James Kilgore.....a life on the run

To his neighbours, he was a brilliant academic with a passion for cricket. To the FBI, he was a ruthless terrorist and one of its 10 most wanted men. For 27 years, James Kilgore kept his double life a secret. But then came the knock on the door...

 James Kilgore aka."John Pape"

James Kilgore aka."John Pape"

You learn to expect that final reckoning. The knock knock knock on your door. The tap tap on the shoulder. The bullet. Push it out of mind, but it always comes back. Dream about it, dread it, wait for it. Sometimes you almost welcome it.

That's how it is for outlaws, and for the quiet bespectacled 55-year-old American who called himself John Pape, that's how it was for 27 years: a life as somebody else, but always on guard, never sure where the danger lay. In the week before 8 November 2002, John was particularly jumpy because he knew his days of freedom were numbered. He had two scares: one real, another phantom, as it turned out.

First, there was the woman with the bottle. She trotted up the path towards the modest, red-roofed Cape Town bungalow that was home to Pape, his partner Terri and their two sons, and announced: 'I'm doing a survey on wine.' As she handed him a bottle, he thought to himself: 'So, you're finally on to me. The FBI put you up to it. And now you want a fingerprint.' And as his captors later confirmed, he got it right.

Second, next day in fact, there was the cricket match. Pape was at his usual Saturday post, scoring for his son's team, when a man approached, saying, 'Hi, I'm sure I know you from somewhere. Zimbabwe, perhaps?' Pape thought: 'OK, here we go again,' and tried to change the subject. And this time he got it wrong. The man in question, Chris Giffard, recalls: 'He'd been talkative about the cricket, but he clearly didn't want to continue the conversation and became terribly cagey when I said I recognised him, which seemed odd. When I went home I said to my wife, "I've just met this American called John Pape who seemed like he had something to hide.'

'John Pape' did have something to hide, but at that moment he wasn't ready to disclose it. Nearly, but not quite. He'd seen so many fictionalised versions of his activist-on-the run story - Sidney Lumet's Oscar-nominated movie Running on Empty , Philip Roth's novel American Pastoral , even The Simpsons - and he too could have vanished once more. Instead he was preparing to end this chapter by handing himself in. He would return to America on Thanksgiving Day. He would buy his one-way ticket as soon as he got a chance. Saturday, probably.

But then the moment of reckoning finally arrived: a day too soon, as it happened. On Friday, Pape returned from work at sundown on this warm spring evening, hoping for a quick game of cricket with his boys before supper. Instead, as he pulled up outside his house, he heard a knock knock knock on his car window. 'Are you and James Kilgore the same person?' a uniformed cop from South Africa's Violent Crimes Unit asked as his colleagues moved into position. 'Yes, that's me,' the balding American replied, feeling something closer to relief than fear. It was over, at last.

James Kilgore had been on the run half his life, wanted by the state of California for his part in a bank robbery and by the American government for allegedly possessing a pipe bomb - all in the service of the Symbionese Liberation Army (otherwise known as the Patty Hearst gang, after the heiress they kidnapped in February 1974).

One of the many intriguing dimensions of his case is the astonishing incompetence shown by the American lawmen during these years. Kilgore slipped the FBI net in July 1975. More than a quarter of a century later, FBI spokesman Andrew Black admitted they lost his trail in Seattle soon after his escape and had no clue of how to find him. 'He just went off the radar screen. We feel he may have left the country - likely to Canada - and returned with a different identity, but we don't know, to be honest.'

The bureau even named Kilgore as a suspect in the notorious Unabomber case in 1995, before giving up on that idea. It later offered a $20,000 reward, listed 13 aliases on their website (none containing the names John or Pape), published a physical description and produced a revolving bust of his head, together with computer-enhanced photographs to show what he might look like. Somehow they managed to get just about every important detail wrong, despite the fact that their quarry never bothered to disguise himself. The FBI vision was lean and hard-eyed with a full head of white hair. The real 'John' is a little portly, balding with brown-grey hair and bright eyes behind rimless spectacles. Hearst took one look at these FBI images and shook her head in despair: 'This is part of the reason I think the government is not serious about ever catching these people,' she complained, 10 months before that knock knock knock on the car window.

James Kilgore, who is now awaiting trial in a San Francisco cell, was once the picture of rich Californian promise. A curly-haired lad with a wide awe-shucks smile, this businessman's son was good at everything: top of his class, basketball ace, scratch golfer. But by the mid-60s he was questioning the values encapsulated in this trajectory of success. The civil rights movement was making way for the War at Home, which in turn gave impetus to the countercultural wave. But James wasn't feeling frivolous. He thought about the priesthood before opting for economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he absorbed a radical critique of the system that funded his upbringing.

There he met Kathleen Soliah, an education major with a similar background: honours student, pep club president, amateur actor, Young Republican. With James's help she changed her views on politics and moved into a commune with him. After graduating in 1969 the young lovers relocated to Berkeley, where James worked as a cook and Kathy as a waitress.

By the start of the new decade, the politics of the far left was taking on a shriller edge. In Europe, it was the Bader Meinhof and the Red Brigade; in the Bay Area, it was the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground. And then there was Donald DeFreeze, or Field Marshal Cinque Mtume as he preferred - an escaped prisoner who entertained the fond idea that he could inspire revolution in America. In 1973 he launched the Symbionese Liberation Army (Symbionese for symbiotic, apparently) with the slogan: 'Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.'

Fresh from assassinating Oakland's first black school's superintendent, they made their name by kidnapping Hearst, or 'Comrade Tanya' as she became. But soon after, DeFreeze and nine others were killed in a firefight with police and Kathy Soliah - once dubbed by Hearst as 'too flaky to be trusted' - was finally recruited. She promptly gave away all her money and persuaded Kilgore, along with her brother and one of her sisters, to join her in the SLA's mission to 'unite all oppressed people to destroy the system of the capitalist state'.

