FBI nabs Pennsylvania fugitive who escaped federal custody nearly 50 years ago

Leonard Moses was sentenced to life in prison but was furloughed to attend his grandmother’s funeral. That's when he escaped.


A man who escaped police custody in Pittsburgh in 1971 and had been a federal fugitive for decades has been arrested, the FBI announced Friday morning.

Leonard Moses and four others were convicted of throwing Molotov cocktails at a house in Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood during riots after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, authorities said. A woman inside the house was seriously burned and later died.

Moses was sentenced to life in prison but was furloughed to attend his grandmother’s funeral when he escaped. In July 1971, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Moses after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid confinement.

At a news conference Friday, authorities said Moses had been using the name Paul Dickson and working as a traveling pharmacist in Michigan, where he was arrested earlier this year on state charges.

Fingerprints from the Michigan arrest were entered into a nationwide database, and the FBI said they matched those prints to the ones that were taken of Moses after his 1968 arrest.

Leonard Moses, a.k.a. Paul Dickson
Leonard Moses, as seen in 1968 and in 2020.

FBI officials said Moses was taken into custody Thursday in Grand Blanc, Michigan, and will be brought back to Pittsburgh.

"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."

The Allegheny County Sheriff's Office had been working with the FBI on the Moses investigation over the years.

"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," Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen said.