Crime & Courts

NC prison escapee arrested after 4 decades on the run

Booking photo for Clarence Moore. The Franklin County, Ky. Sheriff’s Office said the man’s real name is David Moore.
Booking photo for Clarence Moore. The Franklin County, Ky. Sheriff’s Office said the man’s real name is David Moore. Franklin County Regional Jail

A man who fled from a North Carolina prison three times in the 1970s – and on the run for nearly four decades after his last escape – is finally back behind bars.

David Moore, 66, called authorities in Kentucky on Monday afternoon and said he wanted to turn himself in, said Franklin County, Ky., Sheriff Pat Melton.

At first, the detective who answered thought it was a joke. But Melton said that as authorities dug deeper, they found there were warrants out for the man’s arrest and went to his home.

Moore, who initially told authorities his first name was Clarence, teared up when detectives walked in, the sheriff said.

“I think he was just tired of running,” Melton said, adding he’s never seen a case like this.

Moore had medical issues, including being partially paralyzed on his right side after suffering a stroke, the sheriff said. He also didn't know his Social Security number, the sheriff said, but authorities were able to confirm his identify using tattoos and other descriptions from the N.C. warrant.

Corrections records show that a David Edward Moore escaped in August 1976 from the now-closed Henderson Correctional Center in Western North Carolina while serving a sentence for larceny. He was one of three inmates found missing during an evening count.

It was the third time that Moore had escaped. In March 1971, he walked off a roadside crew, but returned the same day, said Keith Acree, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Then a year later, Moore and another inmate went over a fence at the Henderson prison and walked off.

That time, Moore wasn’t arrested for three years. He was captured in Texas after a robbery in that state, Acree said.

It’s unclear how long Moore had been living in Kentucky. Melton said a woman Moore had been living with “had no idea that he wasn’t who he said he was.”

It’s also unclear how soon Moore could return to North Carolina.

“If he agrees to be extradited willingly, our extradition office will make arrangements to have him returned to N.C. to serve the remainder of his sentence,” Acree wrote in an email.

Moore had just under two years left on his prison term before the 1976 escape, according to the public safety website.

He also is wanted in Franklin County for a contempt of court charge. Melton said Moore had been in a wreck there in 2009 where he gave a false name to a detective.

Moore’s arrest marks at least the second time in the past year that a man who escaped from a North Carolina prison in the 1970s has been apprehended. Ronald Carnes fled a former Huntersville prison in 1973, but was arrested in Iowa last year after he used a driver’s license under another name.

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