The 27-year-old Kilgore was a 'calm, reasonable, level-headed' force within a group of egocentric hotheads, according to Hearst - less enamoured with firearms than the rest, and particularly opposed to using a favoured hair-trigger shotgun. Still, he was part of the ski-masked quartet who burst through the front door of the Crocker National Bank in Sacramento, California on 21 April 1975. In the ensuing confusion, SLA stalwart Emily Harris accidentally discharged the shotgun, killing 42-year-old Myrna Opsahl, who was depositing her church's collection money. Kilgore was directly in the line of fire, standing behind Mrs Opsahl. 'My mother, in effect, saved Kilgore's life,' said her son, Jon Opsahl.

Three months on, the police swooped, arresting Hearst and five others, but James and Kathy escaped, heading for Minneapolis before splitting up. James - using the alias John Robinson - made it to Seattle, where he acquired the birth certificate of a dead 10-month-old infant called Charles William Pape and used it to apply for a US passport, feeling he would be safer abroad - beyond the FBI's range.

His first stop was La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where as 'John Pape' he re-launched his academic career, majoring in African history. Explaining his age (29) by referring to a spell in the American Peace Corps, he made a sharp impression with his intellectual brilliance and his maturity. 'He was very bright and seemed to have independent means - probably gained from robbing banks,' quips one of his professors, John Salmon, who says he once ordered Pape to leave his office after a row about American politics.

To the surprise of his lecturers, Pape suddenly left Melbourne in 1980, pausing in Victoria to register for a Deakin University social sciences honours degree, before hotfooting it to Zimbabwe. Aside from the fact that Soliah was living there (leaving later that year, together with her doctor husband), it had a self-styled socialist government that might just resist extradition requests from the US.

By then Pape had discovered the pitfalls of appearing too exceptional. His lecturers in Melbourne had noticed he was far too sophisticated, accomplished and well-dressed for an undergraduate. One of them, Dr David Dorward, says Pape's work was so advanced that they began to suspect he might be a CIA agent. 'He was also very articulate, intelligent and friendly, and the young ladies liked him,' he adds.

The Zimbabwe version of Pape had a clearer idea of the persona he wanted to portray: as close as possible to the real thing. 'I thought of him as a quiet but friendly activist and academic who was interested in lots of things outside his work - especially sport,' says Mike Haddad, a South African war resister. 'I got to know him well in Harare. He was the sort of guy you'd phone on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? because he had this photographic memory and a fantastic general knowledge.'

Not only did this make perverse sense in terms of security (who could possibly sus pect an openly radical American of being a fugitive radical American?) but it also helped in terms of peace of mind. Create too much of a gap and you're in danger of developing the personality of a spy - where the new identity sometimes seems more real than the old; merge them a bit, and at least you feel more at ease. It was as though he wanted his two selves to resemble each other in all but a few crucial historical details.

So Comrade Pape became a lefty educationalist (teaching at a polytechnic, a domestic workers' night school and a township secondary school, writing state educational materials, publishing academic articles on his host country while completing his Deakin University doctorate): not too far from where Comrade Kilgore might have been without a price on his head. His close friends included members of South Africa's banned African National Congress, but he did not seem to attract the attention of the intelligence agents monitoring this group and, in contrast to his Melbourne experience, escaped the suspicions of the other exiles.

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After two years in Harare he met 25-year-old Theresa Barnes, an African-American feminist who shared his political perspectives and academic interests - she was a Brown University graduate, then researching a PhD on Zimbabwean women while lecturing in history at the University of Zimbabwe. 'Terri's warm and witty, with this razor-sharp mind,' says Rick de Satge, who first met them 20 years ago, 'and she's an accomplished poet who plays banjo and clarinet and has this singing voice that would melt your heart. Like John, she's got this encyclopaedic knowledge about sport.' After a few years of friendship, the couple moved in together and had their first of two sons in 1990. 'They really wanted to be part of Zimbabwe,' says De Satge. 'John became fluent in Shona very quickly and they made lots of close friends.'

However, they also became increasingly critical of the Mugabe regime and in 1991 moved into a small house in the bohemian suburb of Yeoville in Johannesburg. John became principal at a school called Khanya College, where he built a reputation for understated service. For instance, when one of his teachers was assassinated in 1993, he 'went out of his way' to help the man's friends and family, according to colleagues. 'He ensured that the fiancée and child were left financially secure,' says fellow teacher Trevor Ngwane. 'That's the John I know.'

Pape's stratagem for avoiding detection went no further than blending in with the left community. When pressed about his past he would offer a version as close to reality as possible. Oupa Lehulere, another Khanya colleague, says they would talk about their 'common histories' as 60s student activists in America and South Africa - without John giving any hint that he was on the run.

'The strange psychology is that we accepted him as part of us because others accepted him,' Martin Jansen, another friend, explains. 'If he came across as suspicious we would have pried, but he was sincere and dedicated and didn't antagonise anyone.'

John passed through a rigorous credentials check at the University of Cape Town to become co-director of its International Labour Resource and Information Group in 1998. Feeling ever more confident, he raised his political profile - writing a book attacking globalisation and privatisation, contributing to labour and academic journals, penning pro-worker letters to the newspapers, assisting South African trades unions and educational forums and writing a school textbook on 'world civilisation'.

He joined the ANC and emerged as a prominent critic of Thabo Mbeki's supply-side policies. Yet he was no rabble-rouser and made a point of avoiding the didacticism of his millenarian past. As another friend, Ulrike Kistner, puts it: 'He always took the initiative in a quiet, unassuming, humble way, allowing others a voice, while subduing his own.' Or as John himself expressed it: 'It is destructive to use our views as a sledgehammer to hit people over the head. Sledgehammer tactics silence different opinions.'

He worked long hours and seemed to have little interest in home comforts. Terri - by then working as a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape - sometimes joked he'd forget to change his underpants if she didn't remind him. However, his friend Mike Haddad says it would be wrong to see him as just an activist. 'He's certainly one of the brightest and hardest-working people I'd ever met, but there was much more to him. He was a very involved father. I liked that about him. Our children used to play a lot of sport together and sometimes John and I would join in. For an American, he was amazingly good at soccer and not bad at cricket.'

