Multiple Killer Caught After Nearly Three Weeks
Friday, August 20th 1999, 12:00 am
News On 6
MENDENHALL, Pa. (AP) -- Luck ran out this morning for escaped
murderer Norman Johnston, who was captured, exhausted and wet,
after a manhunt that lasted for nearly three weeks.
"We couldn't believe it was him," said Trooper Glenn Blue, one
of three officers who found Johnston. "All the fighting we heard
he did, he pretty much gave up. He didn't put up a fight and we're
very happy about that."
Johnston's arrest came after two other fugitives who escaped
from a state prison on Monday were captured Thursday night 100
miles away in Hanover Township. The escapes had prompted Gov. Tom
Ridge to order a statewide prison lockdown and call for a review of
the corrections system.
Johnson was captured in some bushes behind a home in a housing
development about 45 minutes after residents had called police and
reported hearing noises, state police Capt. Henry Oleyniczak said.
He yelled "I'm not armed! I'm not armed!" to the troopers
before falling to the ground and surrendering, state police said.
"He told the troopers he was tired, and `You guys wouldn't
quit,"' Oleyniczak said.
Johnston had cuts on his body and looked tired and wet as he was
led into a state police barracks, his hands and feet shackled. He
waived arraignment and was to be transported back to prison.
Johnston, 48, escaped Aug. 2 from the State Correctional
Institution at Huntingdon in western Pennsylvania after cutting his
way through a cell window and two fences. He left behind an
elaborate dummy that gave him as much as a 10-hour head-start on
He returned to the area where he had grown up and had run a
multimillion-dollar burglary ring with his two brothers. During his
19 days on the run, there were numerous sightings of him in the
area he knew well and two near-captures at a park in Nottingham and
a diner in Newark, Del.
Police began another intense search in southeastern Chester
County with helicopters, dogs and dozens of officers after a car
chase that ended in a crash and the driver fleeing into the woods.
Police had recognized the car as one stolen days before in Newark.
Search dogs that had been hampered by drought conditions for
much of the past three weeks were able to take advantage of rain
and kept on his scent.
Johnston told troopers that he had heard dogs all night, Blue
"It was just a long night of constant pressure," Blue said.
"It was just a matter of staying on top of it."
Johnston was convicted in 1980 of killing four teen-agers to
cover up a burglary ring that included more than 40 people and
operated for nearly 20 years. The gang was responsible for stealing
hundreds of trucks, cars and farm equipment in Delaware, Maryland
and Pennsylvania. At least 25 other people were convicted of
burglary and fencing charges until the gang's 1987 demise.
The film "At Close Range," starring Sean Penn, was based on
the case. Johnston and his two older brothers, Bruce and David,
have been serving life terms.
Michael McCloskey and Anthony Yang, who broke out of the
medium-security State Correctional Institution in Dallas, were not
as elusive as Johnston.
They were apprehended Thursday near Wilkes-Barre about five
miles from the prison. McCloskey was serving a life sentence for
killing a man in 1985 in Philadelphia for $8. Yang was serving time