MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The US Marshals said it was James Jones’ face that ultimately gave him away and sent him back behind bars.
For more than 3 decades the Marshals say Jones lived an apparently quiet life in South Florida after escaping prison following his conviction for murdering a fellow Army private in 1974.
Investigators say Jones lived most recently in Deerfield Beach using the name of one of his old friends, Bruce Walter Keith. But thanks to facial recognition technology, the Marshal’s say Jones’ past caught up to him.
“The first words out his mouth were, ‘I knew it would catch up to me one day,'” said U.S. Marshal’s Spokesperson Barry Golden, describing the moments after Jones’ arrest on Thursday.
Following his arrest at his workplace in Pompano Beach on Thursday, Golden said Jones admitted his true identity and his fingerprints confirmed it. Golden said Marshals used facial recognition technology on Jones’ old mugshot and found his current driver’s license photo under his fake name.
Golden says Jones went into Leavenworth in 1974 on a 23 year sentence and 3 years later he devised an elaborate escape.
“Somehow he made it out and disappeared and took on this new identity here in Florida,” Golden said.
Neighbors know him as Bruce Keith, the friendly man with the well maintained home, boat and nice cars in the driveway of his Deerfield Beach house.
No one answered the door at Jones’ home on Thursday. We’re told his wife just learned on Thursday about her husband’s real identity. Neighbors simply cannot believe it, including one man who declined to share his identity.
“I think he’s a nice man,” the neighbor said. “I can’t understand that. You got the wrong man.”
But the Marshals and the U.S. Army say James Jones is back where he belongs — locked up.
“There’s an old saying in the Marshals service, ‘You can run but you can’t hide.’ My spin on that is ‘You can run. You can hide. But you can’t run and hide forever,'” Golden said.
Broward County Jail records show Jones is being held on a murder charge as well as a charge of desertion. The Marshals say the U.S. Army will eventually take custody of him.