After 4 decades as fugitive, ailing man turns himself in

Frail and tired of leading a secret life for four decades, 66-year-old Clarence David Moore called police this week to surrender. The deputy who answered thought it was a prank. It wasn’t.

Moore escaped from police custody three times during the 1970s and eventually settled into a quiet life, living in Kentucky since at least 2009. His health is poor from a stroke late last year and he has difficulty speaking.

When Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton showed up at Moore’s house to make the “arrest,” Moore was in a hospital bed. He broke down in tears. He told the sheriff he needed medical help.

“He looks like he’s almost 90,” the sheriff said.

A woman who had been living with Moore had no idea of his past. “She was just blown away when all this happened,” the sheriff said.

On Wednesday, a woman who answered the door at the single-story ranch home declined comment. The modest neighborhood on the outskirts of the state’s capital was dotted with brick homes with well-tended yards. Two sport-utility vehicles were parked in the driveway.

Moore was convicted of larceny of more than $200 in North Carolina in 1967 and was sentenced to up to seven years in prison, according to records from the Department of Public Safety. While working with a road crew in the Asheville area, he escaped and was recaptured in 1971. He escaped again the following year and was on the lam until he was apprehended in Texas in 1975. His third escape from a Henderson County prison was Aug. 6, 1976.

On Monday, after he called police, he was taken from his home by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation and then to jail, where he remained in custody Wednesday.

“As soon as he saw us, he started crying,” Melton said Wednesday. “He said, ‘I just want to get this behind me. I want to be done.'”

Moore has declined requests for interviews.

Melton said he knew little about Moore’s life before arriving in Kentucky, other than Moore spent time working on boats along the East Coast.

Neighbor Jim Clark, a former correctional officer, said he knew Moore by an alias. He was an attentive neighbor who would collect the Clarks mail for them when they went on vacation and let them know if they had left their garage door open at night.

“He was a nice neighbor. He was a very compassionate person. He didn’t have any hatred in his heart toward anyone,” Clark said.

Moore had lived in Frankfort since at least 2009, when he was involved in a traffic crash, Melton said. Moore was cited then for not having a driver’s license. He didn’t appear for his court date and was charged with contempt.

He went by the name of Ronnie T. Dickinson in that case, and has used other aliases.

Neighbor Richard Colyer said he knew Moore as Ronnie Dickinson. He said Moore was a private man who moved into the neighborhood three to four years ago. Sometimes Moore would sit on his front porch and wait for the mail.

The sheriff said he thought Moore’s poor health factored into his decision to turn himself in. As he arrived at the jail, Moore thanked the sheriff for his kindness.

“He made some bad choices, but at the end of the day he wanted to make them right and he stepped up,” Melton said.

Source Credits: Bruce Schreiner | Associated Press. Michael Biesecker in Raleigh, North Carolina, also contributed.

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