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'77 Leavenworth escapee finally back behind bars

Mar. 20, 2014 - 11:36AM   |  
James Robert Jones was arrested March 13. He had been listed as one of the Army's 15 Most Wanted for escaping from a federal prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1977.
James Robert Jones was arrested March 13. He had been listed as one of the Army's 15 Most Wanted for escaping from a federal prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1977. (Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)
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FORT LEAVENWORTH, KAN. — A convicted killer who escaped the military's maximum-security prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., is back behind bars after eluding capture for nearly 40 years and is being processed as a new inmate, an Army spokesman said Thursday.

James Robert Jones, 59, was returned to military custody on Tuesday and was being housed at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Army civilian spokesman George Marcec confirmed.

Jones was considered one of the Army's 15 most-wanted fugitives when U.S. Marshals arrested him in Florida earlier this month. He was convicted of murder and assault in the 1974 killing of a fellow soldier at Fort Dix in New Jersey. He was serving a 23-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth — known as "The Castle" because of its high walls and towers — when he escaped in 1977.

It is unclear if Jones has been charged with additional crimes related to his escape.

"He's being processed just like a new inmate, based on the time that he was gone," Marcec said.

Authorities used facial recognition technology to identify Jones, who was living in Deerfield Beach, some 17 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, under the name Bruce Walter Keith. Authorities matched an old military photograph of Jones with a Florida driver's license issued in 1981 in Keith's name.

Jones was arrested outside the Pompano Beach business where he worked.

Between 1977 and 1998, there were seven escapes involving 11 prisoners at the disciplinary barracks, but all but Jones had been recaptured. The Castle was closed in 2002 and prisoners were moved to a new prison on the Army post, located on the banks of the Missouri River north of Kansas City, Mo.

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