This was certainly the impression made in the quiet cul-de-sac in lower-middle-class Claremont, where they lived for five years. Terri made a point of introducing herself to the neighbourhood, while John could sometimes be seen taking his racing bike out for a weekend spin or tossing tennis balls in the direction of his 'cricket fanatic' oldest son (now 12), or kicking a football with his eight-year-old younger son. 'They were such a normal family,' says one neighbour, Eric Atmore.

He might have continued with this normality had it not been for Kathy Soliah's arrest in 1999 - which prompted her to join three of her former SLA comrades in cutting a plea-bargained deal with Californian prosecutors. John then retained a Cape Town solicitor and later a New York lawyer who made contact with a defence attorney for the Californian group, and ultimately with the Californian state prosecutor. This communication led the FBI to switch its search to South Africa, but it still took them six months to find their man - remarkable when you consider that 55-year-old American lefties are hardly dime-a-dozen in Cape Town.

And so we come to the other side of John Pape's final white-knuckle days of freedom in the first week of November, with the wine bottle and the nervous over-the-shoulder glances. It seems it was also a bit edgy for the FBI agents, eager to please the politicians back home. They painstakingly began to line their ducks in a row - tipping off the South Africans, obtaining their fingerprints, watching and listening, until suddenly it all went wobbly. The Californian plea-bargaining deal was formalised on 7 November, and they learnt that their quarry was about to hand himself in.

This simply wouldn't do at a time when the War on Terror required hunting, catching or killing. The South African police were therefore 'persuaded' to swoop, and when it was done, the FBI took the credit, claiming they had relied on 'good old-fashioned legwork'. John Ashcroft, the hawkish US attorney general, congratulated them, adding for good measure: 'Terrorists can run and they can try to hide overseas, but in the end we will find them and bring them to justice.'

Yet even in their moment of glory, the Feds floundered. In their haste, they neglected the procedural necessity of submitting a formal extradition request prior to arrest. A Cape Town magistrate released Kilgore, noting that she found it 'shocking and strange' that there was no American documentation. The South Africans then had to come up with another charge - giving a false name when he crossed the border - which allowed them to re-arrest him as he walked out of court.

The Americans also seemed perplexed by the South African public response. When the former John Pape first appeared in court as James Kilgore he smiled, gave the thumbs up to his weeping wife and was cheered by a large crowd of fans. His friends then organised a benefit evening and more than 1,000 people turned up to raise money for his legal fees. Strangers sent gifts (such as Chris Giffard, the man from the cricket match, who sent a cricket book for John to read in prison, after discovering who he really was). Trades unions, community groups and educational bodies lined up to declare their support. Typical of their response was a statement from the National Union of Metalworkers, which said it would be 'a waste for humanity at large' if he was jailed.

When I interviewed his colleagues and friends, I expected some to be a bit put out that he had deceived them about his identity, but if anything, they seemed even more impressed. Trevor Ngwane, for example, says: 'Strangely, I feel more respect for him because everything he did showed he'd broken with terrorism as a method of struggle.' To which Martin Jansen adds: 'Look, lots of us were idealistic youths and did questionable things in the name of the struggle, but Patty Hearst was pardoned years ago, so why is John being singled out?'

South Africa does not allow extradition for crimes committed with a political motive, so Kilgore could easily have rebuffed America's fumbling extradition demands and remained in South Africa. Instead, he waived his option of applying for bail and when the Americans finally submitted their extradition request a month after his arrest, he declined to contest it and asked to be sent back 'as soon as possible'.

The FBI's search of his Cape Town home produced the birth certificate of the infant Charles William Pape, together with three passports, indicating that he had made return trips to the United States at least three times during his spell in exile - in 1981, 1996 and 1997.

He made his last trip on 18 December 2002, but this time as James Kilgore and in the company of a pair of US air marshals. Shortly before boarding the plane, he announced he would return to South Africa once his sentence was served. He then waved goodbye to his tearful South African friends. 'I'll be in touch, I'm easy to contact. My diary is empty,' he told them.

Two days later, wearing regulation green prison trousers and shirt and a brown prison jacket, he appeared in court in San Francisco and pleaded not guilty to two federal charges (possession of a pipe bomb found in his flat in 1975 and making a false passport application). He will appear in the state court in Sacramento in February and has agreed to plead guilty to charges of bank robbery and second-degree murder in return for a six-year jail sentence (although in terms of California probation rules he will serve no more than four).

No doubt part of his motivation for going home is the terms of this deal, but there is more to it. His children were reaching the age when they might have to live with hiding a difficult truth, he has an 89-year-old mother he had not seen since 1975, and there was also that residue of guilt that just wouldn't go away.

Jon Opsahl says he was pleased to hear that Kilgore had 'changed his methods' in the direction of non-violence, but added that wasn't enough. 'Good behaviour does not absolve him from his debt to society.' It would seem that the former John Pape agrees - 27 years late, perhaps, but there are a number of southern Africans who will tell you his time wasn't wasted. Now he has undertaken that any profit from his story will go to the Opsahl family. He will also make a public apology for his role in a crime that caused the death of an innocent woman. Then he will go to jail.

Not, you would think, an inviting prospect after all that cricket and comradely affirmation in the shade of Table Mountain, but his friends and lawyers say he has seldom stopped smiling since that knock on his car window on 8 November. Already he appreciates the tremendous relief of no longer having to look over his shoulder, and once it is over, he will be free for the first time in more than 30 years.

Toronto man’s quest to solve mystery surrounding dead friend still unfinished

A call from Toronto police letting him know that his old friend had died sent Dylan Reibling on a quest to find out what had happened. It turned out to be a mystery without complete answers.

  Documentary filmmaker Dylan Reibling poses with a picture of his friend Michael De Bourcier at his home in Toronto. Reibling's film is about De Bourcier, who after his 2002 death was found to have been living under a stolen identity.

Documentary filmmaker Dylan Reibling poses with a picture of his friend Michael De Bourcier at his home in Toronto. Reibling's film is about De Bourcier, who after his 2002 death was found to have been living under a stolen identity.

