California fugitive arrested after 36 years: FBI

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2011 7:23 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man who escaped from a California prison 36 years ago has been arrested by authorities acting on a clue gleaned from his dying mother, the FBI said on Monday.

William Walter Asher III, 66, was taken into custody without incident at his home in the Northern California town of Salida on Friday, the FBI said in a written release.

Asher, who according to the FBI was sentenced to seven years to life in prison for his role in a 1966 robbery in which a bartender was shot and beaten to death, had been on the run since escaping a California prison camp in 1975.

The trail had gone cold until 2005 when authorities learned Asher's mother had asked family members shortly before her death for help in calling her son via a "secret" number, the FBI said.

Agents using phone records were able to track Asher to the residence in Salida, where he was living under the name Garry Donald Webb, the FBI said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton)