NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A convicted murderer who escaped from a work release program 33 years ago was captured in Alabama, where he had been working construction jobs using his real name, U.S. Marshals announced Saturday.
Billy Wayne Hayes, 57, was arrested by marshals and police Friday night at a gas station in Dothan, Ala., nearly 350 miles from Nashville, where he had been imprisoned.
Hayes was sentenced in 1968 to serve 10 years at the Tennessee State Prison for second-degree murder in the shooting death of William Howard Ferguson, a Nashville paint contractor. He was assigned to a work release program and never returned after signing out for work on Dec. 21, 1972.
Tennessee Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said Hayes' case was so old that information on it was not in the department's current computer system and would not be available until Monday.
A call to Dothan police Saturday was not answered.
U.S. Marshals in Nashville received information earlier in the week that Hayes might be in Mobile, Ala., or Dothan. Hayes had been working construction jobs in Alabama using his true name.
Officers said Hayes was surprised when arrested, acknowledged that he escaped and told them he had no idea why he fled.
"He knew his run had come to an end," U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Danny Shelton told The Tennessean.
Authorities in Alabama say they found crack cocaine inside Hayes' clothing when they arrested him and charged him with possession.
Hayes was taken to the Dothan city jail with plans to transfer him to the Houston County jail, where he will face extradition. A warrant has been issued for his return to custody of Tennessee authorities.