On a spring day in 2002, Dylan Reibling got a call from the Toronto police. He was sitting in his apartment above a computer shop on College Street, a tiny space in a rooming house crammed full of his possessions — a bed, filing cabinet, desk. It’s been 13 years since then, but the moment is seared into Reibling’s memory.

The call was about his friend Mike.

Reibling was a 23-year-old student at the time, and had recently been laid off by a small Toronto Internet service provider where he’d been working part time. His friend Michael De Bourcier, a jovial, heavy-set salesperson with short hair and piercing blue eyes, had been let go as well.

Their camaraderie was circumstantial, nothing beyond grabbing a beer after work or hanging out at office parties. Even so, it was a friendship, filled with reminiscing about their shared experience growing up in sleepy, small-town Ontario — Baden for Reibling, Goderich for De Bourcier — and the requisite shop talk.

After a few minutes of questioning about Reibling’s friend, an officer finally told him why police were calling: De Bourcier’s body had recently been found in his apartment and his death was deemed suspicious. It was from natural causes — a heart attack — but there was something odd.

De Bourcier, only in his mid-30s, had prepaid his funeral a week before his death.

Police believed he was living under an assumed identity based on phoney documents found among De Bourcier’s possessions, including a fake high school diploma and university degree.

Reibling, sitting alone in his apartment, was shocked.

  A clipping from the May 10, 1973, issue of the North Island Gazette, a newspaper in British Columbia, contains a story about a young boy who died after falling from a truck. The child's name is Michael de Bourcier, the same name used by a man in Toronto two decades later as his assumed identity. His real name was James Scott Walton, a man who disappeared in 1992.  (GOOGLE ARCHIVES)  

A clipping from the May 10, 1973, issue of the North Island Gazette, a newspaper in British Columbia, contains a story about a young boy who died after falling from a truck. The child's name is Michael de Bourcier, the same name used by a man in Toronto two decades later as his assumed identity. His real name was James Scott Walton, a man who disappeared in 1992.  (GOOGLE ARCHIVES)  

At a dimly lit bar near College Street and Spadina Avenue in May, Dylan Reibling is sitting with a stack of brown file folders, filled with 13 years’ worth of handwritten notes, photocopies and research.

He’s now 36, tall and slim, with chestnut-coloured hair and a robust beard. A filmmaker by profession, Reibling spent a good chunk of his 20s and early 30s playing detective while unravelling the web of mystery surrounding his old friend.

In March, Reibling made a huge discovery while searching a database of Canadian missing person records.

Looking at a photo of a man missing since 1992, there was no doubt in Reibling’s mind: He knew the smiling young fellow with a mop of brown hair. Maybe, just maybe, he’d found his friend’s real identity.

Spotting that photo came after more than a decade of amateur detective work. Reibling spent years researching leads, searching through public archives, contacting local and provincial police, funeral homes, former shared colleagues, potential family members — eventually hiring a private investigator — all in the hope of finding out the truth about Mike.

It all started with that phone call.

Police told Reibling they’d found his phone number on De Bourcier’s passport application, which made sense to the recent graduate.

After being laid off, Reibling and De Bourcier had kept in touch through email.

De Bourcier hoped to teach English overseas and needed a passport, so he asked his younger friend to be a personal reference — and why not? They’d known each other almost two years by that point. Sure, it was two months too short for a passport reference, but Reibling agreed to fudge the numbers.

He recalls police giving him a slap on the wrist for being a reference for someone he barely knew.

But Reibling says he did know his friend, as much as you can know someone living a lie. So he started looking for answers.

A detective working on the case tipped Reibling off to De Bourcier possibly being from B.C.

Years later, Reibling found a newspaper clipping online, and learned his friend’s assumed name was the same as a 4-and-a-half-year-old boy who died in 1973 in Port Hardy, B.C. The boy, had he lived, would’ve been around the same age as Mike.

It all made sense.

Figuring out his friend’s real identity proved more difficult, compounded by institutional secrecy and privacy concerns.

“The more I met with resistance from the police, from institutions, from the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee, from funeral companies — that made me push back,” Reibling says.

In December 2013, he began documenting his search for an upcoming documentary, Friends with Mike, set to be released later this year. During filming, he visited Goderich; there was no trace of his friend’s likeness in any high school yearbooks.

  Michael De Bourcier is seen at his office in the morning of July 6, 2001.

Michael De Bourcier is seen at his office in the morning of July 6, 2001.

He also interviewed former colleagues, including Dave Gilbert, co-founder of now-defunct Velocet Communications, the parent company of the Internet service provider where De Bourcier and Reibling worked together for nearly two years.

Gilbert can’t remember De Bourcier ever opening up or hanging out with coworkers outside the office.

“He was always jovial,” he says in an interview with the Star. “He never declined to participate in things going on at work. He just didn’t participate in things going on outside of work.”

Reibling knew he needed more than hazy memories to find the truth about his friend. About a year ago, he hired private investigator Dave Perry, a former homicide investigator and partner and co-CEO of Investigative Solutions Network Inc.

“I recognized from the beginning that this wasn’t your typical case,” Perry says over the phone from his Pickering office. “And there was a family out there looking for this guy.”

Perry linked Reibling with a retired chief coroner, given the suspicious nature of his friend’s death.

It was easy to jump to conclusions and conspiracy theories: Was Mike a spy? Was he murdered? Was he in the witness protection program? Had he faked his own death? Was it even his body?

The truth was duller. The coroner confirmed it was just a heart attack, despite De Bourcier’s peculiar funeral prepayment a week prior.

Perry thinks the overweight 37-year-old may have been feeling significant symptoms and didn’t think anyone would properly bury him since he was living under an assumed name, but Reibling has a different theory.

“He would’ve prepaid his funeral almost exactly 10 years after he went missing,” he says. “And anniversaries are important; they hold significance.”

Finally, on March 16, Reibling stumbled across that familiar face on a missing person report. It was a young man named James Scott Walton, missing from Caledonia, Ont., for more than two decades, who looked just like the man Reibling knew as Michael De Bourcier.

