseball caps as they were brought out of their house. Neighbors said the children were home schooled, and that the family kept a very low profile. Some say the arrest of the couple surprised them. "I was very astonished, because they've been very nice since they've been here,” said neighbor Cathy Slodek. “They've been very friendly.”

As they were being escorted from the Tulsa police station to the Tulsa City/County jail the couple told News on Six Anchor/reporter Paul Serrell that they were innocent of the charges. Serrell asked, Mrs. Jackson, “Maam, did you harm your child? “Never,” she said. The Jacksons will stay in the Tulsa jail pending extradition to New Jersey. The couple is charged with aggravated assault, child endangerment, and escape.

On the web: America's Most Wanted