How Leonard Rayne Moses Was Caught After 50 Years On The Run

Your parents were right: Sooner or later, we all pay the price of their actions. No one — or almost no one, anyway — gets away with it forever. Leonard Rayne Moses knows this better than the rest of us. Moses, now 69, evaded the police and FBI for 50 years after he escaped from custody in 1971. In November 2020, the FBI's Pittsburgh field office announced that they had finally caught him again. He was living in Michigan under an assumed name.

Moses' initial crime had been first degree murder. One chaotic night in 1968, as riots exploded across the United States following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the teenage Moses joined a group of men in throwing Molotov cocktails at a house in Pittsburgh. The explosions severely burned a young woman inside, Mary Amplo. Amplo died soon after of pneumonia, brought on by her injuries. A jury found Moses guilty of her death, and sentenced him to life in prison.

In 1971, Moses requested permission from law enforcement to attend his grandmother's funeral. Prison authorities agreed, but Moses was no sooner out than he slipped off into the night, never to be seen again. Not, at least, for 50 years.

Fingerprints don't lie

It was particularly bad timing for the young Rayne: at the time of his escape, according to ABC News, his lawyers were arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn his life sentence. Rayne had waived his Miranda rights at 16, which his lawyers argued was too young to properly consent. The court had just agreed to a new trial when he ran.

Rayne fled to Flint, Michigan, where he created a new identity, calling himself Paul Dickson. Dickson/Rayne found work as a pharmacist, specifically a traveling pharmacist (to keep people from getting too familiar with him, perhaps?), and eventually settled in the town of Grand Blanc. For 50 years the FBI offered reward money for anyone with information as to his whereabouts, but in vain.

Well, mostly in vain. Dickson/Rayne finally slipped in 2020, getting arrested in Michigan. When police took Dickson's fingerprints and entered them into the national database, the match turned up: They were exactly the same as those of Leonard Rayne Moses. The game was up. Moses has been sent back to Pennsylvania — this time, it seems, for good.