At the age of 27, Walton disappeared on Aug. 2, 1992, while heading to visit friends in Syracuse, N.Y. He was supposed to come back on Aug. 6, but his car was later found abandoned under a bridge in Buffalo with his wallet still inside.

Perry tracked down Walton’s family, still living in Ontario, to share the pair’s hypothesis and answer as many questions as they could. It was a bittersweet meeting for a family that had never given up hope. Yes, they had a potential answer, but it meant their beloved Jim was never coming home.

  Private investigator David Perry, seen in his office at Investigative Solutions Network Inc., helped Dylan Reibling in his search for the truth about Michael De Bourcier.

Private investigator David Perry, seen in his office at Investigative Solutions Network Inc., helped Dylan Reibling in his search for the truth about Michael De Bourcier.

Reibling soon gained answers to some of his questions about the man he knew as Mike.

He learned his friend hadn’t attended high school in Goderich, as he said. Walton had only spent part of his childhood in Goderich; he moved to Burlington and finally to Caledonia, where he graduated from high school. He later studied political science at McMaster University before heading to Syracuse University for a master’s degree.

After speaking with the family, Perry took their findings to the OPP.

The OPP’s Sgt. Dave Rektor says the clear similarities between De Bourcier and Walton led the OPP to re-explore the case. Working alongside the coroner’s office, police were able to obtain a DNA sample from De Bourcier and Walton’s mother, Rektor says. It was a match. From a police standpoint, the missing person case was closed.

One of Walton’s family members spoke to the Star briefly, expressing their desire for privacy and their appreciation for Reibling, Perry and the police forces involved in a search that had taken more than two decades. Walton’s death isn’t the answer they were hoping for, though it does bring some degree of comfort, they say.

Even so, one burning question remains: Why did Walton vanish from Caledonia on a summer day in 1992, only to eventually adopt a seemingly mundane life in a city less than two hours away?

Sitting at a bar table in May, Reibling thumbs through his research, including photocopies of five other fake birth certificates from different cities in Ontario and British Columbia, and a Nova Scotia driver’s licence featuring the clear likeness of Walton. For 10 years, he may have been living under multiple identities, Reibling explains.

No one knows why.

“Sometimes I think about the enormity of things,” says Reibling, softly. “How all this was held together by the thinnest of threads. For 13 years, his body was sitting in a grave, and his family was out looking for him, and there was nothing bringing those two things together.”

Walton’s family doesn’t know why their loved one disappeared, and the OPP do not have a motive. That part might be unresolved forever, according to Rektor.

Reibling says he’ll keep searching for an answer.

But the truth about Mike may always stay a mystery.

Police discover Ontario man used identity of B.C. boy who died in 1970s

Still not clear why James Scott Walton, who died in 2002, changed his identity

  Who is Michael de Bourcier?

Who is Michael de Bourcier?

Police say a Caledonia, Ont., man who disappeared in 1992 took the name of a dead boy and lived under the assumed name until his death 10 years later. 

James Scott Walton was reported missing after he failed to arrive for a scheduled visit with friends at Syracuse University.  His vehicle and personal effects were found near the airport in Buffalo, N.Y.  

Ontario Provincial Police say they've discovered Walton had assumed the name of Michael Debourcier – a four-year-old boy who had died in a car crash in British Columbia – and moved to Toronto in 2000. 

After Debourcier's death of natural causes in 2002, a friend worked with Toronto police in an attempt to locate next-of-kin but all attempts were unsuccessful, and the friend eventually hired a private investigator who found the link to the boy. 

OPP, working with Walton's mother and the coroner, used DNA from "Debourcier" to determine his true identity was James Scott Walton.  Police say they are pleased to have provided some closure for Walton's family, but add there are still "many more questions than answers" in the case.

Drug dealer in disguise: Fugitive is caught wearing Mission Impossible-style face mask that makes him look like an elderly man.

  • Police looking for 31-year-old fugitive Shaun Miller found an old man on Thursday

  • At least that's what they thought when Miller came out of a Cape Code home wearing a disguise

  • Once officers realized it was Miller they pulled of the 'realistic disguise' and took him into custody

  • He had been a fugitive since April when he and several others were indicted on heroin distribution charges


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  Fugitive Shaun Miller, 31, (left) was found at a Massachusetts home wearing a disguise as an elderly man (right), police said

Fugitive Shaun Miller, 31, (left) was found at a Massachusetts home wearing a disguise as an elderly man (right), police said

But once officers realized the man was Miller, they pulled off his 'realistic disguise' and placed him under arrest, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. Nearly $30,000 in cash and two loaded guns hidden in a laundry basket were found inside the home. Miller, who is from Hyannis and is also known as Shizz Miller, is being held pending a detention hearing on August 31 in federal court. 

  The mask worn by 31-year-old fugitive Shaun Miller who was disguised to look like an elderly man    

The mask worn by 31-year-old fugitive Shaun Miller who was disguised to look like an elderly man

 

Indicted on firearms and drug trafficking charges The Yarmouth Police Department said Miller is one of 12 who have been indicted on firearms and drug trafficking charges.

He is indicted on a charge of possession of heroin with the intent to distribute as part of a larger criminal complaint into the Nauti street gang, according to police.  His attorney said his client denies involvement and will plead not guilty, according to CNN.

 

Prison-break mastermind was behind bars because his WIFE had lured him to an extradition-friendly country so he could face torture charges in the U.S.

Hossein Nayeri, 37, is accused of torturing a man who ran a marijuana dispensary in Newport Beach, California He and two other men burned the victim with a butane torch, beat him and cut off the man's penis, prosecutors say Nayeri then fled to Iran, where he couldn't be extradited to the U.S. But his wife Cortney Shegerian, 29 - who was secretly working with detectives - got him to travel to Spain, saying she would meet him there He was arrested on his way there and thrown in a U.S. prison,Shegerian admitted helping her husband conduct surveillance on his victim and is now an employment rights lawyer,During his recent escape from a Californian jail there were fears he would kill her in revenge

  Nayeri was escorted back to the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Orange County, yesterday (pictured)

Nayeri was escorted back to the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Orange County, yesterday (pictured)

The wife of one of three inmates who escaped from their Orange County jail last week had helped authorities put him behind bars in the first place by luring him out of Iran, it has been revealed.

