HOWELL TOWNSHIP - A Portuguese court has ruled that a fugitive convicted of killing a New Jersey man nearly 49 years ago can stay in that country, disappointing both the United States Department of Justice and the daughter of the murdered man.
George Wright was convicted in the killing of Walter Patterson at a Wall Township gas station in 1962. He escaped from a New Jersey prison 41 years ago, and was later accused of hijacking a plane from Detroit to Miami. He eventually fled to Portugal, where he has reportedly been living with his wife and kids for decades.
Yesterday, a Portuguese court of appeals ruled that Wright could stay in the country, arguing that the statute of limitations on the killing had expired. Ann Patterson, the daughter of the man Wright was convicted of killing, is upset with the ruling.
"It doesn't make sense to me that they would want to have a murderer in their midst," Patterson said.
The Department of Justice says it is extremely disappointed with the ruling.
Longtime fugitive US hijacker from NJ caught in Portugal