GRAND BLANC, MI — After nearly a half-century on the lam, a convicted murder who escaped custody in Pennsylvania has been arrested in Grand Blanc.
The FBI Pittsburgh Division announced Friday that Leonard R. Moses, now 68, was arrested without incident by a Fugitive Task Force out of Detroit. Moses had been at large since 1971, when he escaped custody while attending his grandmother’s funeral in Pittsburgh.
At the time, Moses was serving a life sentence on a conviction of first-degree murder.
Moses’ conviction stems from he and four friends throwing Molotov cocktails into a house in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood on April 6, 1968. Mary Amplo, 72, was inside the house and suffered third-degree burns across 55 percent of her body. Amplo died in July 1968 of pneumonia, with a pathologist testifying in Moses’ subsequent trial that she contracted the illness while confined to bed and recuperating from her burns.
The incident was part of the 1968 Pittsburgh riots, a series of disturbances that erupted in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4 of that year. Amplo’s death was the lone fatal incident in the upheaval, with 36 others being injured, more than 100 businesses looted or vandalized, and 505 arson fires set.
The unrest lasted through April 11, with 3,600 National Guardsmen needed to quell it. About 1,000 arrests were made.
Moses was 15 at the time of the firebombing. A jury in July 1969 found Moses guilty of first-degree murder and in January 1970, he was sentenced to life in prison at age 17.
On June 1, 1971, Moses was allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Homewood and managed to escape from law enforcement officials. In July of that year, authorities issued a federal warrant for Moses’ arrest after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid confinement.
After his escape, Moses assumed the name Paul Dickson. Since at least 1999, Moses was employed and licensed as a traveling pharmacist in Michigan, the FBI said.
Authorities were led to Moses’ location after he was arrested in January on a state charge of embezzlement in St. Clair Shores, according to statements made by the Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen in a Friday press conference. Video footage had allegedly shown Moses stealing hydrocodone pills from a CVS pharmacy where he was working in December, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Moses’ fingerprints were entered into a nationwide database in October. With the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, Moses’ fingerprints from his January arrest were found to match his prints taken after the 1968 arrest.
“I hope this arrest brings some closure to the family members of Mary Amplo, who was killed back in 1968,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman. “Mr. Moses will now have to face justice for her murder. Through coordination with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office and our partners in Michigan, we were able to identify Mr. Moses using the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system. It’s these new advances in technology that the FBI must continue to identify and use to make sure those who commit crimes are brought to justice.”
“The arrest of Leonard Moses brings a measure of closure to the family of the victim, Mary Amplo,” added Sheriff Mullen. “The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the FBI has steadily worked this case throughout the decades. We are thankful for the combined efforts of the involved law enforcement agencies who were involved in bringing Moses to face justice. It proves the axiom that you cannot outrun your past.”
Moses was in custody at the Genesee County Jail and was awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
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