Cortney Shegerian, 29, was married to Hossein Nayeri, 37, who is accused of torturing a man who ran a licensed marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana in 2012. When investigators realized he had fled to Iran, they thought it would be nearly impossible to extradite him from there to the U.S. to face trial.

Shegerian helped authorities by tricking Nayeri into the Czech Republic, an extradition-friendly country, the LA Times reported. Nayeri burned his victim with a butane torch, beat him with a pistol and a rubber hose and ordered another suspect to cut off the man's penis during the 2012 attack, prosecutors say.

  Cortney Shegerian, 29 (left), helped authorities put Hossein Nayeri, 37, behind bars, by tricking him out of Iran into the Czech Republic, an extradition-friendly country, in 2013. Prosecutors say Nayeri tortured a man who ran a marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana in 2012

Cortney Shegerian, 29 (left), helped authorities put Hossein Nayeri, 37, behind bars, by tricking him out of Iran into the Czech Republic, an extradition-friendly country, in 2013. Prosecutors say Nayeri tortured a man who ran a marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana in 2012

Prosecutor Heather Brown compared him to cannibalistic movie villain Hannibal Lecter and said he was 'sophisticated, incredibly violent and cunning' in an interview with the Orange County Register.

Shegerian admitted she had helped her husband carry out surveillance on his victim, police said during a preliminary hearing.

She drove Nayeri to the man's home, where he had installed surveillance cameras, Newport Beach police Sergeant Ryan Peters told the LA Times.

Shegerian also drove her husband to the home of his victim's parents and once made poisoned hamburger patties for the parents' dog as it was too loud, Peters said.

She heard Nayeri practice using a butane torch in the garage and he borrowed her pink Taser, he added.The 29-year-old, who now works as an employment rights attorney at a Santa Monica firm, cooperated with investigators in the months leading to Nayeri's arrest.

She communicated with him by email and by phone, and after months of conversations recorded by authorities, she tricked him out of Iran.

Nayeri agreed to meet her in Spain against the promise of a vacation, cash and an iPhone.His plane made a stop in the Czech Republic, an extradition-friendly country, where FBI agents arrested him in November 2013.

Shegerian, who hasn't been charged with a crime, married Nayeri in 2010 and filed for divorce in 2014. Their marriage was eventually annulled on the basis of bigamy, as a Los Angeles judge found that Nayeri hadn't ended a previous marriage with another woman in Iran. 

Nayeri went back behind bars yesterday along with escapee Jonathan Tieu, 20, after someone saw their stolen white van and alerted the police. Bac Duong, 43, the third man who escaped the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, had given himself up 24 hours before.

Shegerian had to go into hiding during Nayeri's eight-day escape as authorities feared he would seek revenge on her.On Thursday, Nooshafarian Ravaghi, who taught English as a second language to inmates, was arrested on suspicion of helping the three men get out



 

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY

TAKE YOURSELF OFF THE GRID WITH TIPS FROM THE MAN WHO CAN TRACK YOU DOWN

Frank M Ahearn has a very special set of skills. He’s a professional ‘skip tracer’, hunting down fugitives by the clues they’ve left. It’s a talent he can put into reverse – helping high-net-worth clients simply vanish. It doesn’t require disguises or hacking, just a skilful mind and the ability to cut loose friends, family and colleagues.

“Assume your predator is here with you now – live as if they’re around the corner,” says the author of How To Disappear. “I teach my clients how to accomplish things without creating connections.” Now he’s going to teach you.

To lose yourself, first find yourself


“Disappearing is about being a strategist. Step outside yourself – look at the life you’re leaving behind and the things that will lead a predator to you. Six months ago, what did you search for on the internet? What habits do you have? What are your mannerisms? Change anything that could make people curious about you. Don’t walk around looking like you’re from Miami when you’re actually in the west of Ireland. And if you’re in a rowdy bar, don’t act like a wallflower – be rowdy.”

“CHANGE ANYTHING THAT COULD MAKE PEOPLE CURIOUS ABOUT YOU”

The getaway


“Don’t travel with all your tools, because what will happen if you lose them? Prepaid phone, prepaid debit card, major ID, those are the essentials. You can buy clothes. If you have a passport and driver’s licence, carry one and ship the other. If you’re not running from the government, you don’t need a new identity. Get pulled over with a fake ID, loads of cash or 75 prepaid debit cards and law enforcement are going to find that suspicious.”

 Leave a trail of breadcrumbs

The art of disappearing is disinformation – it doesn’t have to be believable, but it has to be findable. In one case, the predator was my client’s husband. I stuffed her wallet with euros and dropped it in a hotel in Paris knowing that someone would hand it in. Bingo – her husband is hunting my client down in Paris and she’s tucked away in Lisbon. Keep them busy with fake information or they’ll find real information.” 

Minimise your footprint


“Wherever you go there’s going to be a trace; the key is leaving the fewest traces and breaking the connection between each step. Don’t walk in Times Square – take a taxi, reduce the number of people who can see you. If you run into someone you know, tell them you’re heading to Belgium in two days. If they post it on Facebook, you’re spreading more disinformation.”

Live off social transactions


“You still have to operate in the world, but it’s how you manipulate situations to accomplish this that matters. People think pay-as-you-go phones are anonymous – they’re not. Walk into a store and a camera captures the transaction. Instead, find some homeless guy and say, ‘Here’s 100 bucks, go buy me a prepaid phone.’ They make the physical transaction, their picture’s on the camera, you have no connection to the phone.”

 

Where To Go When The U.S. Government Is Chasing You.

I hear Namibia is nice this time of year.

The U.S. government hasn't officially declared its intentions to extradite former CIA employee and PRISM leaker Edward Snowden back to the States, though that certainly doesn't mean it won't. Snowden is currently hiding out in Hong Kong, though where in that massive and complex city isn't clear.

