73-year-old cop-killer escapes from prison

(ONTARIO, Canada) -- Police are on high alert after an aging desperado -- serving a life sentence for the execution-style slaying of two police officers a generation ago -- walked away from a prison work detail.

James Hutchinson, 73, who escaped the noose for the slayings when Canada outlawed the death penalty in 1976, has been missing since Wednesday when he failed to return to the Pittsburgh Institution from a work detail at the Kingston Humane Society, said Sgt. Rick Meyers of the Ontario Police Penitentiary Squad.

It was not immediately clear how Hutchinson slipped past his jailers, authorities said.

Despite his age, authorities have declared Hutchinson "extremely dangerous," Meyers said.

"There's nothing like a warm gun to make an old man feel young again," Meyers said.

Authorities have issued a provincewide alert for the fugitive, who has a history of violent crime that dates back to the 1940s.

"He's got a very violent record," with arrests and convictions for armed robbery, assault and auto theft, Meyers said.

It was in 1974 that Hutchinson and a partner, Richard Ambrose, committed what authorities say was Hutchinson's most heinous offense.

During a botched kidnapping attempt on a 14-year-old boy, the two men were stopped by a pair of local police officers near Moncton, New Brunswick, Meyers said. Hutchinson and Ambrose overpowered police officers Aurele Bourgeois and Michael O'Leary, forced them at gunpoint to dig their own graves and then shot each of them in the head, execution-style, he said.

The two men were caught a few days later and eventually were convicted and sentenced to hang.

But their sentences were commuted in 1976 when Canada outlawed the death penalty. Ambrose was later paroled, Meyers said. But Hutchinson, who was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years before he would be eligible for any sort of early release, had little hope of ever being freed, Meyers said.

"All the records that I've looked at ... say that the only thing about him that has changed in the past 30 years is that he's older," Meyers said.

Hutchinson is 5 feet 8 inches tall, has green eyes and is balding with a fringe of thinning brown hair. He has a tattoo on his left arm bearing the names Janet and Carol. He was last seen wearing a prison-issue denim jacket, a T-shirt, blue pants and running shoes.

(iSyndicate; APBnews.com; Nov. 10, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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