Fairbanks fugitive tracked down in Ontario

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- For 26 years, fugitive Howard Myers lived a quiet life as John Murray, a name he had picked off a tombstone in his travels across Canada.

On Friday, the 67-year-old Myers' freedom came to an end when he was located by police in Toronto, Canada. He will likely be extradited, officials say.

Myers' whereabouts have been unknown since he failed to appear for a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks on Feb. 9, 1976, on a mail fraud conviction.

That changed when the U.S. Marshals office in Fairbanks received information that he might be living in Toronto. They contacted the Toronto Police Service on April 2.

Police found Myers living in Welland, Ontario, a town of about 50,000 15 miles west of Niagara Falls and 75 miles south of Toronto.

''I think he kind of knew we were coming,'' said Detective Phil Glavin said Saturday. ''It's always looking over your shoulder. They know that sooner or later the gig's up.''

What Myers did for 26 years is his secret because he isn't speaking to police who arrested him, Glavin said. He was retired and living alone.

''It doesn't appear that he had a large network of friends. He kept pretty much to himself,'' Glavin said.

U.S. District Attorney Stephen Cooper said Myers apparently didn't like what he read in the pre-sentencing report after he pleaded no contest to charges of mail fraud in September 1974.

Cooper has worked on the case since it began, but remembers few details, other than that Myers had fled before.

Myers had been a fugitive for about four months after he and his wife, Louise, were indicted March 1974 on charges of using the mail to defraud 262 people of $10 apiece in 1973. They had been charged with starting a scheme under the business name Alink Services, which promised to supply people with jobs during the trans-Alaska oil pipeline building boom.

According to court documents, the couple promised to pay for a worker's way to Alaska once employment with a contractor was secured. Applicants paid a $10 fee to show they were serious about moving north.

Four months after the couple fled in December 1975, Myers was arrested in Red Bank, N.J., when police received a report from a bar complaining Myers was loudly cursing at a barmaid.

Myers was returned to Fairbanks, where in September 1974 he pleaded no contest to the charges and was ordered to pay restitution in the form of 262 $10 money orders to be mailed to all the victims in the fraud scheme.

After he did that, Myers posted the required 10 percent of the $5,000 bail with the promise he'd show up for his sentencing hearing in February 1976. A friend volunteered his property as collateral, but also had disappeared when the courts tried to collect, according to the warrant notice written by Dennis McCambridge, the Fairbanks marshal in 1983.

Wanda Phillips, chief deputy of U.S. Marshals office in Anchorage, said that because Myers was not considered dangerous, his capture was not a high priority.

Myers was tracked down after he applied for U.S. Social Security benefits under his real name, Glavin said.

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