Hong Kong isn't a great choice if you're trying to lay low and avoid extradition; it has an extradition law with the United States and is also, despite being technically a part of China, a staunch ally of the United States. The two governments obey a 1996 extradition treaty in which a US citizen residing in Hong Kong can be extradited if that person is suspected of violating both U.S. and Hong Kong law.

There are some exceptions; a fugitive can apply for asylum in Hong Kong to avoid extradition. The Hong Kong government looks kindly on asylum applications in which the applicant is likely to face torture or the death penalty in the US, or in which the crime is perceived as political. But that's unlikely. The only wild card is that Hong Kong is nominally under Chinese control, and the Chinese do have the authority to step in and prevent Snowden's extradition if they so desired. China has no extradition treaty with the United States; it's one of several, but one of only a few nations to lack a US extradition treaty with which the U.S. isn't openly at war. (Nobody would be surprised to learn that North Korea and Iran do not extradite to the US, either.)

Snowden, though, seems to know that Hong Kong isn't a U.S. refugee paradise. "People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice, I am here to reveal criminality," he said in a recent interview with the South China Morning Post. He did not say why he picked Hong Kong over, well, anywhere else.

That all said: perhaps the time will come when you want to flee your home nation and not come back. No judgments! I mean, maybe judgments, if you do something that hurts people, but in this hypothetical, let's just say you are a nonviolent violator of some American law Americans don't even like very much, and you have to beat it out of dodge. Here's where you should go instead.......

  CHINA    China is one of the oddest cases in extradition law; the US and China have extensive trade and diplomatic relations of varying degrees of friendliness, but then the Chinese have allegedly been attempting to hack various parts of the US government for years, and Snowden alleged in that same South China Morning Post interview that the US was returning the favor. Still, it's a surprise that the two superpowers have no extradition law whatsoever. China has perhaps the best balance in the world between being a friend and enemy of the United States. It's developed enough that you can fit in easily, but an enemy inasmuch as China is very unlikely to ever hand you over to your home country.

CHINA

China is one of the oddest cases in extradition law; the US and China have extensive trade and diplomatic relations of varying degrees of friendliness, but then the Chinese have allegedly been attempting to hack various parts of the US government for years, and Snowden alleged in that same South China Morning Post interview that the US was returning the favor. Still, it's a surprise that the two superpowers have no extradition law whatsoever. China has perhaps the best balance in the world between being a friend and enemy of the United States. It's developed enough that you can fit in easily, but an enemy inasmuch as China is very unlikely to ever hand you over to your home country.

  CUBA    Cuba has some serious institutional problems after years of civil unrest and largely failed communism under Castro, but the food's great, the architecture's beautiful, the weather is top-notch, it's close by, and the government has no desire to cooperate with the US whatsoever. Cuba has a long history of harboring fugitives from the US despite technically having an extradition treaty, including radical activist Assata Shakur, who fled a murder charge in the US and has been living in Cuba for decades. The downside? Relations between the two countries are thawing, with Americans now allowed to travel to Cuba (provided they jump through about a million hoops). Might not be that safe of a refuge for many more years if the government's after you.

CUBA

Cuba has some serious institutional problems after years of civil unrest and largely failed communism under Castro, but the food's great, the architecture's beautiful, the weather is top-notch, it's close by, and the government has no desire to cooperate with the US whatsoever. Cuba has a long history of harboring fugitives from the US despite technically having an extradition treaty, including radical activist Assata Shakur, who fled a murder charge in the US and has been living in Cuba for decades. The downside? Relations between the two countries are thawing, with Americans now allowed to travel to Cuba (provided they jump through about a million hoops). Might not be that safe of a refuge for many more years if the government's after you.

  PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE IN EUROPE, PROVIDED YOU DID THE RIGHT KIND OF CRIME    US punishments are seen as excessive and brutal by many countries, including several very nice ones in Europe. Italy, France, Switzerland, and several others have it written into their extradition treaties that they will not extradite if the death penalty is a possibility in the US. Those same countries also will not extradite political criminals, and would be more likely to see what, for example, Snowden did as a political crime. (Hong Kong, evidently, does not see it as a political crime, according to  this NYTimes story ). But even if you're not at risk for the death penalty, extradition treaties between most countries require that the alleged crime be against the law in both the US and the country in which the suspect is hiding, a rule called dual criminality. Snowden could well have made an argument in a country like Switzerland that his crime was either not in violation of Swiss laws or that it qualifies as a political crime, and apply for asylum, much like director (and, uh, rapist) Roman Polanski. These countries might also be open to an argument that the last big American leaker, Bradley Manning, was pretty much undeniably tortured by the military government--most extradition treaties also make an exception for when the suspect is at risk of torture in their home country. This picture is of the Swiss Alps, which are pretty cool.

PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE IN EUROPE, PROVIDED YOU DID THE RIGHT KIND OF CRIME

US punishments are seen as excessive and brutal by many countries, including several very nice ones in Europe. Italy, France, Switzerland, and several others have it written into their extradition treaties that they will not extradite if the death penalty is a possibility in the US. Those same countries also will not extradite political criminals, and would be more likely to see what, for example, Snowden did as a political crime. (Hong Kong, evidently, does not see it as a political crime, according to this NYTimes story). But even if you're not at risk for the death penalty, extradition treaties between most countries require that the alleged crime be against the law in both the US and the country in which the suspect is hiding, a rule called dual criminality. Snowden could well have made an argument in a country like Switzerland that his crime was either not in violation of Swiss laws or that it qualifies as a political crime, and apply for asylum, much like director (and, uh, rapist) Roman Polanski. These countries might also be open to an argument that the last big American leaker, Bradley Manning, was pretty much undeniably tortured by the military government--most extradition treaties also make an exception for when the suspect is at risk of torture in their home country. This picture is of the Swiss Alps, which are pretty cool.

