‘You cannot outrun your past.’


Leonard Rayne Moses partial FBI wanted poster showing mug shots
Leonard Rayne Moses. Source: FBI

An investigation into missing hydrocodone revealed that a travelling pharmacist was a convicted murderer who had been on the run since 1971

American media have covered the capture of Leonard Rayne Moses, who was convicted of the murder of a woman during the Pittsburgh Riots in 1968.

The Pittsburgh Tribune reports that during unrest following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr that year, Mr Moses, while with some friends, threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a house in Homewood.

A 72-year-old woman who was inside, Mary Amplo, received third-degree burns over 55% of her body, and died later in hospital from pneumonia.

In a 1969 article from The Pittsburgh Press, Ms Amplo’s daughter Mary Gurgiolo described coming downstairs and finding her mother alight, “standing in flames – a human torch”.

After only an hour of deliberation during Mr Moses’ 1969 trial, the 17-year-old was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 1971, he was permitted to attend the funeral of his grandmother, but on arrival, ran from deputies and absconded, still in handcuffs.

He had been on the run ever since.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a Paul Dickson was licensed as a pharmacist in Michigan since 1999, and was working in a travelling capacity for the CVS chain.

A CVS loss prevention manager was looking into the disappearance of 80 hydrocodone pills, which had gone missing on December 26, 2019 – while Mr Dickson was at work.

When she interviewed the pharmacist on January 23, he said that he had “inadvertently pocketed” the missing medication.

He said that he had thrown them “out of the window on the way home from work” to dispose of them.

While Mr Dickson attempted to repay CVS the cost of the drugs, the chain pursued criminal charges and he was charged with embezzlement of USD$43.20 (AUD$59.03).

According to the FBI Pittsburgh, his fingerprints, obtained in October, were entered into the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, a national FBI database.

The prints matched those of Leonard Rayne Moses.

The pharmacist was arrested without incident in Grand Blanc, Michigan, and he is now in custody on a federal unauthorised flight to avoid confinement warrant, issued out of the Western District of Pennsylvania in 1971. Pending an extradition hearing and Michigan state charges, he will be brought back to Pennsylvania.

“I hope this arrest brings some closure to the family members of Mary Amplo, who was killed back in 1968,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman.

“Mr Moses will now have to face justice for her murder.”

Mr Christman said that authorities had been looking for Mr Moses since his escape, including offering a USD$10,000 (AUD$13,662) reward.

“We’ve never forgotten about this case,” said Sheriff William Mullen.

“It proves the axiom that you cannot outrun your past.”

This article was prepared with information including that from the Pittsburgh Tribune, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Inside Edition and the FBI Pittsburgh.

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