BISMARCK, N.D. – Canadian officials believe they have captured Richard McNair, one of the nation's most wanted fugitives, who escaped from a federal prison in Louisiana last year, Ward County Sheriff Vern Erck says.
Federal marshals have listed McNair among 15 of the nation's most wanted criminals and offered a $25,000 reward for his capture.
McNair was convicted of killing Jerome Theis, of Circle Pines, Minn., in November 1987, during a burglary at a Minot grain elevator.
Erck said McNair was captured Thursday morning in Campbellton, New Brunswick, about 100 miles north of the U.S.-Canada border.
"It's been a great day for both Canada and the U.S. to get him off the street," the sheriff said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time."
Erck said Canadian officers pulled over McNair in a stolen van Thursday morning. "In typical McNair fashion, he jumped out of the van and took off. Officers caught him about a quarter-mile later down a gravel road," the sheriff said.
McNair, 48, escaped from a federal prison in Louisiana more than a year ago, his third breakout from behind bars.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Glenn Belgarde in Alexandria, La., who has been in charge of the investigation, said he was working Thursday to confirm McNair's identity.
Erck said there were reports that McNair had been spotted in Calgary last week.
The sheriff said he plans to accompany federal marshals to Canada to bring McNair back to the U.S. The sheriff said McNair likely would be imprisoned in North Dakota.
"I don't think the feds want him," Erck said.
Authorities in Pollock, La., said McNair smuggled himself out of the federal prison there in a pile of mailbags.
McNair escaped twice in North Dakota.
In February 1988, he used a tube of lip balm to grease up his hand and slip out of handcuff at the Minot police station. He was captured after he jumped from the third floor of a building near a Minot hospital.
The second escape came from the North Dakota State Penitentiary. Officials said McNair and two other prisoners escaped through a ventilation duct on Oct. 9, 1992, and was on the lam until the following July 5, when he was captured in Grand Island, Neb.
Erck said McNair nearly escaped from the Ward County Jail while awaiting trial for the grain elevator shootings.
"He chipped out two cinder blocks in his cell," Erck said.
Behind the cinderblocks, authorities found a deputy's flashlight and sheets and towels tied to make a rope, which he intended to use to rappel to freedom after tunneling out of the jail, Erck said.