  RUSSIA    Not only does Russia not have an extradition treaty with the US, their own constitution actually forbids them from sending foreign nationals back to other countries. Hell, a spokesman actually said Russia would  consider granting Snowden asylum  in Russia if he wanted it. Someone like Snowden, though, who is in trouble for leaking information his government didn't want known, is unlikely to want to stay in a country like Russia or China--countries that are even more harsh on traitors and dissidents and leakers than his own.

RUSSIA

Not only does Russia not have an extradition treaty with the US, their own constitution actually forbids them from sending foreign nationals back to other countries. Hell, a spokesman actually said Russia would consider granting Snowden asylum in Russia if he wanted it. Someone like Snowden, though, who is in trouble for leaking information his government didn't want known, is unlikely to want to stay in a country like Russia or China--countries that are even more harsh on traitors and dissidents and leakers than his own.

  DON'T BOTHER WITH: ICELAND    Iceland has an oversized reputation as a haven for dissidents; it's known to be a friend of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and it's one of only a couple nations worldwide with a legitimate representation from the free-internet-loving Pirate Party. And in fact a member of Iceland's Pirate Party has suggested that  Snowden could seek asylum  in Iceland. Unfortunately, the Pirate Party is an extreme minority party in Iceland, and the rest of the country doesn't seem all that keen to provide asylum to someone the US is hunting for. The  Washington Post  investigated why--turns out Iceland's government has recently taken a turn to the right, and may not have any desire to anger the US.

DON'T BOTHER WITH: ICELAND

Iceland has an oversized reputation as a haven for dissidents; it's known to be a friend of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and it's one of only a couple nations worldwide with a legitimate representation from the free-internet-loving Pirate Party. And in fact a member of Iceland's Pirate Party has suggested that Snowden could seek asylum in Iceland. Unfortunately, the Pirate Party is an extreme minority party in Iceland, and the rest of the country doesn't seem all that keen to provide asylum to someone the US is hunting for. The Washington Post investigated why--turns out Iceland's government has recently taken a turn to the right, and may not have any desire to anger the US.

These American Fugitives May Be Hiding Out in Cuba

Former prisoner Alan Gross was thrilled to return to America from Cuba earlier this week but there are dozens of other Americans who are in the country for other reasons -- and probably don't plan on leaving.

  Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, is seen in this undated file photo.

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, is seen in this undated file photo.

Cuba has been a haven for American fugitives for decades, but now that the two countries are restoring diplomatic relations their hideout might not be an option much longer.

"We will continue to press for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes in our engagement with the Cuban government," the Department of Justice said in a statement emailed to ABC News.

There is no official number of Americans who have fled to Cuba, but reports suggest there could be dozens. Federal officials have publicly placed at least one fugitive, Joanne Chesimard, in Cuba. However, they did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation on the whereabouts of the other fugitives named below.

Here are some of the most notorious Americans who have been reported as possibly hiding in the island nation just 90 miles off the coast.

1. Joanne Chesimard

Joanne Chesimard has been living in Cuba under the name Assata Shakur since 1984.

She was a member of the Black Liberation Army in 1973 when she shot and killed Trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop. She was convicted in 1977 and escaped prison two years later.

Chesimard, who is became the first woman on the FBI's Most Wanted list last year, hid in a series of safe houses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before fleeing to Cuba. Anyone who helps bring Chesimard, now 66, into custody stands to get $2 million in rewards, according to the FBI.

 

  William Guillermo Morales is seen in this July 12, 1978 handout photo.

William Guillermo Morales is seen in this July 12, 1978 handout photo.

2. Guillermo Morales

A bomb maker who fought for Puerto Rican independence is one of the American fugitives who has been living in Havana.

Guillermo "William" Morales was sentenced to 99 years in prison after being linked to two explosions in New York City -- one in 1975 that killed four and injured 60, and a second in 1977 that killed one, The New York Post reported.

Morales escaped from the prison ward of Bellevue Hospital in 1979 and, though he was reportedly held in a Mexican prison for several years in relation to a different crime, he fled to Cuba after his release in 1988.

"The U.S. press looks at me one way, but the press in Puerto Rico looks at me in a positive way because I’m a person that defends their homeland," he told The Post in 1999.

  Victor Manuel Gerena is seen in this 1983 handout photo.    

Victor Manuel Gerena is seen in this 1983 handout photo.

 

3. Victor Manuel Gerena

Victor Manuel Gerena fled custody in the United States following a 1983 robbery in Connecticut.

Gerena, now 56, allegedly robbed a security company of $7 million and "took two security employees hostage at gunpoint and then handcuffed, bound and injected them with an unknown substance in order to further disable them," according to the FBI.

A representative from the New Haven branch of the FBI confirmed to ABC that Gerena is still considered a fugitive but would not comment on his suspected whereabouts.

Published reports suggest that he could be in either Mexico or Cuba.

  Charlie Hill, on the wall of the coastal Malecon Avenue in Havana, Cuba, May 5, 2007.

Charlie Hill, on the wall of the coastal Malecon Avenue in Havana, Cuba, May 5, 2007.

4. Charlie Hill

Like Chesimard, who was publicly praised by Fidel Castro, not all of the fugitives are trying to hide their whereabouts.

Charlie Hill is wanted by New Mexico officials after he allegedly killed a state trooper and hijacked a plane in 1971. Hill, a native of Illinois, spoke to The New York Times in 2007 and discussed what he thought would happen to him if his longtime protector, Castro, died.

"I don’t think there will be much change if Fidel dies," Hill told The Times in 2007. "There might be, but I think it’s 60-40 that not much will happen. If it does, well, what can I do?"

5. Ishmael LaBeet

Ishmael LaBeet reportedly has been hiding in Cuba, though his troubles stem from a different island. LaBeet and others were charged in the murder of eight people in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in 1973.

According to The St. Thomas Source, LaBeet was being flown to the mainland U.S. in 1984, got control of one of the armed guards escorting him, and forced the commercial plane -- full of other passengers -- to Cuba.

After the plane landed in Cuba, LaBeet reportedly was welcomed to his new country. The plane then was allowed to fly back to the U.S.