Searchers Narrowly Miss Grabbing Escaped Convict

Friday, August 13th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHILDS, Md. (AP) -- An escaped murderer whose crimes were
portrayed in the film "At Close Range" was spotted on the porch
of a relative's home but he managed to elude authorities yet again.

Police dogs repeatedly picked up Norman Johnston's scent
Thursday after two officers spotted him outside a home in a rural
area in northeast Maryland, more than a week after he broke out of
a Pennsylvania prison.

Police said the man fled into the woods after the two officers
turned their car around to get a better look at him.

The home belonged to a member of the Johnston family, police
said. They would not identify the residents.

Authorities continued the search with helicopters and police
cars overnight and they sent officers into the woods on horseback
early today, said Pennsylvania State Police Capt. Henry Oleyniczak.
Several unconfirmed sightings were reported overnight.

Dogs briefly picked up Johnston's scent four times Thursday but
lost it each time, said Cecil County Sheriff Rodney Kennedy.

Johnston, 49, escaped Aug. 2 from the maximum-security State
Correctional Institution in Huntingdon, Pa.

He escaped by making a lifelike dummy and cutting through his
window and two security fences.

He was convicted in 1980 of killing four teen-agers to cover up
a multimillion-dollar burglary ring he ran with his brothers. The
film "At Close Range," starring Sean Penn, was based on the case.

Johnston's brothers, Bruce and David, were also convicted of
killing the teen-agers and sentenced to life, Bruce was convicted
of killing two potential witnesses as well.

(Copyright 1999 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)