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Former Alabama Officer Captured in Texas 12 Years After Prison Escapef

August 5, 1989

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) _ A former Alabama policeman who escaped from prison 12 years ago while doing time for murder was found in Texas, where he’d been living under an assumed name with a different wife and children, authorities said.

The short-order cook known for years in San Antonio as Ben Francis Hurst turned out to be former Lt. Jimmy Ray Hurst, 56, convicted in 1973 of killing his wife’s boyfriend, authorities said.

Circuit Judge William Sullivan, who sentenced Hurst to life in prison for shooting Charles ″Cooter″ Mann, said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation told him Hurst’s identity had been confirmed through fingerprints.

San Antonio police arrested Hurst late Thursday, a little more than a week after Alabama investigators asked them to watch a house from which telephone calls had been placed to his mother, Julia Hurst of Talladega.

A neighbor said Hurst seemed like a model father to the three children he adopted when he married Estela Gonzalez Hurst in 1978.

″You couldn’t think Ben would be capable of something like that. He’s very friendly,″ said Linda Lopez. ″It’s just incredible.″

Police were uncertain whether his wife knew of Hurst’s past.

″She just couldn’t believe it when I called her. She asked me several times if I was lying,″ said detective Bob Farley. The Hurst family has an unlisted telephone number in San Antonio.

Hurst and his wife in Talladega had five children, records show. It was unclear whether they remained married.

San Antonio police investigator Richard Moreno said Hurst had not made any effort to change his appearance, although he seemed to have aged well beyond his years while on the run.

He offered no resistance when confronted outside the Denny’s restaurant where he told officers he had worked for the past eight years.

Evidence in Hurst’s 1973 trial showed he lured Mann, 26, to a wooded area and shot him in the face. Hurst had been a fugitive since March 1977, when he made his second escape from an Alabama state prison.

Hurst was being held without bond on two fugitive warrants. He will be returned to Alabama as soon as possible, authorities said.

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