Criminal Justice

Wintry weather led to arrest of woman for 1977 prison escape

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A 60-year-old prison escapee was arrested Monday in California because of wintry weather in Michigan.

Lt. Charles Levens of the Michigan Department of Corrections normally is out looking for parole violators, but stayed in the office when roads got icy recently. He took a look at some old files there and asked the FBI to run fingerprint checks. A number of jurisdictions had prints for Judy Lynn Hayman, under a variety of names. So he gave the file to an investigator Tim Hardville and asked him to track down either Judy Lynn Hayman or her death certificate, the Associated Press reports.

Hardville determined that Hayman lived in San Diego, and when police visited her apartment Monday, she opened the door. Although she had identification under another name, her eyes matched the mug shot, and she eventually admitted she was Hayman.

Some are questioning why authorities pursued a 37-year-old case in which the defendant walked away after serving eight months of an 18- to 24-month term for attempting to shoplift clothing from a Detroit-area store. But it isn’t up to law enforcement officials to decide which cases to drop, said spokesman Russ Marlan of the Michigan Corrections Department. “We can’t just write it off. We don’t have the ability to say, ‘It’s been a long time. You’re free to go.’”

It isn’t yet known whether Hayman will face an escape charge as well as the remainder of her original prison term when she is returned to Michigan.

Updated at 6:34 p.m. to correctly name Michigan Department of Corrections.

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